March 31, 2014

Creamed Kale with Caramelized Shallots and Spiced Pepitas


Well, thank goodness for Mark Bittman, who let us know via this op-ed last week that butter and cream are basically good for us. Basically. And phew, just in time. Because this creamy kale has its fair share of butter and milk, and is dee-lectable.

Although really, the shining stars of this dish are the spiced pepitas. The spicy/sweet combo makes you go back for more with reckless abandon. In fact, in the spirit of full disclosure, I'm pretty sure my bowl ended up with a one-to-one ratio of kale to pepitas. Not counting, of course, the fistfuls I devoured as soon as they came out of the oven. 

I recommend making a double-batch of these babies, storing them in an air-tight container, and then keeping them with you for any and all times that hunger strikes. Or, go bold and throw them in with your morning yogurt or late-night vanilla ice cream.

Creamed Kale with Caramelized Shallots and Spiced Pepitas

Print this Recipe

For the pepitas:

2 cups shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 egg white, whisked until frothy
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, mix together sugar with all the spices until well combined.

In a large bowl, stir together pepitas with the egg white until evenly covered. Sprinkle sugar/spice mix over pepitas, stirring until well combined.

Spread pepitas evenly on parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring or shaking pan every few minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on parchment, and then break apart with hands. Use immediately or store in an air-tight container.

For the kale:
Adapted from Bobby Flay

2 large bunches of kale, center stalks removed, leaves chopped
5 Tbsp butter, divided
1 small onion, chopped
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (we used GF flour and it worked fine)
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
5 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Additional salt + pepper as needed

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add in kale leaves and cook until tender, about 12-15 minutes. Drain in colander, return to original pot, and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in onion and saute until translucent. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk, trying your best to whisk away any lumps created by the flour. Turn heat to low and continue to cook until thickened, about 5-10 minutes more. Keep warm while you prepare shallots.

While milk sauce is thickening, begin the shallots. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt remaining 3 Tbsp butter. Add in sugar and stir until dissolved. Add in shallots and saute until they begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until shallots turn a deep caramel color, being careful not to burn.

Pour milk sauce into pot with kale and place over low heat. Simmer, stirring often, until well combined a warmed through, 3-4 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

To serve - spoon creamed kale into bowls. Top with a scoop of the caramelized shallots. Sprinkle with spiced pepitas. Enjoy!

February 28, 2014

Vegan African Peanut Soup + A Birthday

This soup is nothing short of magical. You throw a ton of veggies into a pot, add some spices, a whole container of tofu, some peanut butter...and bam, an oddly addictive and delicious soup comes out. And it's vegan to boot. Moreover, it's the most creative use of tofu I've ever come across in a recipe. One bowl is all you need to fill you to the (metaphorical) brim - not to mention the kick of spice adds some much-needed heat to these never-ending polar vortex days.
But okay, okay. As cool as magical tofu soup is, I just have to change the subject to say that Charlotte turned one YEAR old this month! Holy cannoli. 

Can you believe it? We sure can't. A year ago we were (in no particular order): not sleeping, subsisting on only pop-tarts and fruit salad, totally flummoxed as to how to care for a real live human being, talking about all-things-boobs/breastfeeding about 495020 times per day, crying at just about everything (okay, that was just me), and 100% obsessed with our new arrival.

Although I don't think I'll ever get used to not sleeping in on Sunday mornings, and some days I really, really just want to enjoy a cup of coffee without various fisher price jingles playing in the background - I will say that this new parent thing is definitely pretty awesome most days.

And of course magical tofu soup. That's awesome, too.

African Peanut Soup
Adapted from This Can't be Tofu! via

Print this recipe

2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
1-inch knob ginger, peeled and minced
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and minced
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes WITH juices
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 package extra soft tofu, cut into large chunks
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 cups cooked rice

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add in onions, peppers, ginger, and sweet potatoes. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown. Add in garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper, and continue to cook, while stirring often, 2 minutes more.

Add in tomatoes with their juices, and stir to combine. Next pour in veggie stock, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.

Add in peanut butter, stirring until dissolved. Add in tofu and stir to combine.

Blend soup in pot using immersion blender. Or, allow soup to cool slightly, and puree in blender in batches.

To serve, spoon soup into individual bowls. Top with a big scoop of rice and sprinkle with chopped scallion. Enjoy!

January 26, 2014

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

Well, let's see. It's about the fourth week of January, which means most of the new-year-new-you detox diets are coming to a crashing halt. Alas, I have the perfect recipe for you. This eggplant parm provides the warmth and depth of classic comfort food, but without the calorie bomb from gobs of cheese and oil.

The eggplant slices forego the egg coating and get baked instead of fried. And there's just one saintly layer of cheese on top that gets broiled at the last minute, ensuring that you still get that requisite gooey, cheesey goodness.

Last, but certainly not least - it's worth mentioning that this dish comes together quite quickly and requires little in the way of prep or labor. Between playoff football games, my new fitness obsession, and an on-the-go crawler, there's not much spare time these days in the Union Street Eats kitchen.

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

Print This Recipe

2 lbs eggplant, cut crosswise in 1/2" thick slices
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tsp salt, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
4 oz. mozarella cheese, thinly sliced or shredded
1/4 cup paremesan cheese, grated
1 cup bread crumbs, optional

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the eggplant slices on two rimmed baking sheets, making sure to not overlap. Brush each slice with the olive oil, (using about 2 Tbsp total), then sprinkle with about 1 tsp salt. Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes each side. Remove from oven and set aside.

Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp oil. Add in onion, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook 30 seconds more, being careful to not let it burn. Then add in canned tomatoes (with juices), red pepper flakes, oregano, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Bring sauce to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and using the back of a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes against side of pan. Set aside.

In a 9x13 inch baking pan, spread 1 to 2 cups prepared tomato sauce across bottom. Arrange a layer of eggplant slices on top of sauce. Then top with a generous handful of chopped basil. Continue alternating layers - tomato sauce then eggplant then basil - until ingredients are used up. Spread mozarella cheese evenly on top. Then cover cheese with the bread crumbs, if using. Finally, top with grated parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven until breadcrumbs are golden and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Remove and turn oven to broil. Stick in broiler for 1-2 minutes to make the cheese all gooey and delicious. Remove and let sit 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

January 8, 2014

Chef Jeremy: Spicy Slow Cooker Chili with Pork and Coffee

Well hello there, Jeremy here. Usually I'm behind the camera or up to my wrists in dishwater, but every so often in 2014, you'll be hearing about my attempts at cooking in the Union Street Eats kitchen.

So here we go...

This past weekend marked a momentous occasion: My beloved 49ers had a playoff game against the Green Bay Packers. If you know Leah (the Minnesotan), you’ll know she hates the Packers. And if you know me (the fat kid), you’ll know that a special game calls for a special meal.

So obviously I made chili.

And not just any chili. A chili that featured not one but two Christmas presents I had received this year: Delicious Marshall’s Red Chili Lime Haute Sauce from Portland, and Chicago’s own Dark Matter coffee.

I’d like to think I’m a chili connoisseur, but never before had I heard of one that called for pork tenderloin, coffee, and a whole bottle of hot sauce. Like I said - it was a special game.

So with visions of a bowl of piping hot chili and ice-cold gluten free beer dancing in my head, I opened my laptop to start streaming the 49ers game…only to find that the Internet was down.

Why not just turn on the TV? Well, after Charlotte was born, we did away with cable.
Oh – had I not mentioned this was my first playoff football game as a dad?

If I’ve learned one thing about having a kid, it’s that you’ve got to be flexible. Flexible enough to walk past drunk Packers fans outside a bar with a 10-month-old daughter Baby Bjorn-ed to my chest in a matching 49ers jersey. Flexible enough to watch the first half at a neighborhood ramen restaurant with that same 10-month-old in a highchair. Or even flexible enough to give your baby a bath during a nail-biting 4th quarter drive.

Though the real hero was Leah, who was the one flexible enough to put Charlotte to bed alone so I could enjoy the taste of chili, beer, and a 49ers victory.

Until next time. Stay thirsty my friends.

Spicy Slow Cooker Chili with Pork and Coffee
Slightly adapted from Marshall's Haute Sauce
1 Lb pork tenderloin
1 cup brewed Coffee
2 Tbsp spice rub (we used Bone Suckin' Seasoning)
1/2 cup chili-lime hot sauce (we used Marshall's Haute Red Chili Lime Sauce)
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes (with juices)
2 cups dried cannelini beans, soaked overnight
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Season pork tenderloin all over with salt and pepper.
In a slow cooker, add in coffee and place pork on top.  Add remaining ingredients, making sure beans are fully submerged. Turn on slow cooker to LOW and cook for 7 hours. Shred pork with a fork, keeping it in the slow cooker, and contiue to cook on low for another hour to allow the meat to absorb some of the remaining liquid. Enjoy!

January 2, 2014

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Buttery Tomatoes

Phew, we made it. We survived the whirlwind of December. 
2013 was quite the year, -- including this life-changing arrival -- and I'm not quite sure that 2014 can beat it, but we're up to the challenge. Happy 2014, everybody. Let's get to cooking!

In this recipe, we've done another play on spaghetti and meatballs - this time using spaghetti squash for the "noodles" and packing a big flavor punch with a buttery tomato sauce. The sauce, which has been referenced repeatedly on the interwebs (for example: here, here, here, and here), involves only four ingredients (although I add just a pinch of red pepper flakes to draw out the flavor even more), and is dee-licious. 

Okay, so yes - there is a lot of butter in the sauce. And yes, I realize it's the first week of January and some of us are detox-ing off of saturated fats. But trust me on this one - just go for it. And if you need more persuasion, then keep in mind this dish is also low carb and gluten free. Booyah. 

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Buttery Tomatoes

1 large spaghetti squash
2 cups tomato sauce (recipe below)
1 pound ground turkey, cooked
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. Place squash halves cut side up on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, saute ground turkey if you haven't already, and prepare the tomato sauce (recipe below). 

When the squash is finished baking. Remove halves and let cool a few minutes. Then, using a fork, scrape at the flesh of the squash, which will pull apart easily into spaghetti-like strands. Continue until all the flesh is loosened, being careful to leave about half an inch near the skin in order for it to retain its shape. Layer on the tomato sauce, followed by the ground turkey, and topped with the parmesan cheese - seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Broil in oven until cheese has browned and squash halves have warmed through. Enjoy!

Serves 2. 

For the sauce (slightly adapted from Marcella Hazan):

1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 pinch red pepper flakes
salt, to taste

In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients except salt & pepper over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the onion. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. 

November 17, 2013

Slow-Cooker Mole Pulled-Pork Tacos

Ever since this little lady arrived, I've come to really appreciate my slow cooker. Not only does it essentially cook a meal entirely on its own, but it also makes the house smell wonderful, and you can generally crank out a massive amount of food with little effort. Add to that the amazingness that is mole sauce, and you have yourself one pretty rad Sunday night dinner.

Years ago, I remember watching this episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Drives, and being so amazed by the sheer quantity of ingredients that went into a traditional mole. The mole that I've made for this recipe is not as complex - and I've taken some serious short-cuts in using the slow-cooker - but it's still pretty darn tasty. 

The ingredient list seems long, but keep in mind you are basically just dumping it all in the slow-cooker and then letting it do its magic. Similarly, we used pork shoulder, but you could easily sub in chicken legs or thighs for an equally delicious option. 

Slow-Cooker Mole Pulled-Pork Tacos

Print this recipe

1 onion, chopped into large pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 pound boneless pork shoulder roast
4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and rinsed
2 dried chiles de arbol, stemmed, seeded, and rinsed
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp cumin
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water

Corn tortillas

Suggested toppings:
Shredded cabbage tossed with juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, chopped
Cilantro, chopped
Cotija, or other Mexican cheese

Scatter onions and garlic in bottom of a 6 quart (or larger) slow-cooker. Place pork shoulder on top. Then sprinkle the remaining ingredients through the tomato paste on top of pork. Pour water over all the ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. 

Remove pork and shred. It should come apart quite easily at this point.  Set aside.

Remove cinnamon sticks from sauce. Pour everything else into a blender or food processor. Blend/process until smooth, adding in water if sauce seems too thick. Return sauce and pork back to slow cooker bowl and toss to combine. 

Serve in warm corn tortillas with toppings of your choice. 

November 9, 2013

Chocolate-Almond Pudding with Roasted Strawberry Compote

Have you all seen this video clip of Louis C.K. talking to Conan O'Brien about how he doesn't like kids to have SmartPhones? While comedic, it's also quite poignant. He touches on the idea that our fixation on technology has largely removed our ability to sit with ourselves without distraction. And much of what he says rings true to me. Just this morning, I was waiting in line at a coffee shop and noticed that I had to take my phone out to check my email. I thought of what Louis C.K. said and put it away, but I instantly felt anxious about not being "connected" to the outside world. The irony, of course, being that I was completely oblivious to the real live human beings present in line next to me.

In hopes of combatting the technology-zombie-brain, Jeremy and I have been making a concerted effort to un-plug more often. To make it through a whole afternoon or evening together without checking our phones is fairly anxiety-inducing, but also quite liberating.

Last Saturday, we decided to really avoid using our phones unless absolutely necessary. Some of us (cough Jeremy) couldn't resist checking work emails briefly, but for the most part, we did pretty well. The most amazing part to me was that it freed up so much time (!), which is how this pudding came about.

I started out searching for a good mousse recipe, but the raw egg thing freaked me out, so I settled on pudding instead. I then topped it with Heidi Swanson's recipe for roasted strawberries along with some freshly whipped cream and chopped almonds. Delish. Goes perfectly with sweatpants and a glass (or two!) of red wine.

Chocolate-Almond Pudding with Roasted Strawberry Compote

2 cups milk
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Roasted Strawberries** (find the recipe here)

Whipped cream (optional)
Toasted chopped almonds (optional)

Heat 1 1/2 cups milk, chocolate, sugar, almond extract, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate fully melts. Meanwhile, stir together remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour cornstarch mixture into saucepan slowly, whisking the whole time, until combined. Continue simmering the pudding, whisking often, for another 2 minutes. Pour pudding into large bowl or smaller ramekins and refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving. If you don't like the skin that forms on top of pudding, press plastic wrap against surface of pudding while chilling.

Once set, top each pudding with a big scoop of the roasted strawberries, some sweetened freshly whipped cream, and chopped toasted almonds.

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