Sauteed Cabbage

I have never really loved cabbage.  It’s okay – but I can’t tell you how much cabbage I’ve thrown away over the years.  You need 2 cups for a salad, and then what?

But I’ve changed my tune after making sauteed cabbage.  Just like roasting brings out the mind-blowing deliciousness of so many vegetables, sauteing turns cabbage into sheer nirvana.  It gets a sweetness yet retains a nice bite.  And it’s ridiculously easy.

Ingredients:

1 cabbage, cut into 1″ squares (They will all fall apart so no need to be precise.)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 fresh ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter and as soon as it is mostly melted (happens quick – watch carefully) dump in all the cabbage and start stirring. If it won’t all fit in the pan, that’s okay.  You can add it in stages.

Sautee for several minutes until the cabbage is reduced and edges are starting to brown very slightly. Add the salt and pepper and stir well. Taste and check seasonings.

Serve. Devour. Yum.

That’s it. The simplest ingredients and method turn a plain Jane vegetable into a star. Leave out the butter for a vegan version.

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Spaghetti (Well, Really Oriecchette) alla Carbonara and Lemony Green Beans

spaghetti alla carbonara

In the newspaper a couple of days ago, a challenge was issued: make Spaghetti alla Carbonara!  I looked at the ingredients, which are quite simple and thought, what the heck – I’ll take that challenge.

Since I was going right by the Mexican grocery store, I stopped to pick up the ingredients I would need. (First change to the printed recipe: it should have been an Italian grocery store, right?  I also didn’t use Pancetta, or Guanciale, or Pecorino. Will the modifications never stop?)

I’d gotten a beautiful bag of green beans from Gary and Dorie, our dear friends and thought that would add to a great supper.

Arriving home, the usual happened – we were out of spaghetti! However we had plenty of Oriecchette, which we love anyway.

Oriecchette alla Carbonara was delish – and so were the lemony, garlicky green beans.

Ingredients:

1 big Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 package of turkey bacon or thick-cut regular bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices.
Freshly ground black pepper, maybe 1/4 – 1/2 tsp?
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 pound good spaghetti, or whatever pasta you have on hand
4 large eggs, stirred well and kept in a bowl
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
Fresh, chopped Italian parsley (Ali brought in about 6 good stems.)

Fill a big pot of water for the pasta, add the salt and bring it to the boil. As soon as the water is boiling, add the pasta. You want to cook the pasta until it’s very al dente. Save out about a cup of the pasta water.

In the meantime, in your largest frying pan, begin cooking the bacon. Let it cook for 8-10 minutes until it’s really nicely crispy and browned. Drain off all but 2 Tbsp of the pan drippings.  Add the crushed garlic and saute for a minute or two until it’s cooked.  (If using garlic powder, just add with the black pepper.)

Grind some black pepper into the bacon, and add 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

As soon as the pasta is just barely al dente, drain out the water, and add the pasta to the frying pan. Gently stir the pasta to coat it, and add a little more pasta water if you need to. Let the pasta cook for 1 minute on medium heat. Remove from the heat altogether.

Add the eggs and blend quickly and gently to prevent the eggs from cooking too much. If it starts to get sticky at the bottom, add a little more pasta water.  Stir for a minute or two.

Add the parmesan and parsley and keep gently folding the pasta. Add one more grind of black pepper over the top,  check salt and serve.

Roasted Eggplant

So simple, so delicious – Maya and I made this for dinner last night.

When you start with a lovely, fresh vegetable, you don’t need to do much to bring out the best flavor, and this is a perfect example.  Roasting the eggplant brings out its sweetness and tenderness and salt, pepper and a bit of butter make it crazy delicious.

4 small eggplants, halved, with the stem end removed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt  (I’m guessing here – I really just used a good pinch.)
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Butter

Heat oven to 400. Pour the olive oil into the center of a baking pan and slide the eggplants around cut side down to get olive oil all over them. Flip them back over and sprinkle them with the salt and pepper.

Roast for a good 20 minutes or until they have sort of sunk in, and are browning on the top.

Melt a pat of butter on top of each eggplant and serve in the skin. When eating, just scrape out the inside and leave the skins.  Nirvana – sheer veggie Nirvana…

Wonder if there is any left?

Basmati Rice

Making good rice is one of those things which seems like it should be easy, but is often a real challenge. I’ve made rice a million times and I always make it the same way. I use one cup of rice for 2-3 people, and 2 cups for 4-5 people. Be careful in adding the salt – you add one tsp for the first cup, but only  1/2 tsp more for 2 cups.

People are daunted by the idea of rinsing rice, but it’s easy.  Here’s how I do it:

Put 1 cup basmati rice in a sauce pan, and fill it about half full of warm water. Swirl the rice around with your hand.

Pour out most of the water, until the rice is just about to pour out. Cup your free hand loosely under the flow of water, with fingers slightly open so the water can drain through. That way you catch any rice that pours out, and just toss it back in the pan. Rinse and drain the rice one more time.

Add 1 7/8 cup of water  (just shy of two cups, basically), 1 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp of butter to the pan. (Butter is not traditional in Pakistan, but it is in New Orleans rice and we love the addition.)

Bring to a boil on the stove, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

Just remember:  if you double the recipe, don’t double the salt. Just add 1/2 tsp salt for each additional cup of rice.

Delicious Variation:  Make rice with chicken broth and 1/2 cup frozen peas.

Kumy always adds 1″ of cinnamon, a green cardamom and a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns. Yum.