Raclette Potatoes

Raclette is a Swiss and French cheese whose name comes from the French word, “racler”, which means “to scrape”. The traditional way of serving raclette is to set a hunk of the cheese before an open fire and scrape the melted cheese onto dark break or boiled potato slices. This version is less rustic, more urban. Potatoes are boiled, then sliced into thick slabs or rounds, topped with cheese and broiled for a few minutes. Still good. Try to use large or largish potatoes for this. They slice up thick better. Good substitutes for raclette: gruyère, emmental, jarlsberg, fontina, oak, cheddar.

1 1/2 lbs (baking) potatoes
8 oz or so raclette cheese
pepper, to taste
paprika, to taste
pickles, for serving, optional (but very French)

1. Put potatoes into a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by an inch. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not mushy. Drain.

2. Preheat the broiler. Set an oven rack about 6″ away, not too close to the heating element. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel if you like. Cut into thick rounds or long, thick slices. Arrange on a cookie sheet.

3. Cut cheese so it will fit the potato shapes. You can use more than one slice of cheese per potato
potatoes if you like. It all melts. Arrange on potatoes. Sprinkle with pepper and paprika.

4. Put potatoes under the broiler until the cheese is browned and bubbly, about 4 – 5 minutes. Watch that they don’t burn. Serve with pickles, if you like.

Skillet Beef and Winter Radish

This is a really quick stir fry/braise. Lots of variations possible. You can use other types of meat, other protein sources such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, other roots or a combination of roots, cabbage, and leafy greens, for example. The herbs and seasonings are wide open too. Adding some tomatoes or tomato sauce and letting it all simmer for a bit gives you a pretty great pasta sauce. Here’s the recipe in its basic form:

2 T vegetable oil
1 c chopped onion
1 – 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground beef
3/4 c broth, stock, or water, plus extra if needed
2 – 3 c (peeled) sliced or chopped winter radish, or a combination of winter radishes
salt and pepper, to taste (or use soy sauce and pepper, to taste)
4 T fresh, chopped herb (or 1 1/2 t dried herb)
hot pepper sauce, for serving, optional (if not using other hot spices)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium to medium-high heat. (If using a wok, medium-high works better.) Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes on medium heat, less on higher heat. Stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up the pieces, until no longer pink inside. Add broth and bring to the boil. Add daikon, salt, and pepper. (This is where you’d also add curry, and/or dried herb, if not using fresh herb.) Reduce heat and simmer until radish is tender or to your preference. Stir in herb. Taste for seasonings and serve, over rice, perhaps, with hot sauce, if you like.

Curried Carrots with Cashews

This recipe is technically a side dish, though I think it could be a main course, if served over grain. Cashews are a good protein source, especially if combined with a grain. Lots of good flavors here. It’s not too hot, so if you like spice, increase the chili powder or crushed red pepper amount. Peanuts are a good sub for cashews.

1/4 c vegetable oil or butter (ghee), or a combination
1 lb or so carrots, (peeled), and sliced about 1/4″ thick
1 – 1 1/2 c chopped onions
a 2″ or so piece of fresh, peeled ginger, thinly sliced
1 1/2 t curry powder, or to taste
1 1/2 t chili powder, or 1/4 t crush red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 t flour, corn starch, or arrowroot
1 1/2 c cashews or peanuts
1/2 c broth or stock
salt or soy sauce, to taste
1/2 c chopped, drained (if canned) tomatoes
fresh chopped cilantro, basil, or parsley for garnish, optional

1. Heat oil or butter in a large skillet. Add carrots and onions and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add ginger, curry powder, and chili powder. Stir to coat vegetables with the powders. Add the flour and continue to stir until the flour, too, is incorporated into the mix.

2. Add cashews, broth, and salt or soy sauce. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 minutes, or to your preference.

3. Stir in tomatoes and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. The sauce should be thick. If there’s a lot of liquid, increase the heat some and briskly simmer until the excess liquid has reduced. Serve, sprinkled with fresh chopped cilantro, if using.

Celeriac with Anchovies

Or other root vegetables. Turnips are good (if you still have some left), as are kohlrabi. Also a combination of roots, just make sure the pieces are sliced or chopped uniformly, so they all cook up at the same time. If you don’t want to use anchovies, try some worcestershire or hoisin sauce. There are vegetarian versions of worcestershire available.

3 T vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 – 4 anchovy fillets, cut into small pieces, or 1 T anchovy paste, or 1 T worcestershire sauce
2 T fresh rosemary, thyme, or dill, or 2 T dried
2 lbs or so celeriac or other roots, thinly sliced
salt and pepper, to taste
broth or water, if needed
fresh chopped parsley, for garnish, optional

1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add garlic, anchovies, and herb and sauté for about a minute. Add sliced celeriac and stir to combine. Season with some salt (anchovies can be salty) and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until celeriac is tender about 10 minutes or so. Add some liquid if the skillet is dry and/or the celeriac is looking like it might burn at the edges. Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

Eastern European Beet Salad

There is a culinary tradition in Eastern Europe to eat beets with sour cream. Borscht, for example, is always served with a dollop of sour cream. This salad is no exception. However, if you’d rather not eat sour cream, you can sub in mayo or yogurt. I even tried this with some cottage cheese I’d pureed, with good tasting results. What caught my eye in this recipe is the addition of prunes, though any dried fruit would work. For example, if you made this with golden beats, you could use dried apricots. This should chill before serving, but don’t serve it cold, unless it’s the middle of summer.

1 lb or so beets
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c chopped walnuts, or other nuts (peanuts are good here)
1/4 c chopped prunes (soaked for 20 minutes in hot water if hard)
3 – 4 T sour cream
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh, chopped parsley, for garnish, optional

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Wrap beets in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast until tender, when a knife can easily pierce the root. Or put in a covered casserole dish with enough water to cover the bottom of the casserole. You could also try steaming them. When they’re cool enough to handle, slip off the skins, if you like, and shred coarsely or chop or dice. Put into a serving bowl.

2. To the beets add the garlic, walnuts, and prunes (soak them while the beets are roasting). Toss gently. Add 3 T of the sour cream along with some salt and pepper. Toss again. Add more sour cream if you think it’s needed. Taste for seasonings and chill before serving. If using parsley, sprinkle it over the salad before serving.

Reubenesque Soup

This soup is a clever riff on the classic Reuben sandwich. The recipe contains cream (or milk if you prefer) which at first you might think weird with the sauerkraut but actually works. If the pairing of cream and sauerkraut is beyond your palate threshold, use all broth or stock. If you’re going to use raw sauerkraut, such as the one offered in the share, be sure to add it near the end, just to heat through. Don’t let the soup come to the boil at that point, or the enzymes and probiotics in the sauerkraut will be destroyed. Sub turkey or chicken for the beef, though keep the cheese in, for Reuben’s sake. To make rye croutons, cube rye bread, toss with some oil, salt, and pepper, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 -15 minutes at 350ºF. They’ll crisp up as they cool.

2 T butter or vegetable oil
1 c chopped onion
1 c total chopped roots, one type (such as celeriac) or a combination
2 T arrowroot, corn starch or flour
3 c beef or other broth, or vegetable stock
2 c milk or half-and-half, or use all broth or stock
1/2 lb sliced or chopped pastrami or corned beef
1 1/2 c sauerkraut, drained if you like
pepper, to taste
1 1/2 c shredded Swiss cheese or other good melting cheese
rye croutons, for garnish, optional (but keeps the Reuben tradition)

1. Melt butter or heat oil in a soup pot. Add onion and chopped roots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the arrowroot until the vegetables are coated. Gradually add the 3 c broth (or 5 c total if not using milk or cream). Bring to the boil, reduce heat some and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until the broth has thickened some.

2. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Add the milk or cream, the beef, sauerkraut, and pepper. Heat through without boiling. Stir in cheese until melted. Taste for seasonings. It may need salt, though pastrami, sauerkraut and cheese all contain salt, as well as store-bought broth.

3. Serve with rye croutons scattered over the soup, if you like.