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.

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.

Celeriac ‘Bread’ Sauce

This sauce is a riff on English bread sauce, which is a savory sauce that is made with milk and onion thickened with bread or breadcrumbs and butter. Celeriac is the thickener here, making this not only a sauce but a side dish as well. This can be served either warm or cold to accompany main course dishes, such as chicken or pork, or as part of a vegetarian meal. The spices and herbs listed are those used in the traditional bread sauce, though any number and combinations of spices and herbs can be used, depending on the nature of the meal. Again, other roots, such as kohlrabi, turnips, even beets, can sub for or combine with the celeriac.

1 small onion, peeled
4 cloves
2 1/2 c milk or a combination of milk and cream; or milk substitute
2 bay leaves, coarsely crumbled
1/4 t mace
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed, left whole
2 T butter
3 c or so peeled, diced celeriac
salt and (white) pepper, to taste

1. Stud peeled onion with the cloves. Put into a sauce pan with the milk, crumbled bay leaves, mace, and garlic. Bring just to the boil, then remove from heat and allow to infuse for about 10 minutes.

2. In a large skillet or saucepan, melt the butter. Add the celeriac and stir to coat with the butter. Strain the milk mixture over the celeriac (carefully!). Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the celeriac is very tender. The time will depend on the size of the pieces. if you like, you can remove the cloves from the onion, chop the onion and add to the celeriac. If the milk separates or curdles, do not despair.

3. Remove the skillet or saucepan from the heat. Transfer to a food processor or blender and purée to desired consistency. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

Roasted Black Radish Mash

Or other winter radishes. Somewhat of a revelation for me. Of all the ways I’ve eaten radishes, and especially winter radishes, it had never occurred to me to roast (or boil or steam) them, then peel and mash them. This is a good side dish on its own, or go to town and roast/boil/steam them with other roots and mash them all together. I’m leaving this pretty open in terms of accompanying elements. Black radish, butter, salt, and pepper is delicious and my preferred way, but add any number of herbs (dried or fresh) and/or spices as you see fit.

3 – 4 medium (black) radishes
butter or extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut radishes in half lengthwise. Put cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet and add a bit of water to cover the bottom of the baking sheet (as you would when roasting winter squash). Roast until tender, about 40 minutes, depending on the size of the roots. Alternatively, you can steam or boil the halved radishes until tender.

2. Peel radishes. Mash along with some butter or oil, salt, pepper and any herbs and/or spices you like. Ta-da!

French Apple Cake

This may well become your favorite cake! It’s totally easy to put together with ingredients that are usually on hand; yet the delicious cake that results from the minimal labor belies its simple and humble origin. The secret of course, is the butter. This is a French recipe, after all.

6 – 8 T butter, plus extra for greasing pan
3/4 c all purpose flour, white or whole grain or a combination
3/4 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon; or a combination of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg (1 t total)
pinch of salt
3 – 4 largish apples
2 large eggs
2/3 c sugar
3 T dark rum or brandy; or 3 T apple juice or cider; or 2 T molasses and 1 T water
1 t vanilla extract
extra cinnamon for serving, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter an 8″ springform pan or cake pan or a 9″ pie plate. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.

2. Melt butter and allow to cool.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

4. Peel apples, halve, core, and chop into 1″ to 2″ pieces. Set aside.

5. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until foamy. Add sugar and whisk until blended and mostly dissolved. Whisk in the rum and vanilla extract. Add half the flour mixture, whisking until combined. Follow this with half the melted butter, then repeat with the remaining flour and butter. The batter should be thick and smooth. Fold in the apples until the pieces are well coated with the batter. Scrape into the prepared baking vessel and smooth the top.

6. Put the pan (still on the baking sheet) in the oven and bake for 50 minutes or so, until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for about 5 minutes.

7. If using a springform pan, run a knife around the edges of the cake and remove the ring. Allow to cook until just warm or room temperature. Serve, of course, with ice cream, dusted with some ground cinnamon, if you like.

Sauerkraut Hummus

Sauerkraut hummus! If you know people who claim not to like raw sauerkraut, give them this to try. There’s a good chance they’ll change their mind, at least for this recipe. This hummus, like a hummus, is versatile. Good as a dip, as a spread on sandwiches, over cooked grains, pasta, as a side sauce with cooked meats and/or roasted veggies, or just on its own. I think that you could use other beans here, though then it would be called Sauerkraut/Bean Dip rather than hummus. Still good!

2 c cooked chickpeas, drained
3/4 c raw sauerkraut, plus 2 T sauerkraut juice (or 2 T chickpea cooking liquid)
2 T tahini
2 T chopped, fresh herb or 1 t dried herb; plus extra fresh herb for garnish
1 – 2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T prepared mustard
1/2 – 1 t ground black pepper, or to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz to a smooth, hummus consistency–or not, depending on your preference. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with some fresh chopped herb if you have some. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Basque Potato Pie

I’m not quite sure what it is about this savory pie that makes it a Basque speciality. Perhaps the use of potatoes and olives differentiate it from similar recipes in that part of the world. Or the Basque region developed the dish first. In any case, it’s quite delicious. It’s like a inverse shepherd’s pie, the potato topping for shepherd’s pie becomes the crust here. The filling can be almost anything: besides a tomato beef filling, try chili, bean stew, vegetable stew–as long as it’s not too wet. The potato crust is soft; by baking the crust alone for 15 minutes or so you will get a more firm crust.

3 – 4 medium potatoes
4 T melted butter or oil, or a combination, divided
1/4 t salt
1 c chopped onion
1 lb ground beef, or other ground meat
1 c tomato sauce
1 c shredded cheese
1/3 c pitted, sliced black olives
ground black pepper, to taste
sour cream, for serving, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Peel potatoes if you like and slice as thinly as possible. A mandolin or vegetable slicer comes in handy here. Toss the potato slices with 3 T of the melted butter or oil along with the salt. Line the bottom and sides of a 9″ pie plate with the slices, overlapping so there are no bare spots. If the slices are really thin, you can do a double layer, which may mean using more potatoes. Save 8 or so slices to top the pie, if you have enough. Don’t worry if you don’t. If you like, bake the potato crust for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

2. In a skillet, heat the remaining butter or oil and sauté the onions until soft. Add beef and cook until browned, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. If there’s a lot of fat in the skillet, and you don’t want that, you can remove the beef/onion mixture with a slotted spoon and drain the fat from the pan. Return the beef/onion mixture to the skillet and add tomato sauce, cheese, olives, and black pepper. Stir to combine and heat through.

3. Transfer to potato-crusted pie plate. Smooth top and place the reserved potato slices, if using, over the mixture. This is more of a garnish or decorative element–you’re not trying to make a second crust.

4. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked and the edges are browned and the filling is bubbling. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing and serving, with a dollop of sour cream, if you like.

Marinated Root Vegetables

The element that drew me to this recipe was that the vegetables are briefly cooked in the marinade. The hot marinade infuses the vegetables with its essence, intensifying the flavor considerably. Don’t overcook the vegetables, you want some crispness or crunch. For me, 8 minutes was the right amount of time. While the vegetables are excellent eaten after a short marinade, they’re even better the next and following days. Refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.

1/2 c water
1/2 c white wine or rice vinegar
1/2 c white wine, vermouth, sake, white grape juice, or apple juice
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 T fresh, coarsely chopped parsley or other fresh herb
1 t fresh thyme leaves, or 1/4 t dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
3 – 4 c sliced root vegetables, in batons or rounds
1 t prepared mustard

1. Combine all ingredients except root vegetables and mustard in a saucepan that can hold the vegetables. Bring to a gentle boil. Carefully add prepared vegetables. Cook, uncovered, until just barely tender, or to your own preference. Drain vegetables, reserving cooking liquid.

2. Put cooked vegetables in a serving bowl or other suitable container. Add mustard to cooking liquid, whisking to combine. Pour over vegetables, stirring to coat the vegetables. Allow to marinate for at least an hour before serving. Or cool completely, refrigerate, covered, overnight. Bring out about an hour before serving (though they’re good cold, too).