Have you ever made a faux pas that still causes you to cringe? I certainly have. I produced a shoot at someone’s house, and had lunch catered. I carefully chose items—including a vegetarian option, several salads, and a pasta—that I thought would be crowd pleasers. The host had a nut allergy though, and when lunch arrived, he pulled the delivery boy aside and was told that every and I repeat every dish contained nuts. I was mortified. I had nothing to offer the host, but had I inquired about nuts in advance the dear man would not have gone hungry.
For you who have allergies, or have family members that do, this probably does not come as a surprise. “Duh,” you’re thinking. Of course you must ask! Lesson learned.
I now always inquire, whether we’re having weekend guests or a kids’ birthday party, if anyone has food allergies or aversions. I had a particular challenge last weekend when two of my guests were gluten- and dairy-free, and another had a nut allergy. Hmmmm, I guess I couldn’t start off the evening with my standard assortment of cheeses and toast, nor could I serve my favorite tamari almonds and rosemary cashews.
I went for fresh and easy: two big bowls of savory kale chips, a sweet container of crisp sugar snap peas, and cucumber sticks. I did offer one option for those who were not dairy- and wheat-free—luscious ricotta and tomato toasts.
The kale chips were a hit—even with the kids. Perhaps they’re an unexpected accompaniment to cocktails, but their salty, somewhat spicy goodness complemented the crisp rosé we were drinking, a yummy Domaine Houchart.
For those of you who associate rosé with Almaden jug wine of the 70s, you must try this wine. A friend recently declined a glass because she said, “oh I don’t like those sweet pink wines.” Jim insisted she take a sip, which she did, and was sold. The dry, bright wine was nothing like the fruity pinks she’d tried in the past.
I am smitten with the charms of rosé, and try to share the joy, buying Domaine Houchart by the case. It was introduced to us by a wine-importer friend; we were worried it would be out of our league financially but here’s the kicker: it’s only 9.99 a bottle (almost as cheap as jug wine!).
I have a feeling rosé has hit its stride. Last week there was a large display near the Whole Foods checkout with over 15 different wines in shades of pink, peach and melon. You can pick up a bag of kale chips there too. But for a fraction of the cost, you can make your own chips in a jiffy (you’ll have to buy the wine though!).
A cool glass of rosé and some healthy green crisps are a great way to toast the weekend.
Crispy Kale Chips
There are many varieties of kale. I’ve used ruffled, curly, and a flat-leaf kale to make chips and they all work. I like the curlier leaves, but it’s pure personal preference. When the kale is young, I leave in the ribs when chopping. If the kale is large and tough, remove the ribs before chopping the leaves. Add more black pepper for a spicier chip.
6 to 7 cups kale leaves, about 1 large head, stems removed and coarsely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line two 11 x 17 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Place the kale leaves (rinsed and dried well) in a bowl and sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss until all the leaves are coated.
3. Divide the leaves between the two baking sheets, spreading them in an even layer on each sheet.
4. Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp. Use a spatula to turn them once while baking. The chips are somewhat delicate, so use care when turning.
5. Allow to cool then place in a bowl or air-tight container.