I was performing and doing the New Year’s Eve countdown in Kraków, Poland, hilarious and nerve-wracking. An hour before the performance, the producers told me that I had to say “Happy New Year” and do the countdown in Polish. I had no time to practice, and there I was in front of 140,000 people, standing next to the president of Poland. I managed to get the words out. The next day, time with my nerves back intact, for the first time I had a savory pancake, which inspired this buckle.
For the vegetables
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces baby potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 carrot, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 large yellow onion, diced and 1/4 cup shallots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 crookneck or zucchini squash, diced
1 pasilla pepper (a medium-hot dried chile pepper), cored, seeded, and diced
1/2 red and 1/2 green bell pepper, cored, and diced
1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 bunch of asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch segments on the bias
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 cups chopped kale, destemmed
Leaves of 3 fresh thyme sprigs
For the batter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon each black pepper and kosher salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup shredded Gruyère (about 3 ounces)
1. Position an oven rack in the center and preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. To make the vegetables, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, season with 1 teaspoon of the salt, the cayenne, and thyme, reducing the heat a little if needs be, and sauté until the potatoes start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and cook for 5 minutes, until they are softened and the potatoes are cooked through. Remove the potatoes and carrots to a plate and set aside. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil into the pan on medium-high heat. Add the onion, season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and sauté, until tender and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Mince the shallots and sprinkle with the garlic into the pan and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant, stirring constantly so it doesn’t brown. Stir in the squash, pasilla, bell peppers, broccoli, asparagus, and the remaining salt, and sauté for about 5 minutes to soften the vegetables. Add the chicken stock, kale, and fresh thyme, and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 5 minutes, or until the broth is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 2 cups of the sautéed vegetables to a bowl and set aside. Let the vegetables remaining in the pan cool slightly, then purée them with the broth left in the pan using an immersion blender to make a gravy.
3. To make the batter, in a large bowl, mix together the flour, rosemary, baking powder, pepper, and the salt until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the milk.
4. Put the stick of butter in a large (9- x 13-inch or 9-inch round) baking pan. Put the baking pan in the oven to melt the butter, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Pour the batter into the center of pan and let it spread out naturally to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon the vegetable mixture into different places on the batter so there is some batter visible in between clumps of vegetables. Bake on the center rack for 15 to 20 minutes, until the batter is set and starts to brown. Remove the buckle from the oven and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes more, until the cheese is melted and crisp in places. Serve with the vegetable gravy.
My Life on a Plate by Kelis Rogers, published by Kyle Books, priced £19.99. Photography by David Loftus.
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