Monday, March 28, 2011

cabbage gratin

I feel like side dishes are for a different demographic. Like for people with a spouse. Or for people with regular potlucks. Or for professional chefs. People who use menu planning apps. Mothers. I don't know: somebody that is not me. These last few months I have amassed a hat collection so that I can stop showering, for chrissakes.

Is this just a function of grad school? A function of grad school-cum-secret-life-as-an-artist? Am I going into slob remission? Being on top of things is hard.

(hat tip to Hyperbole and a Half for nailing this phenomenon so hilariously)

So it's not really fair that I fault this technique for braised cabbage/bokchoy/fennel for being a side dish: I've started eating it over pasta for lunch and it's delicious, even if it doesn't have that gold star casserole-y "take this to school every night to eat at rehearsal" goodness. Every time I don't know what to do with a green thing and I braise it I surprise myself with my culinary savvy. Especially given that cabbage is mega-cheap, this tastes surprisingly sophisticated.

+Chop a head of cabbage (or bok choy or fennel or a combo) thin and saute it in some butter with some chopped scallions or leeks, something oniony without the hassle and time of onions. For maybe 10 minutes, until the cabbage is wilty and maybe a little brown.

+Add a cup or two of good stock-- you know, that you made from the peels in your freezer.

OPTION 1: Simmer until the cabbage is soft and the liquid is mostly gone. 15-20 minutes?

OPTION 2 (via Orangette): Simmer for just a minute, then cover the pan with tin foil and bake in the oven at 350 for about half an hour. When it seems like the cabbage is soft and the liquid is mostly gone, take off the tinfoil and sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and a soft cheese. Increase the temp to 375 and bake until the crust is toasty.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

date shake

Back from Death Valley and I don't even know what to do with myself. San Diego is a far cry from Gotham, as you, uh, might have heard me say every day sometime over the past two years, but even little San Diego is a far cry from big sky and dusty highway. And even though I know that I am a rhinestone cowboy, something about the planet Earth just makes my heart sing. Also dates. I had one when I was little-- on a playdate, I think, at the bougiest-market-in-the-world Hay Day-- and my mouth got all hivey and that was that for dates for about 15 years. Everyone always told me my allergies would start to disappear, or at least, they insinuated that it somestimes happens, that there is always the off chance... which is when I would butt in feeling mighty defensive about how MY allergies are really really bad and they aren't going away any time soon. Except-- I have never been so happy to be wrong-- they are. I have started eating figs again and even bananas and DATES. Oh, dates, you are the desert in food form. Ice cream in the middle of nowhere is nothing short of a miracle (see Burning Man post) and if that ice cream happens to be blended with dates in milkshake form... well. I guess you could say that I am actually pretty happy to be living in Southern California. Full disclosure: I have never made these in my own kitchen, but have driven far and wide through the desert to sample date shakes... the recipe itself is kind of incidental to the baked mud and fresh air.

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(via the Sunset Magazine Cookbook)

4 dates, coarsely chopped. The dates that inspired my date-bender were Honey Dates from China Ranch, but most recipes call for Medjool.

1/4 c milk

1 1/4 c vanilla ice cream.

In a blender, blend dates and milk until smooth & frothy. Add ice cream and pulse a few times, until just blended.