Kale and Corn Quesadillas

Hi, I’m Brianne. I have a gluten intolerance. I wish I was dating someone who would come up with a clever name for my problem à la “lactard,” which remains the funniest nickname I’ve received to date. (Aside from bran muffin, which is just adorable. But contains gluten.)

So, as of two weeks ago, I’m 99% gluten and lactose free. I want to die a little every time I have to think of a way to feed myself, but without gluten, my stomach feels a million years better. I hate those people who go gluten-free because it’s a cool thing to do – but I’m telling you, doctor’s orders made me decide to start cutting this shit out. The difference is staggering.  I’m no longer dreading to go out with friends, grocery shopping, running, to yoga, or to work (ok, well, let’s not get carried away…). I used to sit in my office miserable and completely anxious after every meal. Going to meetings was felt out of the question. Taking the elevator. Seeing people. My crazy-fucked-up stomach problems have isolated me much more than my inherent bluntness and outward cruelty. Thank you, whoever suggested I had a gluten problem. Thank you, gastroenterologist for relentlessly helping me. Oh, and let’s not forget you, people of Mexico, for making corn tortillas and giving me a rejuvenated spirit.

I was pretty thrilled when I realized corn tortillas are usually gluten-free –I was running around Target like a kid in a gluten-free candy store. Rushed over to the salsa section to complete this idea. Bought a ton of sliced swiss. Gluten free products are ridiculously overpriced, so friends who are g-free can relate to this feeling of excitement for finding something affordable to eat.

So I pretty much insist that quesadillas be served with salsa, because what else are tortillas used for, other than a vehicle for consuming awesome salsa? Then, I decided to try heating up some frozen kale and some corn I have. When that was hot, I thought to myself, “Self, garlic might be real good in this.” So, I threw in some seriously minced garlic.

It was like the heavens collided inside of my mouth when I finally took a bite. I don’t know WHY I didn’t think of this sooner. It was a gluten, almost lactose-free miracle.

I am overjoyed.

(Also, you know what else is pretty cool: most places now mark things as gluten-free. Thank you world for helping me.)

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Tuscan Kale with Turkey Sausage

On today’s New York Times front page, Elaine Sciolino wrote a story about France’s latest kale crusader: a young American woman who is hellbent on bringing our beloved and exceedingly popular leafy green to the supposed gastronomical capital of the world.

Now, I love kale and I love Paris so obviously this story was really important to me. I find it super curious that the French have yet to embrace kale and I don’t buy that bullshit that the French diet is naturally better balanced than ours. Kale is more than “a superfood;” it is legitimately delicious and is an incredibly sturdy green which makes it utterly versatile. I mean, it takes a while to burn when you’re sautéing it and it tastes good with nuts, olive oil, olives, tomatoes, lemons, pecorino, etc. And on top of that, it’s one of the only salad greens that with withstand having dressing on it for hours before you actually chow down on it – in fact, kale salads taste better when you let it marinate a little longer. Sometimes, I think kale is basically the plant version of chicken (okay, maybe that’s hyperbole…).

All of this Sunday morning kale conversation got me looking up new ways to work with kale and made me strangely grateful that I never actually moved to a place that doesn’t have kale because let’s be honest, at this point kale is the only thing I can eat that doesn’t make me feel ill. But if ladies like the French farmer keep selling out of $15-per-pound baby kale at the farmer’s markets there, I am going to pack my bags and help her grow some because that is better than selling books. And, I will then come up with a better name than chou frisé. That name just sucks. Why can’t we call it “chou dinosaure” and ignore the fact that dinosaur kale already exists? The French like being badass so adding dinosaur resolves that issue.

In unrelated personal life updates, my ridiculous digestive issues have spiraled out of control and we are now working towards cutting out most if not all gluten. So, goodbye pastas and breads – you can go to the graveyard with ice cream and full-fat milks. When someone invents a gluten equivalent of Lactaid, let me know. I am basically a half-assed paleo, but only because I love meat and I love kale so there’s that. And now – onto the recipe!

Tuscan Kale with Turkey Sausage – and I even took pictures!

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Carrot Ginger Soup

Friends, it’s not easy being green. And by green, I mean  the color my face turns nearly every time I eat. It’s tough being a lady who skips out on dates and exciting occurrences because the devil and god are raging inside of her body. (Yes, I made a Brand New reference in a blog post about soup.)

In case you aren’t familiar with using ginger outside of eating the pink pickled kind all over your sushi, ginger has a grand amount of benefits for your overall health. Apart from the fact that ginger is good for soothing a stomach (which is why we drink ginger ale when sick), ginger helps us absorb nutrients into our bodies. It helps reduce gas and calms stomach cramps. When you think you’re coming down with a cold, there’s nothing like ginger and lemon tea to clean out the sinuses and get your fluids moving. In short, in case I’m not clear, ginger is super helpful.

I love clean and light tasting veggie soups, so I make this soup often. Sometimes I add a ton of ginger to give it a punch, especially if I’m fighting a cold, and other times I make it a little sweeter and add some honey or cinnamon to change it just slightly. Perfect for fall but even great served cold, this is pretty much an all-weather soup. The spice is great for cold nights but the flavors are delicate enough for summer.

If you’re a fan of the carrot-ginger dressing you get at Japanese restaurants, give this a try. Though I’ve yet to experiment with miso, I’m sure it would be a welcome addition to the soup. Then it would be like drinking that dressing, which I can’t say I’m directly opposed to.

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Light and Tender Turkey Meatballs

Jeeeeeeeez. It’s been a minute, blog! I’ve had this draft sitting here for decades. I’m embarrassed, but at least I’m finally getting this onto the page.

I used to babysit for a couple in Chelsea and the dad made killer turkey meatballs — somehow even better than my mother’s fatty beef ones and arguably on par with anything from The Meatball Shop. I know he fried these suckers in mass heaps of oil, based on the sheer crispiness alone. They are the most sumptuous, tender meatballs I have ever had. And, before you ask, I’ve consumed a lot of meatballs in my time and have many fond memories of doing so.

I also know that he probably uses a lot more cheese and milk than I can handle, so I tried to mock his meatballs a bit myself. The trick is, in my opinion, to bake the meatballs for a little less time and let them cook in a large pot of homemade sauce. Once the meatballs go over to the sauce, you get the added benefit of the meat and sauce melding flavors, while letting the turkey meatballs soak up some more juice. It’s the best solution I could have come up with to avoiding any dryness. You may lose the crispy exterior but you can’t beat the melt-in-your-mouth texture that slow cooking brings to them.

Now to figure out how to get that crispy surface without frying them…

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The [Prodigal] Slab of Brie Returns!

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to come back to A Slab of Brie. I started a fantastic new job in late October and haven’t given myself a single minute to think of anything else. I’ve missed all the cooking and writing and sharing all of this wonderful foodie wisdom with whoever you lovely readers are. With the return of spring, good weather, and gorgeous sunshine, I vow to make a solid return to this wonderful blog and bring myself inner joy. I’ve given the blog a slight redesign – with the help of WordPress’s pre-existing formats – and I think it has a nice touch. Something new, something fresh. Besides, one can’t subsist on cereal dinners and frozen vegetables for long…

In the past several months, I’ve greatly expanded my edible curiosities. Maintaining a dairy-free lifestyle can be tough, but I’ve found I love making some gorgeous nearly soups and meals. I’ve embraced the food processor – and I’ve learned it’s just so much more efficient than my imulsion blender, which often leaves chunks when I don’t want them. Some ingredients I’ve become a huge fan of include pancetta (which I found out BKLYN Larder cures in house!) and chipotle powder. Which brings me to this wonderful recipe, adapted slightly from the Edible Brooklyn cookbook. Which is just to say that I vegan-ized it a bit. I’m looking forward to testing out cooking more with meat – I’ve become a huge fan of roasting chickens lately – and finding all sorts of ways to avoid milk, even in desserts. I vow also to take more and more and more photos!

I try hard to keep seasonal. What’s great about right now is we’re on the tail-end of winter produce. Parsnips are still in abundance, you can always get sweet potatoes, and for whatever reason, there are still a ton of apples around. I also live for roasting and bringing the tastes out of veggies that way. There is nothing like a roasted squash or potato. Nothing tastes better.

I hope you’ll all stay with me as I continue to explore all that’s good in the kitchen. I’ve missed this.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I love squash. I live for the days when it’s cold enough to roast a squash in my kitchen. It’s beautiful beige skin and orange flesh. I could write a love sonnet for butternut squash. Instead of writing a sonnet, though, I made a soup. I even included pictures in this one!

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

You know those nights where you just want to cook and you’ve already spent the day falling in love with all of the winter squash and fall produce at the market? All you can think about is doing something incredible and making it special. So you go home after you purchase an enormous bunch of kale and a sizable acorn squash. You think you might just stuff the squash with sauteed kale, but then you think you can do it better. You scrounge the internet and egads — she’s got it!

Acorn squash can be used as a replacement for pumpkin and other squashes, in everything from soups to purées, to mashed potatoes. The flavor is delicate and needs a bit of help from olive oil, salt, and pepper, but can be turned completely magical when served with a simple stuffing or a light sauce. I’d even recommend a balsamic reduction, if you just want to get the hang of cooking with it.

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