Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Smoky Kale and Beans

It's been windy and rainy all week, it might snow on Saturday, there are still a gazillion football games that will need a half time snack... and those are reasons enough to cook up a mess of greens. As if I needed an excuse to combine smoked turkey parts, fresh kale and white beans with garlic, jalapeño slices and a splash of red wine vinegar. Those six flavorful ingredients plus a hit of hot sauce came together into an irresistible bowl of comfort food for lunch today. A small portion would be perfect as a side dish, but we went with a large bowl apiece for a filling, one-dish meal. Tomorrow I'll add some chicken broth to the leftovers for a tasty souplike version of the recipe. 

This dish was inspired by a recent Food Network Thanksgiving special, something I had turned on as background noise to keep me company. It stayed in the background until a preparation for Southern collard greens grabbed my attention. Forget the featured turkey, cornbread dressing and sweet potato something, I craved those smoky greens! Using the Michael Symon recipe as a base, I made a few changes. We prefer kale to collard greens, and I always have some on hand, so that accounted for the first change. A jar of Mezzetta's Tamed Jalapeño Rings substituted for a fresh chili pepper. The dish needed more substance, so a can of cannellini beans joined the party. Green Tabasco sauce added a final pop. Oh, baby, those were some good greens! 

I have half a dozen other kale posts, all recipes we enjoy, but this is the first kale dish that RL has requested as a repeat. That's a good sign, those must have been some good greens!

Smoky Kale and Beans
adapted from a Michael Symon recipe 
Yield: 4 large servings


2 bunches kale, stems and center-ribs removed (I used 1 bunch each of curly kale and dinosaur kale)
Olive oil, to coat pan
1 pound smoked turkey parts (wings, thighs, or tails)
1 cup diced red onions
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
Kosher salt
1 jalapeno, sliced into 
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 can Cannellini (white) beans, drained & rinsed

Hot sauce, such as Green Tabasco or your favorite


  1. Roughly chop the kale into 1/2-inch pieces. Wash well under cold water. Drain and set aside.
  2. Add a film of olive oil to a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch; use medium heat and sear the turkey pieces on all sides until crisped, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the onions, garlic and a large pinch of salt and heat until the vegetables are softened and you can smell the garlic, about 3 minutes. 
  4. Add the kale, jalapenos, vinegar, sugar and 1 to 2 teaspoons salt. Cover and cook until the greens are wilted, 20 to 30 minutes. 
  5. Add the drained and rinsed beans, stir to combine and cook briefly to heat. Remove from the heat and check the seasoning, adding additional salt and vinegar to taste.
  6. Shred some of the turkey meat and toss with the cooked greens. Add hot sauce to taste and serve.

* Next time double the amount of greens, or use larger bunches of kale, equal to roughly 2 pounds.
* Garbanzo (ceci) beans would be a good alternative to cannelloni beans, providing more crunch to the dish. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pumpkin Porter Pita Bread

baked for the Twelve Loaves November 2014 pumpkin theme. 

As noted in an earlier post, I don't eat pumpkin, not pumpkin anything. Forget the traditional pumpkin favorites of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, pumpkin bundt cakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin lattes... really, I mean it, not pumpkin anything. Match that with my love of a challenge and my frugal nature and you can imagine the issue when I found one last bottle of Alaskan Pumpkin Porter hanging out on a garage shelf. I couldn't throw it out. Left over from an earlier Autumn event that bottle sat ignored and gathering dust amidst newly purchased beverages. Though guests reported the brew to be quite tasty, I just couldn't get past the ingredient list of "ale brewed with pumpkin, brown sugar and spices". 

Today I finally popped the top and poured a glass for a taste test. Surprise! The first exploratory sip was fairly pleasant; this was a dark, chewy porter with some flavor muscle and a hint of sweet, undefinable something, a something not pumpkin. Fine, but at 9:20 a.m. what else could I do with the brew besides drink it? Use it in soup or a stew? Bake beer brownies? Braise some pulled pork? The Beeroness came to the rescue with her recipe for Homemade Beer Pita Bread, a quick yeast bread that reminded me of this month's #TwelveLoaves baking theme - Pumpkin.  

My KitchenAid made short work of mixing the few ingredients and cranking out the requisite minutes of kneading. The dough ball doubled in under an hour in my 67 degree F kitchen, no surprise since a full package of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons) was working away on 2 1/4 cups of flour. Divided into eight pieces, the dough rolled easily into six-inch disks - how easy could it be?! 

Each Pita round cooked in mere minutes in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop and bubbles appeared like magic. I'd make a double batch next time just for the fun of watching those gas bubbles puff up and expand.

I eagerly tore apart the first pita, checking first for easy separation of top and bottom. Success! Next came a tentative nibble, taste testing for any pumpkin flavor. Nope, not even a hint of the dreaded pumpkin taste, just a pleasant, semi-sour tang. Finally I added a slather of butter and a sprinkle of sea salt to the still warm pita and finished it off, quite pleased with the non-pumpkin tasting Pumpkin Porter Pitas. They made terrific lunch sandwich containers, firmly chewy and holding together up to the last bite. 

Would this be pumpkiny enough to qualify for the November #twelveloaves baking challenge? More pumpkiny than my pepita-topped sourdough dinner rolls (link)? Maybe... we'll see what that group of inspired bakers thinks (if anyone leaves a comment).

Alaskan Pumpkin Porter Pita Bread
adapted from a recipe on
Yield: 8 six-inch pita rounds

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) rapid rise yeast
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)
1 cup Alaskan Pumpkin Porter
1 tsp salt

  1. Use a stand mixer with a dough hook; add the flour, yeast and pumpkin spice (if using) and mix until combined.
  2. Pour the beer into a microwave safe measuring cup or bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds; use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature; nuke in short burst until the beer just reaches 120 to 125 degrees F. No higher or you might kill the yeast.
  3. Add the warmed beer to the stand mixer; use medium speed and mix to combine. Add the salt while the mixer is running.
  4. Bump the speed to high and beat until the dough is well-kneaded, smooth and pliable, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Remove dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let sit in a warm space until doubled in size. This might take up to an hour.
  6. When doubled, place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Use a bench scraper and cut into 8 equal pieces.
  7. Roll a piece of dough into a 6-inch circle. One at a time repeat with the remaining pieces.
  8. Use a small cast iron skillet; lightly oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add one rolled dough circle to the pan and cook until the bottom is lightly browned and air bubbles pop the top in places, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for another 1 to 2 minutes to cook the pita through.

Note: If the pita browns too quickly, threatening to burn, turn the heat down or use a flame tamer (heat diffuser) to adjust the heat.

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess and run with the help of Heather of girlichef, which runs smoothly with the help of our bakers. Our host this month is Renee from Kudos Kitchen by Renee, and our theme is Pumpkin. For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month’s tempting selection of #TwelveLoaves Apple Breads!

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