Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chip and Dips, Part One

We had a torrential storm clear out overnight and it's a beautiful bluebird day here in Jackson Hole. Sunny winter days present a high-quality dilemma for me. Should I be on the mountain, skiing, partaking in the natural beauty and healthy lifestyle that we moved here for? Or, should I stay at home, test some new recipes, write a new post, and maybe catch up on Downton Abbey (am so, so far behind!)? It's unbelievably perfect here today, so I'm doing a quick post on my ongoing chip and dip fascination before meeting friends for a few runs.

In re-inventing childhood favorites, I'm always indulging my inner child and my real four children in the name of research. One of their favorites is potato chips. My kids love potato chips. You love potato chips. We all love potato chips. My favorite are the crazy addictive Jalapeno flavored ones from Kettle Chips. Those are my all-purpose remedy for PMS, hangovers, and writers block.

Lately, however, I'm thinking I should be packing fewer potato chips in their lunches and making the effort to bake up kale chips more often. My friend Dana Tang brought a huge bowl of these baked kale chips to a beach bbq one summer evening and the kids all swarmed around her like the goddess she is. I've been making them ever since and it is the only vegetable my son, Alexei, will actually ask for. They have that crispy-salty crunch of chips with a nice green vegetable taste on top. The only downside is that they go so quickly.

The recipe is so simple:

Baked Kale Chips

Bunches and bunches of kale (not the lacinato or dinosaur kind)
Olive oil
Sea Salt

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

Rinse and dry as much kale as you can possibly bear to rinse and dry. I would begin with at least two bunches. Cut away the leafy green parts away from the tough center rib. Discard the ribs. In a large bowl, toss the greens with olive oil and salt. Figure on just two tablespoons at the most per bunch of kale. Unlike spinach, kale is pretty sturdy and will not wilt under the oil. You can also do this "shake-and-bake" style in a large brown paper bag.

This is just one bunch of kale ready for the oven.
Spread the kale in a single layer on baking sheets and bake for at least 15 minutes. The baking time will depend on the freshness, or moisture content, of the kale. Begin checking after 15 minutes. They should be crispy, almost shatteringly so. Don't let them get very brown or they will be bitter.

Eat warm or cool. Keep in an airtight container for a day or so. These never last longer than a day in my house so I really have no idea how long they keep crisp.

Meanwhile, to post later this week, I'm working on dairy-free renditions of my favorite fattening yummy dips: garlicky ranch dip, a classic French onion dip, and a knockout sesame-tamari dip. However, I'll probably have to test those with Kettle chips.

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