A Lesson Learned

This will be no great tale of culinary disaster.  If that is what you are looking for, let me know and I can tell you about the sweet potato gnocchi doorstops, the peach champagne gelée that couldn't be cut with a knife (!!), or the low-fat, 'lite' version of oysters in cream and Pernod. (May I say "Gag!" about my own cooking?  You betcha!) Each of those stories could keep you awake at night - or, if not, they will at least have you dreaming of antacids.

Today's post is a story of learning to trust.  Trust the recipe.  Trust the chef.  Trust the details. 

If you are a all like me, the first time you make a recipe you will do it exactly as written.  (Okay, I am a total liar - sometimes I make changes immediately and the finished dish in no way resembles the intended recipe...)  But, assuming that on occasion I follow the recipe to the "T," there does come a time when I simplify or adjust or change the recipe completely.  My mother's recipe for Autumn Vegetable Bisque is a perfect example.  It calls for boiling the butternut squash with the other veggies.  While good, this method just didn't yield the fullest-flavored soup.  So I roasted the squash and some of the vegetables and then added it to the soup.  Perfection! 

When I made today's recipe for kale chips the first time, I followed the recipe exactly.  Really.  My partner doesn't believe me, but I did.  And they were great - nice and salty chip that is flavorful and healthy.  Can't remember where I got the recipe but I have a nagging feeling it was in Bon Appétit a year or two ago.  Because we liked them so much, I (meaning my partner) grew one Tuscan kale plant this year just to make these chips.  And, as we in the Tucson area are coming to the end of our growing season – totally backwards, I know – it was time to harvest the sole plant and make some kale chips.  This is the first time that we (again, meaning he) have grown kale and it was not a rip-roaring success.  Sure, it worked okay but this one kale plant yielded only about 30 leaves, and all of them were picked this morning.  And they were really tiny!  Tuscan (or "black" or dinosaur") kale leaves ore often 12 to 14 inches long.  Ours maxed out at about 5 inches.

"Great!" I thought, "Baby vegetables are always the best and most tender."  While the recipe calls for taking out the ribs...  I knew better.  I had baby, tender, soft-not-chewy, perfect little leaves.  I would not bother with that tedious step.  I made them with the ribs.  They are beautiful, as you can see below, and they taste terrific.  But my caveat: Trust the recipe!  Sadly, I have discovered that there is no such thing as tender, baby Tuscan kale.  No sir.  It does not exist!  The chip portion was exactly as we remembered - salty, crunchy and tasty.  But the ribs were like chewing rope.  I am so relieved that we hadn't planned to serve them to guests!

So, in the end, sometimes I really do know best - or at least better.  But in this case, I was dead wrong and am happy to admit it.  But I am not telling my partner this admission - he needs to continue believing that I am perfect...  (Well, other than the time I made him eat the low-fat, lite version of oysters in cream and Pernod...)

– David

Tuscan Kale Chips

12 large Tuscan kale leaves, rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise in half, center ribs and stems removed

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 250ºF.  Toss kale with oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Arrange leaves in a single layer on two large ungreased baking sheets.  Bake until crisp – 30-33 minutes, depending on the size and amount of curl in the leaves.  Transfer to a rack and cool.  Use a small tumbler as a 'vase' to serve the chips.

Makes 24.


  1. David - I love this post! Oh, you made me laugh...

  2. Thanks, Doreen - Sometimes food is funny, and sometimes (mostly) very serious! Working on my next post and can't decided where to take it. Could be funny - but I don't want to offend anyone!

  3. Ohhh! I'm excited to try this recipe for tasty chips out tonight! And I will follow the recipe to the T!


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