After visiting a small farm on the Swedish west coast during the weekend I got my hands on some great kale, broccoli and swiss chard. So I decided to make something nice with it. The result was this appetizer I chose to call Kale and Broccoli with goat cheese snow, leek ash and liquorice. Pretentious? Yes indeed, but also very tasty, keep reading to find out how to do it.
Now this might not be like one of my normal recipes, I kind of created while doing it but luckily I took a lot of photos so hopefully I can explain each part of the dish and my idea behind it. Let’s start with the recipe and I’ll explain each part a bit more below, but don’t worry it’s not very complicated, it’s just food.
Kale and Broccoli with goat cheese snow, ash and liquorice
serves 4 as a small appetizer
2-300g / 7-11oz of mixed baby broccoli, kale, cabbage, swiss chard
100g / 3.5oz chèvre goat cheese
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground licorice powder
The goat cheese snow
I know goat cheese snow sounds incredibly pretentious but I can’t help it. Even former chefs like to geek it up once in awhile. This is however super simple to make and will impress most guests so please forgive the corny name.
All you need is some Chevre goat cheese and a mixer. First cut away the skin of the cheese and then cut it into small cubes, at most ½ inch / 1.25 cm big. Then freeze them solid. The success is dependent on the cheese to be entirely frozen so make sure you do this way ahead of what comes next. Otherwise you will have a cheese mess instead. Not bad tasting but you won’t get away with calling it snow.
Once it’s time to cook remove the cheese from the freezer and mix it into a powder. The sizes of the powder should be about the size of roughly ground pepper. Then set back into the freezer until it’s time to plate the dish.
For the mixing I use a very small mixer that attaches to a handheld mixer, this is very convenient for small things like this. In a big mixer there is a chance of the cheese not getting mixed as good.
The ash and liquorice
Ok, sorry again for my pretentious style today. I just can’t help it. Now we are doing some ash, this is made with leek. Take the green outer leaves of a leek and clean in water to get rid of any dirt. Then cut them in half so you only have one sheet of each. Add them to an oven proof tray and place them in the oven on the highest heat possible. My home oven only goes to 250°C / 480f but that worked out fine. Leave them until they are completely black, then remove and leave to cool.
This leek ash have been a thing in kitchens for well over ten years so it’s not like I invented it. There is a slight smoked and burnt flavor (in a good way) but the main reason for using it is that it looks cool. No matter what any other chef might tell you.
Once the leek is not hot anymore you can grind or crush it into a fine powder. Crush or grind it into a powder. Then measure it and combine ½ tsp of liquorice powder with 2 tsp of leek ash. The rest of the ash can be saved to another time. Or when you want to show off to friends.
The Kale and Broccoli
Last is the kale and broccoli, now I got my hands on some different sizes of broccoli, kale and swiss chard and decided to use them all. Now If you don’t have a good market or any other place to get this you can use kale, small broccoli and normal swiss chard. You probably won’t find so much variation in color and sizes but it will still taste great.
In the dish I pan roasted the bigger pieces in olive oil until done and then added the kale leaves and let them get warm afterwards along with some butter. Some of the smaller leaves wasn’t cooked at all but added when plating. This will make the dish better, you get warm roasted bigger pieces of broccoli, some gently cooked leaves of kale and swiss chard. And then I added broccoli leaves, swiss chard and broccoli flowers while plating.
This works great in many dishes, often you read that you should cook everything exactly the same but that is not entirely true. It’s great for some things but not for all. A good example of this is when you roast a carrot. You can roast it whole, the pointy side will be almost burnt and have a sweet taste and almost crunchy texture. The thick side will be softer and have a different taste. This way you can create contrast in a dish with the same ingredient. And if you think about it we do this in many ways with our regular cooking.
Ok, on with what we are actually doing now. Choose your vegetables and prepare them, decide what should be cooked and what not to, here are my ingredients and how I used them.
- Broccoli, cut in half and roasted full time in a frying pan, this was first added to the pan and roasted for about one minute on high heat.
- Kale, two kinds and swiss chard. Red pointy cabbage and some Black Tuscan Kale, both were chopped in rough pieces and added at the end.
- Broccoli leaves, swiss chard, these were added raw when plating the dish.
So that was it, I heated a frying pan to high heat and added a bit of olive oil and fried the broccoli for about two minutes, once done I added the butter and the kale and swiss chard. Season with salt and pepper.
Plating the dish
There are a few tricks if you’re not used to plating dishes like these at home. Here are some simple points that is good to use whenever you’re planning a meal or a dish at home. Most of these techniques are used in restaurants all the time.
- Plan the dish before you cook it. Have a plate ready when you are preparing the dish. This way you can decide before how much you want to plate and what size you want to keep you ingredients. This will help you cook only as much as you need and you’ll know where to put each thing once it time to actually plate the dishes.
- Don’t plate directly from frying pans. This is not always true but most of the time it is better to first remove the food from the pan to something else before. Another plate works fine. If the food is messy you can also let the things drop off on some kitchen paper.
- One thing at the time. Unless you are serving more than ten people it is best to plate all the plates at once. But one ingredient at the time not one plate at the time. So if you are serving my dish you will first put the cabbage on all plates, then the cheese and so on.
So, lets plate this thing shall we? I used a small deep plate that is great for appetizers. I actually got it at IKEA, not sure if it is still available but there are no shortage of plates in the world so I’m sure you can find something good.
Start with the cabbage, try to mix it up so you add some hot items then cold and then hot again. Then take out the cheese snow from the freezer and add a spoonful or two. Then add a bit of the leek and liquorice ash. Last decorate with some broccoli flowers. Serve.
Good luck and don’t be afraid to try or change this up if you feel like it, that’s usually how you learn the most.