Thursday, March 12, 2009

where have i been?

It was like a perfect storm of circumstances preventing me from cooking this week. One reason was the endless delicious, filling, utterly unhealthy foods that I was constantly surrounded by on the set of a brand new show, which I will be telling you all about shortly. I was coming home every evening too overindulged to cook actual meals. Then a weekend trip up to Flushing Chinatown to binge at the Roosevelt Mall Food Court ended up backfiring when I woke up Sunday morning - my cooking day - sick as a dog. There really is nothing more cruel for an obsessive foodie to cope with than food poisoning. Back to set on Monday for more food food food, and a magical Fette Sau BBQ feast for last night's wrap party. Today, it's back to the regular routine, and day one of my attempt to at least somewhat cleanse myself from a week of constant gluttony and/or illness.

So my first cleansing meal was found in last week's NY Times dining section, part of Martha Rose Shulman's Recipes for Health series. This Buckwheat Pasta with Kale was sort of a head scratcher when I first read it. Soba noodles, kale, leeks...and cheese? It didn't seem to make complete sense to me, unless you tell yourself to think of the soba as pasta, and not as an Asian noodle. What's the difference, after all? And I was pleasantly surprised by this dish. The real star for me was actually the leeks, sauteed until buttery and sweet, and a lovely pair to the fresh, mild kale. The parmesan cheese complemented the sweet leeks wonderfully. I would say, however, that the choice of fontina cheese threw me off a bit. I think that a cheese as strong as fontina didn't quite work for this dish, overpowering the sweetness of the leeks and the nuttiness of the soba. For my - ahem - second bowlful, I left out the fontina and went with a touch more parmesan, and found that balance much more suitable. Recipe after the jump:

From Martha Rose Shulman's Recipes for Health series

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or omit butter and use 2 tablespoons olive oil)
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced and cleaned
4 fresh sage leaves, cut in thin slivers
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
3/4 pound kale, stemmed, washed thoroughly, and cut crosswise in strips
Freshly ground pepper
2 ounces Parmesan, grated (1/2 cup)
2 ounces fontina or Gruyère cheese, cut in 1/4 inch dice
3/4 pound buckwheat pasta (pizzoccheri or soba) or whole wheat fettuccine

1. Begin heating a large pot of water. Meanwhile, heat the butter and oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and sage, and cook, stirring often, until the leeks begin to soften, about three minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and fresh pepper, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the leeks are tender, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. When the water comes to a boil, add a generous spoonful of salt and the kale. Boil for four minutes, until tender but still bright. Using a slotted spoon or a skimmer, transfer to the pan with the leeks and stir together. Keep warm over low heat.

3. Bring the water back to a boil, and add the pasta. Cook al dente (soba will cook quickly, usually in under five minutes, while pizzoccheri and whole wheat fettuccine will take longer). When the pasta is al dente, add 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the pan with the kale and leeks, then drain the pasta and toss in the pan or in a warm pasta bowl with the leeks, kale and the cheeses. Serve at once.

Yield: Serves four to six

Advance preparation: You can make the dish through step 2 several hours ahead. Remove from the heat, then reheat when you cook the pasta.


Claire said...

Well, there was a sweet potato in there (-: Everything in moderation... right? Love this site!!!! My new fave blog for sure! I will constantly be looking for new posts and know that if I find you missing in action, it may be due to suffering from exposure to all the wonderful eats and hopefully it will have been worth the bite. (-:
Oh... love your photography as well! It's beautiful pornography of food and I almost feel guilty for the glance... pics are equal to the great read!

faycat said...

Yes, there was a sweet potato, and maybe some brussels sprouts...with bacon. Speaking of, I just gorged myself on brioche french toast and candied maple bacon! Now I'm basking in the bacony aroma perfuming my apartment.