Saturday, 28 February 2009

How to feel Good then Bad then Good again; or: Brownies and Kale Soup

Things have been pretty crazy around here recently. First there was Vegas, then New York, then the end of February marking my one-month-home anniversary (how did that happen?), then the beginning of March when I start my internships and am supposed to be an official San Francisco resident. It's a lot for someone used to spending grey Edinburgh afternoons coddling loaves of bread or making several additions of fabulous carrot cake in one week.

So today I'm taking a day off from Craig's List. A pause from job searching and apartment searching and general life searching, I decided this morning to calm myself with chocolate. Specifically, gooey, fudgy, brownies.

Now for me, baking is like drinking. There is an art to knowing how much and when to start and when to stop. Usually it is best a few hours before bed, so that the process of going to sleep stops me from actually eating all of it. So when it was ten this morning and I was already melting chocolate and butter over a double boiler, I could sense trouble coming. But I couldn't help myself. I needed to chop the chocolate and lick the spoons and really beat those eggs to death, even if it was going to be before noon.

Unfortunately, an unpreditable oven made the brownies seem to be done and seem to pass the toothpick test even though once cooled I was sad to find out the innards were like a soft chocolate pudding. Not brownies at all, but more like a chocolate lava cake. But the edges were cooked, and with just a little bit of that slightly warm oozing middle they were actually fabulous - fabulous enough to make me feel really really ill, but still coming back every fifteen minutes or so for just another tiny sliver.*

By noon, I was a mess. And then came the kale soup. For what can make you feel cleaner, or more monastically pure than a bowl of broth and greens? Chicken broth, a bunch of chopped lacinato kale, salt, pepper, and chili flakes later, I was spooning a 20 minute simmered soup through my still chocolate stained lips. Simple, warm, and oh so healthy, the soup took away the feeling of over sugared nastiness. Coupled with roasted radishes which had the perfect fiery crunch to them, I was settled and recovered. The subtle chew and deep earthiness of the kale leaves after that low simmer was the perfect cure to a chocolate hangover.

Kale Soup

3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
One bunch lacinato kale, sliced in ribbons and thick ends of stems discarded
Pinch of chili flakes
One garlic clove, peeled, halved
Salt and pepper

1. Boil the broth.

2. Add kale and turn heat to low. Add garlic, salt, and a pinch of chili flakes.

3. Simmer for about twenty minutes, covered.

4. Discard garlic. Taste for salt. Add pepper. Serve.

Roasted Radishes

These make a super yummy easy and spicy little snack.

As many radishes as you can eat (I used one bunch), trimmed and cut in half.
Olive oil

1. Toss the radishes with a few glugs of olive oil.

2. Give them a few shakes of paprika and cayenne (I used about 1/2 teaspoon of each). Sprinkle with salt. Toss again.

3. Roast at 375 degrees for a half hour, stirring halfway through. Serve immediately.

*Make those brownies. I am a convert - I cut up the ooey bits in the middle and froze them for a couple hours. After that chill they were amazing. Like a cool, rich fudge, they held their shape but held their softness too, and were perfect with a movie that night.

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