Kale Chips

My twitter food challenge throw downs with @darthgarry continue! This time, it’s kale chips. After he braved my croquembouche challenge, he gave me kale chips. Not exactly a challenge equal in difficulty, but certainly a worthy one. There are tales of failed, soggy kale chips scattered throughout the internet so I was a little concerned.

I did some research – and frankly, kale chips are deceptively simple. Some olive oil and salt and you’re basically set. The key here is to not over-saturate the kale with olive oil. For a large bundle of kale all you really need is a tablespoon, maybe less, of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.

But, because I’m me, I couldn’t just settle with olive oil and salt. The night I made the kale chips I had been roasting asparagus and sweet potatoes in a vinaigrette of sorts.

Last summer I was perusing the aisles at Trader Joe’s and came upon the most delightful sounding vinegar – orange muscat champagne vinegar to be exact! The bottle was cheap – definitely less than $5 and as it turns out I used that stuff all summer long on my salads and in marinades. It’s light and refreshing, not overly sweet and it adds a nice zip to a vinaigrette without being as acidic as lemon juice.

Since I was baking the kale chips on the same pan I’d just roasted veggies in my made-up mix, I thought I’d do the same for the kale. As it turns out, it was a really lovely compliment to the deep, earthy flavor of the kale.

I’ve made two batches of these bad boys now and my friends and co-workers adore them! Just remember: light touch with the olive oil and diligence when it comes to watching the time (20 minutes is really all they need) and you’ll have a healthy, crunchy snack.

Recipe after the jump, enjoy!

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Olive Oil Cake

Saveur lied.

In what world does a cake this dense and thick – and with a TABLESPOON of baking powder – only need to bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes? Either someone over there is baking at a crazy altitude or they’re on crack.

I’m obsessed with olive oil cake at the moment. See, I was in New York City not too long ago for a work-related conference. Driven to dining alone by a friend who ditched me, I went to L’Artusi for dinner. The meal, something I’ll blog about later, was amazing but the highlight for me was dessert. Of course. And dessert was an olive oil cake with creme fraiche.

The waiter had told me it was a hard sell for most diners, but to me it sounded like heaven. Why? Because months ago I’d had a life-changing olive oil at Zaytinya. Yep. It was that good. I totally understood why olive oil marketers are out to get American grocery shoppers with labels and fancy terminology of all sorts. A good olive oil is noticeable. A good olive oil is worth it. And you probably aren’t going to get it at Safeway.

So…off I went to Whole Paycheck, I mean, Whole Foods to try and make sense of the olive oil section. It was frustrating. In the end I asked a poor, unwitting shopper nearby what he thought was a good brand and went with that. To be honest, I can’t even remember what it’s called. But it worked just fine. And you know what? Any olive oil would probably work fine-especially in the name of not driving yourself crazy.

This cake is among the easier things I’ve ever baked. Pretty much we’re talking about dumping ingredients in a bowl and mixing them together. That easy? That easy!

If you have someone in your life who doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth, this is the cake for them. One of my coworkers who usually bypasses my sweet treats came back for seconds and thirds of this savory dessert.

I think the cake is wonderful. Its density makes it feel rich and decadent. The subtle undertones of the olive oil hit the spot for me. As a snack, it is ideal. As a full on dessert-I wanted more. I wanted something special…a strawberry, red wine reduction, a dollop of creme fraiche, a summer berry pure or even a peach ‘n bourbon mash. Not a lot of the something special, just a drizzle. Something to dress it up for a dinner party almost.

I hope you guys are intrigued enough to make this bad boy. It’s worth it!

Enjoy!

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