Friday, September 30, 2011

Cabbage and Walnuts

It’s been a while since I could really get back in to my messy kitchen adventures. My new kitchen has taken some getting used to, and I seem to have moved into it (and the rest of the house) in the slowest, most unorganized fashion possible. Well, that seems to all be behind me at last and I’m finally back trying new things in the kitchen, messing up my apron with all kinds of stuff. This time it was a warm walnut vinaigrette with butter and mustard that I poured over some wilted Savoy cabbage.

I’d like to tell you that I used Savoy cabbage because the leaves are tender, easy to slice, and just need a few minutes in the pan to get nicely wilted, allowing for a fast and pretty easy side dish. Sure, all of those things are true, and I’d like to appear all selective and brainy about my vegetable dishes. It’s just that I used this particular kind of cabbage because that’s what I happened to have. (That’s kind of how things go when you subscribe to a CSA that has great fall vegetables.) It really has nothing to do with me that it was a great tool for the job.

The idea for this dish came from Bon Appetit magazine (the October 2011 issue), which had a recipe for Brussels sprouts with a vinaigrette like this one. I knew I wasn’t going to go out looking for Brussels sprouts when I probably had cabbage waiting in a box for me, and the Savoy turned out to be just the right thing. I think a napa cabbage might work similarly, since it also has more tender leaves, just a bit firmer than romaine lettuce. I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at a regular green cabbage, but might cook it a bit longer to get a similar wilted texture, or select the floppier leaves and save the crunchier ones and the thicker ribs for slaw.

I happened to have a particularly fresh and sweet Savoy cabbage, and it went wonderfully with the delicate walnut flavor in the vinaigrette. The dish also gets plenty of tanginess from the vinegar and mustard. I used a homemade Moscato wine vinegar (yeah, I’m into that kind of thing), but you could use whatever white wine or champagne vinegar you like, or probably even cider vinegar.

I’ve made a lot of slaws to go with all kinds of meals, but wilting the cabbage and drenching it in a warm, buttery, nutty dressing makes a more comforting dish as the nights get colder. And since this one is pretty quick, you can easily serve it alongside dishes that require more of your time and attention. I served it with pork chops, applesauce, and roasted vegetables and it played along very nicely, making a hearty, flavorful fall supper.

Wilted Savoy Cabbage with Warm Walnut-Butter Vinaigrette
Based on a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine

2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon or whole grain mustard
½ large head Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced, about 6 cups
½ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1. In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the walnut oil and walnuts. Cook and stir until the walnuts are lightly browned and fragrant. This will take 3-4 minutes, but watch carefully. You do not want the walnuts to burn.

2. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the vinegar and mustard until smooth. Be particularly careful when adding the vinegar. It may spatter and steam. Keep warm.

3. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the cabbage and salt. Cook and stir until just wilted, about 3 minutes.

4. Pour the warm vinaigrette over the wilted cabbage and stir to coat evenly. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest. Serve warm.

Makes 4-6 side dish servings.

Other recipes like this one: Sauteed Cabbage with Caraway and Cider Vinegar, Spaetzle with Cabbage, Bacon and Onions (one of my most popular posts)

One year ago: Winter Squash and Onion Curry with Yogurt Sauce

Two years ago: Tomato and Beef Stir Fry

Monday, September 26, 2011

The New Messy Kitchen

Well, one of these days I should be almost ready to post some musings about new dishes and old favorites as cooked in my new kitchen (no photo available...too messy!)  I'm still unpacking, and in the process, I'm completely missing the month of September!  I have so many apple desserts to try! So much squash to cook! So much cabbage to do something cabbage-y with.

But alas.  As it turns out, I'm not the kind of person who can organize a new space in a reasonable amount of time and continue life as I know it.  It's not that I'm starving here, or indulging in the less-than-healthy convenience of all the fast food places to which I now live close enough to walk (but not far enough away to walk off enough of those calories.) It's just that I've been throwing together meals with dishes I don't have to think about very much, like vegetable stir fry featuring broccoli, bok choy and nice, sweet carrots from the CSA; Creamy Cabbage and Potato Soup; and homemade pizza.

I really miss my messy adventures and it's beginning to show. After reading this recipe for pumpkin pancakes at Baking Bites, I dreamed that I got the chance to make them, but, sadly, not to eat them.  I think my subconscious mind is telling me it's time to get back into the kitchen, and I have a long list of planned posts to get to from both my cookshelf, and my stash of recipe clippings (wherever that is!), soon.

I want to tell you about a super-easy apple cake that I discovered last year and maybe the recipe for a caramel apple cake that I recently got from my grandmother. (Grandma's recipes are usually solid choices.)  I want to put together a butternut squash soup recipe to share. (Although you don't need me for that.  Just a few taps on that Google machine in front of you should get you approximately 40 million hits for winter squash soups with just about any flavors from Italian to Southwestern to curry.)  I want to bake with pears, and maybe figs and definitely pumpkin.  There are braises, stews and soups to make, living room tailgating snacks to try, and all kinds of things to roast.

But, if all those plans go to heck, there's still a lot to celebrate.  Eventually the new kitchen will be in some kind of order and fall is here with its change in weather, colors and foods.  Even if some complicated or showy dish or dessert never gets made, I'm sure I'll have some minor victory to tell you about (I already fixed the sink). And there's still the comforts of Mulled Apple Cider and Hot Cocoa to snuggle up with, now that the rainy days are colder.

One year ago: Broccoli Cheese Casserole with Mustard Rye Croutons 

Two years ago: Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Peanut Dressing and Caramel Dip for Apples 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Just an Egg Sandwich

I’ve taken for granted for far too long the amount of time and energy I have had for researching, planning, executing and recording the results of delicious dishes. I’m in the process of packing up our apartment and moving across town, so instead of made-from-scratch dinners and fresh baked goods, we’ve been subsisting on take-out pizza, pasta, cold cereal and granola bars.

And, as I’m scribbling these thoughts with good, old-fashioned pen and ink, the cable and internet guys are beginning their second hour of installation work on the new residence.

In short, it’s not a very creative or productive time for this recipe blogger. I even had to put off having a simple scrambled egg sandwich with cheese on a bagel because, while I remembered to put the right pan, the eggs, cheese and bagels in the new kitchen, I left the spatula and nonstick cooking spray at the apartment.

This is my go-to quick but hearty breakfast. It’s a simple scrambled egg, seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked flat in a slick pan, folded up and covered with a thin slice of cheese (Harry also likes a splash or two of hot sauce on his). I then melt the cheese, usually by covering the pan for a few seconds, and serve it on a toasted bagel. Usually, I use my 9-inch nonstick crepe pan, which is super slippery for cooking eggs, and make two scrambled eggs for two sandwiches.

Well, by the time I’m getting this into the info-net blogo-zone (internet access has been achieved, despite some minor technical incompetence) I’ve made a couple of egg sandwiches, and I know where most of my utensils are. I’m making back-of-the-envelope (literally) lists of what I’d like to cook in the coming days, and my apron is hanging on its hook, just waiting for a call to duty. There’s fabulous fall produce out there (and in my kitchen), including lovely apples, crisp green cabbage and beautiful squash (plus some beets to hide). So much to cook, so little time!

One year ago: Noodle Bowl with Spicy Greens and Walnut Buttermilk Bread

Two years ago: Basic Basil Pesto and Beet and Carrot Burgers

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Zucchini Wheat Bread

Seriously? You’ve been away from this blog for almost two weeks and you come back with zucchini? Isn’t it time for apples? Aren’t the winter squash coming soon? The fashion police are about to cuff us up for wearing white and you’re still talking about summer squash?

Well, I suppose the answer to everything is a guarded affirmative, but have you seen the zucchini and yellow squashes lately? There’re lots of them. We need to do something with them. (You can find all The Messy Apron summer squash recipes here.) And so I made bread, but not just quick breads, like this one and this one. I found a whole wheat, yeast-leavened sandwich bread in Better Homes and Gardens: The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking that helps get us through some of that late-season summer squash flood.

Once again, I took a bread machine recipe and adapted it for a pan-and-oven application. I didn’t knead this one by hand, however, opting for the heavy-duty mixer with a dough hook. The dough is pretty sticky, thanks to the increased moisture from the zucchini, and I found that a lot less mess could be made by using the mixer.

You won’t really taste any zucchini in this loaf. (Do you ever really taste zucchini anyway?) You will, however, taste the little bit of lemon zest that brightens up the stodgy whole wheat. I liked its influence in savory applications like tomato sandwiches and toasted cheese, but I think it would be equally enjoyable in something like peanut butter and jelly. You could always leave out the lemon zest if you’re uncertain about that flavor. I’d say it’s better to adapt in favor of cramming all that extra zucchini in somewhere. There’s probably more coming.

Zucchini Wheat Bread
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens: The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking

I think you could use yellow summer squash in place of the zucchini in this recipe.

1 cup warm milk (about 100-110 F)
2-2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (about 1 envelope-style package)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
1 cup bread flour
2 tablespoons gluten flour
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini
1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, mix together the milk yeast and brown sugar. Let stand about 5 minutes or until the yeast appears foamy.

2. Add the oil, 1 cup whole wheat flour, bread flour, gluten, zucchini and lemon zest to the yeast mixture. Stir together to make a batter-like dough (I used the paddle attachment for the heavy-duty mixer). Cover with a towel and let stand 15-30 minutes.

3. Stir in the salt and enough of the remaining whole wheat flour to make a stiff dough. (I used the dough hook here.) Continue kneading with the dough hook, or turn out on a floured surface to knead the dough, adding the remaining whole wheat flour a little at a time. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until a smooth and stretchy, but still fairly sticky dough forms. If the dough is already stiff and you have more than about ¼ cup bread flour left, add a small amount of water to the dough, 1 teaspoon at a time, and continue kneading in the remaining flour.

4. Shape the kneaded dough into a ball. Spray a medium-size bowl with cooking spray or brush it with oil. Place the dough in the bowl and spray or brush the top of the dough. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough. Cover with a towel and let rise about 1 hour or until roughly double in size.

5. Spray an 8 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or brush it with oil. Gently deflate the risen dough and let stand for a few minutes. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in the prepared pan. Cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until about double in size and a gentle press with the finger leaves an indentation without springing back.

6. Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove the towel from the risen loaf and bake at 375 F for 30-35 minutes, or until the bread is done. (It should sound hollow when tapped, or have reached an internal temperature of about 200 F.) Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Makes a 1 ½ pound loaf.

Other recipes like this one: Wheat Sandwich Bread, Whole Wheat Cornmeal Bread with Basil

One year ago: Basic Pie Crust Dough, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, and Roasted Tomato and Olive Galette

Two years ago: Broccoli and Chickpea Salad with Mustard-Pepper Dressing and Mustard Greens and Green Bean Stir Fry with Peanuts