Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just Kale Me Know

I seem to be on a soup kick lately.  Perhaps it’s the winter, or the snow, or the fact that I just don’t usually make a lot of soup.  Consider it a New Years resolution.  Also, I seemingly have a knack for leftovers.  Little by little I'm starting to break outside the confines of direct recipes and instead pull inspiration from places and make my own dish.  This soup started with a trip to Cape Cod over the holidays, where I had a delicious kale soup at Land Ho!, a great local seafood restaurant. 

Bold and determined to use my leftover turkey from Christmas dinner that was not turkey noodle soup, I settled on making a kale and turkey soup.  It's really yummy and warm.  This recipe is slightly different than the one I actually made because of ingredient choices, but it's going in the folder of regulars at my house.

If you really want to stretch your leftovers and dollar, I recommend making your own turkey stock for this soup with the leftover bones.
Kale and Turkey Soup

½ pound spicy Italian sausage or kielbasa, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon red pepper flake
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1 large bunch kale, chopped and bottom stems trimmed
1 pound cooked turkey, shredded
10 cups chicken or turkey stock
1-15oz. can red kidney beans
1 pound bowtie pasta, cooked and drained
Salt and pepper

In a large pot over medium heat, brown sausage about 3-5 minutes.  Remove sausage with slotted spoon and set on plate.  Add onion to remaining drippings in man, scraping up the bottom and cooking onions about 2 minutes.  Add the celery and carrots and cook until just beginning to soften, about 3 more minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, followed by the bay leaves, red pepper flake, rosemary, tomato paste, some salt, and thyme.  Add wine to pan to deglaze.  Add in the turkey (and a leftover bone if you have it), stock, sausage, beans, pasta, and kale.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper (and more red pepper flake if you want more heat).  Serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Land Ho!

You can find this and other food reviews from me at Yelp

I found this place in the local news on a recent trip to Cape Cod.  A local hangout, this place was PACKED in the middle of the winter with my favorite people, New Englanders who have lost all ability to pronounce the letter "R".  They have the normal variety of New England food, meaning lots of fish, grinders, and beeah (yes that's a word.  I think).

I started with the kale soup, which was highly recommended and ohmygosh was it good.  Sausage, beans, veggies, it was fantastic.  So much in so that I tried to replicate it at home a few nights later.  But that's another post.  I had fish and chips for my lunch, which were quite tasty, and though most fried fish tends to taste the same, I could tell this fish was extremely fresh.  It tasted like fish, not batter.  Emily had fried clams, which were great, and her mom had a really nice pastrami sandwich.  Her dad had flounder which was just alright, but the soup we all had more than made up for it.

4/5 Sheepdogs

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Food Reviews

Good news!  I'm expanding!  Well, by expanding I mean I'm writing about new things.  This is more for local flavor and my travels, as I'm bringing back restaurant reviews.  I go out to eat and find myself analyzing and critiquing the meal from all points of view.  Probably comes from working in restaurants for many of my young adult years.  Along with my good friend and coworker Aaron Atkinson, creator and proprietor of, I will be detailing my restaurant adventures over the coming months.  We in Lafayette, Indiana are seriously lacking a good true food critic.  The local paper never got back to me about writing for them (and I even offered it pro bono!), so I'm going to assume that role and hope it helps.  I consider it releasing my inner Tony Bordain, and while I have no great illusions of ever matching his writings and musings (or foul mouth), I do consider myself a pretty honest person when it comes to food.  Hope you all enjoy!

Also, since I'm a dog nut, my value system will be given off of sheepdogs such as these:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Gage

We went to Chicago this past weekend for the auto show, as we do almost every year, and afterwards dined at The Gage.  The Gage is a gastro-pub, which basically means it serves really good food in a casual, almost bar-like atmosphere.  I enjoy a fancy meal sometimes, but casual is much more my cup of tea.

I have eaten at The Gage many times, and never once have I been short of amazed.  Their menu is outstanding and constantly changing, the beer list is rotating and impressive, and I'm pretty sure everyone who works there loves their job.

We usually start with their poutine, French fries and cheese curds covered in gravy.  This along with their beer and cheese fondue is probably two of the best items on the menu.   We also tried the escargot bon-bons for the table, which were served with a very nice goat cheese sauce and were extremely tender and flavorful.

I can go on and on about how good the rest of the meal was (the local sausages, chicken, or whitefish for a main course are great choices), but I figure I should focus more on the end of the meal.  Make sure you get dessert.  This place serves some of the best dessert of any restaurant I have ever been to.  I would recommend something, but it changes almost weekly. 

So the next time you are in Chicago, I would recommend this be one of your first stops.  It's a very popular place, as it should be from it's great food and drink.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Baked Pasta

As I was sitting in Kansas City last week, snowed in up to my eyeballs, I made the resolve to blog a lot and get caught up on recipes I have had written down since July. Well, that didn't turn out according to plan, as I was either a) pooped or b) drinking beer once the sun set. What do you want from me? Happily, I can report I found a fantastic restaurant in KC called Blancs Burgers and Bottles, which serves not only really good burgers but also has a pretty impressive beer selection.

Also big on my list lately, easy food. Between myself and Em traveling lately, we barely had a together meal over 2 weeks. Not my idea of a good time, but I also try (TRY) to prevent ordering out when I'm by myself. That's a slippery road. I instead turned to my dear friend pasta to help me through the cold nights.

I started making baked pasta about a year ago, and it has evolved into a simple weeknight meal and something I can always make with what I have on hand. Since I made a lot of tomato sauce this summer, 1 bag of that out of the freezer is all I need to get this dish going. If you don't have that handy, you can always use jarred sauce, but try to stick to just the tomato variety (like Ragu).
Baked Pasta

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 cups tomato sauce (preferably home-made, if you don’t have it, use a jar of tomato pasta sauce)
¾ cup Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon red pepper flake
Salt and pepper
1 pound tube pasta (rigatoni or penne)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook pasta in well-salted water by package directions, undercooking by 1-2 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water when draining.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter. Once melted whisk in flour and cook for 30 seconds until well combined. Whisk in milk (it will cook faster if the milk is at room temperature) and cook until thickened and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Add ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese, red pepper flake, nutmeg, and some salt and pepper. Turn off heat and add in tomato sauce. Season to taste.

In a 13x9 baking sheet add pasta. Add sauce over top and fold in to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add pasta water to thin it out. It will thicken as it bakes. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese, cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and hot. Enjoy.