A few days ago we left Athens on a sunny 80°F day, warm enough to welcome airport air-conditioning. Thirty-six hours later, back in Anchorage, the sun still shone, but the temperature was only 40°F. A chill north wind cut through the lightweight clothing I’d donned on another continent.
When we arrived home, the first order of business was inspecting the garden. We’d heard there’d been a killing frost in Anchorage, so expected the worst. Zucchini, peas, Swiss chard, and most lettuce had been taken out by the cold. Broccoli and cauliflower had gone to seed. Cabbages were perfect and ready to harvest, as were arugula, garlic, onion, herbs, and a small second planting of Lau’s pointed leaf lettuce that inexplicably was unaffected by frost.
The garden’s best producer this year was Tuscan/Lacinato/dinosaur kale. The blue-green strappy kale leaves are lush and healthy despite nighttime temperatures well below freezing. Its perfect condition is remarkable; nearly every other garden plant was plagued by a horde of slugs brought forth by this year’s record-breaking rainy summer.
Having a kale glut seemed like the perfect opportunity to try Ayse Gilbert’s sour cream crust recipe. I used Greek yogurt, an ingredient I always have on hand, rather than sour cream. The dough mixed up easily and was a pleasure to roll out. This is a good crust recipe for beginners; it’s much easier to work with than standard pie crust dough.
With the tangy crust, I wanted a little sweetness to complement kale’s earthy flavor, so included dried currants and lightly sautéed onions in the filling mix. Feta always goes well with greens and I’d just brought some back from Greece that’d been mauled by a customs agent (don’t get me started) and needed to be used right away. So feta went in the mix, along with some garlic and Aleppo pepper.
The filling was well-balanced and its flavors worked well with the deliciously crunchy, flaky crust. Best of all, my friends liked it, the true measure of a recipe’s success.
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