Monday, July 29, 2013

When experiments are successful but conclusions go awry : Baked Kale Chips

Last week, I finally tried my hand at something that I wanted to do for a long be exact, a year. I am an avid follower of natural foods and sustainable farming, and in my quest to read more about "good" habits in kitchen and the vegetable garden, I kept running into Kale chips recipes. Everyone was praising them, their nutritional value, how they replaced potato chips, how delicious it was, so on, so forth.
I took every review to heart and waited until Kale's price came down to a dollar per bundle and bought two from the local organic sellers.
I have to tell you, I am a woman who likes savory foods over sweets. And, I like crunchiness in everything I eat. I hoard Pita chips, crunchy celery sticks and hard homemade biscottis like they are going to go out of style. I get that crazy, glazed, murderous look in my eyes during my time of the month, if there are no crunchy foods around. I sprinkle crunchy items on my soft textured foods like cereal flakes on oats, Aaloo Bhujiya on my Khichdi and Potato chips over Pasta. Well, I hope you get the idea!
So, I came home, washed the Kale thrice, dried them, de-veined them  and aired them out just like all the 12 recipes demanded. I used the best canola oil and coated every leaf evenly and baked them at the perfect temperature until the leaves turned bright green and crispy right before my eyes.
I waited a minute, sprinkled sea salt and with only the highest expectations, took my first bite!
The perfect crunch, just enough salty, and...and...
I couldn't find the words. My expectations just fell apart. I took another bite, and it was still....well, "MEAH!"
I felt like Mary Katherine Gallagher in the cult classic "Superstar (1999)", after she got that much awaited kiss from her crush, who was played by Will Ferrell.
I mean, the chip was fine. It turned out beautifully, it was a good food, but I just didn't love it..No!
It tasted to me like chewing on a dry leaf that was salted. I have chewed on curry leaves that tasted better than this hyped health food.
Or maybe, that WAS the problem! Maybe, my palate was used to better things that got my taste buds jaded and couldn't appreciate the simple earthy, leafy (?) flavor of this current food. Whatever it was, I am not going to make this again. We just don't have enough chemistry to keep the love going. But my dear culinary explorers, you are welcome to try this and decide for yourself if this is your love, which will make you break up with the hunky Potato chip and embark on a walk toward sunset, of course, hand in hand.
I am sharing the recipe with all the enthusiasm of a girl trying to set her ex up with all her friends, knowing that he is a good guy and make someone truly happy, but also knowing that he is not the guy for her.
(Darn, this blog is starting to sound like a chick-flick!)
Here goes the recipe:-

1 bunch kale - fresh and firm leaves with a nice curl
1 tbsp olive oil/ canola oil
1 tsp sea salt

Kale: Trimmed, washed and dried.
Baked and ready for a salt sprinkle

Voila, Kale Chips! 

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C. Prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper lining.
Wash the kale thoroughly in lots of water. I usually fill one of my twin sinks with water and soak them for 5 minutes. Then agitate the water and lift the leaves into a colander by hand. That way, the water in the sink holds the mud and impurities, and the leaves come out clean. Repeat if you are a little bit Obsessive-compulsive like me.
Carefully de-vein the leaf by removing the thick stems, using a kitchen shears or a knife. Get the leaves into bite sized pieces. Pat dry or use a salad spinner to get it dry. The leaves need to get as dry as possible or else they will turn soggy on you in the oven. Once dry, drizzle canola or olive oil on them. The secret is getting the leaves lightly and evenly coated with oil. If you have a oil mister, its a good choice to use it now. Bake in the middle rack, in a single layer, in the prepped cookie sheet for approximately 12-15 minutes. If you see the edges getting brown, it will get a slight bitter taste. Adjust the temp and times accordingly. A perfect chip should be bright green and crunchy.
After you take it out, sprinkle sea salt lightly. You dont need much, just a light sprinkle. Too much can make it inedible, so proceed with caution on the salt.
Enjoy as it is, or with sandwiches like you would do with potato chips. 

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