Category Archives: Products

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!

amerik-cornbread

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.)

 

Overnight:

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

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.

 

Chard

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.

soul-food-thanksgiving-cookbook

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!

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!

One Pot to Rule them All? Le Creuset

Le Creuset ‘fo ‘sho: The dutch oven to rule them all!


Photo from cookingequipment.about.com

My Le Creuset Dutch oven pot was the best kitchen tool investment I have made to date. I use it for everything: from deep-frying to tomato sauce to wonderful slow cooked stews and braises (gryta). If you cook, this item is essential. Forget the price: it has a lifetime guarantee.

Now that fall is upon us, slow cooking on Sundays is on the agenda. Not only is it easy to throw your ingredients into the pot to let it cook on low for hours while you get on with your day; but flavors are like none other.

PLUS: If you cook a lot of meat, you can use the leftovers in a couple of dishes during the week, making your weekday meals not only easier but also a lot more luxurious.

Basically, your braise will consist of protein + spices + liquid + vegetables. The trick is to brown your meat, bring all you ingredients to a light boil and then turn down the heat and cook on low for hours until the meat falls a part. If you cook with high heat the meat will be tough and chewy. I like to start on the stove top and then slow cook on low in the oven. Here is a good article on the basic tips for braising from my favorite magazine Bon Appetite: 4 Simple Rules For Braising Anything.

Here are some of my favorite ingredients to play with:

Meat: Chicken breast (Kycklingfilé)/ Pork shoulder (Fläskkarré)/ Oxtails

Base: Onions/garlic/shallots/Carrots/ Chipotlé chili/ Smoked paprika/ Bay leaves/ Lots of spices and herbs

Liquid: Chicken broth (bouillon)/ Wine/ Beer

Want some recipes for inspiration? Visit my slow cooking Pinterest page to see some glorious photos, recipes and resources!

A HORSE of Course! Horse Meat in Sweden (Gustafskorv)

GustafskorvYou’re eating Horse?!? Nehhhhhh!(In my best Mr. Ed impression)

When it comes to regional food I never turn my nose up on something large numbers of peoples eat… no matter how cute it was in its living state. Sorry but I’ve been that way since learning what veal was when I was a kid… after that, it was like “hot damn, well if everyone is doing it….” But alas we come to the meat in question: horse meat sausage or Gustafskorv.

Why? Well, as my companion in Dalarna (county in central Sweden) put it:

“Why not? What’s the difference between a horse and a cow?”

Okay, riding a cow is neither practical nor romantic, but for all intensive purposes, they are pretty close hooved amigos. Now, I’m not advocating adding My Little Pony to the little pictures on the ‘ideal diet’ chart, especially since it wouldn’t replace any meats we already over consume…. but as much as I like the idea of better meat practices, I also believe in eating local: and in Dalarna “Gustafskorv” (Horse Sausage) is as local as it gets!

Magasinet Hunger intervju: kökstång perfekt för fritering

Swedish food magazine “Hunger” interviewed me for this issue’s “The Favorite” column featuring my trusty tongs (kökstång)! From turning tortillas as a child in California to deep frying comfort foods in Stockholm, this American classic has served me well! Below the article, you can find the recipe for the “Panko Fried Eggplant” (“Panko Friterad Aubergine”) that I cooked for the magazine shoot: (In Swedish and English!)

Favoriten-Kendra-Valentine Hunger Magazine CROPPED

“Panko Friterad Aubergine”

Av Kendra Valentine

2 auberginer

3 ägg (blandat med lite vatten och chili peppar sås, om du vill)

1 dl vetemjöl

4 dl. Panko ströbröd (blandat med vitlök flingor)

1 l  rapsolja

Skär auberginen i ca. ¾ cm tjocka skivor och salta. Doppa skivorna i mjölet. Fortsätt därefter med ägg blandning, och tredje panko blandning. Lägg dem utspridda på en plåt eller bricka.

Låt dem ligga och torka medan du värma oljan i stekpanna eller kastrull. Värme till ca. 160 C eller level 7.  När en skärva panko fräser och flottör i oljan: kör.

Fritera tills de är gyllenbruna, ca. 2 minuter på varje sida.  Lägg upp på hushållspapper för avrinning.

Here’s “Taco! Taco! Tex-Mex” kids book to celebrate (U.S) National Taco Day!

Taco! Taco! Tex-Mex Book

Recently published on the Amazon Kindle store: “Taco! Taco! Tex-Mex” a kids ebook on the simple task of cooking a taco: Tex-Mex style. The book is really approachable for even the youngest readers and taco obsessed grown ups alike. If you don’t have a Kindle (I don’t) you can read on any device with the Kindle app, as well as right on your computer.

Here are some pages from the book, although the detail looks better on ipad! (Check out Amazon for reviews and more info)

Taco! Taco! Tex-Mex Book cook meatTaco! Taco! Tex-Mex chop lettuce