Monday, October 18, 2010

The Big Move.

I did it. I finally did it. 
The Simple Spatula has moved to it's own home.

This site will automatically redirect.

I wanted to wait until it was fully furnished and set up but I got ahead of myself.
You can now find us here so update your reader and come along. 
We'll miss you if you don't. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sauteed Purple Cabbage with Apples and Red Wine

Have you ever wondered why a cabbage is so heavy? Its because that homely crucifer has far more layers tightly wound inside than you could ever imagine. Seriously, I cut up a medium-sized purple cabbage on sunday, sauteed it, served it to several guests and ate it every day for 3 to follow. I STILL have leftovers. The good news is it goes with everything. 

The first two days we ate it with pan seared poultry sausages, the next day I ate it as a cold salad with hard-boiled eggs and finally we mixed it into our butternut squash soup for dinner one night - that was Chris' idea and I'm not sure I ever want to eat that soup without it now.

I'll get to the soup recipe later but for now go buy a purple cabbage and break out the dutch oven.

Sauteed Purple Cabbage with Apples and Red Wine

I served this with pan-seared chicken sausage from Brooklyn Cured
Serves a small army

olive oil
I medium size head of purple cabbage, sliced into ribbons
1 small or medium yellow onion sliced into thin ribbons
about 1 cup red wine
balsamic vinegar
hot pepper flakes
ground sage
2 bay leaves
2 golden delicious apples sliced into thin sticks

Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat and add a glug of olive oil.
When the oil is hot add a pinch of hot pepper flakes and the onion. 
Sautee until softened, about 1 minute.
Add the cabbage, and red wine and stir to coat. There should be extra liquid at the bottom of the pot.
Add a splash of balsamic, 2 bay leaves a teaspoon or 2 of ground sage and a hefty pinch of kosher salt. 
Stir and cover.
Let the cabbage cook down and soften stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or so. Add more wine and/or balsamic as needed to keep just a little liquid at the bottom.
Once cabbage is just about cooked add the apple slices and a few grinds of black pepper
Cook uncovered until the apple is softened and most of the liquid is absorbed.
The cabbage should be tender and not to tough but not totally mushy either.
Remove bay leaves and serve with pan seared sausage or pretty much anything else.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My kind of people.

My first day of work was an orientation of sorts. We learned the layout, what we should wear, how to properly build the tables each morning. We learned the specifics of what we would do each Sunday and, of course, we learned each others names. We played one of those ice breaker introduction games; you know the kind you played on the first day of elementary school or summer camp or the first night in a college dorm. Except in all those situations you're usually required to give your name and maybe your favorite color or grade level or your major. Whereas here - in this light, airy, new office that the market calls home - we had to give the name of our favorite fruit or vegetable. If I didn't smile outright, as I'm sure I did, I certainly smiled inside; these are my kind of people. Not only did everyone go along with it, but they all did so as if it were the most natural thing in the world - as if people ask them this all the time. Maybe they do. As we went around the circle there were nods of approval as if everyone could taste the fruit or vegetable in question and were even having trouble deciding which they are partial to. 

Like I said, these are my kind of people.

For me it was a toss up: brussel sprouts or broccoli rabe. The sprouts put up a good fight arguing that they are easier to eat as a snack (I like to steam them and keep them in the fridge) but ultimately the broccoli rabe won out. It is absolutely hands down my favorite vegetable. One of these days years I'm going to grow my own but for now I'll continue to buy these enormous heads of it from Do Re Me Farms. 

I also truly believe that anyone who doesn't like broccoli rabe has never had it prepared properly. Yes, it can be bitter and tough but if it's sauteed just right, it's neither. It's tender like broccoli but more pungent like full grown spinach and I like it the best with garlic, oil, sausage and splash of either lemon juice, white wine or vermouth. I've made this 3 times in the past two weeks - twice with broccoli rabe and once with swiss chard. Obviously, I suggest the broccoli rabe version.

Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Chili Sausage
The chili and garlic flavors here are a theme that repeats throughout. The sausage I used was a chili-garlic pork sausage from Dickson's Farmstand but I also added red chili flakes to the oil as it was heating up. I like to add my spices directly to the oil in this manner because it heats them up and really lets them release their flavors better than if I add them later on. It kind of toasts them even though it's not in a dry pan.
You don't have to use a pork sausage here, it could be poultry or even venison. What's important is that it is fresh and not pre-cooked the way many packaged sausages are. If it's pre-cooked it will not crumble and it will also cook to quickly and dry out. Serves 2

1 large uncooked sausage, about 1/3lb (see headnotes)
2 very large bunches of broccoli rabe (I mean REALLY large, not those wimpy things the supermarket carries)
2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, sliced
juice from 1 lemon (or a 1/4-1/2 cup of vermouth or dry white wine)
a few pinches red chili flakes
a few pinches dried rosemary
olive oil
salt and pepper

Trim the broccoli rabe and chop it into large pieces. Bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the broccoli rabe just until bright green (a couple minutes). Plunge it into an ice bath to stop the cooking and set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat a little bit of olive oil (maybe two teaspoons - you won't need much because the sausage will give off fat as well) on medium high heat. Add the chili flakes and rosemary and stir to coat about 30 seconds. Slice the sausage lengthwise to remove the skin and crumble into the pan to brown for about a minute. Add the sliced garlic and stir the mixture letting the sausage and garlic brown. Add the lemon juice, wine or vermouth (whichever you choose) to deglaze the pan and scrape the fond from the bottom and sides. Add the chopped broccoli rabe and more liquid (only if the pan is dry). Cover immediately to finish cooking the broccoli rabe but remove cover and stir it around everything 30 seconds or so to keep it from overcooking in one place.
Remove from pan and add salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy immediately!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Only on your birthday.

In a perfect world I could serve a cake with one slice missing. I could make a cake in the daylight hours, cut a slice out and spend 20 minutes taking pictures, changing settings, creating the scene around the plate. In this way I could photograph properly; in the right light, at my leisure, before people arrive instead of quickly rushing to snap pictures and then scurrying off with a slice for a rushed mini photo shoot while everyone else eats and mingles. If I could just take one slice out I wouldn't have to worry that my pictures won't come out in the dim evening light. If I could just take one slice out, I could even put it back untouched. I could be clever about it and spread the frosting just so.* Then no one would notice right away. They may, however, find it strange when they don't see me snapping away at the shutter and would quickly discover what had transpired. Of course since it's a perfect world, it would be okay.  

However, since we don't live in a perfect world, and I can't actually take a slice out of a cake made for someone else, I reserve this right for my own birthday cake. 
It's my birthday, it's my cake, I made it, I do what I want. 
I took a piece out this afternoon, photographed it and ate it, right there as I was lying on the floor with the camera. Then without even thinking twice I cut another one and ate that too. 

If I had predicted what part of this cake I would like best I easily would have guessed the frosting; but when I tasted it, it was not the frosting, but the actual cake that demanded another taste. Sure the frosting complemented it nicely but it was the cake that I wanted to keep eating bite by delectable bite.

I'm not sure why I made a carrot cake. It's certainly not my favorite cake but something pulled me to it. When I thought of what I would make for today, I didn't even blink twice. This was it, I was certain - I wanted this cake. My mouth must have already known the warm autumn flavor that awaits, my nose already taking in the rich cinnamon emanating from my oven and lingering on as it bakes. I think it was the frosting that caught my attention, after all what sounds better than fresh ricotta lightly sweetened with maple syrup?? In the end though, the frosting was a bit disappointing, forgettable, the maple flavor almost too faint to detect. On the other hand the cake, well the cake was perfect. Moist and richly flavored with cinnamon, the prefect texture thanks to finely ground carrots instead of coarsely grated. I did as Shannalee suggested and baked it the day before to let the flavors come together, don't skip this step and you too will posses a deep seated need to cut a slice (or two) before you serve it to anyone else. Just remember, only on your birthday.

*This is sort of like the cut-a-piece-of-cake-from-middle-and-fill-it-with-frosting trick 

Spelt Carrot Cake

I used a 10-inch spring form pan because I didn't want to buy a 9-inch round - either works fine.
Replace the white whole wheat flour with white spelt flour to make this gluten free. Next time I might even just try 100% whole grain spelt flour.

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup whole grain spelt flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups raw turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 large eggs
3/4 cup olive oil
1 pound carrots processed finely in a food processor

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix eggs lightly. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add egg and oil, and mix through. Add grated carrot, then mix till combined. Bake in a greased nine-inch-round cake pan lined with greased parchment paper, for around 35 to 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin.

Ricotta Maple Frosting
To address my disappointment in the frosting - next time I'm going to try smoothing out the ricotta in a food processor and straining it in cheesecloth (the way I would for cannoli filling). Then beating it with vanilla and maple syrup and gradually adding just a bit of powered sugar to thicken it as needed. If its not too thin without the powered sugar then I'll leave that out and add 1 extra tablespoon of maple syrup instead. For now I have left the recipe as is.

2 cups fresh ricotta

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix ingredients together with a spoon
Frost cake.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shameless Promotion

One day last spring, maybe sometime in May, I received a strange comment on The Simple Spatula. A woman asked me for my email to discuss publishing some of my posts. I assumed it was spam or some kind of junk but for some reason I emailed her anyway. It turns out it was not spam or junk but actually true. Since then I've been working with the Slattery Media Group in Australia to publish Foodies of the World. It's a compilation of photography and recipes from bloggers all over the world and I have 2 posts published within it's covers. Which ones you ask? Well, you'll just have to buy a copy and find out ;). It will be released on this friday October 1st and I'll share some more information then. In the meantime you'll just have to sit tight.

Monday, September 27, 2010

As Requested.

Meet the roommates, Chris and Katherine.

 Someone made us laugh...

That's better...

Bellweather dry hard apple cider from the market...

Some kitchen pictures as requested by Lena...

 My room - still packed up, no bed, no furniture. I'll get there.

Our living room is a mess. It's mostly my fault - I have too many various flours and mason jars and no where to put them yet. I'll post some pictures once we get our act together.

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