Pace of Provence: The Winner!

Drum roll…

And the winner is:

Suzi Woo

Congratulations Suzi! I hope you love Pace of Provence as much as I do. Enjoy and let us know which recipe you try first.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Go To Girls giveaway. It’s been such fun meeting new readers and hearing from those who have been around awhile. You have no idea how encouraging your support and comments are to me! (hint, hint…)

Stay tuned for more fun this summer.  I’m working on new recipes I hope you and yours will enjoy.

Cheers,

Kristin

Pace of Provence: A Cookbook Giveaway!

When my savvy and stylish friends at  Go To Girls asked if I would share my favorite cookbook I didn’t have to think twice about my recommendation. First you need to know that I read cookbooks like most people read novels and I collect them with a passion. So it’s not lightly that I offer up my recommendation of Pace of Provence.

I’m honored to be a guest blogger at Go To Girls today. Click over to read more about Pace of Provence and your chance to win a copy of my favorite cookbook!

A big thank you goes to Yolande Matoré Hoisington for donating a copy of her cookbook for our giveaway today. I can’t wait to see who will win.

To enter the cookbook giveaway simply subscribe to Go To Girls and The Schell Cafe. Leave a comment telling us you subscribe to both sites and you’ll be entered. It’s as simple as that!  The lucky winner will be announced on Monday.

Bonne Chance!!

Kale Chips

Kale Chips hit the food blogging scene well over a year ago and seemingly everyone had their own version of the crispy uber-green. While the trend of making kale chips may be very 2009, I think kale is the new black and destined to be a classic.

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to have several friends participate in Food Naturally, a cooking class at The Schell Cafe. We spent the morning making simple recipes and discussing ideas to encourage  loved ones, especially Littles, to embrace real food. We all know processed food is unhealthy, but it’s so convenient! Convenience, however, comes with a hefty price tag — our health! We talked about ways to transition our palates & pantries from SAD (Standard American Diet) to WHOLE.

During our class we made kale chips, testing out three varieties of kale: curly, red and lacinato.  Curly kale is green and, well, curly. Sometimes labeled  simply green kale at grocery stores, I’ve never had a problem finding it nestled amongst the lettuces.  Red kale is also very curly, but has color much like red leaf lettuce. Lacinato kale is an Italian heirloom variety, and has long, hearty, flatter leaves. I’ve noticed lacinato kale less around town and generally only find it at Whole Foods. But, keep your eyes peeled it’s a great kale to try.

All three varieties of kale roasted into crispy, delicious chips that disappeared as quickly as we pulled them out of the oven. Experiment with your favorite spices and herbs, the possibilities are truly endless.

Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale, washed and dried

2 TBS olive oil

1-2 tsp mixture of your favorite herbs and/or spices (I love cayenne!)

1-2 tsp coarse sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and dry kale thoroughly – it’s very important the kale is dry. Wet, even damp, leaves will result in soggy chips. In a large bowl mix olive oil with herbs and seasoning. DON’T mix in salt yet. The salt draws out moisture and keeps kale from getting crispy.  Tear  kale into bite sized pieces and place in the bowl with olive oil.  Gently massage the kale leaves until the leaves are evenly coated.  Place kale on baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes. Watch carefully, the kale can burn quickly. Once toasted to a crisp, remove from oven and generously sprinkle with salt.

We generally eat kale chips straight off the baking sheet. However, two of the Littles have yet to commit to the kale craze. I won’t give up and in the meantime, I sprinkle crumbled kale chips into bowls of popcorn for a healthy snack. And, everyone seems to enjoy the crispy addition to scrambled eggs. The crispy kale also adds a pleasant crunch to leafy green salads. See, I told you the possibilities were endless….

If you need more inspiration check out how to take your kale chips to a new level at The Sensitive Pantry. Nancy offers several ways to really kick your kale up a notch!

Have you joined the kale craze?

Fried Okra

Who doesn’t love fried okra? Seriously, in nearly five years of food blogging I can’t believe I haven’t shared a fried okra story. I guess it’s because I assumed everyone has a favorite way to fry okra. I don’t have a recipe written down, but my version historically involved flour, buttermilk, cornmeal and oil for frying. When the first few pods of okra showed up in our Tecolote Farms basket this week, I knew I had to come up with a marginally healthy way to fry ’em up. I pared it down to the essentials and guess what? Either our palates have changed significantly since our last fried okra fest, or we truly didn’t miss the flour and dairy.  All I can say is no matter how you fry okra it’s just plain YUM.

Try this simple version. It’s light on ingredients and the distinct flavor of the okra is allowed to star the show. I keep the pods whole with just the spiky ends trimmed. It keeps the notorious okra slime in check and you get a fuller bite.

Note: We only had a small amount of okra this week. Probably two handfuls. The quantities I’ve listed below are not hard fast. If you need another egg add it, likewise with cornmeal and oil.

Cornmeal Fried Okra

okra, washed and ends trimmed

1 cup canola oil

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup cornmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free)

coarse sea salt

lemon

Wash and trim the okra. Pat dry.

In a frying pan, cast iron is best, add enough oil to float the okra. Heat over medium-high flame.

In a small shallow bowl whisk the egg until lightly beaten. Add the okra and toss to coat. Pour cornmeal into a shallow dish. Dredge the okra in the cornmeal until each piece is generously covered.

Gently place okra into hot oil with a spatula.  Fry until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes.

Remove okra with a slotted spatula to drain on a paper towel lined plate. Generously sprinkle with sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

For another delicious way to enjoy okra, read Martha Washington’s recipe.

Basil Lemonade

Yesterday Littlest and I made Basil Lemon Simple Syrup. As soon as her feet hit the ground this morning she was begging for Basil Lemonade. What could I say? After all, she deserved to taste the fruit of her labor.

We squeezed (and squeezed) lemons, added our delicious syrup, and in no time at all we were savoring fresh lemonade. Littlest loves it!  I must admit, it’s crazy good lemonade and Addie’s revelation to add balsamic vinegar was sheer brilliance.

Kick off your summer with a splash and enjoy this tasty twist on lemonade. I’m making more syrup as we speak just to keep a stash in the fridge. Husband and I might even try a Basil Lemon Gimlet this weekend. I’ll keep you posted.

Basil Lemonade

2 cups basil lemon simple syrup

2 cups cold water

2 cups ice cubes

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6-8 lemons)

1 splash balsamic vinegar

Stir together ingredients in a large pitcher.  Pour into ice filled glasses and enjoy!

Makes about 6 cups of lemonade.

Basil Lemon Simple Syrup

Earlier this week food writer and friend Addie Broyles tweeted her food revelation du jour: a splash of balsamic vinegar does wonders for basil lemonade. Thus my inspiration for basil lemonade was born. While the older three Littles are away at camp this week, Littlest and I are enjoying the relative quietness and time to do things sans older siblings.  When I asked if she would help me pick basil to make a syrup for lemonade she assured me she knew exactly what to do.

First we collected about 4 cups of basil from Husband’s garden. Note: If you allow your three year old to hand pick each leaf of basil, this recipe will actually take some time. Plan accordingly. The trade off that your toddler will be making her first simple syrup will be well worth your patience.

Once we had the main ingredient hunted and gathered, making the syrup was very, well…simple.

Basil Lemon Simple Syrup

4 cups fresh basil (handpicked by toddler optional)

4 cups water

2 cups sugar (we use organic cane sugar)

zest of one large lemon

Zest the lemon with vegetable peeler so that you have nice large pieces. In a medium pot bring basil, lemon, sugar and water to a boil, stirring to help dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let stand covered for one hour.  Transfer to a large mason jar, or sealable container, and refrigerate for at least one hour.  I left ours to chill overnight. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh colander or sieve into a large bowl.  With the back of a wooden spoon or using your hands press or squeeze all the liquid from the basil and lemon.  Discard the solids. Pour back into the large mason jar. The syrup will stay fresh refrigerated for up to one week.

Voila! Basil lemon simple syrup. So simple even a toddler can make it.

We’ll use our syrup to make the Basil Lemonade tomorrow!

Roasted Romano Beans

Look what came in my CSA basket today! A big bag of Romano beans.  Maybe you know them as Italian green beans or pole beans.  I’m going to toss these in a little olive oil with some garlic, chives and red pepper flakes and roast them for an addictive appetizer tonight.  Oh and see the red carrots in the background? They’re sliced nice and thin and already roasting in the oven.

Roasted Romano Beans

1 lb romano beans, trimmed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 -3 TBS fresh chives, chopped

red pepper flakes, to taste

salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl mix olive oil, garlic, chives and seasonings.  Add trimmed romano beans and toss to coat.  Spread beans on a baking sheet and roast for 20 – 30 minutes, until tender and brown.