My mum never insisted on me eating my vegetables. Although she made sure that I eat something at all, it was always up to me what I put on my plate. This might give you the idea I grew up on chocolate and spaghetti, but it wasn’t like that at least most of the time. She made me want to eat healthy. She tricked me into eating vegetable loaded meals, which were luring with some sort of meat or melted cheese. My mum is good in hiding healthy under irresistible stuff, like broccoli with a Hollandaise sauce or cauliflower with browned butter and roasted seasoned breadcrumbs.
Her approach is that a meal doesn’t have to be healthy by all means. No, she brings on the heavy cream, bacon bites and she knows how to play with flavors and how to cover up even boring vegetables under garlic or herbs. For her it’s all about the balance and that is the theme for this collard greens recipe.
This dish came together unintentionally but nevertheless even more badly needed for comforting. The other day I came across fresh smoked ham hock and I bought some home for the first time in my life with the plan to figure out, what to do with it along the way (read no plan at all). The next ingredient I came across was the collard greens, piled up tremendously by a business savvy vendor on the farmers market. I brought as much as I was willing to carry, knowing that I might have to eat collard greens for the rest of the month, just because I felt sorry for him to clear away this hill of greens at the end of the day.
On my way home a recipe already started to take shape in my mind, this is how my brain works, it’s almost useless for doing math in my head but boy I know exactly what’s in my pantry and how to combine those ingredients.
I needed something warming and filling, and easy to heat up the next day, I chose goat cheese for it’s capability to oppose with the smoked ham, a mozzarella would not be able to do such a good job in this gratin. Everything came together very well and I have the feeling it’s going to be keeper and I am waiting for the next smoked ham hock coming my way.
collard greens, black eyed peas and ham hock gratin
- 2 bunches collard greens, washed, center ribs and stems removed
- 200 g / 7 oz. cooked black eyed peas
- 1 pound smoked ham hock, diced
- 130 g / 4.5 oz. breadcrumbs (I used panko gluten free) about 1 ¼ cups
- 475 ml / 2 cups milk (2%)
- 2 large eggs
- 140 g / 5 oz. chèvre, fresh goat cheese
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ - ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- go easy on the salt
- Preheat your oven to 200 C / 400 F and grease a medium size baking dish
- Roast the breadcrumbs in a dry pan (without fat) until golden brown, set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile roll the collard green leafs like a big cigar and slice thinly. Cook for 4 minutes in the boiling water, drain and immediately transfer to a bowl with ice water. Drain well and squeeze out excess water.
- Fry the diced smoked ham hock in a heavy bottom pan over high heat until browned.
- In a blender combine the milk, eggs, goat cheese, garlic clove, cayenne pepper and salt, blend until smooth.
- Transfer the ham hock, beans and collard greens into the baking dish and pour over the milk-mix. Cover evenly with the breadcrumbs and bake for 20 minutes.
- This gratin reheats very well and it also makes a great leftover dish.
You can also use half of the breadcrumbs and add one cup of Parmesan cheese.
Hello friends! I would like to send you into your weekend with some pictures of my days on St. Simons Island earlier this month. But even if your precious free days are already over and you are sitting at your desk over a cup of almost tolerable coffee… Stay tuned the next weekend is certain to come and help is on the way.
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Atlanta had its share of winter weather alerts and cold fronts this year. We experienced some freezing nights alternated with spring-like days. I enjoyed the few warm afternoons outside, eagerly soaking up enough sun to compensate for the rain, ice and snow. And there is one more thing that brought me through the winter, the thought of Italy and creamy budino. Think of budino as my rewarding system, one time walking the dog with icy wind on my face, leads in one budino and that’s just fair. Imagine I add rain to this and hello two bowls of budino. This is how ugly winter weather works for me.
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I can’t believe it’s already two years ago since I moved to Atlanta. It gladdens me that it feels like home to me by now. One of the first things I learned is, Southerners are big in eating and enjoying good food. Restaurants are on every corner, new ones seem to pop up every week and recommendations where and what to eat, are given by everyone at every occasion. At the beginning I lost track and I started to write all this down. Yes it’s that overwhelming and almost insane. If someone comes to Atlanta and reports he hadn’t had good food, he did it wrong. Read more >>
Thanks to the minimal hands on time, roasting a chicken is one of my favorite weeknight dinners. And on the other hand you prepare a comforting meal for one or two more days to come. Having said this however my enthusiasm for the chicken breast was rather limited and I only found it interesting bathed in sauces. Claiming a juicy leg of a roasted chicken made just so much more sense. While the dark meat needs longer to cook, the white parts are done, already low in fat and tend to dry out. Until recently this was accepted in my house without objection and used as an excuse to mess around with condiments. I wouldn’t go that far and say, whole chicken days are over, but these roasted chicken breasts with honey, rosemary and red wine are a much faster and not less enjoyable approach to satisfy my hunger. I actually used red wine in this recipe because I opened a bottle and could not enjoy this one, but wasn’t willing to give up on it either. I am sure white wine might also work just fine. If you join me in with the red wine use a light bodied, less tannin like Zinfandel or Pinot Noir. While shopping for the chicken breasts look for rather smaller ones, they cook even faster. Read more >>
You can’t beat a bowl of hot soup on a cold winter’s day. That’s what they say. Although only the calendar says it’s winter, yet it’s feels like spring in Atlanta these days. I’ll take it and this soup too. If red velvet cake would be a soup, it would be this red beet and sweet potato soup! This is one of the best vegetable soups I’ve ever made. It is thick and silky and the flavor is outstanding. Holy red – look at this color!
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Recently I found candied pear pieces in my baby spinach salad, in good company with pecans and crumbled gorgonzola. After I picked and enjoyed all the sweet pieces, piled up on my fork with the nuts and cheese, it came to my mind, what if the pieces would be slices and the thin sugar coating would be a thicker candy like cover? That would be dessert. You see I didn’t spend a second thought about the greens… This is how my brain works. Read more >>