November 30, 2011

Kåldolmar (Swedish Stuffed Cabbage)

1/4 cup white rice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten (if needed)
1 head cabbage, cored
12 oz ground pork
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon thyme
white pepper
golden syrup


Bring rice and water to a boil in small pot. Cover and simmer until the water is absorbed. Add the milk and simmer, covered, until most of the milk is absorbed, about 20 minutes. It will look sort of like rice porridge/a loose pudding. Set aside and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, saute the onion until softened. Allow to cool slightly. Mix the egg (if needed), rice, meat and onion together thoroughly. Set aside.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cabbage. Cook until the leaves are softened. Remove the leaves. Cut off any very tough bits at the root end.

Place a small amount of filling towards the stem side of the center of each leaf. Fold the sides in over the filling and then roll away from you to close each bundle.*If the leaves are sufficiently soft, they will stay closed on their own.

Heat some butter in a skillet. Brown the cabbage rolls on each side.** Drizzle with syrup. Arrange in a wide dutch oven. Barely cover with stock. Simmer 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.

*My leaves were very big and I ended up with about 12 rolls. Keep the filling amount proportionate to the size of the leaves, take care not to over fill.

**I used a very large cast iron skillet so I could brown all of the rolls at once. If the pan is deep enough, you could also simmer the rolls in the pan you fried them in rather than a fresh dutch oven.

My thoughts:
Today's recipe is in honor of Kåldolmens dag, a day of celebrating Swedish heritage with cabbage rolls and coffee, Swedish national symbols of immigrant background. I came across a mention of this date while researching something else and knew I had to make these rolls!

I do love cabbage. I know it isn't stylish but I am always happy to eat a bowl of buttered cabbage. So it stands to reason I also enjoy cabbage in other dishes as well. When it comes to stuffed cabbage I've made both the Polish kind with a tomato based sauce and the steamed Chinese style cabbage rolls but when I heard about Swedish stuffed cabbage, I know I had to make it. I had to cobble the recipe together about from anecdotal information but I think this is reasonably close to the real thing. I even had some Swedish syrup on hand thanks to my tendency towards ingredient hoarding but regular old golden syrup would work just as well. I have heard of making a quick white sauce to drizzle over the rolls made with either drippings, cabbage water or stock but honestly, I don't think they needed it. They were moist, flavorful rolls and while it looks like a lot steps, I think it took me just over an hour after I started cooking to sit down and eat. The steps are simple and many can be completed at the same time (making the rice, cooking the onion, boiling the cabbage were all done simultaneously) and well all quite simple. Traditionally they served with boiled potatoes and lingonberry sauce but they would be good along side nearly anything. 

November 28, 2011

Dilled Shrimp on Crispbread

8 crispbreads (I use rye or sourdough Wasa crisps)
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
3 tablespoons minced celery
2 tablespoons minced shallot
8 ounces small salad shrimp
white pepper

Spread a very, very thin layer of butter on each crisp. Create a single layer of egg on each of the rye crisp breads. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, dill, shallot and celery. Stir in the shrimp.Top each crisp bread with an equal portion of the shrimp mixture. Serve open-faced.

My thoughts:
Since I work from home, I am always trying to think of new things to eat for lunch at home. Often it is leftovers but some times I want something different. Lately I've been making these open-faced sandwiches. I can make the shrimp salad and hard-boiled eggs ahead of time so I just have to assemble at lunch time. The thin layer of butter sounds slightly odd but it really holds the egg in place and in turn, the whole sandwich. They are the perfect, light, flavorful lunch.

November 25, 2011

Buffalo Turkey Sliders

3 cups shredded cooked turkey
1 cup buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
12 slider rolls
freshly ground black pepper

In a saucepan, heat the sauce, turkey and pepper until warmed through. Stir occasionally to insure the sauce is evenly distributed. Divide amongst the rolls. Top with a dollop of dressing and serve.

My thoughts:
A super easy Thanksgiving leftover recipe for you today! Last year I received a few requests for a simple way to use up leftover turkey as many of you do not want to be doing much cooking the day after the holiday. Well, here you go: easy, tasty and adaptable. We used super hot wing sauce but you can use whatever variety is your favorite.

November 23, 2011

Cardone Cheddar Gratin

8-10 cups* 2 inch chunks cardone(cardoon)soaked in salt water overnight
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup milk
2 cups shredded cheddar
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
juice of 1/2 lemon
freshly ground black pepper

Soak the cardone in salted water overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the lemon juice and cardones. Boil the cardones until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain throguhly. Grease a large lidded casserole. Pour in the cardones.

Meanwhile, n a medium pan, melt the butter. Add the flour along with the spices and stir until smooth. Add the milk and evaporated milk and whisk together until slightly thickened. Whisk in the cheddar until smooth. Pour over the cardones. Stir to evenly distribute. Top with bread crumbs. Bake covered about 15 minutes, then uncover and cook until hot and bubbly, about 10-15 additional minutes.

*About 1 large bunch of cardone

My thoughts:
When the nice people at Sea Mist asked if I wanted to try cardone, I accepted, as I am always eager to try a new-to-me vegetable despite not really knowing what it was. When it arrived, I still didn't really know what it was. Cardone is a relative of the artichoke but looks like giant, monstrous celery. I read up on it and a lot of people suggested either removing the strings in the ribs or soaking it in salt water overnight. I went with the salt water. I have to admit, the next day it still seemed tough and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to make anything with it remotely edible. I am happy to say I went ahead and all turned out well. It did have an artichoke-like flavor and a crisp but not tough texture. It went wonderfully with the creamy cheddar sauce. If you have a bunch of cardone, I suggest trying this out!

November 21, 2011

Pineapple Infused Turkey

1 17 lb turkey
guava wood smoked sea salt
Chinese five spice powder
coarsely ground pepper
core of 1 fresh pineapple*
1 onion, quartered
olive oil

Preheat oven to 325. Place the turkey on the rack and position in the roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil over the turkey. Rub the spices into the skin of the bird. Stick the pineapple core and onion in the cavity of the turkey. Roast for about 3-4 hours or until the juices run clear and the leg is easily wiggled. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before carving.

*I used my pineapple corer to slice the pineapple and remove the core intact.

My thoughts:
In keeping with our theme this year, I used pineapple in our turkey. The pineapple core was the perfect size for the cavity and I liked having no waste leftover from the pineapple I cut up for the cranberry sauce. It really did infuse the turkey with a light, sweet flavor which went well with the rest of the meal. We used a bit of the drippings along with some pineapple juice and soy sauce to make a tasty turkey gravy.

November 18, 2011

Hawaiian Bread-SPAM Stuffing

1 16-oz loaf Hawaiian bread
12 oz SPAM (lite or regular), diced
2 large onions, diced (about 1 lb)
1 bunch celery, diced (about 1 lb)
1/4 cup chicken or turkey stock
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon Hawaiian red clay sea salt
zest of one lemon

In a large pan, saute celery and onions in butter and olive oil over very low heat until the onions are translucent. Do not brown. Meanwhile, saute the spam until well browned on all sides. Drain the spam on paper towel lined plates. Allow the spam and celery/onion mixture to cool slightly. Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to evenly distribute all ingredients. Add additional pineapple juice or stock to further moisten if necessary. Form medium-sized balls. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Place balls in the bottom of the roasting pan under the rack and around the turkey on the rack for the last 1/2 hour of roasting.

My thoughts:
Growing up, my Aunt A would always have lightly sweet King's Hawaiian bread* on hand. I always really enjoyed it so when I came up with the idea of having a kitschy Hawaiian themed Thanksgiving this year, I knew the stuffing had to include it. It ended up being really tasty, the light sweetness was the perfect contrast with the savory Hawaiian favorite, SPAM.

*King's now makes sandwich/hamburger rolls but before they were available, I'd make my own. That's how dedicated I am to Hawaiian bread!

November 16, 2011

Pineapple-Cranberry Sauce

12 oz whole cranberries
1 cup pineapple wedges
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 inch knob ginger, grated

Bring the cranberries, ginger, pineapple, sugar and pineapple juice to a boil. Reduce heat then simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir. Serve hot or cold.

My thoughts:
Every year, we have a different theme for Thanksgiving. This year we decided to go slightly tropical-retro-kitsch and have a Hawaiian-inspired Thanksgiving. So of course, we had to add pineapple to our cranberry sauce! It turned bright pink but it added a ton of sweet, fruity flavor to the tart cranberries. Yum! I would make and eat this even if it didn't go with the theme.

November 15, 2011

Easy Pomegranate Cocoa Nib Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 16-oz refrigerated roll Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1/4 cup cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Slice the dough into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Place 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. Gently press some arils and nibs into the tops of each cookie. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

My thoughts:
Pillsbury contacted me about developing a recipe using one of their refrigerated cookie doughs. Honestly, I had never used one before but I was up for the challenge. I wanted to take the cookie out of the strictly kid realm so I came up with this more grown up cookie. Super simple to make but flavorful, attractive, tasty and fun. I love how the pomegranate pops!

November 14, 2011

Delicata Squash Apple & Pearl Onion Saute

1 delicata squash, peeled and cubed
1 large Stayman winesap apple, cubed
1 3/4 cup pearl onions, peeled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon mustard seed
seeds from the squash, washed well
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter and oil in a pan. Add the garlic and onion and saute until fragrant. Add the squash and apples and saute until the squash is nearly fork-tender. Add the squash seeds and mustard seeds. Saute until the squash is fork tender. Season with salt and pepper.

My thoughts:
It has been unseasonably warm here lately and I've been trying to pretend that is is not mid-November but something more like March, with warmer weather around the corner. But, alas that is not true and I have to resign myself to making some of the few vegetables available right now. This squash dish ended up being pretty tasty! It used up the last of the winesaps I had and the pearl onions were nicely caramelized. I liked the pop of the mustard and squash seeds as well. A great side for a fall day.

November 11, 2011

Ricotta Polenta with Fennel Pollen

4 cups chicken stock
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen*
freshly ground black pepper


Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the polenta, salt, pepper, and pollen and stir until it starts to thicken, 2-5 minutes. Simmer 30 minutes. Stir in the  ricotta.

*I found this at an Italian market

My thoughts:
This recipe is so good, creamy and easy, everyone should make it this weekend. It seems simple but the ricotta adds a ton of flavor and texture to the polenta.

November 04, 2011

Braised Oxtails with Tomatoes, Celery and Capers

3 lb oxtails (about 5)
1 cup dry white wine
14 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 3 oz smoked pork chop, diced
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cayenne pepper, minced
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon nonpareil capers
freshly ground black pepper
Wondra (or other super-fine flour)

Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven. Toss the oxtails in Wondra flour to coat. Lightly brown the oxtail and pork. Add to a 4 quart slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 8 hours.

My thoughts:
Oxtail isn't something I make a lot. Mainly because despite traditionally being a "cheap" cut of meat, they are either hard to find or oddly steak-expensive. But a new grocery opened up near by and they had good, meaty looking oxtails at a reasonable price so I picked some up. They are a wonderful cut of meat for the slow cooker, the low and slow means that that the end result is meltingly tender despite starting off tough. We've had oxtails in the Caribbean that were delightful but I thought I'd go Italian-inspired for this dish. It was great because it provided enough vegetables I didn't feel the need to make a side dish, I just served it over some polenta. I suggest you do the same.

November 02, 2011

Chesapeake Étouffée

3 cups blue crab meat
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon Old Bay
1/4 cup flour
2 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cayenne peppers, minced
1 1/2 cup crab stock
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
14 oz canned diced fire roasted tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
1/2 cup diced green onion

cooked white rice to serve

Place the butter, Creole seasoning, and flour in a skillet. Cook 1 minute, stirring twice. Add the garlic, shallot, celery, and peppers. Sauté until the mixture is golden. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tomato, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened. Add the crab, parsley, and green onion. Stir. Cook 5-10 minutes or until the crab is warmed through. Serve over rice.

My thoughts:
Okay, I totally made up this "Chesapeake Étouffée" title but I think it is an apt description. Matt has way more patience than I do and picked all the meat out of the steamed crabs we had this weekend when we were pretending it wasn't cold out. I think the crab place gave us extra crabs because we ate and ate and still ended up with a bunch leftover. Last year we met some people who said October/November was the best time for crabs and I think they were right. I have never seen so much crab meat in a crab.

Anyway! I had the "misfortune" to have a lot of crab leftover so I came up with something to use it all up. This dish is very crab heavy and very, very spicy and flavorful. Perfect over rice.