Thursday, March 28, 2013

Russian Cabbage Borscht

Last week, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, I made this delicious soup. Yes, I realize it isn't Irish (obviously)...but it's full of cabbage and for me, that was enough to qualify. In case you think that makes me lame, I also made Irish Soda Bread (which must be Irish because it's right there in the title). But even if I am lame, I frequently have homemade baked goods around, so I would argue that it's worth putting up with me.


Makes 4-5 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced potato
1 cup thinly sliced beets
1 large carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 scant teaspoon caraway seeds
4 cups stock or water
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dill weed, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey
1 cup tomato puree
sour cream for serving
chopped tomato for serving (optional)

1.      Place potatoes, beets and water in a saucepan and cook until everything is tender. (Save the water.)
2.      Begin cooking the onions in the butter in a large kettle. Add caraway seeds, salt and a sprinkling of black pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, then add celery, carrots and cabbage. Add water from beets and potatoes and cook, covered until all the vegetables are tender. Add potatoes/beets, dill, vinegar, honey, and tomato puree.
3.      Cover and simmer slowly for at least 30 minutes. Taste to correct seasonings.
4.      Serve warm topped with sour cream, dill weed, and chopped fresh tomatoes (if desired).

from Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
peeling beet
sliced beets and potatoes in pot

I used a mandoline to slice them very thinly and then I very
roughly chopped them because I was imagining trying to eat these
huge flat slices in my soup. But as you can see in the photo
below, they kind of fall apart enough after they're cooked, so
I didn't need to worry about that after all.
cooked beets and potatoes
onion, salt and caraway seeds
cabbage, celery and carrot added

(I used a bag of already shredded purple cabbage.)
pouring in the cooking water from the beets/potatoes
adding the beets/potatoes and remaining ingredients
all mixed together
after simmering for 30 minutes
russian cabbage borscht
russian cabbage borscht (in a bowl, topped with
a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of dill)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Amaretti Cookies

Happy Passover! If you've been invited to a seder this year, you still have time to whip up a batch of these super easy (and delightful) Italian almond macaroons to bring with you. They're a nice change from the usual coconut macaroons that are often served at seders (not that I'm putting those down, they're good if you like coconut). Although I do prefer the lovely almond flavor and crunchiness of these little gems.


Yield: 4 ½ to 5 dozen

3 cups blanched slivered almonds (or 362 grams almond flour)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon almond extract

1.      Preheat oven to 300º F. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.      In a food processor, grind the slivered almonds into a fine meal (if using almond flour, simply place it in). Add the sugar and continue process for another 15 seconds. Add egg whites and almond extract, continue to process until a smooth dough forms around the blade.
3.      Roll the dough into balls (about 1 heaping teaspoon each). Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
4.      Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Cookies should be golden. Allow cookies to cool completely on the paper before removing. Store in a dry place in an airtight container.

barely adapted from (submitted by Kevin Ryan)

Bob's Red Mill almond flour
adding egg whites & almond extract to almond flour/sugar
dough rolled into balls
amaretti cookies

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

I love everything about this sandwich. Goat cheese is one of my favorites and these marinated roasted peppers with the basil are nothing short of scrumptious. They add such a great freshness that is kind of lacking in the winter months. It's as close to having a plump, fresh tomato as you can get in March. Add some salty capers and chewy ciabatta and I was in sandwich heaven.

Yield:  4 to 6 servings

4 large red or yellow bell peppers, preferably Holland
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (increase if omitting capers)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons drained capers

For assembling:
1 large ciabatta bread, halved horizontally
11 oz. garlic-and-herb or plain goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet) at room temperature
8 to 10 large basil leaves
3 thin slices red onion

1.      Preheat the oven to 500º F.
2.      Place the whole peppers on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, turning them two or three times during roasting. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Set aside for 30 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.
3.      Meanwhile, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
4.      Remove the stem from each pepper and cut or rip them in quarters. Remove the peels and seeds and place the peppers in a bowl along with any juices that have collected. Discard the stems, peels, and seeds. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the peppers. Stir in the capers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.
5.      To assemble the sandwiches, spread the bottom half of the loaf with the goat cheese. Add a layer of peppers and then a layer of basil leaves. Separate the onions into rings and spread out on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with the top half of the ciabatta and cut into individual servings.

barely adapted from Ina Garten
red peppers
roasted red peppers
marinade ingredients

I added extra garlic because I was using plain goat cheese.
roasted red peppers with marinade & capers
marinated roasted peppers
spreading goat cheese on ciabatta

I didn't use the whole loaf - I was
only making enough for two people.
marinated roasted pepper layer
topped with basil and red onion
roasted pepper and goat cheese sandwich

Friday, March 15, 2013

Suspiciously Delicious Cabbage

I got this recipe from food52 and decided to keep the name as is, but honestly, there's nothing suspicious about why this cabbage is so delicious. Sauteed with butter, onion, garlic, ginger and then finished with cream - how could it not be? Really it would be suspicious if you added all that and it didn't come out delicious. So if you can stomach cabbage (because I know some people suffer from suspiciously vicious gas pains afterwards), go ahead and try this (this is why I never went into sales).

Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon (heaping) grated fresh ginger
1 medium green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1.      In a very large pan, heat the butter over medium heat until it is melted and starting to bubble a little. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.
2.      Stir in the ginger and cook for about a minute. Then, add in the cabbage, stirring well to coat it with the butter and other flavors. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes, until the cabbage has softened and caramelized.
3.      Turn the heat to low and stir in the cream making sure to scrape any browned bits up from the pan bottom. Cover and cook over low for about 10 minutes.
4.      Uncover, add salt and pepper to taste. Then cook for a few more minutes, stirring once or twice, to let some of the liquid evaporate. Adjust seasonings as desired and serve.

from (added by fiveandspice)
adding grated ginger to the onions & garlic
cabbage mixed in

There are carrots in there too because I used a 16 oz.
bag of cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage + carrots).
adding cream
suspiciously delicious cabbage
...or is it?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Braised Short Ribs

I realize this looks like a big sloppy mess and might not make your mouth water, but trust me, it's a super flavorful big sloppy mess that is scrumptious, in spite of it's lack of photogenicness (which may or may not be a word - I'm not sure). So just put this photo out of your mind and imagine the robust flavors dancing on your taste buds. They've always been there for you, I think they deserve this.

Yield:  8 servings

6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds)
kosher salt
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
2 to 3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves

1.      Season each short rib generously with salt. Coat a pot (large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables) with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.
2.      Preheat oven to 375º F.
3.      While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crud has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the crud and let it reform. Scrape the crud again and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half.
4.      Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups water (or enough water to just about cover the meat). Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.

raw short ribs
browned short ribs
vegetables in food processor
pureed vegetables in pot
"crud" on the bottom of the pan
adding tomato paste

Don't be afraid of using so much tomato paste.
I used the full amount and was very happy I did.
adding wine
tomato paste, wine and water mixed in
adding the short ribs back
submerging the short ribs
thyme and bay leaves added
about 90 minutes later
3 hours later (removing thyme)
removing short rib (fallen off the bone)
fat skimmed - braising liquid mixed
braised short rib on bone over roasted garlic mashed potatoes
braised short rib (pulled apart, with sauce)