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.

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.

Stuffed Kohlrabi

This is an inventive take on stuffed peppers, using kohlrabi instead. I imagine you could use other roots, such as celeriac and large turnips as well. The filling recipe is simple to make and tasty, with Middle Eastern overtones (the original recipe called for goat), though you could use any stuffed pepper recipe–especially for vegetarian/vegan versions. After trying this, you may never look at a kohlrabi the same way again.

4 medium sized kohlrabi
1 T butter or vegetable oil
1 1/2 c diced yellow onion
3/4 lb ground beef, lamb, turkey, or chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander or (ground) fennel or whole caraway seeds
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground turmeric
1/4 t ground cayenne
1/2 t chili powder
salt, to taste
1 c chopped tomato, canned or fresh
water or broth, if needed
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
sour cream or yogurt for serving, optional

1. Peel kohlrabi. Slice the bottom of each so that they can sit without wobbling. Cut the top off each. Reserve tops. With a spoon or melon baller, scrape out the flesh inside the bulb to within a quarter inch of the outer shell. Try not to pierce the bottom. Reserve the scrapings. Combine tops and kohlrabi scrapings and finely chop. Set aside.

2. Either steam or boil the kohlrabi shells until just tender, when a fork can pierce the side. Remove and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Melt butter or heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add ground meat and garlic and sauté until browned throughout, breaking up any large pieces. Add the spices and salt, stirring well to coat with the meat mixture. Add the tomato and reserved, finely chopped kohlrabi. Cook for about 10 minutes, adding a bit of liquid if the mixture is too dry. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

4. Spoon filling into kohlrabi shells. Place on a rimmed baking sheet or other suitable baking vessel. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the kohlrabi and mixture are heated through. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, if you like.

Slow Braised Cabbage

Modern culinary wisdom decrees that cabbage should no longer be cooked for long periods of time. Those of us who grew up with the smell of cabbage permeating our homes during those bouts of cabbage cooking were thrilled by this edict. However, there are exceptions to almost every rule and this recipe is one of them. The cabbage here is oven braised for a good two hours, plus an additional browning period. Granted, this method is not the same as the submerged cabbage bubbling away on the stove top, and the smell is actually quite pleasant, even gustatory. This is a perfect dish for the long, cold winter we’re having.

1 medium head green or red cabbage, about 2 pounds
1 large yellow or red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
2 – 3 medium to large carrots, peeled if necessary and sliced
1/3 c broth, stock, white wine, or water, plus extra if needed
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 t caraway seeds
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 T red balsamic vinegar, optional (but really makes this dish)

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease a large casserole dish or baking pan, such as a 9″ x 13″ pan.

2. Trim cabbage, then cut in half. Cut each half into quarters, for a total of eight wedges. Leave the core intact, to retain the shape of the wedges. Place wedges in prepared baking dish, in a single layer if possible, or slightly overlapping. Scatter the onions wedges and carrot slices around the wedges. Pour the liquid and oil over all. Sprinkle caraway seeds and crushed red pepper flakes over. Season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil.

3. Place in oven and braise for an hour. Remove from oven, uncover, and turn vegetables over. Try to keep the wedges intact if you can, but don’t worry if they fall apart. This is more an aesthetic consideration. Add a bit more liquid if needed. Cover again and return pan to oven for another hour.

4. Check the cabbage again. If it’s tender enough for you, then raise the oven temperature to 400ºF. Drizzle, if you like, the balsamic vinegar over the cabbage and return to oven for about 15 more minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Potato Salad with Sauerkraut

This is the recipe to make for people who claim not to like raw sauerkraut and the recipe to make for people who love to eat raw sauerkraut. ‘Nuf said.

2 lbs or so potatoes
4 oz bacon, or use 2 T vegetable oil if not using bacon
1 c chopped onion
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 t brown sugar, optional (use for sauerkraut dislikers)
1 1/2 c sauerkraut, drained
black pepper, to taste
salt, if needed
fresh chopped parsley, for garnish, optional, but adds a nice dash of color

1. First you need to boil the potatoes. You can cut them into potato salad-sized pieces or just halve or quarter them, depending on their size. Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Boil until just tender. Drain, reserving about 1/2 c of the cooking liquid. (Save the rest for stock or other cooking purposes.) If necessary, further chop up the potatoes. Transfer to a serving bowl and cover to keep them warm.

2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove rashers and drain on a paper towel. Crumble and add to potatoes.

3. Drain bacon fat, leaving 2 T in the skillet. Sauté the onion until softened. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Stir in the vinegar, oil, and brown sugar, if using. It should come to the boil fairly quickly. Pour this over the potatoes and toss to coat. Add the sauerkraut, stirring to combine. Season with black pepper. If the mixture seems dry, add some of the reserved potato water. Taste and add more vinegar or oil if you think it’s needed. You may even want to add some salt. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.