If there is one ingredient I have trouble using, it’s cabbage. Week after week, we receive it in our CSA box and I have no idea what to do with it. With each day that goes by, the cabbage makes its way further into the depths of our fridge until I am forced to cut it up into some random dish where it has no place being… or I throw it out.
And, the fact is that I love cabbage… I really do. The sweet smell it produces when cooked; its slightly bitter flavor. But seeing a whole head of it is intimidating. How can you possibly use the whole thing?
My view of cabbage changed a few weeks ago when my dear friends Jacob and Joely (whom we stayed with when we were in San Francisco earlier this month) gave us a piece of the cabbage and caramelized onion tart they had made. The recipe, which comes from the New York Times, is not a quick dish, but it isn’t very complicated and it tastes wonderful.
The recipe came in handy when I needed to bring a side dish for another Thanksgiving dinner that we attended. It was just as I remembered it and everyone was thrilled to pile it on next to their turkey and cranberry sauce (and mac and cheese, dressing, cranberry sauce, and collard greens).
Now before moving onto the recipe, I just wanted to direct your attention to one of the instructions that took me aback at first. While it may be daunting (and seem completely unnecessary) to cook the onions for 45 minutes, it is very much worth it. As soon as they were done, I had to resist any temptation of devouring every last slice.
I know I had mentioned that voting would be open today for Marx Food’s A Chile and a Spoon recipe competition, but it has been delayed due to some terrible snow out there that caused them to shut down for most of last week. Therefore, voting will begin on WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1ST. I’ll definitely let you know as soon as you can vote for my Chocolate Chili Panna Cotta. Thanks!
Cabbage and Caramelized Onion Tart
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut in half root to stem, then thinly sliced across the grain
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small cabbage, shredded or chopped (about 6 cups)
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup, tightly packed (2 ounces) Gruyère cheese
1 yeasted olive oil pie crust (1/2 recipe)
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook, stirring, until they begin to sizzle and soften, about three minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt and the garlic. Stir everything together, turn the heat to low, cover and cook slowly for 45 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are very soft, sweet and light brown.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat in another large skillet. Add the cabbage. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to wilt, then add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the cabbage is tender and fragrant. Stir in the onions, simmer together uncovered for about five minutes or until there is no longer any liquid in the pan, and remove from the heat.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9- or 10-inch tart pan and line with the dough. Beat the eggs and milk in a bowl and season with salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper. Stir in the onions, cabbage and cheese, and combine well. Scrape into the tart pan, and place in the oven. Bake 40 to 45 minutes until the top is lightly browned.
Yield: Serves six.
Advance preparation: You can make the filling through Step 1 up to three days ahead. Refrigerate in a covered bowl.
Nutritional information per serving: 307 calories; 17 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 171 grams cholesterol; 29 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams dietary fiber; 273 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 13 grams protein
Until recently, if I had seen panna cotta on a dessert menu, I would never have thought to order it. The first few times I tried it, I was unimpressed. The panna cotta was flavorless and covered in fruit puree or (even worse) canned pineapple. Yuck, right?
But over the past year, I have given it another try and, I have learned, when it’s done right… it’s really, really good.
Panna cotta is a rich dessert, one that I can’t imagine eating on a regular basis. But for a special occasion, it’s a gem of a dish. With origins in Italy, panna cotta contains very few ingredients. What it does include, cream, sugar, and gelatin, are usually readily available in one’s kitchen. So if you are searching for something quick and decadent to make for dinner guests, look no further.
Now, given my rocky past with panna cotta, you may be wondering why I would decide to make it.
It all has to do with a little recipe challenge put on by Marx Foods (the same company that did the morel mushroom contest earlier this year). This time the good folks at the Seattle-based establishment provided a handful of bloggers with a sample of dried chilies and asked us to come up with an original dish that not only included the hot peppers, but one that could also be eaten with a spoon.
My immediate thought was to do a spicy chocolate mousse. But the more I thought about it, I began to feel like I needed to try my hand at something more challenging. Not that I wanted to do anything too complex… just a recipe that was a little out of my comfort zone.
So, here’s a little secret I’m going to share with all of you. Before making this panna cotta, I had never worked with gelatin. Along with yeast, it has always terrified me. It seems unpredictable and temperamental. One small misstep and the whole thing is messed up.
But I’m really happy with how it turned out and I’m certain you’d feel the same.
Chocolate Chili Panna Cotta
(makes 4 servings)
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cups sugar
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium heat dried chili, minced (I included the seeds, but that is completely up to you… and how spicy the pepper is)
1 packet gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
Oil four custard dishes and set aside.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter until both have been incorporated and melted. In another pot, mix heavy cream, milk, sugar and turn heat to medium. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Once this has occurred, stir in the vanilla extract. Gently mix in the melted chocolate until it has fully incorporated with the cream mixture. Take off the heat and add the chili to the mixture.
In a bowl, add the water and sprinkle the gelatin on top and let sit for 5 minutes.
Pour the warm cream mixture over the gelatin and mix thoroughly.
Pour the panna cotta mixture into the oiled cups and let them chill in the fridge until they are firm. This can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours.
Once the mixture has turned solid, take a sharp knife and run it around the edge of each mold until it falls out of the cup.
This can be served as is, but is also delicious with a simple chocolate or light caramel sauce.
There are few things that I enjoy more than fresh, homemade bread. To be able to revel in the product that comes from all that hard work is something I find incredibly satisfying. And I can guarantee that your dinner guests will get the same amount of pleasure from it as well.
This recipe for brioche comes from the newly released Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang. Flour Bakery and Cafe is a Boston institution and it that has developed significantly over the past year. Along with the cookbook, another location opened (its third) a few months ago in Cambridge.
While one can find a number of these types of shops in San Francisco or New York, Boston has very few cafes that offer high quality, freshly produced baked goods. However, amongst the few that do, Flour is at the top.
So, you may be wondering what this has to do with Thanksgiving and why I’m including it in this series of posts. Because bread is a key component of any dinner party. Whether people use it to dunk in their soup or just to hold them over until the next course, it is a necessity.
There are, of course, easier (and much faster) breads you can make, but a nice, airy loaf is something truly special. If you have the time, I recommend giving this one a shot. Joanne explains each step with great clarity… making it a fantastic recipe for amateur bread bakers (like myself).
This is my last post before Thanksgiving. I hope everyone found these recipes useful and that you have a very happy holiday.
(from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe by Joanne Chang)
makes 2 loaves
Note: Do not halve this recipe. There won’t be enough dough to engage the dough hook of your mixer, and the dough won’t get the workout it needs to become a light, fluffy bread. Don’t worry about having too much: Both the dough and the baked loaves freeze well, and having a freezer filled with brioche is never a bad thing.
2 1/4 cups (315 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast, or 1 ounce (28 grams) fresh cake yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (82 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (120 grams) cold water
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (2 3/4 sticks/310 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all of the ingredients have come together. Stop the mixer as needed to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.
On low speed, add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Then, continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all of the butter to be mixed thoroughly into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.
Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat for another 15 minutes, or until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually will turn smooth and silky. Then, turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it: it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in one piece.
Place the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. At this point, you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
To make two brioche loaves, line the bottom and sides of two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans with parchment, or butter the pans liberally. Divide the dough in half and press each piece into about a 9-inch square. The dough will feel like cold, clammy Play-Doh. Facing the square, fold down the top one-third toward yo, and then fold up the bottom one-third, as if folding a letter. Press to join these layers. Turn the folded dough over and place it, seam-side down in one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the second piece of dough, placing it in the second prepared pan.
Cover the loaves lightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to proof for about 4 to 5 hours, or until the loaves have nearly doubled in size. They should have risen to the rim of the pan and be rounded on top. When you poke at the dough, it should feel soft, pillowy and light, as if it’s filled with air – because it is! At this point, the texture of the loaves always reminds me a bit of touching a water balloon.
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg until blended. Gently brush the tops of the loaves with the beaten egg.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the tops and sides of the loaves are completely golden brown. Let cool in the pans on wire racks for 30 minutes, then turn the loaves out of the pans and continue to cool on the racks.
The bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days (if it is older than 3 days, try toasting int) or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
There are a lot of stresses that come with planning a Thanksgiving menu. But one thing I have learned, having hosted such feasts for the past three years, is that preparing items in advance is a lifesaver. Soups, sides, and desserts can all be made ahead and packed in the fridge or tossed in the freezer.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, Eric and I love throwing dinner parties. So it seemed logical to start doing a Thanksgiving dinner every year where we could gather our friends together and enjoy a nice meal (as well as copious amounts of wine) the weekend before the actual day. The first year, it was a bit of a mess. I woke up at six in the morning the day of the event, threw on an apron, and cooked up to, and even after, the guests had arrived. (This may be the reason why the whole evening is a blur to me. Or that could be the result of something else.)
After that, I knew something had to change. And now that we’ve had a few of these, I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. In preparation for the event, I begin by brainstorming recipe ideas. Once I’ve come up with the general menu, I then think about which items can be made (or, at the very least, started) a few days ahead.
The first items I made were the pumpkin-swirl brownies I posted earlier this week, which are now sitting safely in the freezer. A bit more time consuming than some of the other dishes I plan to make, it felt like a huge accomplishment to get them out of the way.
Next up was this delightful beet chutney, which, as noted at the end of the recipe, can be made up to a week in advance.
I’m a huge fan of this recipe, not just because of it’s simplicity, but because it has incredible depth and pairs wonderfully with both meat and vegetarian options. This is more of a relish, than a chutney… but, really, neither accurately describes how truly delicious it is.
Plus, you can make it today for next week! How great is that?
(from Bon Appetit, November, 2009)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups chopped red onion
1 2-inch-diameter beet, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoon raisins
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
Pinch of cumin seeds
Heat olive oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped red onion and beet cubes. Cook until onion is tender but not brown, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water. Increase heat to high and boil until mixture is thick, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, raisins, sugar, ginger, mustard seeds, and pinch of cumin seeds. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beet cubes are tender and chutney is thick, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.
As much as I try to plan for it, Thanksgiving always seems to come out of nowhere. In a rush, I’m working on the menu, figuring out the seating assignments, looking for ways to uniquely (and cheaply) decorate the table. This year, I’ve decided to take control of the situation and get things done… now.
If there’s one thing I love about this holiday, it’s the excessive amounts of cooking that occurs. That doesn’t mean that I enjoy making a lot of food, but I love the idea of spending multiple days in the kitchen, working hard to get everything done in time. Seeing that the kitchen is my zone (as my husband can attest), I feel the most comfortable standing over the stove. It has a calming effect on me. For our first recipe in preparation for Thanksgiving, we’re going straight to dessert. I first saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and was immediately struck by the pairing. Chocolate and pumpkin? Really? How does that work?
After making them, I, unfortunately, don’t have a good answer for you. The flavors just mesh beautifully together. The cayenne (which I found to have a more prominent flavor in the pumpkin batter) balances with the sweetness of the chocolate. All I can tell you is this, I’m going to be making these for years to come. I followed this recipe according to Deb’s instructions. And, like her, I did not have a 9″ square baking dish. As a result, some towering brownies were produced and, to be honest, I kind of like that.
It really doesn’t seem to be Thanksgiving without something pumpkin on the table. And these brownies, which are part fudge, part cake, are a terrific and creative use of the ingredient.
Check back later for some more recipe ideas for your Thanksgiving menu!
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (the original recipe calls for the larger amount; I think it could be dialed down a bit)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it. Butter the lining as well. (Deb note: I used an 8-inch square, because it was what I had. It works, too, but the brownies are crazy thick and take much longer to bake, just to give you a heads-up.)
2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
4. Pour half of batter (about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it. If you find that it is a little thick (as mine was) add a little more batter (a few tablespoons or so) until it is more pourable. This is important because mine was quite thick, and the pumpkin half was quite thin, so I had trouble swirling the two together.
5. In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.
6. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Be sure to get your knife all the way to the bottom of the pan–I didn’t, and ended up with a chocolate base, not that it is such a bad thing. Sprinkle with nuts, if using.
7. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.
Usually I come back from trips a bit exhausted. The long flights and uncomfortable lodging… it can all be incredibly draining. But whenever Eric and I come out to the West Coast to visit his brother, I return feeling rejuvenated.
Our most recent travels were this past weekend, when we flew to San Francisco so I could attend the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival. There was an incredible amount of eating (and drinking) and lots of laughter. What struck me most was how approachable people were. It was a lively bunch of foodies and winos and I look forward to doing it again. For those interested in looking at those pictures, I have created a Flickr album for you to take a peek at.
But I decided to take this opportunity to focus on all of the other amazing food I ate on this trip. Now, this blog isn’t a restaurant review site and it isn’t a travel one either. With that being said, I do love both of these things and, as a food lover, I can’t leave them out.
We started our trip out in Sacramento and Davis, where we visited Eric’s brother, his wife, Leigh, and our adorable niece, Jordan. As soon as we got off the plane, we rushed to our favorite neighborhood lunch spot, La Bonne Soupe Cafe. With the amount that Eric and I hype this place, it never seems to disappoint (and I think the pictures below will demonstrate why).
After a few days up north, we spent the rest of our trip in San Francisco. Without a doubt, this is my favorite city. We’ve visited quite a bit over the past couple of years, and each time we’re there I fall in love. Some people have Paris, others New York… I have San Francisco.
I’m sure everyone is tired of reading, so I’m going to move on and show you some photos of the places we ate at during this trip. Just a note: this is a mere taste of what we consumed on our vacation. Frightening as it may be, there was a lot more.
Daniel Pont, ‘Chef/Propriétaire’ of La Bonne Soupe Cafe – Sacramento, California
The Zagat Rating at La Bonne Soupe Cafe – Sacramento, CA
Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Asparagus and White Balsamic Creme Fraiche Vinaigrette at La Bonne Soupe Cafe – Sacramento, CA
Creme Brulée from La Bonne Soupe Cafe – Sacramento, CA
More rave reviews of La Bonne Soupe Cafe – Sacramento, CA
San Francisco, CA
Tartine Bakery – San Francisco, CA
Pain de Chocolat and a Morning Bun from Tartine Bakery – San Francisco, CA
Tartine Bakery – San Francisco, CA
Creme Fraiche and Swiss Chard Quiche from Tartine Bakery – San Francisco, CA
The Murals at Clarion Alley – Mission District, San Francisco
Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Brown Sugar Ice Cream with Ginger Caramel from Bi-Rite Creamery – San Francisco, CA
La Boulange – San Francisco, CA
Brioche filled with Egg Custard and a Latte from La Boulange – San Francisco, CA
The Ferry Building – San Francisco, CA
Heath Ceramics at The Ferry Building – San Francisco, CA
The Ferry Building – San Francisco, CA
Blue Bottle Cafe at The Ferry Building – San Francisco, CA
Hog Island Oyster Co. at The Ferry Building – San Francisco, CA
Honey Thyme Ice Cream from Humphry Slocombe – San Francisco, CA
The Complete List of Restaurants/Bakeries/Creameries/Cafes:
La Bonne Soupe Cafe – Sacramento, CA*
Konditorei Austrian Pastry Cafe – Davis, CA*
La Boulange – San Francisco, CA
Arizmendi Bakery – SF*
City View Restaurant (Dim Sum) – SF
Tartine Bakery – SF*
Bi-Rite Creamery – SF
Papalote Mexican Grill – SF
NOPA – SF*
Hog Island Oyster Co. – SF
Blue Bottle Cafe – SF*
Humphry Slocombe – SF*
Chow – SF
Marnee Thai – SF*
*Exceptional quality; would go back in a second