Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage Made Right!

Traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage Made Right!

Several years ago, I attended a St. Patty’s Day party at a friend’s house. It was one of those annual parties that grew in guests every year, and by the time I got invited, there was quite a crowd!

The hostess served traditional corn beef and cabbage, which, if you’ve ever been served this dish, you know tends to be on the bland side of the taste spectrum.  Thin slices of corned beef are served with braised cabbage, boiled potatoes, and a couple of dollops of mustard. Not too terribly exciting.

But what I remember most about my friend’s preparation of the dish was the smell. In order to accommodate her growing number of guests, my ingenious friend opted to cook both the cabbage and the corned beef in her slow cooker. Well, her slow cooker and every slow cooker she could borrow!

You see, if you snuck a peek into her garage, you would find several (and by several, I mean dozens) of slow cookers with their electrical cords inserted into multiple plug strips and placed onto tables, ledges and even the floor!

Now you may know this about cabbage…

It can be a tad odiferous when it’s cooking. If you take into consideration my friend was slooooow cooking her corned beef WITH her cabbage in multiple machines….. well, you can guess what the neighborhood smelled like as you drove up to her house.

It was memorable; so memorable in fact, I created another whole dish for St. Patty’s Day that minimizes the aroma of cooking cabbage, and maximizes the flavors of the season.

For my dish, I slow cook cured (already brined) brisket with root vegetables. I puree the flavorful veggies, and then, in a separate pan, I sauté the cabbage with bacon and onion. A creamy mustard-horseradish sauce tops off the dish. Yes, it’s pretty darn tasty and yes, your neighbors will thank you for choosing a not-to-too aromatic Irish holiday meal.

P.S. If you’ve never experienced the Blarney Stone, I encourage you to read all about my hilarious visit there in Canvas and Cuisine (page 62)!

 Slow Cooker Corned Beef

with Root Veggie Puree and Sautéed Cabbage

Makes 6 to 8 servings

For the Corned Beef and Veggies

1 (4 pound) raw corned beef brisket

2 (12-ounce) bottles dark beer

2 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

6 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 medium rutabagas, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

4 small white onions, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Place the corned beef into the slow cooker. Cover with beer. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and mustard seeds. Cook on high for 7 to 8 hours. During the last 2 hours of cooking, add the veggies to the slow cooker. Cook until the veggies are fork-tender.

Transfer the cabbage to a platter and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables from the slow cooker to the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse to puree. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

For the Cabbage

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ pound bacon, about 4 to 5 slices, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large onion, peeled and sliced

1 medium head Savoy cabbage, cut into 2-inch slices

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Cook the bacon in the pan until browned and crisp, abut 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan and place onto paper toweling to drain. Add the onion to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage to the pan and cook until just soft, about 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer the cabbage to a bowl. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle on top of the cabbage. Keep warm.

For the Sauce

2 tablespoons horseradish

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

Whisk together the horseradish, sour cream and mustard. You can add a spoonful or two of the corn beef cooking liquid to thin and add flavor to the sauce.

Cut the corn beef, across the grain, into thin slices. Place a generous spoonful of puree onto a plate. Top with a spoonful of sautéed cabbage. Lay slices of corned beef on top. Dollop with a tablespoon of sauce.

 

Your Perfect Holiday Menu + Reasons to Shop Small

Your Perfect Holiday Menu + Reasons to Shop Small

Since I was seventeen, I spent my Christmases in Florida… most of them in Fort Lauderdale. While the palm trees swayed from ocean breezes outside, we watched old movies and drank hot cocoa inside.  It was a fun way to pretend we were having a White Christmas!

While the Season included baking and tree trimming, shopping and wrapping were not far behind. I remember all the personalized gifts purchased from Paper Mpressions and all the beautiful tablescapes on display at Special Additions. I remember buying the boys matching holiday outfits from Flora Ottimer and finding crafty creations at Cross Stitch Cupboard.

Small businesses have always been a part of our community, like patchwork squares in a storied, family quilt. Our friends are their owners, our families are their customers and together we keep each other wrapped in friendship.

While some of these stores have disappeared, some are still going strong. Cactus Flower, owned by Candy Johnson has been in business for over 30 years. Her customers are not only her friends, they are each other’s friends. In the spirit of friendship (which is celebrated in Canvas and Cuisine), I hope my Fort Lauderdale pals will drop by to say hi, sip some bubbly and support Candy Johnson’s store this Thursday. I look forward to seeing you!

3020 N Federal Hwy

While you’re there, take a look around. Cactus Flower’s vendors are both old and new, and the combination leads to whimsical tables perfect for entertaining.

Meanwhile, please accept this simple, yet elegant holiday party dinner plan as my gift to you. It allows you to prepare everything in advance, so that you can enjoy your party as much as your guests do. And, if you are looking for the perfect serving platter for the salmon, or cake stand for the jam cake… then I’ll see you at Candy’s on the 12th! Merry, merry!

 

Simple Holiday Dinner Party Menu

Pan Roasted Veggies

Cumin Crusted Salmon with Tarragon Caper Sauce

Cranberry Jam Cake

Pan Roasted Veggies

serves a crowd

45 minute cuisine

16 to 20 Brussels Sprouts

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Juice of ½ lemon, about 2 tablespoons, plus more for the other veggies

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the other veggies

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for the other veggies

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper, plus more for the other veggies

16 to 20 Baby New Potatoes

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

16 to 20 Whole Baby Carrots

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground curry

16 to 20 Asparagus Spears

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 Large Yellow Onions

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Cut each Brussels sprout in half and steam (or blanch) until they begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with Balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet.

Cut each potato in half and steam (or blanch) for a about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with mustard, Parmesan cheese, garlic, thyme, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Steam (or blanch) the carrots for a about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with brown sugar, curry, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Cut the onion into wedges leaving the root intact. This will help to keep the onion together. Toss with Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

You can prepare the vegetable up to this point several hours in advance. When you are ready to serve, roast the veggies until they begin to crisp and brown, about 20 minutes. You can serve them warm or at room temperature.

Cumin Crusted Salmon

with Tarragon Caper Sauce

serves a crowd

20 minute cuisine

For salmon:

1 (2 ½ pound) center-cut whole salmon fillet with skin

Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground oregano

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

For sauce:

1 cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup cream

3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the whole fillet, skin side down, on a rimmed baking sheet, coated with vegetable oil spray.  Drizzle the lemon juice on top.

Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, and oregano in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Rub this mixture all over the salmon, coating well. Drizzle the top with olive oil.

Place the salmon into the oven.  Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Roast until the salmon is rare in the center, about 8 minutes per inch of thickness, or about 15 to 30 minutes for the whole fillet.

For the sauce, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, cream, capers, tarragon vinegar and fresh tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the salmon with the sauce on the side. Garnish with fresh lemon or orange slices and fresh tarragon sprigs.

Cranberry Jam Cake

serves a crowd

60 minute cuisine plus baking

For filling:

1 (12-ounce) jar cherry preserves

¾ cup granulated sugar

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, (about 3 to 3 ½ cups)

For cake:

8 large egg whites

3 ½ cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, room temperature

Zest of 2 large oranges, about 2 tablespoons

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 cup milk

For frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks room temperature

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 (32-ounce) package powdered sugar

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 to 2 tablespoons half and half (optional)

Place the filling ingredients into a deep pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries soften and begin to pop, about 20 minutes. Use a potato masher to mush up the cranberries. Remove the pot from the heat and cool. Spread the filling into a shallow pan. (A cake pan or pie plate works well for this.) Place the pan into the freezer to cool thoroughly while you make and bake the cake.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray 2 (9-inch) square cake pans with vegetable oil spray. Place a square of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan and spray again. Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 3 to 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the whipped egg whites to a large bowl. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Use the mixer to combine 1 cup butter and granulated sugar. Stir in the orange zest. Add ⅓ of the flour followed by ⅓ of the milk. Continue until all the flour and milk have been added. The batter will be quite thick.

Fold the egg whites into the batter using about ⅓ of the whites at a time. This will lighten the batter. Use a spatula to scrape and smooth the batter into the two pans. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a rack, remove the parchment paper and cool completely. Now is a good time to remove the cranberry filling from the freezer. You want it to be chilled – not frozen!

Use an electric mixer to combine 1 cup butter with cream cheese until fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt. Mix in the sugar a little bit at a time. Alternate the sugar and the remaining orange juice. If the frosting is too thick, you can thin it with a bit of half and half.

Now, here’s the fun part. You can turn this into a four layer cake, by horizontally slicing each of the square cakes in half. Or, you can just use one layer of jam frosting in the middle of the two cakes. It’s up to you how much cranberry to put in the center. Either way you will have cranberry jam left over which is the whole idea. The jam is perfect as an accompaniment to your favorite pork or poultry dish or spread onto your morning Christmas toast! Spread the frosting around the sides and the top of the cake.

 

 

Yum! Monte Cristo Sandwiches after Thanksgiving!

Yum! Monte Cristo Sandwiches after Thanksgiving!

 

Hello again friends, and happy December! I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and wonderful Black Friday. I was feeling a lot of gratitude at my book signing event at Park Road Books in Charlotte on November 29th. To all who came out and might be reading this, thank you!

This week, my recipe is meant to make the most of those Thanksgiving leftovers, packed away in Tupperware and just begging to be used in something more inspired. For me that’s the Monte Cristo sandwich, a sweet-meets-savory classic that’s yummy enough, it’s been on Disneyland’s Blue Bayou and Tahitian Terrace menus since 1966.

My recipe calls for turkey and ham – or just one of the two – generous amounts of sweet cranberry sauce, and slices of Muenster cheese – made in a cast iron skillet as you would French toast, with a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar at the end of the recipe prep.

In my France travels, I’ve known this sandwich to be called the croque monsieur, and understand it originated in Paris around 1910. It’s cute to think the French also have a “croque madame”, basically a baked or broiled ham and cheese sandwich made with sweet bread just like monsieur, but topped with a fried egg.

You can keep it lower cal, by forgoing the skillet and using a panini press. You can also keep it vegetarian and enjoy your Monte Cristo sans turkey. I love the tang of cranberry sauce and savory cheese on sweet French toast. No matter what kind of cheese you use: Fontina, goat, Gruyere, Brie or Muenster, it’s all good!

Post-Thanksgiving Monte Cristo’s

15 minute Cuisine

Recipe makes 4 sandwiches

2 French loaves, cut into 8 slices

2 ½ cups cranberry sauce

12 ounces any cheese you like, thinly sliced or evenly spread

Several slices leftover turkey and ham (one of these meats is fine)

4 eggs

3 cups whole milk

6 Tablespoons butter

Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Slather each bread slice with cranberry sauce; use as much or as little as you like. Add slices of cheese, then turkey/ham to each slice, and top with final slice of bread, cranberry sauce-side down.

In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until just combined. Soak each sandwich in the mixture, about 25 seconds per side, saturated but not soggy.

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a cast iron skillet. Batch cook the sandwiches until the bottoms are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip sandwiches and cook the other sides until they are also golden, like French Toast.

Add more butter as needed to cook remaining sandwiches.

Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving the sammies nice n’ warm.

Hassleback Sweet Potatoes on Thanksgiving

Hassleback Sweet Potatoes on Thanksgiving

Don’t mean to hassle you…I’ve got your hasselback – so many puns, so little time as we run out the clock on fall and celebrate Thanksgiving THIS THURSDAY! Having considered all the sides that might possibly grace the turkey, here’s what I want to share with you this week: the art of hasslebacking!

Some may ask, what the heck is a hassleback potato? I thought hassleback was that woman who left The View a few years back.

Nope, it’s a legitimate cooking technique and sooooo tasty!

The method of thinly slicing – but not all the way through – and marinating the nooks and crannies in between, with all kinds of luscious and savory flavors was invented the same year I was born.

Hasselback potatoes or Potato à la Hasselbacken was Leif Ellison’s creation. It was 1953 in Sweden, and he was a trainee chef at restaurant Hasselbacken in Stockholm. You can actually buy a hasslebacking kitchen gadget, but carefully making slices with a large knife is just as effective.

More than just potatoes, the hassleback method works with butternut squash, apples, pears and carrots.

Go online, and you can make Bon Appetite’s AWESOME butternut squash recipe, which is an incredibly good side for the Thanksgiving table. I also find when hasslebacking carrots, that sriracha and cinnamon work well in the cracks.

I’m sure your Thanksgiving will be an utter delight, no matter what. Wishing you a happy gobble gobble day, and sharing this book signing event with my Charlotte friends before signing off. I will be at Park Road Books on Black Friday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on November 29th. Come by and see me when you’re done shopping 🙂

Hassleback Sweet Potatoes

with Honey, Pecans & Goat Cheese

Serves 4

10 minutes to prep and up to 1 hour to bake

4 sweet potatoes, skins peeled

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup Orange Blossom honey

4 to 6 ounces goat cheese

1 tablespoon butter, softened

Juice of a naval orange

Salt

Chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel 4 sweet potatoes, cutting off the rough ends.

Make slices all along the sweet potato as shown in the photo.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cinnamon, honey, butter, orange juice and salt. Drizzle the mixture into the slices of each sweet potato.

Using a cheese spreader or small spoon put a dollop (or two!) of goat cheese into each incision on the sweet potato. Garnish the insides of the sweet potatoes with chopped pecans.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the sweet potatoes can be easily poked with a fork.

Optional: add whip cream to each potato before serving.

 

Sweet Traditions in the Making

Sweet Traditions in the Making

This was so going to be a post about Thanksgiving side dishes…. And then… I had the blessing of having both granddaughters join me on what happened to be National Bread Day this Sunday.

Mallory, 13 and Bookie, 2 have a huge age difference between them, but share a common love for me – reminds me of Sally Field in Soapdish and that line, “they really, really love me!…”

Here’s how making our precious memories together went down. I was looking for something to write about for Monday’s blog, and Mallory inspired me by her quest to bake something. She was looking for edible cookie dough or at the very least, a chocolate cookie skillet.

But Jorj.com just posted a bunch of cookie stuff….soooo, we decided on baking bread instead. Thanks to just placing an order with Carolina Ground, and having a lot of flour on hand, we had an absolute blast.

We baked my recipe, A Tale of Two Loves from Canvas and Cuisine and swirled the bread with a layer of my last jar of highly coveted apple butter.

Totally worth it!

Sweet Mallory spent hours with Brooke in between dough rises, and sweet Brooke abandoned her nap to rise to the grown-girl challenge. Does it get any better than this? I’m not sure. Coming into Thanksgiving, this is what I give thanks for. And I hope you cherish your family moments too.

Oh, and P.S. When you bake this bread, feel free to add a tablespoon of your favorite spice mix to the flour, like apple pie spice, gingerbread spice, or pumpkin pie spice!

A Tale of Two Loaves

makes 2 yummy loaves

20 minute cuisine, plus 2 hours to rise and 30 minutes to bake

2 cups milk, warmed on the stove top

1 large egg, beaten

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon natural cane sugar

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast, 1 package

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 ½ cups white or whole-wheat bread flour

2 ½ to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stir the beaten egg into the warm milk. Stir in the sugars. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and stir.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

Place the melted butter, salt and whole-wheat flour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour in the wet ingredients. Stir, on slow to medium speed, until the flour and milk are combined. Add the all-purpose flour, about ½ cup at a time gradually increasing the speed of the mixer to form a soft, wet dough. This process will take you about 5 minutes. Once the dough wraps around the hook, continue mixing until you have a smooth, shiny ball of dough wrapped around the dough hook, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been coated with vegetable oil spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place for 1 ½ hours to rise. I use my warming drawer set on the proof setting for this.

Coat 2 (8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½-inch) loaf pans with vegetable oil. THIS IS IMPORTANT! If the pans are larger, your dough may not rise. If your pans are smaller, the dough may not cook properly.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Punch the dough down and shape into two round loaves. Place each loaf into a pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 30 to 45 minutes. If you are adding mix-ins into your loaf, now is the time. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board. Fold in your favorite items. (Mine is a brushing of melted butter with cinnamon and brown sugar.) Shape the dough into a loaf and continue with the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the bread until the tops are golden and the bread sounds hollow when you tap it, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks.

 

Fall Dreams of Chocolatey Pumpkin Bread…

Fall Dreams of Chocolatey Pumpkin Bread…

This is breaking news! Did you know the pumpkin puree you got at the grocery store is NOT pumpkin? Apparently, it is a combination of all types of squash. WHO KNEW? I feel betrayed, lied-to, conspired against! Well, not really. The canned stuff is still pretty good, and has been a staple for all my pumpkin treats for as long as I can remember.

Now, you can make your own puree, from your very own pumpkins, but this seems just a little bit too over-the top for me.

So…. BRING IT ON, SQUASH… I can take it! Let’s open a can of puree and dive right in, shall we? I CANNOT WAIT, as home baked bread is a real holiday treat for me! I remember my early days in the catering business. Our signature corporate holiday baskets included at least one mini-loaf of pumpkin quick bread.

We baked hundreds of these each season. But I also love yeast bread, especially when it is laced with a bit of sweetness. I’ve told you the story of Sammy’s favorite “Sammy Bread”, a loaf of sour dough bread, sweetened with cinnamon-sugar and frosted with a sugary glaze. We look forward to placing a loaf in our basket every week from the Farmer’s Market.

I recreated it at home, with a can of fake pumpkin puree, wink wink.  It’s SO YUMMY, toasted and slathered with butter, or battered and fried ala French toast. Use leftovers to create a toasted crouton for your bowl of ice cream, or as the lead ingredient in custardy pumpkin bread pudding.

But first, make this bread – it’s a recipe born of two cravings: pumpkin bread and cinnamon bread, married together in the sweetest fall recipe you could possibly imagine.

Pumpkin Bread

With Hazelnuts and Chocolate

Yield 1 loaf, about 12 slices

2 ½ hours before you can eat the bread!

 

¼ cup maple syrup, room temperature

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

2 ¼ cups bread flour

1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour

1 cup hazelnuts, chopped

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup pumpkin puree

Pour the maple syrup into a measuring cup. Sprinkle with yeast. Add I cup warm water. Allow the yeast to bloom (foam) about 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk together the flours, nuts, chocolate, spices and salt in a large bowl.

Place the pumpkin into a bowl. Whisk in the bloomed yeast. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to bring the dough together. Sprinkle your work surface with a generous amount of flour. Pour (the sticky) dough onto the flour and knead the dough until it comes together, and no flour shows through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place the dough into a bowl coated with vegetable oil spray. Cover with plastic wrap and move to a warm place to rise for 1 hour. I use the warming drawer on the proof setting for this.

After an hour, remove the dough from its cozy hide-out and use a spatula to fold the dough onto itself while your turn the bowl, about 8 to 10 turns. Cover again with plastic and move the bowl back to the warm place to rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Coat an 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½-inch with vegetable oil spray. Use a spatula to transfer the (still pretty sticky) dough to the loaf pan. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 31 to 40 minutes.