Yesterday was a Kitchen Day. Passover begins today at sundown. Some friends are hosting a seder, and while they’re doing a lot of cooking, all the guests are bringing things too. I promised a flourless chocolate cake, charoset (chopped apples and walnuts, with wine and cinnamon), and deviled eggs.
In the midst of making those things, I decided it would also be a good idea to make strawberry rhubarb applesauce (I found fresh rhubarb at the co-op and I cannot resist fresh rhubarb) and a potato kugel. Meanwhile, my roommate made some kale chips for us to snack on. Because our kitchen was feeling sadly neglected and underused.
I started with the cake, using a family recipe for flourless chocolate cake. It turned out to be incredibly easy, especially with a food processor to grind the walnuts, and a hand mixer to beat the egg whites. And it only took 25 minutes in the oven!
Charoset was also rendered ridiculously easy with the food processor. I used about half a pound of walnuts, two Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored, and sliced), a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and two generous splashes of wine. Most people have a particular variation that they like; I’m pretty attached to this one. (Sorry, forgot to take a picture.)
For the first batch of deviled eggs of 2010, I had to haul out The New Best Recipe just to make sure I remembered all the ingredients (though I use a combination of soy sauce and lemon juice in place of Worcestershire sauce). To make deviled eggs, you’ll need:
7 hard-boiled eggs
salt and pepper
I didn’t include amounts here because it really depends on your own personal taste. This time around, I would say I used less than a tablespoon each of mayo and mustard, about a teaspoon each of lemon juice, soy sauce, and vinegar, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. (The paprika goes over top of the finished eggs, for a touch of color.) The yolk mixture was a little thicker/drier than in the past, when I think I used more mayo and mustard.
De-shell the hard-boiled eggs and slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks and place them in a bowl. Mash with a fork. Add mayo, mustard, lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste, until you get a nice consistency. Then scoop the yolk mixture into a ziploc bag and cut off a tiny corner (unless you are all fancy and have a pastry bag with a star tip. Then use that). Squeeze the mixture into the hollowed-out egg whites, then sprinkle paprika over top. Serve immediately or refrigerate till you’re ready to serve (they will keep for a day or two).
Strawberry Rhubarb Applesauce: the improv dish of the day. I wasn’t planning to make it in the first place, but there was fresh rhubarb at the co-op, and I cannot resist fresh rhubarb. I did actually have a recipe for strawberry rhubarb applesauce in my recipe box, but it called for gelatin, so instead I just adapted my homemade applesauce recipe, thus:
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick (remember to fish it out before you start mashing!)
1 apple, peeled, cored, cut into chunks
2 stalks fresh rhubarb, cut into pieces
1 box of fresh strawberries
> 1/2 cup white sugar
~ 1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
Throw all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Give it a stir now and then to make sure nothing’s sticking to the bottom of the pot. Lower hear and let simmer for about 30 minutes, then remove from heat and mash with a potato masher (remember to retrieve the cinnamon stick first). Enjoy warm or cold!
Here’s a not-so-secret secret: strawberry and rhubarb is one of those all-time great food combinations, like peanut butter and jelly or mint and chocolate. Use them together to make preserves, jam or fruit butter, or pies, crisps, or cobblers. My imagination just stalled out trying to come up with a strawberry rhubarb sandwich, but I bet it would make a great crepe filling.
The potato kugel was also somewhat of a last-minute decision, inspired by two things: 1) potato kugel is tasty; 2) it will make good leftovers for lunch throughout the week. I found this recipe from Gourmet, 1976, and it worked out beautifully. (I used butter instead of schmaltz, though. Not all of us have liquid chicken fat lying around in our kitchens.)
Kale chips were something my roommate and I had been meaning to try ever since a former roommate and good friend of ours had told us how she made them. All you need is a head of kale, some grated parmesan or similar cheese (we used pecorino romano), and olive oil. Wash and pat dry the kale leaves, then chop or tear them into chip-size pieces, discarding the spines of the leaves. Toss the pieces in a bowl with some olive oil (go light on the oil), then spread the leaves on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 F for 5-10 minutes – you want the chips to be crispy, not limp. Once they crisp up, enjoy! If there are any left, they keep surprisingly well overnight if sealed in an airtight container (tupperware or ziploc).
A note for non-kale-lovers: I have never previously enjoyed eating kale. I tried it in many different forms – cooked into pot pie, stir-fried with veggies, in soups – and always found it too tough. Kale chips, though, are delicious!