Cooking for the Stars: Wolfgang Puck’s Kale Salad

wolfgang puck kale salad
85th Academy Awards Governors Ball Menu
Kale, Grilled Artichoke, Radicchio, Pine Nut, Golden Raisin
Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

With 19 Oscar menus under his belt, Chef Wolfgang Puck has created another inventive bill of fare for the 85th Academy Awards Governors Ball including old favorites, signature smoked salmon creations, and several fashionable new dishes. This year’s menu includes many vegetarian and vegan offerings, as well as items like Kobe Burger with Aged Cheddar & Remoulade and Chicken Pot Pie with Black Truffle. The Chef shares his menu in photos on a page called “A Taste of the Oscars” here. (Check out those Huckleberry Macarons!) But it was the vegan Kale Salad that immediately caught my attention ~ bright winter color and various textures pair with smoky artichoke and a sunny sweet Meyer lemon vinaigrette. I served the salad as a meal, unlike at the Governors Ball, where some 30 to 35 dishes will be served as small bites to over 1600 people.

And The Oscar Goes To:

photo credit: wolfgangpuck.com

Raw kale is a bit chewy and not exactly tender, so it is best sliced thin, taking care not to press down and bruise the beautiful curly edges. Mildly bitter and peppery radicchio is also thinly sliced. I used fast & fabulous packaged grilled artichoke hearts from Monterey Farms which are available at Whole Foods Market. Without a recipe, I prepared this salad from the photo ~ tossing kale with radicchio, artichoke hearts, lightly toasted pine nuts, and golden raisins with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. The plate was garnished with a few Meyer lemon wheels and a sprinkling of nuts and raisins.

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Artichoke, Spicy Tomato Broth, Two Ways

globe artichoke tomato broth
Globe Artichoke in Spicy Tomato Broth
Garlic, Capers, Chiles de Arboles, Croutons

artichoke heart crostini
Artichoke Heart Crostini
Tomato, Garlic, Capers, Chiles de Arboles

☆☆☆☆☆

Steamed artichoke served with a ramekin each of drawn butter and mayonnaise is so 70’s. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s a delicious classic pairing after all. I remember my date, his name was Jeff, teaching me how to eat an artichoke. The year was 1978 at The Chart House in Aspen, Colorado. He showed me how to pull the outermost petals and dip them in the melted butter. How to scrape the meat from each petal with my bottom teeth. Slow, methodical, sensual. Fast forward 34 years, I’m still a fan of artichokes, but alas, not so much a fan of saturated fat accompaniments…

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Tuscan Kale Soup with Artichoke & Chicken Sausage

tuscan kale soup
Tuscan Kale Soup
Artichoke Hearts & Chicken Sausage
Chicken Broth with Flavored with Fennel Seed & Red Chile Flakes
Served with Toasted Ciabatta

Back in January, a recipe for “Italian Chicken Sausage and Artichoke Soup with Chard” in Sunset magazine caught my interest. Over the past months I’ve added onion, garlic, fennel seed, and red chile flake to the original recipe. And sometimes substitute kale for chard. My procedure is quick and easy, and the synergistic result far exceeds the expectation of boxed chicken broth and canned artichoke hearts.

In less than a half hour, this soup is on the table. I’ve served it as an everyday meal, as a starter to a rustic dinner topped with ricotta salata, and as an elegant first course. This year my Thanksgiving menu has a lighter aura, so this Tuscan Kale Soup will replace the heavier puréed soups of the past.

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Artichoke with Fragrant Tomato Broth

Artichoke – sans mayo or butter?
You bet.

Heat about a quarter cup of olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat, add 4 cloves chopped garlic, cook for a few minutes but do not brown. Add about 6 cups of vegetable stock along with a  10 oz. can of diced seeded peeled tomatoes and juice, a cup of white wine,  a half teaspoon each of dried basil and thyme, and a bay leaf, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Add trimmed organic globe artichoke (or two), bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook covered.
When the artichoke is almost tender, remove the bay leaf, add a half cup of rinsed capers and some chopped fresh basil. Adjust seasoning and finish cooking for about 5 minutes. Serve the tender artichoke in a soup bowl over the fragrant tomato broth. Ladle more broth and garlic and capers over the artichoke. Very flavorful,  and lower fat than some recipes…So I’m submitting this dish to Giz & Psychgrad’s Tried, Tested and True 2 Event at Equal Opportunity Kitchen.
They say, “We are asking you to submit your health-promoting tried, tested and true recipes. This can be any sort of dish – appetizer/soup/bread/main/dessert – your choice. But, it should be a low calorie dish, one that you’ve adapted from a higher fat to be a healthier choice, a vegetarian option, just to give you a few suggestions. Please don’t feel restricted. Just think about a submission that’s healthy and tastes good – that you would feed to someone you love knowing that you were promoting good, healthy eating.” I think this dish fits the bill.
To Your Good Health!

Artichoke & Cambozola Quiche

If Camembert and Gorgonzola are among your faves you will love this Cheese Marriage Made in Heaven.

Cambozola is a German triple cream cow’s milk cheese reminiscent of French Camembert inoculated with the same blue mold used to make Italian Gorgonzola.

For the Quiche: The pie crust is pressed into the Le Creuset pan. Most of the rind is removed from the cheese and it is roughly sliced.

Frozen artichoke hearts are cooked, drained, cooled, and seasoned with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Place artichokes atop the cheese. Add the custard. Go here for my basic quiche custard recipe. Bake at 350 for about an hour maybe 1 and 1/4 hour.

The cheese melts thoughout the quiche, so the flavor is in every bite just like the Brie, Toasted Almond & Herb Quiche.

Didn’t get enough of that delicious Cambozola? Try a green salad, tossed with walnuts, baby heirloom tomatoes, and roasted walnut vinaigrette with warm Cambozola on toasted multi-grain baguette.