Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Dinner: Broth-Boiled Kale with Fried Egg on Toast, Apple-Pear Tart

Tonight's dinner was inspired by Orangette, who recently blogged about boiled kale and an apple tart. The boiled kale recipe was actually adapted from The Zuni Café Cookbook, which I probably need to get at some point soon.

In any case, Jade and I were going to make a similar dinner, then sit down and watch the first episode of Gossip Girl S1 together. We plan to do this every Saturday. Except we won't watch the first episode very time, obviously, but continue in the series. She will be at her house and I will be at mine, 1,100 miles apart. Ah, the wonders of technology. The challenge we've imposed on ourselves is that Jade is currently on a restricted diet, due to recovering from surgery, and has to have low-fat meals. So we try to choose meals that are low in fat, or at the very least, easily made into a low-fat version.

Tonight she made a version of the dish that required less oil, and I pretty much stuck to the letter -- but even so, it's a pretty light, healthy meal.

I wasn't actually going to make the tart, except I realized that I had a frozen puff pastry sheet in the freezer that I've been meaning to use, as well as an apple and a pear that needed to be eaten. And since it sounded simple enough to make (made even simpler by the fact that I didn't make the pastry part myself), I decided to go for it.

First I went to the store and bought some chicken and celery for the stock (I had the other ingredients on hand), as well as the kale and some chard for another night. I threw all the stock ingredients into a large pot and let that simmer away for a few hours. In the meantime I prepared the vegetables and made the tart.

Here it is right out of the oven, pre-glaze.

When it came time to prepare the kale, I first sauteed some onions:

Then added the kale, garlic, and pepper flakes:

Finally, I added chicken broth (not pictured). While that was boiling merrily away I finished up the glaze for the tart and cut a generous slice of my sourdough rye to pop in the toaster. When that was golden brown, I rubbed a clove of garlic on both sides (it actually 'grates' it like cheese, even though you can't see the garlic on the toast!):

The instructions called for a "wide soup bowl" and what I used was clearly too big -- I'd say that a saucer or any dish that has uplifted sides would work just as well as a bowl, because it's not actually soup -- you just don't want moisture trickling off a regular plate.

When the kale was nearly ready I fried an egg -- unfortunately a little too well done, but I have plenty of leftovers so I can make sure it's runny perfection next time -- and assembled the whole thing together.

Now, this recipe had obviously sounded good to me or I wouldn't have gone through the trouble of preparing it. But I wasn't sure if it was going to be one of those things that sounded good in theory yet fell flat in practice. So plain and unpretenious -- it was either going to be blah or amazingly good. It was, I am happy to report, amazingly good. It might look homey and plain like peasant food, but it's fit for a king (or queen)!

Apparently you don't have to go through the trouble of using stock at all and can use plain water to boil the kale, but I would strongly advise against this. It's the kale that makes this dish interesting -- otherwise what you have is a fried egg on toast -- and the broth makes the kale rich and flavorful, and livens up the entire dish. Use pre-made broth if you must (if time constraints are an issue, it's definitely a decent alternative, though store-bought stock never tastes the same as the homemade kind), but use broth, not water.

The bread soaks up the broth and provides a hearty contrast to the soft leaves and egg. I opted not to drizzle with olive oil and cheese -- I don't think they would have added that much except a lot of extra calories. :-)

I finished with a slice of apple-pear tart, which was surprisingly good. Light but flavorful, just like the entree that had come before. Though I definitely could have had seconds of everything (happily), I was full without feeling like I was going to burst (as happens all too often with me!), and decided not to put the "too much of a good thing" theory to test.

Broth-Boiled Kale with Fried Egg on Toast (adapted from Orangette)


For the dish (serves 2)

  • 8oz kale, washed, de-stemmed, and sliced into 1/4" ribbons
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock (homemade or store bought)
  • 2 thick slices of toasted bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 onion, diced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil to stir fry (about 3 tbsp)
For the stock

  • 2lb chicken parts (I used leg quarters)
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 1 celery rib, quartered
  • 1/2 onion, cut in two
  • salt to taste

Note: I doubled this because it's cheaper to buy chicken in bulk -- as a whole fryer, for instance -- and chicken stock is always welcome! But it does make a lot of stock.


For the stock

  1. If you're making the stock, throw everything together in a large stockpot and bring to a slow boil. Simmer for at least 45 minutes. I like to eke out every last bit of chicken essence, so if I have the time I will usually let this go for about 3 hours. Salt to taste.
  2. Remove the large solids as best as you can. Unless you used only chicken bones, save the meat for later use (like sandwiches or chicken enchiladas -- half of mine will be mixed with dry dog food for Talis).
  3. Transfer the stock to another stockpot or large bowl using a strainer. The trick I like to use here is to line the strainer with cheesecloth so that all those little bits stay out of the final broth, and I don't have to strain twice. Now it's ready!
For the final dish

  1. Heat up olive oil in a large saucepan (I used my wok).
  2. Saute the onion until tender and nearly translucent.
  3. Add kale, sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Saute until the kale is completely wilted.
  4. Pour chicken stock into the kale until it's covered by about 1/2" of broth. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the kale is tender. Salt to taste.
  5. When the kale is nearly done, toast the bread and fry over easy eggs.
  6. Place one slice of toast into each dish. Top with a generous portion of kale, without being too fussy about wringing the broth out (but don't let it get soupy either). Place the egg on top and serve.

Apple-Pear Tart, the super easy version (for pastry dough recipe, see Orangette -- also creates a larger tart)

Serves 6


  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large apple, peeled and cored (save the discard) -- thinly sliced
  • 1 large, firm pear, peeled and cored (save the discard) -- thinly sliced
  • 1 apple core
  • 1 pear core
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tsp sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the puff pastry on it.
  2. Lay slices of fruit on the puff pastry, overlapping each other. You should have 3 rows.
  3. Sprinkle 3 tsp sugar over the fruit, 1 tsp per row. Use more if you run out, or like it sweeter.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the pastry and fruit are golden and just beginning to turn brown. Let cool right on the pan.
  5. While the tart is baking, put 1/4 cup sugar, water, and cores/peels into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and let it simmer until it's reduced to a thick syrup. Remove from heat and strain out solids. If you're not serving right away, you can heat it up again later.
  6. Slice the tart into thirds -- a pizza cutter works well. Then slice each third in half, so you have 6 portions.
  7. When ready to serve, place a tart slice onto a plate, then drizzle with warm syrup.

You could obviously do this with just apples or just pears; I used what I had on hand. The puff pastry doesn't absolutely need to be fully thawed. It's usually folded into thirds, and since you'll be cutting it into thirds anyway, if you unfold it while it's slightly frozen it will probably break at the seam, which would be fine. If you're not paying attention when making the glaze and it's suddenly been boiled down to nothing (this might have happened to me), just add more water and keep boiling it.

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