I Heart Cooking Clubs, where, from a notional box of ten ingredients, you have to choose three and make a dish using them from one of the twelve featured writers. Which sounds like it needs a Venn diagram to explain, but I hope it makes sense. Anyway, this month's ingredients were Salmon (fresh, smoked or canned), Green Peas (dried, fresh, frozen or canned), Hazelnuts, Eggplant, Parmesan Cheese, Kale, Apples (any color/kind), Blue Cheese, Rosemary, Bread Rolls/Buns.
I ended up surprising myself and choosing kale as one of the ingredients. There are few dishes where I have enjoyed kale - mostly cooked long and slow with cured pork products - and the ridiculous kale health bandwagon has annoyed me so much I have pretty much avoided it on principle. I have never had a kale chip and I don't mind if I never do.
But Nigel Slater's mash with blue cheese and cavolo nero is pretty much the opposite of a worthy raw vegan kale smoothie. It's a little early in the year for cavolo nero, and that is a type of kale I really don't enjoy unless cooked very slowly, so I opted for tender baby kale leaves instead. His method makes the mashed potato, then tops with butter-sautéed cavolo nero which is then bathed in melted butter infused with rosemary (challenge ingredient number two) and blue cheese (challenge ingredient number three). I didn't do it that way. Instead, while the potatoes were draining, I sizzled the rosemary in the butter, added the potatoes back to the pan, mashed them with the rosemary butter, then folded in the raw kale and chunks of blue cheese. The baby kale leaves were tender enough to wilt in the heat of the potatoes and not need extra cooking.
My other embellishment was some of my garlic. I wrapped the whole head in foil and put it on the barbecue alongside the chicken we had with the mash. Then I squeezed out the luscious cloves on top of the potatoes, and added a little extra butter, champ-style.
It was an excellent accompaniment to the smoky chicken, but, in the way of potatoes, they really suck up the seasoning. I could have doubled the amount of rosemary and blue cheese and it wouldn't have been too much. And I think the addition of garlic is a must.