Monthly Archives: November 2009

Russian Cabbage Soup

Russian Cabbage Soup

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.  We went to my mom’s and spent a few days with her and all of my siblings (there are 5 of us).  It was a lot of fun and there was a lot of food.  After four days of eating nothing but pies, cookies, brownies, whipped cream, mac and cheese, stuffed shells, and of course, turkey with all the fixings, Marc and I were feeling a little like we had food hangovers.  Arriving back home, we both felt the need to detox a little.  For us, this means eating things like soup, fresh bread, and lots of vegetables.

Soup ingredients

Personally, I couldn’t stop thinking about cabbage soup.  While that may seem like a strange thing to obsess about, I just knew that it was exactly what I needed to cure my food hangover.  I went searching on the Internet to find myself a recipe.  I started with one of my favorite food blogger sites, Smitten Kitchen.  Indeed, there was a very interesting recipe for cabbage soup.  Using that as my starting point, I found a few other recipes with interesting components that I incorporated. 

Chopped vegetables

The result is a hearty and delicious cabbage soup with tomato, celery, carrots, onion, and (obviously) cabbage.  Beef and beef stock add meaty flavor while the inclusion of sauerkraut and some white wine vinegar add a pleasing tanginess.  The vegetables are cooked but still retain some of their texture.  While this soup takes a little while to make, it is really easy.  Served with some crusty bread, it is the perfect meal for a wintery Sunday dinner… and an excellent way to rebound from the holiday gluttony. 

Simmering soup

Russian Cabbage Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups beef stock

4 cups water

1 lb ground beef

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon marjoram

3 whole allspice berries

1 cup sauerkraut plus 2 tbls juice

1 medium potato, diced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

3 ribs celery, finely diced

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cups fresh cabbage, thinly shredded (about half a large head of cabbage)

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained (or 1 lb fresh tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped)

2 tbls white wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

In a large soup pot, bring stock and water to a boil.  Add bay leaves, marjoram, and allspice.  Break the ground beef into small pieces and add it to the pot.  Turn the heat down and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about one hour.

Remove the ground beef and set aside.  Skim off most of the fat from the stock.  Add the sauerkraut and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the potato and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the cabbage, carrots, onions, celery, and tomatoes (including the juice) and simmer for 20 minutes.  Return the beef to the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, stir in the sauerkraut juice, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. 

To serve:

Serve hot with additional vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and/or sour cream as desired.  Serves 6-8.

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Filed under Dinner, Meat, Recipes, Soup, Vegetables

Sweet Potato Muffins

Sweet Potato Muffins

Do you know the Muffin Man?  No, I don’t either.  Personally I am somewhat ambivalent about muffins.  I think that many times, they try to be too much – cake, breakfast pastry, quick bread – but end up not being particularly good at any of it.  The monstrous muffins that are routinely served at coffee shops are too often dry or crumbly or dense without much flavor.  When I eat a muffin, I like it to be moist and tender with a light sweetness that doesn’t overpower my tea.  

Mashed sweet potato

Muffin batter

 

 

 

 

 

When I came across this recipe for sweet potato muffins, I knew that I needed to try them.  In addition to being really simple to make, the sweet potato adds moistness and flavor while the mix of white and wheat flours and flax seed meal adds a nice nuttiness.  Plus, since we are heading out on a (long) road trip for Thanksgiving, I wanted to have some easy and delicious road food to keep us all full and happy.  These muffins fit the bill nicely.

Ready for the oven

The texture of these is great.  They are light and springy, not dense and dry.  They are sweet enough that Thing 1 loves them, especially the mini ones which she refers to as “baby muffins”, but not too sweet for me or Marc.  So if you are boiling up some sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, boil one extra and make these muffins for the morning after. 

Mmm, freshly baked

Sweet Potato Muffins

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato (about 1 1/3 cups mashed)

1 stick of butter (salted or unsalted), softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup flax seed meal

1 tbls wheat bran

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated is preferable)

1 tsp salt (use only if you are using unsalted butter, otherwise omit)

cooking spray or muffin papers

4 tsp sugar mixed with 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon for topping (optional)

To Make:

Peel and cube the sweet potato.  Place in boiling water to cover and simmer until tender when poked with a knife, about 15 minutes.  Drain and mash.  You should have about 1 and 1/3 cups of mashed potato.  Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, flax seed meal, wheat bran, baking soda, spices, and salt (if using).

In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter until light in color.  Add the sugars and cream until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.  Next add the milk, vanilla, and sweet potato and mix until well combined.  The batter will look slightly curdled.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.

Fill prepared muffin tins about three-quarters full.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar if desired.  Bake in the 350 degree oven until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean, about 14 minutes for mini muffins and 18 minutes for regular ones.  Let the muffins cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

These muffins are great as breakfast or as a snack.  They are particularly nice for kids because they taste yummy but at least hint at healthiness.  The original recipe says it makes 12 muffins but they must be the huge ones you get in coffee shops because I made 12 regular muffins and 12 mini muffins from the same amount of batter.

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Filed under Baked goods, Breakfast, Recipes, Vegetarian

Meat Pie

Meat Pie

The other night we were trying to figure out what to have for dinner.  We had some ground beef, a few vegetables from our last CSA delivery, and the desire to do something a little different.  It was a cold and rainy day so both of us were in the mood for something warm and homey. 

Veggies sauteing

Marc suggested Shepard’s Pie but I generally find it to be pretty bland and uninteresting.  I thought about making a version of pot pie using a piece of puff pastry as the top crust but  Marc wanted a bottom crust too.  We finally struck an interesting compromise… use shredded potato cooked until crispy as the bottom crust, a savory meat filling in the middle, and a piece of puff pastry as a top crust.  Bake the whole thing in a cast iron skillet so there isn’t a lot of clean up and you have yourself an easy weeknight meal.

Meat filling

Ready for the oven

 

 

 

 

 

The meat is mixed with Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and fresh dill and parsley.  Chopped carrots, onions, and garlic add additional flavor and vegetable goodness.  Dried mushrooms add depth and savory flavor.  Puff pastry tops the whole thing with a light and flaky crust.   Feel free to spice up the meat with other herbs, spices, or hot sauce if you want.

Ready for dinner

Meat Pie

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 lb ground beef

1/4 ounce dried wild mushrooms

8 oz beef stock

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon fresh dill

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (or 1 anchovy fillet finely minced)

1 tbls Worcestershire Sauce

salt and pepper to taste

3 medium potatoes, peeled

1 sheet puff pastry, remove from the freezer at least 30 minutes before you are ready to use

To Make:

Bring the beef stock to a boil and add in the dried mushrooms.  Remove from the heat and set aside while the mushrooms rehydrate, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. 

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan and add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion and carrot.  Cook until starting to soften and brown, about 10 minutes.  Add in the ground beef, cook until no longer pink.  Add in the beef stock along with the mushrooms, Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste, and anchovy paste.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the dill, parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Meanwhile, working on a lightly floured board, roll out the puff pastry sheet to cover the pan by 2 inches around.  Trim the puff pastry into a circle (leaving that 2 inch overhang).

Grate the potatoes with the coarse side of a box grater.  Using cheese cloth or a clean kitchen towel, squeeze the water out of the grated potatoes.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in an oven safe pan (we like cast iron) over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add the potatoes and use a spatula to press the them into an even layer in the bottom of the pan.  Cook 7 minutes.  Flip the potato over to the second side and turn off the heat. 

Spread the meat mixture on the potatoes.  Place the puff pastry over the meat and tuck the edges in.  Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is hot.

To Serve:

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.  Serves 4.

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Filed under Dinner, Meat, Recipes, Vegetables

Smoked Trout Spread

Smoked Trout Spread

Alex, I’ll take “Fish” for $800.

A:  This fish is sustainable and starts with a “T”.

Q:  What is Trout?

Mmm, smoked trout

Great.  I love sustainable.  I love smoked.  And sometimes, I love easy.  This spread is all of those things.  Easy to make, easy on your conscience, and nice and smoky.  Who knew that spending time at the car dealership would be a good thing?  I found the base for this little gem flipping through “Bon Appetite” May 2009 while waiting for my car.  This is a handy dip to have in your recipe box.  It comes together in about 5 minutes and is sophisticated enough to serve for a fancy party (if that is your thing).  It tastes delicious spread on crusty bread, on crackers, or even with pretzels.

Trout fillets, ready to chop

To boot, I was looking for something like this.  Now that I have this spread, I’m ready to be invited to any party where people appreciate good food.

Spread Ready to Mix

Smoked Trout Spread

Adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2009

Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

5 oz smoked trout fillets, skin removed

Additional dill and minced red onion to garnish, if desired

To Make:

In a mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until smooth.  Add the green onions, sour cream, dill, Old Bay seasoning, and hot sauce.  Beat to combine.  Coarsely chop the smoked trout fillets (minus any skin or silver lining), add to the mix, and beat lightly.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

To Serve:

Serve cold or at room temperature.  Makes about 2 cups.  Yes, it’s that simple.  Yes, it’s that good.

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Filed under Add-ons, Appetizers, Fish, Recipes