Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Mustard Bread Crumbs

You know it's got to be a good recipe if it finally got me motivated to post again. :)

This is not a recipe that sounds particularly good on the surface. However, those eight cups of cabbage? Are delicious when wilted and surrounded by diced potatoes, heavy cream, bacon grease, and crispy bread crumbs.

That being said, this dish ends up being not terribly unhealthy due to the sheer quantity of cabbage. It's substantial enough to stand as a main dish, but I think it would also be good as a side with thickly sliced ham or pork.

I made a few changes to the recipe to reflect my preferences; those changes are reflected below.

Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Mustard Bread Crumbs
adapted from the NY Times, via The Wednesday Chef
serves 3-4 as a main dish

1/3 cup bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips
3/4 cup yellow onion, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups all purpose potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 small bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 cups green cabbage, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the bread crumbs:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups fresh white bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons parsley (optional)
3/4 cup Comté or Gruyère cheese, grated


1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cook bacon in a very large frying pan until crispy. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and place on paper towel lined plate, leaving grease in pan.
3. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add potatoes, bay leaf, salt and pepper and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add cabbage, stirring frequently, until cabbage wilts a bit.
4. Remove cabbage mixture to a 9x13 or similarly-sized baking dish. Add cream to frying pan and simmer over high heat, stirring constantly, until reduced by half. Mix cream into cabbage mixture. Cover casserole with foil. Bake 10 minutes.
5. Wipe out frying pan and melt butter over low heat. Add bread crumbs and toast until crisp and golden, stirring constantly. Stir in garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, mustard and parsley.
6. After 10 minutes in the oven, remove baking dish and sprinkle with bacon and cheese, if using. Top with bread crumbs. Return to oven uncovered and bake until bubbly, about 5 minutes.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I'm not entirely sure that the Gruyere is necessary; there's not much on there so the flavor is pretty faint. I might swap out another (cheaper) cheese or even leave it out entirely.
  • Eight cups of cabbage should be considered a minimum. I bet you could just put in way more that that without compromising flavor, and make it way healthier!

Verdict: I couldn't stop eating it. Next time I'll double it and have lots of leftovers.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tomato Paella

I've been eyeing this recipe for a while, but now, knee-deep in tomato season, seemed like a perfect time to make it. It's not worth the trouble unless you have perfect juicy tomatoes to be the star.

I was not feeling the need to go out and buy a whole bunch of specialty paella ingredients, including a paella pan, so I made some substitutions. The modified recipe is what I've included here.

Tomato Paella
Adapted from Mark Bittman
Via Wednesday Chef

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, or about 6 large plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, and cut into thick halves or wedges
2 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 links andouille or chorizo sausauge, cut into half-moons
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Large pinch saffron threads
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
Minced parsley and basil for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Warm water in a saucepan. Put tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat.

2. Put remaining oil in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, sausage, and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Stir in tomato paste, saffron, and paprika and cook for a minute more.

4. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is shiny, another minute or two.

5. Add wine and let simmer until it is mostly absorbed, then add the hot water and stir until just combined.

6. Put tomato wedges on top of rice and drizzle with juices that accumulated in bottom of bowl. Put pan in oven and roast, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.

7. Rice should be dry and just tender; if not, return pan to oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. If rice looks too dry but still is not quite done, add a small amount of water. When rice is ready, turn off oven and let pan sit for 5 to 15 minutes.

8. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle with parsley and basil. If you like, put pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Lacking a suitable pan, I used my cast iron skillet, and prayed that the acidity of the tomatoes wouldn't ruin the (factory-made, but still valuable) patina. I think a small amount of the surface may have been removed, though it was hard to tell as I don't use that pan very often. For the future, I think I'll keep an eye out for an inexpensive oven-safe skillet that's not cast iron, just to be safe.
  • I used andouille sausage links that we'd normally put on the grill. They weren't originally in the recipe, but complemented the flavors of the paella very well.
  • If I ever find bomba or other Spanish rice for a decent price, I'd like to give it a try, but the arborio worked well and is so much cheaper and easier to find.

Verdict: Delicious. Both Dan and I went back for second helpings, and still had to restrain ourselves from eating more. The tomatoes were practically melting! Definitely a good way to use up some of that summer bounty.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Best Cocoa Brownies

For as long as I can remember I've used boxed brownie mixes to get my brownie fix. With a cup or so of chocolate chips as mix-ins, they always came out pretty decent, so why mess with a good thing? is what I asked.

I've been reading too many food blogs, however, and seeing recipe after recipe for good homemade brownies finally put me over the edge. In addition, this recipe is practically a one bowl recipe when you use the microwave to melt the butter and chocolate together. So I decided to give it a try.

Best Cocoa Brownies
Via Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Alice Mendrich’s Bittersweet

  • 10 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 c flour

  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each interval, until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot to the touch. (It will still look gritty at this point.)
  3. Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
  4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack, then refrigerate.
  5. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Per Smitten Kitchen I used a heaping 1/4 tsp of flaky sea salt, but felt that it could have used more. Next time I'll go for the full 1/2 tsp.
  • I used a blend of natural, dutch process, and black cocoa powder, because I couldn't decide which to try. I also discovered that I have 7 different types of cocoa powder, and possibly an addiction to purchasing high-quality baking ingredients.

Verdict: Do I even need to say it? They were delicious! Smooth and fudgy, with rich chocolate flavor offset by a good bit of saltiness -- and easy enough that I won't even bother keeping a box or two of mix around for emergencies.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake

In my ongoing quest to feed my husband and my Sunday School class, here's another breakfast recipe . . .

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake
from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, then beat in the egg yolks and vanilla.
  4. Add sour cream and dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately in several additions.
  5. Beat eggs whites until stiff, then gently fold into batter.
  6. Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a separate, small dish.
  7. Pour half of the cake batter into a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and half of the chocolate chips. Pour remaining batter on top, sprinkling the top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips.
  8. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I had some cinnamon and sugar mixed up from making snickerdoodles, so I used that instead of mixing it up fresh. It was pretty cinnamon-y, maybe more than what was called for in this recipe. Fortunately, I like cinnamon.
  • I took mine out after 40 minutes and it may have been slightly underbaked, but was very moist. Definitely better to take it out a few minutes early than too late.
  • Next time I'd add some salt, either by using salted butter or by adding a pinch to the dry ingredients.
  • I wonder if it would work to use yogurt instead of sour cream? It would certainly be much healthier.

Verdict: This makes a LOT of coffee cake. This was not a bad thing. We all enjoyed it very much, and I'm sure it'll be made again.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mango Slaw with Cashews and Mint

So when one has a large backlog of recipes to post about, does it make sense to start with the most recent (that I remember the best) or the oldest (that have been waiting for me long enough)? Please comment if you have an opinion!

Anyways, to get things rolling, this is a recipe I made just the other day. Since it's summer, I'm trying to take advantage of all the yummy fruits and vegetables that are in season right now. This recipe fits that criteria pretty well, and it has minimal unhealthy ingredients so I can pretty much eat my fill of it!

Mango Slaw with Cashews and Mint
from Smitten Kitchen
  • 1 mangoes, peeled, pitted and julienned
  • 1/2 lb Napa cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 red pepper, julienned
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 T fresh lime juice, about one lime
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T neutral tasting oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 T thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 c toasted cashews, coarsely chopped

  1. Toss mangoes, cabbage, pepper and onion in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk lime juice, vinegar, oil, and salt in a smaller bowl.
  3. Toss cabbage mixture with mint leaves, cashews, and dressing immediately before serving.

Comments & Modifications:
  • The original recipe called for crushed red pepper. I'm usually okay with spicy things, but couldn't quite see how it would fit in here, so I left it out.
  • Lacking the motivation to harvest fresh mint leaves from my plant, I used a couple of big pinches of dried crumbled mint. A different flavor, I'm sure, but it was still delicious.
  • If I could figure out how to get the flavor of the red onion without the lingering onion breath, I'd make this again right away.

Verdict: The mango was a bit of a pain, but this salad was worth it! I ate this for lunch two days in a row and found it pretty filling. Food like this makes me love summer so much.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

I guess enough people have nagged me about posting in my blog that it's time to get back to it. :)

Also, I needed to get this recipe recorded somewhere before I lost the photocopy! My lovely friend at work let me copy the recipe out of her magazine, after she made it and brought some in for me to try, and we both loved it. I did make a number of changes to simplify the steps even further; the recipe below includes my modifications.

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder
adapted from Cooking Light magazine

  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 c sliced green onions or diced onion
  • 1/4 c chopped celery
  • 1 lb summer squash or zucchini, about two medium, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb frozen corn kernels
  • 1 1/2 c to 2 1/4 c milk, divided
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 c sliced green onions for garnish, optional

  1. Saute bacon in medium pot until crisp. Remove from pan, leaving some or all of the drippings.
  2. Add onions, celery, and squash to pot and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Place vegetables in bowl off heat and set aside.
  3. Put about 1 cup of corn in the bowl with the other vegetables; add remaining corn to pot along with the milk. Process corn and milk with immersion blender until smooth.
  4. Add thyme, salt, pepper, and reserved vegetables to pot. Add water if additional liquid is necessary. Cook over medium heat until heated through.
  5. Garnish with crumbled bacon and green onions.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Although I love green onions, I had two smallish yellow onions that were on the verge of nastiness so I used them instead.
  • Oops! Forgot to buy celery. It was fine without.
  • Oops again! I only had 1 1/2 cups of milk in the fridge, so I made up the rest with water. The pureed corn is so creamy, though, that I hardly noticed the difference.

Verdict: Dan said: "This is really good!" Pretty high praise for something so healthy and simple to put together! This soup tastes like summer to me; I suspect we'll see it again soon.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Simplest Apple Tart

The pictures of this recipe just called to me -- flaky crisp tart dough, tender baked apples, crunchy sugar -- so pretty and tasty looking! I ended up making it for a family gathering last fall so I wouldn't eat it all myself.

Simplest Apple Tart
from Alice Waters via Smitten Kitchen


  • 1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 T chilled water

  • 2 lbs baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (save peels and cores)
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 2-4 T sugar

  • 1/2 c sugar

  1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.
  2. Dribble in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropey with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon of water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball.
  3. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.
  4. Place dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to make a free-form galette. Heat oven to 400 degrees. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)
  5. Overlap apples on dough in a ring two inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.
  6. Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle with sugar.
  7. Bake in center of oven about 45 minutes, or until apples are soft with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown, making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.
  8. In the meantime, make the glaze. Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.
  9. Remove tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.
  10. Brush glaze over tart, slice, and serve.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Lacking a tart pan, I went for the free-form galette.
  • I had some trouble with the dough, as usual. It was a bit sticky, but also seemed to crack in the oven, causing the apple juices to leak all over the pan in a big sticky mess. It took several washes to get it clean.
  • Since I was making this for the next day, I opted to skip the glaze. We also warmed it slightly in the oven before serving.
  • The picture makes it look like this serves a lot, but I say 6 to 8 servings.

Verdict: Even without the glaze I thought this was fantastic! Someday when I've had more practice with crusts I'll try this again.

Blueberry Buckle

Well, so much for that whole "post every day during November" thing. I look back at that last post and it's like I just gave up! Which I think is pretty much what happened; once I missed the first day, it was like, what's the point?

Anyways, to motivate myself to post I decided to start in the dessert section, otherwise known as the best and yummiest section.

I tried out this recipe late last summer, with a large container of very sour blueberries from Wegmans. Not wanting to eat them plain, I needed to find a tasty way to get rid of them, and settled on this recipe suggestion from my coworker.

Blueberry Buckle
from the Food Network

  • 9 oz cake flour, approximately 2 cups
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 1/4 oz sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 15 oz fresh whole blueberries, approximately 3 cups
  • 3 1/2 oz sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 1/2 oz cake flour, approximately 1/3 cup
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9x9 glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside.
  3. Beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until well incorporated, approximately 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture and milk in thirds, alternating, beating until just incorporated. Gently stir in the blueberries and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  4. In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients using a fork to combine. Continue until the mixture has a crumb-like texture. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cake. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 minutes or until golden in color. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Can't say I remember any, which isn't too surprising given that I made this almost a year ago.

Verdict: This was substantial and tasty. I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9x13 dish, and it made a TON of cake. We brought this to a college reunion with about 10 people, and there was still leftovers at the end of the weekend! While it's not particularly special, it is yummy and filling, and I'd definitely make it again.