Seasonal Flavors: Eat Well

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By Elena Day

January brings a needed rest from the more than month-long (beginning now on Thanksgiving Day after 5 p.m.) riot of shopping, gift giving, eating and drinking, and parties that has been inculcated into our culture as the American Christmas/Holiday tradition. I’m all for the latter two categories and could well skip the first two.

January also brings restlessness with its cold and often gray short days. It’s a time to eat well and reinvigorate one’s body and spirit.

I’m featuring Sicilian Olive Oil Cake this month. At least the name brings us memories of sun and warmth. The second is a healthful Kale and Potato Soup that is an amalgam of different recipes. My son brought home an overly large bag of kale from the heirloom garden where he works. Everyone extols the merits of eating Brassicas these days, kale in particular. Kale is high in beta carotene, calcium, B6, and magnesium, as well as vitamins A, C, and K. Kale and fellow Brassicas like collards, arugula and bok choy, thrive in cold weather, even under an overlay of snow. Cold sweetens them!

 

Sicilian Olive Oil Cake

  • 1 ½ cups olive oil (extra virgin is preferable)
  • 1 ½ cups orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed)
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 ½ cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder*
  • 1 ¾  tsp salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • zest of 3 oranges

Beat eggs in large mixing bowl. Add sugar slowly. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add orange juice to egg mixture. Add olive oil and flour alternately into egg/orange juice mixture. Add orange zest. Oil and flour a Bundt pan. Pour batter into Bundt pan. Bake at 350° F for approximately 1 hour and 15 min, until a toothpick comes out clean.

One can glaze the cake with confectioners sugar and orange juice, but the cake is sweet enough without the glaze.

 Kale and Potato Soup

  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6-8 medium potatoes
  • ½ – ¾ lb kale shredded
  • Olive oil
  • Herbs such as savory, thyme, marjoram, & rosemary, to taste
  • A few red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Sauté chopped or sliced onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent or beyond (but not burned). Add sliced carrot and herbs. Sauté a bit longer. Peel and cut potatoes in small chunks. Holding back the chunks from at least one potato, add the rest to the sautéed vegetables. Stir potatoes until nicely coated. Cover with water (or chicken broth).*

When potatoes are soft, take ¾ mixture and puree in blender. Return to soup pot and add more water and shredded kale and the potato chunks held in reserve. Simmer for 15 minutes to ½ hour. Serve hot with good crusty bread from one of our fine bakeries.

*If I hadn’t been dealing with those pesky vegetarians, I would have added some diced salami or kielbasa to the sauté and likely used the chicken broth. The Portuguese kale and potato soup recipes call for chorizo, which is a bit too spicy for me.

 
*Note: The print version of this recipe incorrectly called for 1/2 tsp. It should have 1 1/2 tsp. Special thanks to Sara Rothenberger of Batesville for bringing it to our attention.