Housekeeping: Kale Question, Meme & De-lurk Day

August 27, 2008

I am in the middle of trying to re-create a sesame-kale salad served up at one of my favorite local breakfast/brunch/lunch spots. To start, I really haven’t the faintest idea of the best method for cooking the kale for a recipe like this: steam it over boiling water, or steam it right in a shallow pool of liquid, or saute it in a glug of olive oil? I’ve tried a couple variations and I’m having a hard time getting it just right—the kale comes out too wilted, too strongly flavored, lacking punch, and the list of complaints goes on. To top things off, it seems that kale is exceedingly difficult to photograph once it’s been cooked, if, you know, qualities like “appetizing” are among those you seek in your food shots. Raw kale, however, is a different story; beautiful and photo-friendly:

Given this series of setbacks, I’ve decided it’s time to take a hiatus from trying to recreate this salad and, even better, from trying to photograph it. Instead, I’ll turn to photos past and, in the process, check an item off my blog to-do list (one that’s been languishing for some time). I was tagged by Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake a (very long) while back for the Ten Favorite Food Photos meme, which requests that the person tagged select—you guessed it—her favorite 10 food photos that she has taken. How fun is that meme? Much more fun than soggy kale, I’m quite sure. So here they are, in no particular order, my Ten Favorite Food Photos (after the jump).

(Click “more” for the 10 photos and the rest of the story.)

[Note: click on the photo for the original post/recipe.]

Pesto BLTs:

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella:

Chocolate-Glazed Devilish Angel Food Cake:

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers:

Meyer Lemon Swirled Cheesecake:

Lemon-Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes:

TKOs (Thomas Keller Oreos):

Coq au Vin:

Fresh Ravioli:


The meme instructs me to tag five food bloggers whose photos I admire. And I want to stick to bloggers I haven’t tagged for past memes. I’m tagging: Nicole of Cucina Nicolina; Jen of Use Real Butter; Caroline of Whipped; Mia of Red Ramekin; and Amy of Eggs on Sunday.

While we’re on the topic of favorites, and as we all eagerly await these ladies’ collections of food photos, tell me, readers: having you been cooking any recipes from this site? If so, which ones are your favorites? I know there are a lot of you out there, hesitant to comment—so here’s your chance. I’ve run into or heard through the grapevine about a handful of people just this week who were reading and cooking from this site on a regular basis—and I had no idea. It’s such a fun thing to hear about, so please do share!

Also, any tips on the kale salad? I fell in love with chard last winter, but I’m still a bit of a kale newbie. If you’ve got expertise to convey, I’ll gladly take it!

16 Responses to “Housekeeping: Kale Question, Meme & De-lurk Day”

  1. Mia Says:

    Let me know if you get any good advice on making kale – I’ve tried it a whole bunch of times, and it never turns out quite right…it always seems bitter and/or tough.

    Thanks for the meme; sounds like fun (and your pictures are beautiful!).

  2. I stumbled across your blog just recently. I’ve already made two dishes I’ve loved, the corn/avocado salad and the corn chowder. I’ll be posting your recipes on my blog shortly! I love your recipes and photos, enjoyable even when I don’t make them myself.

  3. sue bette Says:

    Lovely pictures! The fresh ravioli one is my favorite – perfect with the sun pouring in. My favorite kale cooking technique is a gently braise with a bit of chicken stock, it really cuts out the bitter and you don’t have to drown it with fat.

  4. Anne Says:

    i live in dc and i grew up in wilmette – you hit on some of my favorite memories of both cities as a foodie and a photographer. you source your recipies from many of my favorite sources and your food photography is beautiful (wow, this sounds stalkerish). i have tried several of your recipies and have come to use your site as a kitchen resource. to name a few of my favorites: vanilla bean cake with chocolate ganache, blueberry cobler, and cripsy black bean cake salad.

    keep up the good work!

  5. Johanna Says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while, the last recipe I’ve tried was your mother’s corn chowder and it turned out great! I had to chuckle when searching for bacon in my local supermarket (I live in Germany) as I thought how you (= not just you but Americans in general πŸ™‚ ) would probably laugh as well when seeing there’s only one brand of bacon on display. πŸ™‚

    Greetings from Germany,

  6. Whitney Says:

    The Corn Chowder is amazing. I have made it twice and have some in the freezer. Thats the only thing that comes to mind but I am sure there are more.

    I love you blog!

  7. Alex Rihm Says:

    I absolutely love your blog! Reading about your time in DC is the most nostalgic I ever feel for it (during the 9 months of the year I’m not there), plus with all of your fabulous recipes and photos, what’s not to love? Of the recipes on this site I have made the whole wheat pita bread and the chicken fajitas, both of which were great. I have tons of others bookmarked, including the bagels, various sweets and soups, and the blue cheese/black pepper gougeres, and I can’t wait to try them all!

  8. JEP Says:

    Two of your recipes that I have especially LOVED are the one for Granola Bars. The other is the most delicious Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake. You always have amazing photos & creative, expressive writing. Thanks for blogging πŸ™‚

  9. Ali Says:

    I love cooking, I mean eating pretty much everything that goes on this site. However I will have to say the: Turkey Meat Balls, Beef & Broccoli, Spicy Shrimp and Chorizo Kebabs, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Calzones (Let’s FD these soon), Pesto BLT’s, Garlic Fries, Creamy Wild Rice Soup and the Blood Orange Margaritas are just a FEW of my quick favorites :)!

  10. ronnissweettooth Says:

    I’ve been reading the blog for about 4 months. I think I’ve only made two things so far: the zucchini, corn quesadillas and the roasted tomatoes. Both are excellent. I have even more bookmarked, including that yummy looking corn chowder.

  11. Caroline Says:

    I am on it! Thanks for the tag. How exciting to have an excuse to look back through the archives.

  12. Maya Says:

    Love the pictures!
    What I with my kale is pretty simple – I stir fry it with some olive oil, salt and slivered garlic. Turns out well every time.

  13. First, let me say THANKS to everyone for playing along with de-lurking day, which seems to have spiraled into fishing-for-compliments day (not my intention!). That said, thanks to all for your kind words.

    Mia: Can’t wait to see your collection of photos! And I’ll be sure to post on the kale when (if?) I ever get it right.

    Cooking Hussy: Your corn/avocado salad looks great! I can only imagine what a kick it had with the cayenne.

    sue bette: Thanks for the kale tip! I tried a braise in ginger-and-soy-spiked water, but it was too overpowering. I will give chicken stock a shot next time.

    Anne: You mentioned some of my favorite recipes (and towns!). I’m so (so, so) glad you liked the vanilla bean cake. I’m always most nervous about the original recipes on the site, so it’s great to hear that it went well for you!

    Johanna: Only one brand of bacon? The horror! : ) Glad you liked the chowder. It seems to be a favorite. I’ll have to tell my mom, as it’s her recipe.

    Whitney: Thanks! I should get a freezer stock pile of soups going before I have to start working (gasp!) this fall. Hope your 3L year is off to a good start.

    Alex: Thank you! I vote for the gougeres next for you! Also, have you checked out Nicole’s blog? She’s another food blogger who used to live in DC and writes about her time there.

    JEP: Thanks! Glad you liked the granola bars and, mmm, that lemon poppy seed pound cake!

    Ali: Yes, family dinner calzone night sounds perfect. Also, speaking of your eating rather than cooking … I seem to remember a New Years resolution (you remember New Years, right? It was almost *nine months* ago?) that you would cook once a week. Just sayin.

    ronnissweettooth: Oh, I love those quesadillas. I hope you give the chowder a try soon!

    Caroline: Oh, good! I can’t wait to see the photos you select.

    Maya: Mmm, a stir fry sounds good. And I bet I could swap the olive oil for sesame oil to get the flavors I’m looking for in this salad. Thanks!

  14. mari Says:

    My favorite of your 10 is the Chocolate-Glazed Devilish Angel Food Cake, cake lover that I am. πŸ™‚ Thanks for playing along!

  15. Lucy Says:

    Hi Kristin,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I thought I would de-lurk. I just recently made your Peanut Butter Brownies. I love to bake, but it was my first time tackling homemade brownies, and while they weren’t as pretty as yours, it’s a great recipe and was a hit with my friends.

    I live in DC, and I’m curious, which farmer’s market do you like better, Dupont or Eastern Market? I can never decide, so I end up switching off weekends!

  16. mari: Thanks again for tagging me! It was fun.

    Lucy: Thanks for commenting! I’m glad you tried the PB brownies. And, as far as swirled recipes go, I think that was a tough one to get an elegant swirl. I suppose brownies should be only so elegant anyway, right?

    As for farmers’ markets, we usually went to the Dupont Circle market. I’m sorry to say that we never made it out to any of the VA/MD markets; I hear there are some great ones.

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