Caraway-Apple Braised Cabbage

Hey! I’m back! Sorry I haven’t posted in so long. Unfortunately work took over my life for quite a while. I felt like I was in a reality TV series, Kitchen Confidential or something. Things got crazy and hectic, leaving me without time for blogging. The dust seems to be settling now – thankfully. I finally have time and energy to get back into this. Time to share some more recipes with you!

Since we’re into fall now, I thought I’d share this great recipe for a seasonal side dish. So far this is my favorite way to eat cabbage. It’s sweet and sour and goes very well with roasted or braised meats.

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  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 medium cooking onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 slices bacon, cut into small strips
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 honeycrisp apple (or another crisp type), peeled and diced
  • 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced.
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

IMG_20141101_231643Heat the cooking oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add the bacon, onion and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the caraway seeds and saute another minute to toast the seeds. Add the apples and cook until they soften slightly.

Add all the remaining ingredients. Bring up to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, for about an hour, or until the liquid thickens slightly and just coats the bottom of the pan.

This recipe yields about 4 portions and is super cost effective. I got my cabbage at the farmers’ market for 1$ ūüôā Each portion costs about 90 cents. The most expensive part of the recipe was actually the honeycrisp apple. If you’re looking to substitute – any crisp type will do. Gala, pink lady, and fuji are some good examples. Happy cooking! I promise I won’t wait so long before my next post ūüėČ

Balsamic Beef Ragu – I died and went to heaven.

This recipe is inspired by the delicious cavatelli with balsamic pork ragu dish I had at this¬†restaurant recently. It was so, so, SO good. I wanted more! I resolved to try and recreate that delicious flavour at home. It would take a few different (easy) steps to prepare something similar but I HAD to have more! I wasn’t in the mood for pasta and the grocery store didn’t have the right cut of pork so my rendition of the dish ended up going in a slightly different direction than the original. Stewing beef was on sale at a decent price ($5.99/lb), so that was an easy choice. Braised beef tends to be super rich so I decided to pair it with a light starch to help create a balance. Enter spaghetti squash – a starchy vegetable that can be substituted for pasta, as the name implies. There you have it! The rest of my recipe closely follows the lines of the original dish. I roasted a couple clusters of grapes, toasted a few walnuts and shredded some radicchio. The end result was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made at home. It was definitely worth the effort. I absolutely have to share the recipe with you and you absolutely should try it!

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Balsamic Beef Ragu –¬†with spaghetti squash, radicchio, walnuts and roasted grapes

makes 4 servings

  • 1 lb stewing beef, diced into 1″ cubes
  • 1 small red onion, halved and sliced
  • 1/2 ¬†bulb of fennel (or 1 small), cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 large clusters red seedless grapes
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 head radicchio, cored and sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter

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Preheat oven to 325F. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron pan on med-high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add 2 tbsp cooking oil to the pan and then add the beef. Brown it well on all sides and place it into a deep casserole dish.

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Reduce the heat to medium, add the red onion into the pan and cook until translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the fennel to the pan and cook just until it softens slightly, another 2 minutes. Some of the brown bits of beef that are stuck to the bottom of the pan will lift off and get mixed into the veggies, this is a good thing. Add the veggie mixture to the casserole dish. Pour 2 cups of water into the pan and bring to a simmer while gently scraping up rest of the brown bits with a wooden spoon. This is called deglazing the pan; it helps build flavor. Once simmering, pour the liquid into the casserole dish along with the thyme, bay leaves and balsamic.

Cover with a lid or tightly wrap with tinfoil, place on the middle rack in the oven and allow to braise for 4 hours. When the meat is ready it will be so tender it falls apart.

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In the mean time you can prepare the other ingredients. Wash the grapes then toss them with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them in a small oven-safe dish and roast in the oven for 1 hour. Once they are done allow them to cool then pull them off the stems and set aside for later.

While the grapes are roasting you can toss the walnuts in a little olive oil, salt and pepper aswell. Then place them in a small oven-safe dish and roast them in the oven until they are just turning golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside for later.

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Next, core and thinly slice the radicchio then store it in a container in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. You can then get the squash ready for the oven. ¬†To prepare it, cut it in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Brush the flesh lightly with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place it cut side up on a baking tray. It¬†will take about 1 hour to roast so plan for it to go in an hour before the beef will be ready. Place it either on the lower rack,¬†or, if it will fit, on the same rack as the casserole dish.

Once the remaining hour has passed, take both the squash and beef out of the oven. Using a fork, pull the flesh of the squash away from the skin and fluff it slightly. Using a pair of tongs and that same fork, shred the chunks of beef. The onion and fennel will have cooked down enough to be mixed into the beef unnoticed. Huzzah, secret veggies!

Place 1/4 of the squash in the bottom of a large dinner bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the radicchio , then top with 1/4 of the beef mixture. Place a thin slice of cold butter on top of the beef, about 1/2 tbsp. Butter is recommended but optional; it adds flavor and will help keep the lean beef from having a dry texture. Place 1/4 of the grapes and walnuts on top and you’re ready to enjoy your first serving! I promise it won’t disappoint.

When storing everything in the refrigerator, I recommend keeping each component in it’s own container. When it comes time to reheat, place a serving of the squash, beef, and grapes together in a small dish and reheat covered. Then top with butter, radicchio and walnuts.

This recipe cost me roughly $4 per portion, a little pricey for my budget, but totally worth it. I can’t wait to eat the rest!

Baked Tomato & Eggplant w Friulano Cheese

I love the rich flavor eggplant gets when you roast it. This is a dish I like to make in winter, sort of a comfort food – but healthy. It’s very simple and can easily be made ahead and enjoyed throughout the week. I like to serve it over quinoa but pretty much any grain, lentil or bean would work. This recipe uses japanese eggplant which are long, thin, purple and slightly less bitter than the standard italian variety. Their small size makes them a good choice to pair with with cocktail tomatoes in this dish.

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  • 3 japanese eggplant
  • 1 lb cocktail tomatoes
  • pinch chili flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups grated friulano cheese (fontina or mozza also work)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, or your own coarse crumbs

Slice the eggplant into 1/2cm rounds and toss them with 1 tsp salt. Let them sit for 1 hour to draw out some of the water. Drain out the water and toss the eggplant with the oregano, chili flakes, garlic and shallot.

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Slice each of the tomatoes into 4. Place the eggplant and tomatoes into a baking pan. Pack them in fairly tightly since they will shrink alot while cooking.

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Drizzle the olive oil overtop of the veggies. Bake at 400F for 1 hour. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over top of the tomatoes and eggplant and top with breadcrumbs. Bake another 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are toasted.

If you’re making quinoa to go with it you’ll need 3/4 cup. Place it into a small pot and cover with 1 1/2 cups water. Add a pinch of salt and bring up to a simmer over high heat. Once simmering, cover and reduce heat to low. It takes about 20 minutes to cook. It’s done when it is light and fluffy and all of the water has been absorbed.

This recipe makes 3 portions, costing 2.25 each including quinoa. Enjoy this delicious light vegetarian dish!

Buttermilk Brussel Sprout Slaw

Yup! A salad made of brussel sprouts. It’s a great way to make them ¬†more approachable. It’s super simple and will chase away any memory you ¬†have of gross overcooked steamed brussels. This slaw has a good crunch and nice tangy flavor. It makes a super healthy and light side dish for your hearty winter meals.

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  • 10 brussel sprouts
  • 2 baby carrots, julienned or grated
  • 1 stalk of celery, very thinly sliced
  • 1 small shallot, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds

Lemon Garlic Buttermilk Dressing

  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane, or minced
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Trim off the outer leaves of the brussel sprouts. Hold them by the stem end and thinly slice into rounds, top to bottom. Break apart the rounds and mix in carrots, celery, shallot and seeds. Stir the dressing together and dress the salad with desired amount, there will be extra. Season the slaw with salt and pepper, mix thoroughly and enjoy. This slaw will benefit from marinating in the dressing. Makes 2 generous servings.

Mushrooms on Toast – quick and easy for breakfast, lunch or dinner

This is a classic British dish. It takes about 10 minutes to whip up and is great any time of day.

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Mushrooms on Toast

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8 medium button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 cup leek, halved and cut into half moons
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • a handful of parsley leaves or other greens
  • 2 slices of toast

In a frying pan, melt the butter and brown the mushrooms over medium high. Add the leeks and saute 1 minute, add in the cream, mustard, thyme and parsley and simmer 30 seconds, until the cream thickens. Season with salt & pepper, spoon everything over your toast and enjoy!

This recipe only cost about $2.25 to make. Inexpensive and delicious.

Golden Beet Slaw – a hassle free way to enjoy beets

I’ve only cooked beets at home two or three times in my life. It’s annoying. They take so long to cook, it’s messy, and you have to peel them. Blech. I opt to enjoy the staple winter vegetable in slaw form to avoid all that hassle. Beets are really sweet and crunchy raw. They make great slaw. I use my japanese mandoline with one of the attachment blades to julienne veggies for slaw. It’s super quick and easy and looks great. You could cut them by hand if you don’t have a mandoline, or use a box grater to grate them. Grating doesn’t give you the same texture though. Mandolines are the best ūüėČ I’m using golden beets rather than red/purple because they’re sweeter and are less messy. Striped beets, also called candy or chioggia beets, are also great for raw salads and look awesome.

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Golden Beet Slaw :

  • 1 small golden beet, julienned
  • 2 radishes, julienned
  • 1 baby carrot, julienned
  • a handful of thinly sliced radicchio
  • 1 green onion, top and bottom, thinly sliced on a bias
  • a handful of italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • sherry dressing to taste ( see previous post for recipe)

Mix everything together and season to taste with salt and pepper. This makes enough for 2 small side salads. keep the extra in the fridge for later. Make a double batch to have enough for 4 servings. It will keep up to 5 days. It’s actually beneficial for a slaw to marinate in the dressing for a while before being eaten. The flavors will all come together. Enjoy!

Related Article : The Japanese Mandoline – aka The Widow Maker

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

These are very simple to make and taste delicious. I plan to use them in a risotto recipe later today. They can also be used for salads and in all sorts of side dishes.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Toss your halved cherry tomatoes in a bowl with the olive oil, salt & pepper to coat. Lay them out on a parchment paper lined baking tray (or two if necessary) cut sides facing up. Place them in the oven at 250F for about 1.5 hours. They will have a slightly deeper red color, will be a little shriveled but still tender and juicy. The tomato flavor will be more concentrated and quite a bit sweeter from roasting.¬†Here’s what they should look like:

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