Swiss Chard Strudel

My girlfriend Elin who grew up in the South recently accused me of being “such a city girl.”  She is right, but like many city girls I often read magazines about country life.   I fantasize about how nice it would be to live Upstate (New York of course) and have a piece of land where we could have a large vegetable garden, a few chickens (Araucana chickens so I can have blue eggs) and maybe even a goat or two (now that I know that a local editor has goats in his backyard here in L.A.)  I think about Norm selling his homemade baked goods at local farmers markets along with my blueberry buns.

Creating something with your own two hands is really rewarding, especially if you have to work at it.  It doesn’t matter if it is gardening, cooking, blogging or even needlepoint.  Every time I walk out my back door and look at the vegetable garden I stand and stare in amazement.  I guess that’s because I truly am a city girl.

Not wanting anything to go to waste I must have picked the equivalent of three bunches of chard and made this dish.  Hope you enjoy it.  In the meantime,  here is what this city girl is reading about.  http://clericiranch.wordpress.com/artisanal-chickens-availability  

 

Swiss Chard Strudel

1 pkg puff pastry, rolled out into a large square

3 bunches Swiss chard, washed, rolled up and sliced into thin strips (stems and leaves)

1 small onion, thinly sliced

3 Tb olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup raisins

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tb pomegranate molasses

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large pot, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil on a low flame for several minutes till golden.  Add chard, raisins, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, making sure chard is tender and fully cooked.  Squeeze mixture gently after cooled to remove excess liquid.  Add pomegranate molasses and adjust seasoning to taste.   Spread chard mixture to cover entire surface of puff pastry.  Then roll up and tuck ends under strudel.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds.  Bake on a parchment covered cookie sheet till golden and crisp, about 25 minutes.  Slice and serve.  Serves 8 as a first course.

Enjoy,
Irene

 

 

 

 

 

Curried Swiss Chard and Lentil Stew

The Graf brothers all loved nature, the outdoors, and animals.  My father would watch shows about the animal kingdom and would tell us stories of the pets he owned growing up in Warka, Poland.  A porcupine, really?  He was already well into his seventies when he suddenly decided to stop eating chicken and beef, purely for ethical reasons.  With longing and affection, my father would talk about the orchard and vegetable garden behind his mother’s home.  At the farmer’s market he would choose his fruits and vegetables with such care and tenderness, rotating each apple or pear to make sure it was blemish free, fresh, firm, and fragrant with ripeness, intent on selecting the best he could find.

The brothers were all avid gardeners, and I was fairly certain that their green thumbs were not passed down to my city hands.  I love the idea of gardening, to be able to go into your backyard and plan your meal based on what’s ready to be picked.  After a long hiatus, I was determined to try my hand at vegetable gardening once again and so I ruthlessly pulled out a whole bed of roses.  It took months to prepare the soil and put in the first raised bed.  During a trip back East my cousin Janine laid out the plans for my garden and I use it as my roadmap.  Not only does it guide me but it provides me with inspiration,  knowing that another branch of the Graf family are successful gardeners.  My first planting included broccoli which was a complete failure, basil which was immediately consumed by insects and several plants of red leaf lettuce which grew well, but became limp immediately after being harvested, not a desirable texture for a fresh salad.  I thought I would try kale and swiss chard and finally I was able to experience the sense of pride that comes with success.  There is more chard and kale in my garden than I know what to do with.

My father would probably chuckle at my meager garden but despite its small size, the pleasure that I derive from it is immeasurable.  My father and I never gardened together, I was too young and independent to listen to his advice when he offered it, but now each time I am in the garden I think of Harry, Charlie and Jack, and the legacy they left behind.

 

 


This dish is a vegetarian stew but so hearty that you really don’t miss the meat. Serve with rice or whole wheat pasta.

Curried Swiss Chard and Lentil Stew (adapted from a recipe from Bon Appetit)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 tsp curry powder
1 /2 tsp chili powder
42 oz. pareve chicken stock or vegetable broth
1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems thinly sliced and leaves coarsely chopped (about 12 cups)
1 pound brown lentils, rinsed well
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cumin.

Saute onion in olive oil till golden.  Add spices and sauté for several minutes, till fragrant.  Add broth and bring to a boil, then put in lentils and garbanzo beans.  Lower heat to a simmer, add salt and chard, and cover.  Cook till lentils are tender but still whole.  About 20 minutes.  Serves 6

Enjoy,

Irene