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kitchen diary: april 20 & 21

April 22, 2009



i have a confession to make. i am going to miss a few things about the winter.  i know!!  but it’s true.  specifically, i have trouble letting go of kale, leeks and sage. to me, these are cold-weather flavors, but they’re some of my kitchen staples for a third of year. and when it’s time to stop cooking soups and heavier dishes and move on to spring veg and bright flavors, i reluctantly stop buying kale and cooking it sometimes 3 times per week. yes, 3 times per week. i’m a man obsessed.

but this time of year is a weird in-between time; the asparagus and peas are not yet in the markets, and i never know what to cook.  you can imagine my excitement, then, when i found this recipe on the nytimes website.  it combined leeks, kale and sage with soba (a new favorite pantry item) and gruyere.  i raved about it here a few weeks ago, but man – it is good.  and since i also tend to get stuck on certain flavors, i’ve been preparing a version of this dish in many different forms lately.  after the soba version, then i cooked the kale/leeks/sage alone, and ate that alongside grilled cheese made with leftover nutty gruyere.  well, that blew my mind.  and then this week, searching for something warm and comforting for dinner on a rainy night, i riffed on this a bit more. i patiently stirred a pot of heirloom grits from anson mills until creamy and tender. i’m able to buy these grits at a local food shop, and boy do i feel lucky – they are superb.  and combined with the sauteed kale, leeks and sage, it was a fine curtain call for winter flavors.


the next morning, because i hadn’t turned my oven on in 3 weeks (a new record for me, i think), i whipped up a batch of maple banana bread.  i found this recipe on maria‘s blog a couple of years ago, and it has been my go-to banana bread recipe since.  it’s simple to make, delicious, and wins you a lot of friends.  until last year, i lived with 5 other guys and it was impossible to keep people out of the kitchen when i used up overripe bananas to bake this bread.  i add a little raw sugar to the top before baking, which gives it a nice crunch.  the perfect way to get baking again.

  1. April 22, 2009 7:42 am

    Yes, Kale, who knew it could be so good! Here’s another recipe and I warn you, you will be making this over and over again too:
    Penne with goat cheese, kale, olives and turkey

  2. April 22, 2009 7:43 am

    I latched onto the kale and soba recipe when you mentioned it last because I am always looking for new ways to cook kale and it just seemed so novel. I’ve made it twice so far and it’s definitely a new favorite!

  3. marthasnail permalink
    April 22, 2009 7:55 am

    i want to try the grits version. yum. maria’s maple banana bread has been my go to recipe for years as well. it’s just super delicious. loved reading about how you adapt and create new dishes. i’m working on my improvisational skills in the kitchen.

  4. haeshu permalink
    April 22, 2009 8:55 am

    ooooh. it was worth waiting for this post. although i have already crossed over to lighter fare. last year i got in the habit of making a HUGE pasta salad on sunday and then munching on it all week. i’ve already made two so far. yum. i haven’t baked in a while though, now that you mention it. time to fix that.

  5. April 22, 2009 8:58 am

    The Anson Mills grits! Where did you buy them?
    Important to do lots of baking before it’s too hot and muggy to turn the oven on.

    • April 22, 2009 10:22 am

      hey maggie — i buy them at stinky bklyn in carroll gardens. love all of the foodstuffs they carry there, and of course their cheeses

  6. April 22, 2009 9:37 am

    It’s nice to eat seasonally, because then you do have something to look forward to when winter is descending…all of your winter foods!

    And I agree with Maggie, the baking is what I’m going to miss the most, no more fresh bread in the oven.

  7. April 22, 2009 10:45 am

    My husband’s favorite fruit is the banana, and I haven’t bought one in about a year in an effort to eat locally. Maybe I’ll indulge him as a treat, and buy extra in order to make this bread – your recommendation is compelling.

    I love kale, too, but my little boys? – not so much. I could make it on a night when the prospect of dessert is extra-tempting…

  8. April 22, 2009 11:11 am

    yum! i feel the same way about kale, brian.

  9. April 22, 2009 12:42 pm

    Im such a soup person too – and go through the same sad feelings when the seasons change – at least its still cold enough for them! Thank goodness grits come in all seasons! And, you cant make just any brand -you’re lucky to have Stinky so nearby.

  10. April 22, 2009 2:13 pm

    Can this banana bread recipe still be found online?

  11. April 22, 2009 3:00 pm

    you’re giving nigel slater a run for his money brian!

  12. April 22, 2009 5:38 pm

    Your photographs are enticing and I’m terribly excited to try this out…thank you! Also, I am loving your April mix. I’m glad you do them.

  13. nina permalink
    April 22, 2009 6:36 pm

    hi brian. just listened to your april mix. who knew ‘i wanna dance with somebody’ could be covered so good by mr. byrne? i guess you did, thanks for sharing. i have looked for maria’s banana bread recipe online and have come up empty-handed. would you mind sharing it if possible? thanks in advance as you have me swooning and hungry with your (and everyone elses) accolades!

  14. April 22, 2009 9:00 pm

    those five guys were so lucky to have you in the kitchen!!!

  15. April 22, 2009 9:22 pm

    I love Anson Mills grits. I love these photographs. And I have to try that bread.

    But I really have to say is that David Byrne covering that Whitney Houston is possibly one of the greatest things I have ever heard. And I owe it to you.


  16. April 23, 2009 3:49 am

    I might hate you a little bit for that sage. And the gruyere.

  17. April 24, 2009 11:52 pm

    brian, we made the ny times dish the day after you posted it, and ever since have been just making the kale+leek part. it’s so good on its own. tonight my husband made up a small batch and used it to top some sweet Italian sausage served between two pieces of whole wheat filone from a local restaurant. on a night when my car broke down on the way to a dinner party and we had to be towed that was quite a nice dinner to come home to.

  18. Wren permalink
    June 3, 2009 11:41 am

    Hey Brian –
    I’m a little late coming across this post, but I just found your blog a day or so ago. I’d love that banana bread recipe, but when I follow the link to Maria’s blog I reach a dead end. Would you mind sharing it? You can email it to me, if that’s easier…
    I’m really enjoying the daily peeks into your life. Very inspiring. I made my own butter last night thanks to your post!
    Hope you’re having a good day.
    – Jenny

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