Category Archives: Reviews

Soul Food Thanksgiving: What to Prep the Day Before

Thanksgiving happens to be one of the only holidays, specific to the Americas. In these trying times, when your neighbor is getting seemingly further away despite the world getting smaller, it can be the simple things that we all share which remind us we’re united, if only for one day. Here are my tips on prepping for the big day if you are cooking my Soul Food Thanksgiving menu!


Go Shopping in the morning! (If you didn’t do it earlier)

The market will be a crazy place if you live in the U.S, but you got that list I made for you, that was included in the back of the Soul Food Thanksgiving book, and as a separate download in the enhanced version.

Now, it’s time to concentrate on cooking/prep:

  1. Make Turley Brine (Needs time to cool before using at night)
  2. Make Pecan pie (can leave on countertop)
  3. Make Sweet potato pie
  4. Make cornbread for Dressing  (can leave on countertop)
  5. Make breadcrumbs for Dressing (can leave on countertop)
  6. Make Jellied Cranberry Sauce
  7. Make Potato Salad
  8. Pick & Wash Greens (put in Ziploc bags and throw in a cool place, outside on the balcony works to save fridge space, unless you live in the tropics or Southern hemisphere, lucky.)

Extra time? Do some chopping: onions, celery, peppers, etc. (you can also throw this outside to save fridge space. Nothing will go bad.)



Brine Turkey

*Jellied Cranberry Sauce

*Potato Salad


Then get some rest because it’s on tomorrow!  #SoulFoodThanksgiving

Alternatives to Collards for Those Who Live Abroad

So, you live in a country where you are hard pressed to find some greens for a proper mess ‘o greens? Can’t find collards or a culinary-linguistic expert to figure out what the local language calls them (if anything)? Then, here are a couple of suggestions…

Collard Greens: The Mayor of Soul Food

Cooked down in a smoky broth, collard greens can be dubbed the mayor of soul food. Not only will they fix any mood I may be in, but they are healthy: loads of vitamin A, C and K, along with manganese and folate.  Collards are members of the cabbage family, but are close relatives to kale. And although collards are available year-round, they are at their best after the first overnight frost of the year.

Although collards are a bit bitter and take a lot longer to cook, tradition has tied me close to preferring them as my choice greens. However, now that I live in Europe, I’ve had to spread my soul food wings and adopt other go-to greens candidates, most notably: curly kale. Here are a few you could try, but don’t forget:

An authentic ‘mess’ of greens needs a solid flavor base. They need to be cooked down with a ham hock (or other salty/smoky hack that I cover in Soul Food Thanksgiving) to make a juice so concentrated with love it has its own name: potlikker.



Kale is not only less bitter than collard greens, but they cook a lot faster. Kale is also an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins C and B6. But, more importantly to curing a soul food craving: the curly more mature kale varieties are the closest I’ve found to collards.


Cavolo nero (“black cabbage” in Italian)

Cavolo nero has been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is one of the traditional ingredients of minestrone soup- so you know it stews well. It is a leafy and hearty green that will definitely do the trick.


Mustard Greens

Mustard greens have a stronger and bitter taste than collards, so it is best to mix with another milder green. However, they are tender enough to eat raw in salads, so cooking doesn’t take too long. They are also high in vitamin A, C and K, similar to collard greens.



Available widely in Europe, chard belongs to the beet family and cooks much quicker than collards as well. Rainbow varieties have a slight sweetness, so try blending with mustard greens for a nice balance. Chard provides high amounts of vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as magnesium and potassium.

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe has a nutty, bitter, and strong flavor reminiscent of mustard greens. It is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron.


Spinach (not baby spinach!)

This would be my last choice only because spinach has its own distinct flavor and a very mild texture that does not stew as well. However, spinach provides much more folic acid than collard greens, and high amounts of iron, along with being high in vitamins A, C and K, manganese, and magnesium: so Popeye really knew what he was doing!


Once you get your hands on a few bunches of suitable greens, be sure to download my mini digital cookbook “Soul Food Thanksgiving” and check out my three-page recipe on making love to one of my favorite dishes of all time. 10% of profits will be donated to The Hunger Project.


And don’t fret, these greens are on average packed with more nutrients for collards. Just don’t get crazy and turn to Nieman Marcus for your fix… just a friendly warning.


Soul Food Thanksgiving Cookbook

Officially announcing my first ebook: Soul Food Thanksgiving! It’s a digital cookbook of classic holiday dishes made using whole food that delivers big flavor. These dishes are what I grew up eating from the holidays, and special care was taken to develop recipes that would produce the same food, but with the love, flavor, and respect it deserves. Written to appeal to new and old cooks alike, this digital book contains genuine recipes not to be found anywhere online. I offer context on every technique, a little history, a full shopping list, and measurements in both U.S and metric, so those of you cooking outside the U.S can get down in the kitchen too! 10% of all profits will be donated to The Hunger Project. Below I’ve shared the foreword to the book:

Soul Food Thanksgiving cookbook by Kendra Valentine

Soul Food Thanksgiving cookbook by Kendra Valentine, photo: Claes Helander

Classic Halloween Candy with EF On the Go Vlog!

 I’m working with Education First on a series of videos for their brand new ON THE GO with EF YouTube Channel! And since EF is the premiere language learning school, they include some excellent vocabulary words worth knowing for the Halloween season. In this video I give kids around the world the rundown on Halloween night and sample some classic Halloween candy! Which candy did I miss?

Taco Bell Mild Sauce Copycat Recipe!

There’s no Taco Bell in Sweden, so I started making a homemade version of the mild hot sauce that comes in those little packets. Don’t judge me: Taco bell is my vice, my love, my old friend… and that mild sauce is golden.

  • 3 cups (7 dl.) water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 6-ounce can (175 ml. tube) tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Tip: You can of course use this sauce on tacos, but also makes a good enchirito (enchilada + burrito) or wet burrito.The sauce is a little thick for a hot sauce, so it works well. You could also use a bit in chili con carne or in a soup base. It’s totally worth the effort!

Garlic Fries!

If you haven’t had garlic fries already, then get ready for something spiritual! I use a whole head of garlic for these fries and if I’m going to eat fries at home, I’m going to make it count: Deep frying is the only way to go.

You’ll need:

  • 1 head garlic, minced or pressed
  • parsley, chopped
  • frozen french fries
  • frying oil
  • salt

Tip: Always deep-fry to get the best fries! Since I started making fries this way I don’t crave fast food fries. These are as fresh and crisp as can be: at home. Practice safety and use a splatter guard or be sure the fries are not covered in ice crystals or the oil will pop in yo’ face! Stand back!

Thai Red Curry Chicken

Thai red curry might be the easiest and fastest dish I’ve ever cooked. Seriously. I was furious that never tried to do this before, and instead thought I needed secret take-out wok skills to pull this off with ease- I was wrong.

You’ll need:

  • Thai red curry paste
  • Coconut milk
  • Chicken breast meat, sliced
  • Veggies, fresh or frozen (green beans, baby corn, bell peppers,etc.)
  • (optional) sliced red chili
  • (optional) Some cilantro or coriander- see my blog header!

American Rice Krispies Treats!

Rice Krispies Treats are a classic  American treat. It reminds me of my childhood: the first ‘recipe’ I ever made as a kid! So easy to make, yet tasty…

You need:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 package (300g) Marshmallows
  • 200g Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal

How to:

Melt 3 tablespoons butter, then melt marshmallows on low heat.
Stir constantly so it doesn’t burn.

Turn off heat, and add Rice Krispies. Stir until blended.

Put into any form you like and let sit for 15 minutes, then cut up into squares. Enjoy!

How to Cook Steak

Here are my tips & tricks for cooking the perfect steak… with a little know-how, you can have a great steak right at home! And remember: any self respecting steak eater will not buy thin sliced single portion steaks. You need a double thick steak (at least 1.5 inches or 4 cm.) to get that sear right!

My Steak Tips:

#1: The most important thing to do when cooking a steak is allowing it to rest at room temperature before and after cooking. About 20 minutes before you are ready to cook, let the steak sit at room temperature.

#2: This is also a good time to season with salt & pepper since it will sink into the meat, provide a nice crust during the cooking, as well as draw away any extra moisture. Your steak must be dry in order to get a good sear.

#3: Flipping your steak once per minute promotes even cooking. This way you don’t have an over done outer ring on the meat.

#4: After cooking, let it rest for 10 min. this allows all the juices to settle within the meat, and stay inside when you cut into it: instead of just running out onto the plate!

Here’s a video showing a little trick you can use to figure out the doneness of your steak:

Swedish Turkey Day

Thanksgiving Special

Oh Thanksgiving… living in a country outside the US during this holiday is when things ‘REALLY GET REAL.’ Nostalgia can creep up on you something fierce…

But, in some cases, you actually get more than you expected… case in point: an entire store dedicated to turkey.

I’ve visited Ingelsta Kalkon, a little turkey boutique in Stockholm to take a look at turkey through a Swedish lens…