Category: Thanksgiving

Braised Purple Cabbage with Apples

September 27, 2010


That was fascinating.  I want to thank you all for indulging me and sharing something so personal.  I was amazed that most of the dreams feel into a few general categories.  My informal tally shows that the most common anxiety dreams were roughly in this order:

Something to do with school
Teeth falling out or crumbling
Being chased
Waiting tables
Being along in a house
Being late
Can’t move
Something involving a bathroom

There were others – dressing up like Attila the Hun and being chased by Kiss, the band, were my favorites.  I was amazed by how many people dream about losing their teeth.  I sometimes dream that I am chewing an enormous piece of gum and am trying to talk to someone and the gum keeps getting stuck in my teeth.  When I go to take it out, it just pulls into long strands and keeps sticking.

Anyway.  Thank you again for sharing.  I was so touched that many of you who usually lurk came forward and commented.  As usual, I wish I could send each and every one of you this prize package.

Because  I like to give and because I have two children who were fighting over the task of picking a number out of a hat, and because I need an excuse to go back to Theo Chocolates (again, for the children!), I had assistant #2 pick out another winner.  I will send that person some chocolate goodies.  Drum roll please.

Winner #1 is Erica (comment #84) who has this dream:  “My main anxiety dream is that I’m running away from someone or something and no matter how hard I try to run, I’m going in slow motion. Every muscle is burning and I’m pushing as hard as I can go but I’m barely moving.  The second one is that my teeth are loose or are going to fall out. No lie. When I wake up I check to make sure they’re all there and not wiggling!”

Winner #2 is Holly E (comment #18) who has this dream:  “My anxiety dreams are always about high school. Often I am just roaming the halls or hiding out because I don’t remember what class I am supposed to be in. Sometimes I show up for the final after skipping the class all semester. Every now and then I can’t remember my gym locker combination. I keep hoping that one of these days I will “graduate” to college dreams! My FAVORITE dreams, however, are about the ocean: surfing, swimming, sometimes stuck under water but I can still breathe. I wake up feeling so ivigorated!

So let’s talk about cabbage.  My darling husband thinks he doesn’t like cabbage.  I mention it and he makes a face.  This from the man who loves sauerkraut and coleslaw.  When I tell him that both those things are in fact cabbage, he just smiles and nods.  So I didn’t talk about the exquisitely purple cabbage I picked up at the farmer’s market and I didn’t tell him that I was going to use it in a side dish for a weeknight Dana Meal.  I knew he would question a cabbage dish but I also knew he would love it once he tasted it.

Which of course, he did.  A beautiful cabbage thinly sliced.  Peeled farm fresh apples too.  A bit of sugar, salt, caraway seeds, and cider vinegar and then a good long simmer on the stove – this is a lovely dish indeed.  The equinox has passed and fall is officially here.  I have found this dish works well alongside so many different things during this season.  This time I served it with a hearty pasta dish featuring buckwheat groats and a savory gravy (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it), but I have also served it with savory grain cakes sitting atop a carrot ginger sauce.  I would imagine it would be magnificent alongside some kind of savory stuffed squash as well.  Randy’s family serves sauerkraut at Thanksgiving (I know!) so he always requests that I make it for him.  I’m kind of hoping I can talk him into this dish instead.  He wouldn’t be the only one eating it, unlike the sauerkraut.

One Year Ago:  Holly B’s Almond Butterhorns
Two Years Ago:  Frittata with Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Braised Purple Cabbage with Apples
Adapted from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen
Serves 4-6

I like this dish with a hint of sweetness so the seasoning here is perfect for me.  I would imagine that you could replace half the water with apple juice or cider if you want it sweeter.

2 tbsp. butter
1 large red onion, sliced into thin crescents
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
¾ cup water
3 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 head purple cabbage (about 2 pounsd), sliced into ½-inch strips
1 large firm apple, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick

In a wide heavy sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the onions, brown sugar, caraway seeds, salt, and a few grinds of pepper.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until softened.

Add the water, vinegar, cabbage, and apple.  Raise the heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and braise for 25 to 30 minutes.  Uncover and cook over high heat for a few minutes until the juices have reduced.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Something Other Than Pumpkin Pie

November 24, 2009


I have so many memories of Thanksgiving dinners as a child.  I loved the gathering of friends and family, I loved polishing the silver with my mom, and I loved getting to stay up past my bedtime and put on plays with my brothers and friends.  What I didn’t love was the food.  I never liked turkey and I was totally grossed out by gravy.  Stuffing and mashed potatoes are all well and good but they really need gravy.  (I have since remedied this problem by making vegetarian gravy each year.)  So my dinner consisted of dry starchy things that I would choke down.  And, at the end of that meal, my dessert choices were always pumpkin pie or pecan pie.  Neither of which I liked.


My mom’s friend Marilyn is an expert pumpkin pie maker.  But if you don’t like it you don’t like it, and I still don’t.  Once I had a bit of baking experience under my belt, I started bringing an “other” dessert to our family gathering.  What I really wanted to bring was chocolate but even I knew that something that rich would not be good after a huge feast.  I usually settled on something apple and over the years I made pies, tarts, and cakes.  To this day, when we now host the dinner in our home, I delegate lots of dishes to others.  This year I have passed off the stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, sweet potatoes, and an appetizer.  That may sound like I outsourced the entire meal but I am still making bread, cheeseballs, green beans, a potato/horseradish gratin, vegetarian gravy, sauerkraut with apples, and two desserts.  Oh yes!  And a 23 pound turkey and “regular” gravy.  I really wouldn’t think of letting someone else make the “other” desserts.  I gotta make sure I get my apple.

A word about bundt cakes.  As cakes go, they tend to be easy but I have a deep-rooted fear of them.  I have had so many decide that they would rather stay in the pan than be eaten by me and my family.  I recently replaced my old and no-longer-non-stick pan which does help.  So if yours is old and shows any sign of rust, time to get a new one.  I also highly recommend you use Crisco and flour to grease it and don’t forget to get the middle part greased up well.  A little offering to the kitchen goddess before you turn it out doesn’t hurt either.


One Year Ago:  Broccoli Rabe, Radicchio, and Carrot Salad and Spinach and Lemon Stuffed Mushrooms

Cider-Caramelized Apple Pound Cake
Adapted from Food and Wine
Serves 12

2 cups clear apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
3 cups granulated sugar
3 sticks plus 2 tbsp. (13 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 pounds large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground mace (DT: I didn’t have mace so I just added a little extra nutmeg)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

1.  Make the cake: In a large saucepan, boil the apple cider over high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the granulated sugar and cook over moderately high heat until a dark amber caramel forms, about 4 minutes.  Off the heat swirl in 2 tablespoons of the butter until melted.  Add the apples and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are softened and have absorbed a lot of the syrup, about 8 minutes.  Pour the apples into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the lower third.  Grease a 12-cup bundt pan.  Sift the cake flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, salt, and baking soda into a bowl.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 3 sticks of butter until creamy.  Add the remaining 2 cups of granulated sugar and the vanilla and beat at medium-high heat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between additions.  Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the sour cream; beat just until combined.  Stir 1/2 cup of the batter into the apples, then stir the apple mixture into the remaining batter.

3.  Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the top is golden and cracked and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 20 minutes, then turn it out onto the rack to cool completely.

4.  Make the glaze: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the brown sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until thick and smooth.  Gradually stir in the heavy cream and bring to a boil.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and bubbling, 3 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Sift the confectioners’ sugar directly into the pot and add the vanilla.

5.  Lay a piece of wax paper under the rack.  Drizzle glaze all over it.  Sprinkle with pecans.

(The cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature overnight or refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

Thanksgiving Worthy Squash

November 18, 2009


Have you heard?  Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  I don’t know about you but I am totally freaking out.  Last year at this time, I had three clients who I was cooking dinner for twice a week.  One of them also asked me to help with all of the side dishes for their Thanksgiving feast plus we hosted a dinner at our house for 19 adults and 10 children and I felt more relaxed last year than this year.

I subscribe to the theory of inertia.  When I am busy, I just stay busy.  It seems the more cooking I do, the more I can do.  Planning my clients’ dinners just made me better about planning my own.  I was more present and prepared than I am this year.  I am no longer cooking for my clients but it’s not as though I’m not cooking (I am doing plenty of that).  I’m just not in the zone like I was last year.

I have a hunch that people might visit this site looking for vegetarian Thanksgiving options.  I am sorry to tell you that this year, as well as last year and all the years ahead into the forseeable future, a turkey will be on our table.  We have turkey lovers among our family members and loved ones.  I cannot deny them.  Thanksgiving will just have to be as it has always been for me – lots of delicious side dishes plus a big saucepan of vegetarian gravy and a big bird for the carnivores.

I’m still in the menu planning stages (yes, I know there are only 8 days until the big day) but I’m thinking this might be one our sides.  I have been making this squash dish for years.  It is about the simplest thing around but holy moly is it good.  I use delicata squash, but you can use any kind where the skin is edible.  I’ve made it using butter, but I have to tell you that olive oil tastes just as good here and I like the idea of offering my vegan readers a tasty dish as well.  Both of my kids are really good eaters but neither of them love vegetables.  I’m here to tell you that they inhaled this squash.


One Year Ago:  Cranberry Walnut Braid (which I make every year for Thanksgiving)

Maple Roasted Delicata Squash
Dana Treat Original
Serves 6-8 as a side dish

1- 3-4lb. delicata squash (or another variety with an edible skin)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut the squash in half vertically.  Scrape out all of the seeds.  Cut each half into 3/4-inch thick slices.  Arrange slices on a large baking sheet and toss with olive oil, maple syrup, and salt.  Make sure to toss well so that each slice is coated.

Bake in the oven until tender and starting to brown, about 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly, then remove from the baking sheet.  Can be served warm or room temperature.

Delicious Richness

December 1, 2008

Ah, gratins. I just hear that word and I think “rich”. Of course, they don’t have to be. A gratin is typically some kind of layered dish that is baked in the oven. I have made healthy gratins with beans, tomatoes and homemade breadcrumbs or with lots of vegetables and no cream or cheese.

This is not one of those gratins. Leave it to Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame to make the richest creamiest cheesiest gratin I have ever had. There is no restraint here and every single calorie and gram of fat is worth it. I first made this for my clients Stephanie and Mark last Thanksgiving. As it was baking in the oven and tempting me with the unbelieveable smell of potatoes, cream and Gruyere cheese all mingling together in exquisite harmony, I resolved to make it for Thanksgiving this year. When I brought it over to them, Stephanie had to hide it from Mark so he didn’t eat it before the holiday.

I am always a fan of things can be made in advance, holiday or not, and this was great two days after it had been made. Just be sure to warm it up adequately and you also might want to put the dish on a baking sheet in case any of the cream (yum!) bubbles over.

Even if you think you don’t like fennel, do not skip it in this dish. It’s flavor is very subtle and sweet and helps cut the richness of the dish – a little bit. Do not be tempted to scale up this recipe as I did. A little goes a long way.

Potato-Fennel Gratin

Adapted from
The Barefoot Contessa
Serves 10

Garten originally calls for russet potatoes in this dish and she suggests that you peel them. I used Yukon golds and did not peel them and the texture was perfect. I also covered the gratin for the first half of the baking so it didn’t get too brown.

2 small fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

2 cups plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream

1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
1 tsp. kosher salt

tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the inside of a 10x15x2 inch (10 cup) baking dish.

Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the cores and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise, making approximately 4 cups of sliced fennel. Saute the fennel and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until tender.

Thinly slice the potatoes by hand or with a mandoline. Mix the sliced potatoes in a large bowl with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of Gruyere, salt and pepper. Add the sauteed fennel and onion and mix well.

Pour the potatoes into the baking dish. Press down to smotth the potatoes. Combine the remaining 2 tbsp. of cream and 1/2 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on the top. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another approximately 45 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned. Allow to set for at least 10 minutes and serve.

(The gratin can be made 3 days ahead and reheated at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, covered.)

Breton Apple Pie

November 29, 2008
Yesterday was my big boy’s 4th birthday. We celebrated today by having a bunch of kids over and a couple of fire engines came by to take them for a ride. I wish I could tell you I made this adorable cake and then give you the recipe complete with instructions on how to make a fire made out of frosting, but the truth is, I bought it. However, I did make this…

A little history. As a child, I never liked Thanksgiving dinner. That was a little strange because I was far from a picky eater. I was taught to eat everything my mom served me and, being the rule-following oldest child, I did as I was taught. Thanksgiving was really tricky for me though because I never liked turkey – even as a very young child – and certainly didn’t like gravy. To top it all off, we always had pumpkin and pecan pie for dessert – neither of which I like to this day. Suffice it to say that Thanksgiving was tough for me.

Once I became a vegetarian and it became “ok” for me to not eat turkey, things began to look up. Once I began to cook, it all changed. I started bringing side dishes that I wanted to eat and started making vegetarian gravy which totally changed the meal. I can eat mashed potatoes and stuffing endlessly if there is good gravy to pour over them. Once I started to bake, I would always bring some kind of “other” dessert so that I could enjoy dessert too. Some years I did chocolate, other years I did a Nutcracker Tart from Bon Appetit, but most years I made something apple.

About a month before Thanksgiving this year, I picked up Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker and while paging through it, I found the recipe for Breton Apple Pie. I loved that it looked like a cake but was closer to a pie and I especially loved that he said you could make it in advance and freeze it. With so much food running through my kitchen the week of Thanksgiving, I really appreciated being able to make this and forget about it. It was, by the way, delicious.

Breton Apple Pie
Adapted from
The Modern Baker
Serves about 12

There is a scary moment right before you unmold this dessert. I looked at it and thought there was no way it was coming out of the pan, but it did beautifully. You have to work quickly to get it back to right side up so it doesn’t crack too much. Just lightly put another cooling rack on top of the bottom of it, and re-invert.

3 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, and each half cut into 6 wedges

cup sugar

1 tbsp. lemon juice

tsp. ground cinnamon

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 large egg yolks

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt

Equipment: One 10-inch wide and 2-inch deep layer pan, buttered and the bottom lined with a disk of parchment paper.

1. For the apple filling, melt the butter over medium heat in a pan that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the apples and sprinkle them with the sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Cook the apples covered, checking them and stirring occasionally, until they are swimming in liquid, about 10 minutes. Uncover the pan and let the liquid evaporate, about 10 more minutes. Keep an eye on the apples while the liquid is evaporating, and stir occasionally to prevent the apples from scorching. Most of the apples will disintegrate while the filling is cooking, making it like a chunky applesauce. Allow to cool.

2. Meanwhile, set a rack on the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

3. For the dough, combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with the paddle on medium speed until very light, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large ruber spatula to incorporate the flour.

4. Place half the dough in the bottom of the prepared pan. Using floured fingertips, press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan and about 1 inch up the sides. Spread the cooled filling over the dough.

5. Flour remaining dough and press into a 10 inch disk on cardboard or tart pan bottom. Use a long-bladed knife or spatula to make sure the dough isn’t stuck to the cardboard. Carefully slide the dough onto the filling.

6. Brush the top of the Breton with the egg wash and trace a lattice pattern on with the tines of a fork.

7. Bake the Breton until the dough is well colored and baked through, 50-55 minutes.

8. Cool on a rack in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold and turn right side up again. Cool completely on a rack.

(Keep the Breton loosely covered with plastic wrap at room temperature on the day it is baked. Wrap and freeze for longer storage. Defrost and bring to room temperature before serving.)

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