Last week was not my week in the kitchen, friends. I had great, ambitious designs on a rhubarb meringue tart that would be pink and pretty with a scalloped tart-shell edge and a meringue that looked like piped roses that had toasted petal tips. But as the week went on and as various really non-torments in the greater definition of the word but nonetheless tormenting to me mounted — thin curds, too thick curds, beige (you know, the color of pink rhubarb + multiple yolks) curd, slumped tart shells, wet meringues, useless broilers, blowtorches so close to empty, they emit the useless wisps of sleepy dragons, refill canister AWOL — my enjoyment of the project plummeted. But, because I’d like to teach my kid one day that he should follow through and finish what he started, I did, and lo, it was good, you know? Maybe I’m just not a meringue pie person and I forgot? None of this matters because the finished pie slid off the plate flopping face-down into the open fridge as I tried to put it away and then, as I crouched on the floor in front of the open fridge scooping fistfuls of meringue and curd into a garbage bag and questioning my life choices, my son walked in and asked what I was making for dinner.
Where have I been, you ask? Did I fly off to a small Caribbean island again, only to return to rub it in? Did my book project or adorable distraction eat me alive again? For once, no. I have actually been out climbing another (slightly smaller) culinary Mount Everest for you, and I have returned bearing not one, but two recipes.
I’ve been wanting to make potato knish almost as long as I’ve had this site. I thought I’d finally tackle it this winter, when carbs-for-warmth are the order of the day but New York up and decided to not have a winter this year and so it was a 60 degree day or never. I’m glad I went with it as knish are quintessentially old New York, brought to the Lower East Side tenements by Jewish Eastern European immigrants who knew, like most of our forefathers did, how to stretch staples into belly-filling delights.
I could never get into kale. Heck, I’ve long been timid about greens in general — the delicate ones like baby spinach and arugula were easy but as soon as things got a little heavier, I got nervous. When I finally found a respectable green I found palatable — Swiss chard, which I think of as the green for spinach people — I went to town with it: a tart, a spaghetti dish and then gratin. But I still couldn’t warm to kale. Because I didn’t like the way it tasted. And I don’t care if something is chock-full of vitamin A, C and calcium, I don’t care if it makes you live longer or feel stronger or fixes the budget deficit, I’ve got this hang-up wherein I won’t eat food if it doesn’t taste good to me. (My offspring is a little less particular, it seems.) And kale just didn’t.
But in February, I began seeing a recipe for baked kale chips flitting about the internet. I’m not sure where it started (or re-started, as I see folks have actually been making this for years), but I’m guessing with a Dan Barber recipe in Bon Appetit that month. His version used whole leaves and arranged them daintily in a pitcher; the more rustic version I’d seen on blogs (and hooray for that) was simple to de-stem the kale, cut or tear it up, toss it with a bit of oil and bake it until crisp.