Red Cabbage and Apples in Red Wine Sauce

>> Friday, October 7, 2016

red cabbage and apples sauteed in red wine

Cabbage is not one of those things you find in our house on a regular basis. Joe has a childhood block against cabbage, but likes a bit of mild sauerkraut, cole slaw, or some of those kinder, gentler cabbages like Napa or Bok Choy.

I loooooovvvveee cabbage. Oh, how I love corned beef and cabbage, Reuben sandwiches, or any form of sauerkraut or coleslaw or that cabbage salad with the crispy ramen noodles and almonds. My problem is, cabbage doesn't like me at all. It's delicious, but not quite so fun later on.

Oh, then we found this recipe. Glorious violet cabbages with glossy skins are burgeoning in our stores, and we had some sharp and sweet apples better for cooking than eating out of hand. We had to at least give them a try, and we've made it twice more in the last six weeks.

This is a traditional German recipe but I bet lots of other cold-weather countries have found the same sort of combination of sweet-sour cabbage that simmers out the harsh taste. I'm pretty sure this will be on our table until fresh cabbages are no longer in season.


2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup sliced onion
2 Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
6 cups shredded red cabbage (this is about half of a large red cabbage)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp flour
1 cup red wine


In a large skillet, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar until melted. Add the onion and apples saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the cabbage, glazing them with the butter and sugar.

braising Red Cabbage and Apples

Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper, then pour in the red wine vinegar and 1 cup of the beef broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, until the cabbage is starting to get tender. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well.

Sprinkle the flour over the cabbage and toss well to mix. Stir in the wine and the remaining broth. Simmer gently for a few minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

Serves 6 as a side dish.


Butternut Squash Risotto

>> Monday, September 26, 2016

Butternut Squash Risotto

It amazes me that risotto cooks up so creamy and tender just from the right amount of liquid stirred in at the right time. The original recipe I found for squash risotto called for a lot of butter and oil, but I don't miss it a bit in our lower-fat version. Butternut squash deserves its name; it tastes buttery to me.


1 average-sized butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cut up
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup onion, chopped
2 oz pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain rice
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


Steam or microwave the squash until fork-tender.

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and bacon and stir until soft. Add the rice and toast it slightly, coating it with oil.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Slowly stir in 1/2 cup broth, stirring until absorbed. Continue to add broth in half-cup portions, stirring each time until absorbed. Before adding the last cup of broth, stir in the squash, parmesan, and salt and pepper; stir until well mixed.

Stir in the last cup of broth. When the broth is absorbed and the rice is al dente, the dish is ready.

Serves 4.


Pork Medallions and Mushrooms in Brandy Cream Sauce

>> Monday, September 12, 2016

This is one of those absolutely exquisite dishes that I dream about for weeks after tasting it. If you really want to make a special meal for someone, this is the one to make. I made it for Joe's birthday this year and it was a very happy birthday for him!

The New German Cookbook, where we got the inspiration for this recipe, translates the dish as Schweinemedaillons en Weinbrand-Sauce. I confess I don't know how to pronounce this, though I should know more German than how to be polite and order a beer.

Anyway, the sauce is the most exquisite part of this dish. Once I cleaned my plate, I ran my finger over the dish to get the last bits of gravy. The night we made this, I intended to make fresh egg spaetzle (tiny German dumpling-noodles), but it was getting late, so I just cooked up some rotini. It was a mistake. Please, please go all the way and make the spaetzle, which is more tender than pasta and will soak up the luscious sauce. It's really not hard to make spaetzle. My family recipe is here: Detzner Spaetzle Recipe.

This would also be good over mashed potatoes or rice, instead of spaetzle.


1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced 1/2" thick
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup beef broth
1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced (the recipe book called for Black Forest or Polish black mushrooms; we used baby portobellos)
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups half-and-half
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a large skillet, then brown the pork on both sides over a medium-high heat. Set in a baking dish and cover with foil, then keep it warm in the oven.

Pan-roasting pork loin medallions

Pour the brandy and wine into the skillet and simmer over medium heat, scraping up the browned bits. Add the broth and boil, uncovered, until reduced by half. Pour the brandy mixture over the pork and return it to the oven.

Pork medallions and mushrooms roasting in juices

Melt the last 2 tbsp of butter in the skillet, then saute the mushrooms, onion, and garlic until soft. Add the pork and sauce back into the skillet, then stir in the half-and-half. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, until the cream sauce thickens and reduces by half. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with rice, noodles, or potatoes.

Serves 4-6.


Pizza-Stuffed Squash Boats

>> Monday, August 29, 2016

Pizza-Stuffed Squash Boats

A few days ago I received a giant zucchini squash from a friend - I mean, this was a monster, 15 inches long and about 4 inches wide. Immediately I thought of stuffing it with something, and rummaged through the pantry for inspiration. Some good Italian sausage rounded it out nicely, and we had a carb-free pizza dinner.

One year growing up in the country, our family tried the Great Zucchini Experiment. We decided to cultivate a half acre of squash to sell at the farmer's market. Farmer's markets in that place and time were not filled with trendy gourmet and organic premium vendors; these were farmers selling directly to the produce buyers for canneries, factories, and grocery stores.

Our family plan was to work together on the zucchini plot and split the profits based on the amount of work we each put in. Being the baby and somewhat babied, I am sure I put in the least amount of work, but every Saturday before dawn I'd load up baskets of the squash into the old pickup and we'd sit with the other farmers in our folding lawn chairs while the buyers browsed.

Week after week, no one bought from us. We couldn't understand it. My mom sent me out to scout the competition, and I reported back that we had the biggest squash at the market, way bigger than anyone else's. The squash we weren't selling went week after week into the freezer or onto the table until we all thought we'd die of zucchini poisoning.

Finally mom asked a farmer friend to come take a look at our stock and tell us what we were doing wrong. He picked up a ginormous zucchini. "These are way too big. Seeds get hard in there and they taste bitter; nobody wants to buy them like that." He told us the produce folks were looking for ones about 4 inches long and 2 wide, with evenly green, unblemished skin and a high gloss. They looked for a fresh stem end, too, so we were best off picking them the day of the market if we could.

So that's what makes for the best and freshest squash, and those are the ones I recommend looking for when you're shopping. We took his advice and picked with flashlights in the early morning to get the freshest ones to the market. And it was many years before I could make myself eat zucchini again, after the Williams Zucchini Collective folded.


1 pound Italian sausage
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 14-oz. can pizza sauce, or 1 can tomato puree with 1 tsp oregano and 2 tsp basil
1/3 cup water
3 squash, 4-5 inches long
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated


Take the sausage out of its casing and brown it in a medium skillet until it is crumbly and completely cooked. Set it aside in a bowl, and saute the onion, pepper, and garlic until tender. Add the sausage, sauce, and water, and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squashes in half lengthwise and cut off the stem end. Cut out the seeds from the center of each half. Place the squash face-down on a plate and microwave on high for 10 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Spray a baking sheet with oil. Place the squash rind-side down and fill with the sausage mixture. Sprinkle with the cheeses, then put it the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the filling is cooked through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serves 4-6.


Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits (lower fat version)

>> Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Both of our girls worked at Red Lobster when they were in high school, but Joe and I never got tired of those buttery cheesy biscuits. They've been out of the Darden restaurant chain for years now; Joe and I had to come up with a new biscuit recipe that tasted the same but was lower in fat and calories than the original.

This works pretty well and satisfies my unending craving for breads soaked in garlic butter and cheese. Don't judge me - the first step of addiction is admitting I have a problem.


2 cups light Bisquick biscuit mix
2/3 cup skim milk
1/2 cup low-fat sharp cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup butter
1/2 garlic clove, minced, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon parsley


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Stir the biscuit mix and cheese together in a mixer bowl, then slowly add the milk while mixing on low speed. When a sticky dough forms, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix on high speed for 30 seconds.

Spray a baking pan with oil. Drop 12 spoonfuls of dough onto the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

While the biscuits are baking, microwave the butter, garlic, and parsley until the butter is melted. Brush over the biscuits before removing them from the baking sheet. Serve warm.

Makes 12 biscuits.

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