My mother-in-law called my husband half lace-curtain and half shanty Irish. He calls himself neither, but has an Irish passion for cabbage and potatoes, which I have learned to embrace.
Right now my house boasts both the giant Chinese cabbage used here and large glass crock with half-fermented multicolored sauerkraut with ginger and anise. I picked up the giant Chinese cabbage at the Holiday Farmers Market, and it has served me well this week, because, like the rest of you, I’ve been in no mood to fuss in the kitchen after all that Holiday feasting.
So here are two simple recipes that shout, ” I’m cabbage, but won’t bite you!” They also use up my beautiful Chinese cabbage, which has a very light flavor and good crunch.
Weekday Noodles and Cabbage with Caraway
This simple toss works well, but you are welcome to stay loose; exact measurements aren’t necessary. Use whatever seasonal cabbage is on hand and any kind of pasta, though I love these cozy noodles. And you can easily leave out the carrot and dill if they’re not around. In other words, you can’t go wrong!
Makes 2 portions
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
About 5 cups or 10 oz shredded cabbage
1 carrot, cut how you wish, optional
Salt, preferably kosher or sea salt
About 8 oz dried egg noodles, medium or large
Generous amount of freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh dill, optional
1-Melt the butter and set aside. Make sure the caraway, cabbage and carrot, if you are using it, are ready. (To shred cabbage, simply cut across it in thin slices.)
2- Bring about 2-3 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt and noodles. Cook until al dente, cooked but slightly firm to the touch, adding cabbage and carrots to the pot a minute or two before it is done. Drain, leaving some of the water still clinging to the noodles.
3-Toss the noodle mixture with the butter and caraway. Add a generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately in warm bowls, sprinkled with dill, if you are using it.
Quick Chinese Cabbage Slaw
Simple and fresh tasting. Perfect with a sandwich, and of course for using the last of that cabbage.
Makes 4-6 side dishes
About 4 cups shredded Chinese cabbage
2 teaspoons grated ginger or to taste
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-2 tablespooons sliced scallions or chives
1 tablespoon roughtly chopped cilantro
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
Toss all the ingredients. Taste. Adjust the seasonings if you like with extra salt, cayenne and ginger.
Tip:The freezer is the ideal place to keep herbs, spices, ginger, seeds and nuts. I store them, roughly alphabetized, in long door shelves.
My father adored family feasts. And every large meal ended with: “We need a sweet to shout finis!”
So on this Thanksgiving, the first since his he died, he was with us in spirit — cracking snappy, if harsh, jokes, mooning over my brother-in-law’s wine selection, criticizing my kale salad and “to shout finis,” savoring my butternut pie.
Thanks Dad for your sharp wit and warmth, as well as your food fanaticism, now mine.
Note: The picture is of my dad in his healthy days, on this 70th birthday, with my sisters, almost 20 years ago at The Rainbow Room in Manhattan. From the left: Ellie, the baby, me, the oldest, dad, and our middle sister, Joanna.
Thanksgiving has always been my mom’s favorite holiday, and leftover’s night was always one of my favorite dinners.
I often make a gigantic turkey for Thanksgiving with large batches of side dishes, because leftovers taste even better than the main event. (Especially once I’ve relaxed and the feasting is over.) This wrap uses the classic Thanksgiving leftovers you’ll probably have on hand, but feel free to improvise with whatever’s in the fridge, substituting cornbread for bread stuffing, or adding anything from pureed yams to brussels sprouts. If all the cranberry sauce is gone, don’t despair, try major gray’s mango chutney instead, it’s delicious. Serves 4
1-1/3 cups bread stuffing
2 cups shredded cooked turkey
1/4 cup gravy (if none left-over, see quick version below)
4 large burrito size flour tortillas
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cranberry sauce
To assemble: Reheat the stuffing, turkey, and gravy in the microwave, just until hot, all at once or in batches, depending on the size of your microwave. Heat the tortillas, one at a time, in a large caste iron skillet or directly over a gas flame, turning frequently, for 15-20 seconds. Lay out a tortilla. Spread about l/3 cup of stuffing over the center, leaving a l-1/2 inch border around the edge. Scatter about 1/2 a cup of turkey over the top. Sprinkle with a pinch salt and pepper, then top with l tablespoon gravy and cranberry sauce, using a spoon to spread, if necessary. Fold in the sides and roll. Complete wraps with the remaining ingredients, or if you prefer, assemble all at once, assembly-line style.
Use lavash instead of tortillas, substitute l/4 cup mayonnaise for the gravy, add l/4 bunch watercress leaves. To assemble, spread each lavash with l tablespoon mayonnaise first, and scatter with the remaining ingredient in this order: turkey, salt and pepper, cranberry sauce, watercress. Roll. Cut in half on the bias. Wrap in waxed paper or plastic to store or transport.
Low-fat versions that are no sacrifice at all: Hot: Add more cranberry sauce and omit the gravy . Cold: Omit the mayonnaise and add more cranberry sauce. Note: Stuffing can be quite fatty, but, if it isn’t stuffed into the turkey, a very low-fat version is a snap to assemble, using either homemade or packaged stuffing.
These sturdy wraps can be made up to a day in advance. Hot wrap can be reheated in the oven, wrapped in foil or in the microwave.
l tablespoon butter
l tablespoon flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt to taste if homemade
Melt the butter in a small skillet or saucepan. Add the flour and cook, over medium-low heat, stirring frequent, until it is nut brown, about 2-3 minutes. Pour in the stock, whisking constantly, until it is thick, about 2 minutes. Salt to taste if using homemade stock.
You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy these honeys, which use local apples, parsnips, onions, sour cream and potatoes, if you can find them. (I had trouble, but don’t get me started.)
The parsnip adds a touch of earthy sweetness to the traditional flavor, and underestimated fresh apple sauce is always heaven sent. I use thick sour cream from Hudson Valley that is shockingly rich, but just a touch is all that’s needed.
Potato pancakes are best served hot from the skillet by a grandmother who runs back and forth to the table, but they may be kept warm in the oven, then served at once. Makes about 24
fresh lemon juice
4 medium russet (baking) potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 small parsnip, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Generous pepper, freshly ground
sour cream or creme fraiche
1. Quarter the apples. Simmer, with just a splash of water, covered, stirring ocassionally, until they are very soft. Put through a food mill. If you don’t have a mill,peel and core them before you simmer, then puree in a food processor or with a masher. Add lemon juice to taste and sugar, if needed. Set aside.
2. Grate* the potatoes into a colander. Let sit. After they have turned a brownish-pink, about 15 minutes, rinse them thoroughly. Press down in the colander to remove any excess water. Lay potatoes in one layer on a kitchen cloth. Roll and squeeze out any remaining liquid. Repeat if still wet.
3. Combine the potatoes with the onion, eggs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
4. Coat the bottom of a large skillet, preferably non-stick, generously with vegetable oil until hot but not smoking. Carefully spoon about 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) of the batter into the pan. If you like, spread each a little thinner with a fork.
5. Cook over medium heat, until crispy brown, turn carefully with a spatula, then brown the other side, about 6 minutes total. Work in batches, adding oil to the pan if needed.
6. Serve immediately or remove to a newspaper on a large baking sheet, held in a 200 degree oven. Accompany with a bowl of sour cream and apple sauce. Or, using two spoons (or a finger and a spoon), top each with a little bit of apple sauce and sour cream.
*Of course you can use a food processor, but when you grate them by hand they’re better. They just are, but watch those knuckles.
At Leslie Taft’s shiitake farm in Housatonic before she moved to Maine
These nostalgic treats make a stress free Thanksgiving side, because they can assembled ahead, refrigerated, then cooked while the turkey is waiting to be carved. Local dried mushrooms, shallots and cheese abound. (Hawthorne Valley Farm makes what they call an Alpine Cheese with a touch of caraway.) And, if you like, add a few regional dried cranberries to the mix. Makes 18 large stuffed mushrooms
9 dried shiitake mushrooms
18 very large cultivated mushrooms
3/4 cup bulgur
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or to taste
l-1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
l/4-1/2 teaspoon ground pepper or to taste
1/3 cup grated hard cheese
4 lemon wedges, optional
1. Preheat oven to 425˚F. Place the bulgur in a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain through a fine sieve, pressing out any extra water. Return bulgur to the bowl.
2. Prepare the mushrooms: Cover the dried shiitakes with 1 cup boiling water in a small bowl. Let it stand until softened, 10-15 minutes. Cut off and discard their stems; chop the caps. Remove the stems from the large mushrooms and chop. Wipe the caps clean.
4. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, chopped mushroom stems, shiitakes and thyme leaves. Cook until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the mushroom mixture to the bulgur. Stir to combine with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, parsley, salt, pepper and, if needed, extra thyme to taste. (Don’t over salt, as the cheese will add salt.) Stuff the mushrooms very full, about 2 tablespoons each.
5. Arrange the mushrooms on a baking dish large enough to hold them tightly in one layer. When you are ready to bake them, add about 2 tablespoons of boiling water to the bottom of the dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until mushrooms are soft all the way through, about 20 minutes.
6. Remove the mushrooms and bring the oven to a broil. Sprinkle cheese over the tops of the mushrooms. Cook them close to the broiler until the cheese browns a little, about 2 to 3 minutes. (Watch closely!) Serve with lemon wedges, if you like.
**Want to skip the cheese? Mix breadcrumbs, preferably from fresh whole wheat bread, with a little oil or butter. Add salt and pepper to taste, and even a little chopped nuts if you like. Broil as you did with the cheese, but a little further way from your heat source.
No recipe needed
Seasonal roots make a perfect holiday side, but they’re also a winter staple in my home — eaten hot out of the oven, reheated just a bit and served on a sandwich, lathered with pesto, blended together, then added to broth for a soup,, even eaten cold out of the fridge as a snack.
Roots for a crowd
For Thanksgiving, cook them ahead on lots of trays, as they shrink down and go fast. Reheat in a hot oven while you’re putting everything out. (I like to cook some of them under the bird so they can soak up its juices, then toss them with the rest of the veggies.)
Works with any roots
Start with the best local roots you can find. In the picture above you see locally grown potatoes,multi-colored carrots, celery root, sweet potatoes and onions that I bought at the River Valley Market, my local food coop. But I joined a fall CSA, so I’m getting a new batch next week from Red Fire Farm.
I cut them all about the same size, on the large side, then toss them with fruity olive oil, fresh rosemary that I picked on my porch, lots of coarse salt, minced garlic and freshly cracked pepper. Add onion if you like too. Peeling the potatoes and sweets is optional. I like ‘em unpeeled when they’re organic; just make sure they’re well-scrubbed.
I like to keep the seasoning simple, as there are already so many flavors on the holiday table. But you can add all kinds of herbs and spices to suit your fancy, such as cumin seeds, onion powder — the works. It’s hard to go wrong, really. (I go wild when dinner is roasted roots topped with fried eggs.)
Cook roots on sheet pans on parchment paper in single layer with a little space between them at 400-425 degrees until VERY done, caramelized. Or roast at whatever temperature you roast your bird. (The key is to over cook ‘em a bit. You don’t want these al dente.)
Roasted roots and more for the holiday!
Try Brussels Sprouts and more in this Halloween Roast (so, it’s no Halloween:) I also like brussels sprouts roasted with bacon and shallots.
Here’s a stove top alternative side in an article I liked, featuring a Japanese take on root veggies. Burdock is hard to come by, but the recipe should work with any roots. Sesame oil can be strong, so I might cut it with some flavorless oil, but that’s me. A sprinkle of black sesame seeds might be nice too. Link here
After the holiday
When (or if) you’re ready to eat poultry again, try this for a one pot supper. Top a tray of roasted roots with organic chicken thighs — tossed in a touch of balsamic, olive oil, smoked paprika, rosemary and garlic — added chicken after the vegetables have cooked for 8-10 minutes. Crisp chicken, tasty roots.
Alert: Buried the lead at the bottom…..
I — and you too? — keep falling in love with food that gets “discovered,” then mangled.
Think Sushi, which I savored with my dad in the early 60′s, each piece lovingly prepared to order at the sushi bar by Ya Chan, who hand-picked crab right out of its shell. Grumpy me can’t stand those yuppie rolls with the theme “too much is not enough,” that include spicy mayo and zero fresh fish, just the farm raised salmon that’s fatty and flavorless. Why isn’t just-leapt-out-of-the-water enough? (The all mighty buck, I know.)
But this isn’t just about pricey food made cheap.
For the last several decades the food-o-my-people, bagels, are everywhere, pumped up and doughy. They’ve become dinner rolls pressed into bagel shapes, rather than crisp and chewy miracles.
Croissants? Don’t get me started. When McDonald’s serves ‘em you know it’s all over.
OK, I get it, America is about co-optation of everything, so I need to relax and go with the flow. But I get worried when we move on to produce. Broccoli? See the article below. Kale? How did kale get fashionable? I should be pleased! Can’t wait to see how they mess it up……
Article link: Creating the New Broccoli Craze
Red Fire Farm Brussels Sprouts without a recipe.
My sisters call them parakeet heads, but we love ‘em, — roasted with whole shallots, steamed and tossed fresh lemon juice and tamari, any which way. Or try them Momofuko-style with a fish sauce vinaigrette in this adapted recipe from food52, an excellent recipe site.
My favorite this week? I started with imperfect organic sprouts with a great flavor from Red Fire Farm’s CSA share. Cooked up some bacon. Quartered the sprouts and threw into boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drained, shaking colander well. Seared in a nice amount of olive oil in a HOT pan with lots of space between the sprouts, shaking occasionally, until very well browned. Added some finely diced shallots at the last minute. Tossed and immediately removed from the pan. Added coarse salt and pepper to taste. Tossed with the bacon. Heavenly.
Vegetarian? Forget the bacon. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and/or a sprinkling of feta.
Morbid fascination: Last meals of famous people
Enjoying the glorious day with Sabine Merz at Red Fire Farm
Winter CSAs anyone?
I’m going to pick up my first of a short 2-month winter share from Red Fire Farm and visit the coolest bookstore in the planet. My certified organic share today? Skinny leeks, field lettuce (mild and bitter mix), emerald green spinach leaves, kale, collards,
carrots, broccoli,radicchio, turnips, red radish, delicata squash, Red Maria potatoes and a bonus item of imperfect brussels sprouts on their stalk.
First Easy to assemble dish?
Grate together brightly flavored fresh carrots and turnips. Toss in white wine vinegar, sugar, salt and fresh chopped mint. A fall coleslaw. Lovely topping for a toss of field greens with a light lemon-garlic dressing.
When I was a kid, my parents often entertained in their shockingly modern Japanese-style suburban home. My mom experimented with international foods, like Pork Satay, Indonesian Rijsttafel and Grilled Teriyaki Salmon, all exotic at the time and a result of both my father’s war years in Japan and his work as a travel writer. In contrast, my mom’s recipes also came from the hugely popular “I Hate to Cook Book.” And there were period staples like curried shrimp with cream of mushroom soup. Imagine me in the kitchen tasting my mom’s wonderful food out of pots on the stove, nibbling on leftovers and forbidden drinks, taking it all in.
Last night I made a warming, not-too-rich risotto with fall crops, butternut squash and leeks. Season with a choice of either light Asian flavors, with a gentle touch of fire to spar with sweet squash, or with cheese and aromatic sage or green peppercorns. I liked it both ways and so did my guests.
1-1/4 cups chopped leeks, whites and tender greens
2 tablespoons sweet butter
2 cups arborio or sushi rice
1/3 dry sherry, l/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups diced butternut squash (small dice)
about 7-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, homemade if possible
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Choose one way to season it:
About 1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage or 20 dried green peppercorns
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or any hard local cheese
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon grated ginger, or to taste
Freshly ground or crushed Schwehan peppercorns (or black pepper), to taste
Wonderful Variation: Along with the leeks, add handful of shiitake or any local mushroom caps, sliced.
1-Cook the leeks in the butter, in a medium pot, over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until transparent but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice, sherry, vermouth or white wine, garlic and butternut squash. Stir frequently, until all the liquid is evaporated, about 1-2 minutes.
2. Choose one of the ways to season the risotto. For the first, add the dried sage or dried peppercorns now. For the second, add the ginger now.
3. Add the broth 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until the rice absorbs the broth before each new addition, about 2-3 minutes each. (The risotto should bubble by the edges, but not boil rapidly, so adjust heat as you see fit.)
4. Finish the risotto and adjust as needed. It is done when it is creamy, but the rice is still just a touch firm and the texture is like a thick, creamy stew, about 20 minutes or so. When done, you can add stock as you see fit, as some people like it thicker or thinner.
5. Finish by adjusting the seasonings. Taste: Add extra ginger or sage, if you used them and feel it’s necessary. . Stir in the cheese, if you are using it. Finally, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately in warm bowls.