Here’s a recipe sent to me by Michael Feldstein. It was posted on his friend, Sarah’s, blog: Dogs and Shoes. I’ve since taken a stroll through her site and recommend it to you all.
I was making this dish for myself—now let’s pause here for a moment to fully appreciate this. Before asking you all to send in recipes, I was barely ever in my kitchen. I cooked the same things for myself day after day. The only time I really cooked, and rarely, was when I was having friends over. But on this night, I was COOKING A NEW RECIPE JUST FOR MYSELF! That is a tectonic shift my friends. And I want to thank you all for participating in this new inspiration. You’ve invited me back into the kitchen by sending me your favorite, easy, recipes. YOU reminded me that cooking can be fun and is creative. THANK YOU. (I still have more recipes to test and I will get to them all, I promise).
Anyway, as I was just about to put this dish into the oven, Anna called. While Bill Loyd is my creative role model and, as I’ve said many times before, he can figure absolutely anything out, fix anything, he has just one blind spot: computers. His relationship with them is spotty at best. I think this is because they aren’t founded in logic and it is logic Bill uses to untangle things. I remember taking a computer class way back when and I kept raising my hand to ask the instructor, “Why?” His constant reply was, “Just because. It’s the way computers are built. There’s no reason.” Well, things without reason are anathema to Bill.
Most of you know that Anna, Bill and I have been preparing to create our advertising for the year (see previous post Bill Loyd’s New Sign In Truchas, NM). Apparently Bill was at the computer trying to deal with some photo images for said ads and was deeply frustrated. Anna called to see if they could come over for a little computer help. And that’s a very funny thing: I am the go-to person in the village when it comes to computer issues. My previous co-workers would laugh out loud, I swear. But there it is. In this village I am the computer expert.
So the two of them came over and we shared this Colcannon and then headed to the studio to untangle the unreasonable.
I will admit that this dish was not a resounding success, but I think it had to do with other factors than the recipe. For one, high altitude (and I’m at 8500 feet) can play havoc with some dishes. I think this may have been the case here. Then too, my friend, Kim Moss, who is an excellent cook, asked me how I’d handled the potatoes. Handled the potatoes? What, there’s a trick to that? And apparently there is. If you’re rough with them they can turn to starch and get all gluteny on you. And, to put it mildly, I was not tender with these spuds, so they became very heavy. They turned into sticky starch.
If I were to make this dish again at this altitude, I would definitely take care with the potatoes and I would likely double the amount of kale. It gave a delicious flavor and there just wasn’t enough of it. Anna also suggested the addition of an egg and Bill wondered about some cheese.
But, I suggest you try this and let me know how it works for you, will you?
From Michael Feldstein via Dogs and Shoes:
It’s Impossible to Stop Eating This
Colcannon With Kale
2 pounds white potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups finely cut kale
3 tablespoons minced onion
3 tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground while pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1 Preheat oven to 400
2 Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place in a saucepan with 1 inch of boiling water containing 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cover and cook until they are tender. Drain and mash.
3 Meanwhile, cook the kale until tender in 1 inch of boiling water containing 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Draion.
4 Saute the onions in half the butter. Combine the onions with the mashed potatoes, drained kale, pepper and milk. Beat until smooth.
5 Turn the mixture into a shallow baking dish, dot with the remaining butter, and place in the oven. Heat until browned on the top.
Sarah says of this dish, “When I was in college and learning to cook, I became enamored of a Craig Claibourne recipe for colcannon—a traditional Irish dish that mixes potatoes and kale or cabbage. I hadn’t grown up eating colcannon, I didn’t use that particular cookbook very much, and this was in the years before I considered establishing a religion based on kale, so I’m not sure how I even hit on the recipe. But I’m guessing I was trying to use up some potatoes, and Claibourne’s short write-up appealed to me because it had just seven ingredients, including salt and pepper, and it looked easy.
“Easy” undersells the virtues of this creation. Not only can you make it with the skills you’ll have acquired by the second time you’ve attempted to cook, it’s forgiving and versatile. If you boil the potatoes too long, no problem. If you undercook the kale, nobody gets hurt. If you don’t feel like peeling the potatoes, totally fine. If you use sweet potatoes (or yellow potatoes, or even rutabagas) instead of white potatoes, all to the good. If you don’t have milk on hand, or if you’re vegan, you can just substitute in the potato cooking water (I probably don’t need to mention that vegans can swap in olive oil for the butter). If you toss in cabbage instead of kale, you’ve just made “bubble and squeak”—the English version of this dish, which ought to win a prize for delightful names. You can profitably throw in tofu, and I’ve seen colcannon recipes that include pork.
Here’s the other great thing about this recipe: it uses ingredients you can get at the farmers’ market far into the winter. And those ingredients are usually pretty cheap.
Oh, and also? It’s delicious. Impossible-to-stop-eating delicious. Claibourne’s recipe says it serves six. Presumably, that’s six people with no taste buds.
So for all of these reasons, I started making colcannon regularly—very, very regularly. I tried other recipes, but most didn’t include Claibourne’s baking step, which produces a lovely crust. I always reverted back to his.
And then I lost track of the idea. I joined a CSA and started sauteing kale or eating it raw. My potatoes wound up in Spanish tortillas. I moved for a while to an apartment with an iffy oven. I forgot about colcannon. For almost 20 years.
But earlier tonight, facing a big bunch of collard-like “winter greens” I’d found at the farmers’ market last weekend and wanting comfort food after five days of a nasty cold, I remembered the recipe. I didn’t have the cookbook anymore, but Google Books turned up the page exactly as I remembered it, minus a few stains.
I used what I had on hand: a mix of sweet and white potatoes, the unidentified greens, potato water instead of milk, extra onions because they’re yummy, and, fittingly, Kerrygold Irish butter. I microwaved the greens instead of boiling them, but other than that, I followed the recipe.
It was as amazingly gratifying and yummy as I remembered it. The only change I’d make: if I were re-writing the recipe, I might mention that under certain circumstances, it serves just one.”
Love to you all,