When I went to college at Emory 3,000 years ago, there used to be a spot in Emory Village called Cedar Tree that sold “pitzas.” It was basically a piece of toasted pita bread topped with pizza-like toppings and the surprising thing was that it was really, really good. A dinner at Cedar Tree was always a treat and when I listen to the Indigo Girls–who, incidentally or maybe not so incidentally went to Emory–their song “Cedar Tree” always makes me think about how good a piece of toasted pita bread with pizza-like toppings can be. Yet, weirdly I’d never attempted it at home until I hit upon a technique that makes so much sense for transforming plain-old-pita bread into something that resembles a pizza crust.
Picasso had his blue period; I’m having my “smoked trout, pickled onion and kale” period right now. You may recognize these ingredients from some earlier posts this week–Fun Times with Farro, the very popular Chicken Sausage with White Beans and Kale–and now they’re all reuniting, once again, for a breakfast that had Craig and I leaping from our chairs, we enjoyed it so much.
Last week I was going to share with you a great weeknight recipe I came up with involving chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s (the garlic and herb flavor), mirepoix–that’s carrots, onions and celery for you amateurs–and white beans. That was it. Then, a week later, I made it again, only this time I added kale and suddenly a super casual dinner took on some oomph. This was a dinner that people might really want to make on a weeknight, that’s tasty but also healthy and surprisingly flavorful with the addition of a secret ingredient at the end which I won’t tell you about until after the jump. Ok fine, I’ll tell you: it’s lemon juice. And it works wonders.
Oh kale, you’re everywhere. You’re in my belly right now because I just had you for lunch (a raw salad that was a little too spicy from Little Dom’s Deli). You’re a fad, you’re a trend. You’re chips, you’re juice. You’re unavoidable in L.A.
And here I am putting a recipe with kale in it up on the blog. Have I no shame? Am I the equivalent of an insecure middle schooler who chases the popular kids around yelling, “Hey, guys, wait for me!” (Funny: when I started high school, one of the first friends I made–an older girl–actually said, “You seem like the kind of kid who’d say, ‘Hey guys, wait for me!'”) Whatever.
Little by little, bit by bit, L.A. is chipping away at me. First: I joined a gym. Then I started cooking quinoa. Most recently, I met my friend Isaac (pictured above) in Silverlake for coffee; only Intelligentsia was so packed, we agreed to a change of venue and journeyed down the street to a juice bar. Isaac ordered the green concoction that you see him holding and I bought myself a coconut water.
Hyperbole is a dangerous tool for food bloggers. Yes, it’s easy to call something “the best” this or “the most amazing” that but do it too often, and you start to lose credibility. “If everything’s the best,” you might think, “then what makes this one any more special?”
Fair enough, ungentle reader, fair enough. But sometimes something just IS the best and then what do you do? Do you pretend it’s not the best and just call it what it is–in this case, a cheese casserole–or do you call a spade a spade and hang it all on the line and admit that this really is the best casserole ever? Allow me to martyr myself, then, hanging myself by my own hyperbole: the casserole you see above, a casserole called Cheese Love, is, by my reckoning, the best casserole ever. EVER!!!!