December 30, 2009

Good Luck Black-Eyed Peas

New Year’s Day is just around the corner and people across the globe will prepare for the coming year, often with a traditional meal that is thought to bring good luck. In many countries, ham or pork is thought to bring good fortune, a tradition that may have originated because pigs use their snouts to dig in a forward direction, a symbol for “moving forward” in the new year. On the contrary, some cultures believe that eating poultry on New Year’s Day will result in bad luck because the birds scratch backward when they search for food. Many cultures also bake sweets or pastries for good luck. Greeks and Dutch, for example, make a special New Year’s cake with a coin baked inside. The person who gets the piece cake with the coin is considered the luckiest.

In the United States, black-eyed peas are widely eaten as a good-luck food on New Year’s Day. Also known as cowpeas, they were introduced to the New World by African slaves and have become a common food in the South. For maximum good luck in the New Year, a traditional dish known as Hoppin’ John is enjoyed among family and friends. The simple, hearty bean stew is typically simmered with rice, salt pork or bacon, and Creole flavors. It is typically served with Southern greens, which are supposed to bring prosperity since green is the color of money.

There are many theories as to how Hoppin’ John got its name. One story holds that the phrase “hop in, John” was used as a custom of inviting guests to eat. Another theory says that the name stems from the ritual of children hopping around the table on New Year’s Day before sitting down to eat. Whatever the origin, Hoppin’ John is a deep-seated tradition that we can all enjoy on New Year’s Day. Although I am not particularly superstitious, I do love traditions that are built around food, and I say that enjoying this delicious, one-pot meal definitely can’t hurt!

Hoppin’ John

Serves 8 to 10


1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed 

1 medium yellow onion, chopped 

1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice 

1 medium red or orange bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste 

Tabasco (optional)

For greens
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound greens (collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, or kale)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper

Place black-eyed peas in a large heavy-bottomed pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover, turn off heat and set aside for 1 hour. 

Drain black-eyed peas and return to pot. Add enough water to cover beans by an inch. Stir in onions and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered until black-eyed peas are tender but still whole, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare greens. Heat oil over low heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add greens and broth and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Season with Tabasco, if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve with greens.

December 28, 2009

A Fantastic Holiday Cookie Platter

Baked sweets have been part of festivities since ancient times, but one of the most beloved traditions that continues today is making Christmas cookies for the holidays. Cookie-making dates back to the Middle Ages—typical ingredients included cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, almonds and dried fruits. For Christmas, Dutch and German bakers used cookie cutters, decorative molds and festive holiday decorations to make holiday cookies.

German lebkuchen, or gingerbread, is thought to be the first cookie traditionally associated with Christmas. By the 1500s, Christmas cookies were popular throughout Europe. Many countries had developed their own version of a ginger Christmas cookie, as well as other sweets like the German spritz cookie, Austrian linzer and springerle cookies, French Buche de Noel, Stollen or fruitcake, and Christmas pudding.

The earliest Christmas cookies as we know them in America came from the Dutch and English settlers in the 1600s. In the early 20
th century, imported kitchenware from Germany introduced cookie cutters of highly stylized images—bells, Christmas trees, camels, and crimped edge shapes.

My favorite thing about Christmas has to do with the special and unique traditions that connect us with our families and make holidays more meaningful. In fact, this has always been the case. I can just see myself as a kid, spirited and strong-willed (to put it nicely).
What?! What do you mean we’re not doing ____ for the holidays? IT’S TRADITION.

Although I consider myself more of a cook than a baker, there is something about the cold weather and family gatherings that brings out the baker in me. Spending hours in the kitchen baking holiday sweets (and making a mess) with my mom and sisters is a tradition I cherish. Each year, we bake our usual favorites—holiday biscotti, peppermint brownies, and nutmeg logs—as well as experiment with some new recipes. Our holiday cookie platter was particularly special this year and I feel obliged to share some of my favorites with you.

Nutmeg Log Cookies

These tasty treats are a Sykes-Shipley family tradition. The recipe was passed down to my grandmother who made it a point to make these cookies for every holiday occasion. These cookies are not particularly well known, but a Google search tells me that the all the recipes out there are made in a similar manner and are also known as eggnog log cookies. My family’s nutmeg logs are shortbread-y in texture, sweet, and impart the distinct flavors of eggnog—perfect for Christmas or New Year festivities.

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons rum extract
¾ cup sugar
1 organic egg

For the frosting
3 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon rum flavoring
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream butter, vanilla and rum. Gradually add sugar and beat in egg. Combine with dry ingredients. On a lightly floured surface, shape pieces of dough into 3-inch long and ½- inch thick logs. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet at bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, cream butter, vanilla and rum extract. Add confectioner’s sugar alternately with cream until mixture is thick and spreadable. Frost cooled cookies, using fork tines to make lines that resemble bark. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Date-Walnut rolls

This recipe comes from a well-known bakery in the Boston area, Tatte Fine Cookies and Cakes. These delicious rolled cookies are a take on the popular cream cheese based rugelach cookies. Rugelach was introduced to America by Jewish immigrants from Hungry, Poland, and Yugoslavia and means “little twists” in Yiddish. Like rugelach, these cookies can be made with various sweet fillings like fig paste, raisins and nuts, preserves or flavored jams. This recipe was a particular hit with my family and friends for the holidays, but I see myself enjoying these cookies year-round.

8 ounces (1¾ cups) dates, seeds and chopped
4 cups flour
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus more for sprinkling
½ tablespoon baking powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, but into thin slices
2/3 cup cold milk
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine dates and 2/3 cup boiling water; let sit for at least 20 minutes. Pulse dates with water in food processor until a thick paste forms. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add butter and pulse until dough resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk and pulse until dough begins to clump together. Place dough in a large bowl and form into a ball. Divide in half.

Sprinkle work surface with flour. Roll out half the dough into a 14x9 inch rectangle. Spread half of date puree over dough, leaving 1-inch borders along longer sides. Sprinkle half the walnuts evenly over puree. Starting from a long end, loosely roll dough into a spiral. Press gently to smooth seam and pinch ends closed. Place roll, seam side down, on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake 45 minutes, or until golden. When cool, use a serrated knife to cut into 3/4 inch slices. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Lebkuchen (German Christmas Gingerbread Cookies)

Lebkuchen is the earliest traditional Christmas cookie, reportedly invented by Medieval monks in Germany in the 13th century. These spiced ginger cookies can be traced back to the early days of the European spice trade, when spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, coriander, and anise reached Nuremberg, Germany via the famous spice routes. In the 1640s, the German city approved the establishment of the Lebkuchen Baker’s Guild with 14 master gingerbread bakers. Since then, traditional lebkuchen recipes have been passed down from generations. These lebkuchen cookies from are one of my absolute favorites, soft and rich with molasses, not too sweet, and deliciously spicy.

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

1¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg

1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground allspice

1 organic egg

¾ cup light brown sugar

½ cup honey

½ cup molasses

For the Glaze
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Set aside.
Beat egg and sugar together with an electric beater until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in honey and molasses until thoroughly combined. On low speed, stir in flour mixture until just combined. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead, adding more flour as kneaded, until dough is stiff. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 hours.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough into a 9×12 inch rectangle. Cut into about 18 3×2-inch rectangles. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are browned.

Whisk together confectioner’s sugar, water and lemon juice and spread on cooled cookies. Allow glaze to firm before serving.

December 9, 2009

Black Bean, Butternut Squash and Kale Stew with Quinoa

I’m sitting in my room this morning, drinking coffee and watching the snow fall outside. Chilly nights call for warming, hearty meals so I thought it’d be appropriate to share one of my favorite simple, winter stews with you. I came up with the recipe one evening when my kitchen was overloaded with butternut squash and kale and I was very pleased with the result. The vegetables are paired with black beans and quinoa, making this a one-pot meal that is tasty, highlights seasonal ingredients, and is very nutritious. You will likely be seeing more winter stews in the near future. After all, I’m going to need a way to keep warm as an Arizona girl in a Boston winter. Cheers!

Black Bean, Butternut Squash and Kale Stew with Quinoa

The ancho chili powder adds a great smokiness to the dish. It really can’t be substituted but I suppose a smaller amount of regular chili powder would work. Note that I ball-parked some of the quantities so feel free to adjust as necessary.

Serves 3-4.

1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
½ jalapeno, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups 3/4-inch chunks of butternut squash
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth (or more as needed)
1/2 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
1 small bunch kale, large stems removed and coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup quinoa, cooked
¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno, stir 2 minutes, and sprinkle with spices. Combine with squash, black beans, broth and tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes. Add kale and cook, partially covered 8-10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide quinoa among bowls. Ladle stew over quinoa, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

November 30, 2009

End fall with one last pumpkin recipe...

It's that time of year...exams and papers are due (for those in school) and it is almost the start of winter. This year, winter officially begins on December 21, but it is starting to get cold! The only up side to the change of weather is that I won't feel as bad studying indoors all day--which is precisely what I'll be doing the next couple of weeks. So hang tight! I'll have many more blog posts as soon as I go to Arizona for winter break.

Since it is the last day in November, I thought I'd end with one of my absolute favorite pumpkin recipes: pumpkin oatmeal. Those who know me well, know that I eat oatmeal pretty much on a regular basis. But it's not just any ol' oatmeal concoctions are the products of years of trial and error, figuring out the precise combinations of nuts and fruits, amounts of milks and juice, and cooking times that work best. Some of my favorites include pistachio-apricot, PB-raisin-banana, cinnamon-dried apple-walnut, and date-pecan. I'll probably end up posting specific recipes in the future but for now, I give you my pumpkin oatmeal recipe. It is the perfect way to start off a cold morning--warm, hearty, and super nutritious.

Pumpkin Oatmeal

Serves 1

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (not instant)
1/4 cup organic pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 Tbsp currants or raisins
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup milk or soymilk
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
1-2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 ripe banana, sliced (optional)

Bring water to a boil in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, then turn heat to low and add oats. Cook until water is nearly evaporated, stirring regularly. Stir in pumpkin, milk or soymilk, spices, currants or raisins, and walnuts. Continue to cook a few minutes longer, until thick and bubbly. Stir in sweeteners and vanilla. Add more milk if desired. Top with optional banana. Enjoy!

November 19, 2009

Double Cranberry Pie with Cornmeal Crust

I bet you didn’t know that the cranberry is one of only three fruits that are native to America (along with the blueberry and Concord grape). And that more than half of commercial cranberry production occurs right here in Massachusetts. It’s high season for cranberries and this, ladies and gentlemen, calls for a celebration. How about a deliciously tart cranberry pie?

But first a little history…

Native Americans have been enjoying cranberries for centuries, as a source of red dye for rugs and clothing, a healing agent to treat wounds, and of course food. They sweetened cranberries with honey or maple syrup and cooked up a sauce similar to the one we enjoy during Thanksgiving time. Another interesting preparation, which served as more of a survival food, was pemmican—a combination of crushed cranberries, dried deer meat and fat (Mmmmm...).

Settlers were quick to adopt the Native American uses for the fruit and by the beginning of the 18th century, cranberries were shipped and introduced to Europe. Many believe that the name “cranberry” comes from the early Dutch and German settlers who came up with the term “crane berry” to describe the plant’s flower that looked like the head and bill of a crane.

Source of photo: Food Safety Central

Cultivation in Massachusetts began in the early 1800s and really prospered due to favorable growing conditions: soil type, presence of sand, and a dormancy period during the winter. Interestingly, the cranberry vines can potentially survive indefinitely, and some of the vines used for production in Massachusetts are more than 150 years old! Back in the day, production was much slower as early growers would harvest the cranberries by hand. But innovative farmers came up with a technique known as wet harvesting, in which they flooded a cranberry bog with water, allowing the cranberries to float to the surface and be scooped up.

A note about my cranberry pie...

This recipe was inspired by an early 20th century traditional cranberry-raisin pie recipe I came across, however I did alter it quite a bit. I substituted the raisins for dried cranberries, creating a “double cranberry” effect. I also added a chopped up Cortland apple to be consistent with the New England theme, orange zest and cinnamon for spice, and a cornmeal double pie crust. The crust was especially delicious, slightly dense, yet flaky, with a subtle crunch from the cornmeal…a perfect pairing for the tart cranberry filling. I made the pie for a fall potluck and it was a huge hit. I can’t wait to recreate it again soon. After all, it does represent the unique flavors of the season, and as we all know, I am a sucker for anything seasonal.

Double Cranberry Pie with Cornmeal Crust


For the crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
6 to 9 tablespoons ice water

For the filling
12 ounces fresh cranberries
½ cup dried, unsweetened cranberries
1 large baking apple, peeled, cored and chopped into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the glaze
1 egg, lightly beaten
Turbinado sugar

Good-quality vanilla ice cream (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, blend butter pieces into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-sized lumps. Drizzle 4 tablespoons ice water over mixture and stir until incorporated. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough holds together. Knead gently and form two equal-sized disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine fresh and dried cranberries, apple, orange juice, zest and sugar in a medium bowl; mix well. Sprinkle with flour and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Make the bottom crust: Remove one disk of dough from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out into a 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. If necessary stretch, trim, or move small pieces around—the idea is to have an inch of overhanging dough.

Pour cranberry filling into pie crust and spread evenly. Refrigerate.

Make the top crust: Roll the second disk of dough into a roughly 11x8-inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise into 8 strips with a sharp knife. Remove pie from refrigerator. Arrange 4 strips across pie, spacing evenly. Place remaining 4 strips in the other direction, weaving into a lattice pattern. Fold dough overhang to form a crust. (Once again, you may have to trim, stretch or move pieces around to make the pie look nice) Decoratively crimp using fingers or a fork. Brush top crust with egg. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until bubbly and browned. If crust begins to get too brown, cover it loosely with foil. Let pie cool to warm before serving. (I highly recommend eating it à la mode)

November 15, 2009

Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup with Caraway Seeds

Many people spend this time of year reminiscing about sweet summer fruits and tender vegetables, which is fine and all…so long as it doesn’t detract from fully embracing and savoring delicious winter vegetables. Farmers markets are piled high with an array of winter squash, root vegetables, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale, to name a few...

Root vegetables and hard-shell squash are particularly versatile; some common ways to prepare them include roasting, steaming, sautéing, boiling, mashing, and pureeing. Roasting is a particularly special way to enjoy these winter vegetables, which brings out rich, earthy, sweet flavors that doesn’t really compare to any other way of cooking them.

I recently went a little crazy at the farmers’ market and came home with way too many vegetables (after all, it's just me!). Pureed soups are a great way to use up fresh produce, especially because they can easily be frozen for a later use. Given my obsession for roasted vegetables, I figured that using them to make a soup would result in nothing but deliciousness.

The theme of root and other winter vegetables also got me thinking about colder-climate regions that have adapted traditional dishes that are based on nature’s bounty. Eastern European cuisine features countless dishes with potatoes, cabbage, beets, rutabagas, etc…..and more often than not, they are accompanied by the distinct flavors of caraway seeds in rye bread. Since I am always looking for ways to add a special touch to my recipes, I thought toasted caraway seeds would be a nice addition.

Caraway seeds come from an herb in the parsley family and, in fact, aren’t seeds at all but the small fruit of the caraway plant. They are commonly used to flavor Eastern European cabbage dishes, pork, sausages, breads and soups, but are probably most noted for their flavor contributions to rye bread.

My roasted winter vegetable soup recipe turned out to be just right—flavorful but not to rich, hearty, and perfect for a cool autumn day. The caraway seeds proved to be a great touch and rye bread was the perfect accompaniment. I admit…I slacked and didn’t make my own bread this time; but I did pick up some European-style dark rye bread at TJ's that is just fabulous.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup with Caraway Seeds

4 lbs assorted winter vegetables – I used carrots, turnips and cauliflower
10 whole cloves garlic, unpeeled
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 ½ cups milk or cream
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut vegetables into 1¼ inch cubes (leave more delicate vegetables like cauliflower in larger pieces to prevent burning). Place them in a single layer on 1 to 2 baking sheets lined with foil. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until caramelized and tender, about 30-45 minutes.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery and sauté 10 minutes. Add roasted vegetables, thyme and broth. Transfer to a food processor or blender and puree. Return to pot and stir in milk or cream. Bring to a simmer over low heat.

Meanwhile, set a small pan over medium heat. Add caraway seeds and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Season soup with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and top with toasted caraway seeds. Serve with warm rye or other bread.

November 8, 2009

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Oh the ever-addicting peanut brittle—you know, the treat you find everywhere during holiday months, often in special festive tins. There are good brittles and not-so-good brittles, and brittles made with ingredients other than peanuts: cashews, sesame seeds, almonds, toffee, to name a few.

Brittle as actually one of the oldest candies; one made with honey and sesame has been a favorite treat in the Middle East for millennia. Peanut brittle, as we know it today, likely comes from the 20th century American kitchen, at a time when there were many technological advancements and a variety of new foods becoming available (sugar, corn syrup, and shelled peanuts!)

Back then, peanuts were called groundnuts and earlier versions of brittle contained molasses, brown sugar and butter. (Next time, I will try adding molasses to mine!) By 1919, peanut brittle was prepared with sugar, corn syrup, Spanish shelled peanuts and baking soda. The purpose of the soda was so the “batch will be the same color on both sides, not yellow on one side and brown on the other.” (as reported on the Food Timeline website)

The holiday season always reminds me of my Aunt Mary’s spiced candied nuts, which we all devour at every family holiday gathering. I decided to incorporate the idea of spicy, salt and sweet into a brittle recipe, and what better ingredient to use than pumpkin spirit of autumn! I must warn you, this recipe is very delicious and very addicting. Proceed with caution.

Lesley’s Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 ½ cups shelled unsalted pumpkin seeds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup water

Heat a sauté pan over medium and add oil. Add pumpkin seeds and stir constantly until they begin to brown and crackle, about 5 minutes. Immediately remove from heat; stir in spices and ½ teaspoon salt.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil and cook until a deep amber color forms, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the pumpkin seed mixture and dissolved baking soda. Working quickly, poor the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it into a thin layer (the mixture will harden very rapidly). Sprinkle with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Let cool until completely hardened, at least 1-2 hours, before breaking into shards.

October 28, 2009

German-Inspired Warm Red Cabbage Salad

Good ol’ cabbage: cheap, abundant, hardwearing and… in season! Cabbage is widely cultivated and used in cooking throughout the world, but there are few traditional American dishes that come to mind that feature the vegetable (the obvious exception is coleslaw).

Cabbage belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables that also includes kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The early form of wild cabbage more closely resembled kale or collards, composed of leaves that did not form a head. Then somewhere along the line, we cultivated the full-bodied cabbage head that we know and love today.

The phytochemicals found in cabbage are potent antioxidants and are known to significantly decrease the risk of many cancers. The ancient Greeks and Roman civilizations were right on (as usual) when they revered cabbage as a cure-all for a number of health problems.

During the Middle Ages, cultivation of cabbage spread across Eastern and Northern Europe and it became a major crop, largely due to its potential for high harvest yields, cool temperature growing conditions, and ease of storage. The vegetable has become an integral component of many of these food cultures. Cabbage soups are popular in a number of European countries. Cabbage is also an essential ingredient in a "boiled dinner” and “bubble and squeak,” two dishes of English origin that also include potatoes and meat, which are boiled or fried, respectively. (There is definitely a common theme of the food of England…)

The large, sturdy leaves of cabbage also make it a fine vessel for stuffing—cabbage rolls are a common Eastern European and Middle Eastern delicacy. In addition, cabbage fares well with fermentation---one of my absolute favorite ways to eat it. German sauerkraut and Korean kimchi are very flavorful products of fermentation that make great condiments or side dishes.

Since my opinion is that cabbage is underused and somewhat underappreciated in most American cooking today, I want to introduce (or reintroduce) you to an easy, healthy, and delicious German tradition: warm red cabbage salad. The dish was adapted from a recipe from Austin’s Granite Café and is perfect for these upcoming cool, autumn months.

A slice of warm hearty beer bread is the perfect accompaniment to this German-inspired meal and I provide you with a simple recipe for you to try. And of course, for any meat-lovers out there, you can’t go wrong with a bratwurst plopped right on top.


Warm Red Cabbage Salad

Serves 4-6.

For cabbage salad
1 teaspoon toasted caraway seeds
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium red cabbage, halved and thinly sliced
2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons honey
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

For mustard dressing
2 tablespoons Dijon or stoneground mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Optional additions/toppings
Boston lettuce leaves or other greens
Crumbled goat or feta cheese
Toasted walnuts
Shredded or sliced carrots
Warm beer bread

Soak caraway seeds in apple cider vinegar for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook onions in oil over medium heat until slightly browned. Add cabbage and apples; cook for 5 minutes. Lower heat. Add vinegar mixture, honey and bay leaf and cook for 30 minutes, partially covered. In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients. When cabbage is done cooking, season with salt and pepper and toss with mustard dressing. Serve over Boston lettuce (if desired), with optional toppings and beer bread.

Whole Wheat Beer Bread

Makes 1 loaf.

2 ¾ cups white whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
12 ounces beer
1 tablespoon honey

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly mix in beer and honey, stir until just combined. Spread batter in a lightly greased loaf pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.