Another Dinner Club is coming up, and the theme is bite-sized desserts. The current plan, thanks to the overflow of blueberries from the local U-Pick place, is to make these blueberry crumble bars fancy and serve them on a toothpick with pretty garnish.
This is a humble dessert, not the prettiest thing at the party, but oh, is it delicious.
A few months ago, one of my friends came up with the brilliant idea of Dinner Club, a group of local friends and foodies that regularly gets together to cook, eat, and socialize. It’s a collaborative and family-friendly gathering that is teeming with creativity and anticipation, as we plan and share our plans online leading up to the event.
Last month I hosted a tapas event. Tapas were my idea, but once I started looking into them I was immediately anxious about my choice. I am not comfortable cooking a lot of fish and seafoods, ingredients with which traditional tapas are heavy. Luckily other folks stepped up and made smelt, salmon ceviche, shrimp, and others. We had marinated chorizo, dates wrapped with bacon, manchego cheese with quince, melon con jamon, fresh bread and tomato caper salsa, and other fantastic and new flavors.
I made several items, but this was among my favorites, adapted from a smattering of recipes from Martha Stewart to Real Simple to others. I love mushrooms and this was easy and light, and got better and better as it sat around at room temperature marinating in its own juices. I took the leftovers and reheated them with a dose of heavy cream, reduced by half, and tossed with linguine, fresh chopped parsley, and parm. So good.
There is a recipe floating around social media that makes me want to rage-quit the internet every time I read it, for “Garlic Rubbed Roasted Cabbage Steak.” Why does it make me want to light the internet on fire? Because it’s fussy, over-complicated and shows a basic lack of understanding on how to use ingredients for a culinary end. It’s the new cliche on aspirational lifestyle sites, sites that are more in tune with how a recipe or hobby informs the author’s image and the consumerist desires of the reader, than they are about conveying clear instruction on a topic of expertise, in that many of these DIY posts are over-wrought with weird steps that don’t actually teach you how to make good stuff.
In this case, the “cabbage steak” is over worked with steps that don’t actually add to the flavor of the food, and the recipe doesn’t translate to any other foods like it. The short version is this: roasting vegetables is delicious AND VERY EASY. You should try it.
Why this recipe works
Roasted veggies are awesome. Also, roasting a veggie that has been cooked with a flat side down, as in, after it’s been sliced into a STEAK or WEDGE, helps the sugars in the veggie caramelize better. All vegetables work this way, mind you — not just cabbage. Roast your sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, string beans, carrots, asparagus, radishes, squashes, tomatoes, mushrooms, and all.
Why it doesn’t
It’s needlessly complicated with the non-rub rub and basting brushes and the flavor profile is weird.
The recipe in question gives instructions to cut a head of cabbage into one inch thick “steaks,” then “rub both sides of cabbage with smashed garlic.” Later, you get out your basting brush and paint the cabbage with oil. Veggies, especially the humble cabbage, weren’t meant to be this fussy.
First, don’t rub your veggies with garlic. This is not a “rub” — a “rub” is when you create an herb and aromatic mixture, usually mixed with olive oil, and coat your food with it before cooking. Literally rubbing a peeled knob of garlic on another vegetable doesn’t do anything but waste your time. If you want to do something fancy with your garlic, smash it into a paste with the flat side of your knife and mix it with the olive oil or smear it directly onto the food, but quit it with this “rub your cabbage with garlic” business.
Second, all roasted root and cruciferous vegetables are delicious with very few exceptions. The basics are to toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast on a pan at 400 or so for thirty minutes or so. It’s so easy. If you want to add garlic or another aromatic, you should do that. Be creative. I like to add finely diced garlic or herbs, or vinegar or lemon juice, or a dried herb mixture like Herbes de Provence.
If I got to rewrite this cabbage steak recipe, here’s what I would advise: Cut the cabbage slices, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. If I wanted to get fancy, I’d dust them with curry powder, or add fennel, or red pepper flakes. Put them flat in a pan and roast at about 400 until they were done. Turn once, maybe, halfway through. THE END. If you want to get super fancy, whip up a mustard sauce to add some more flavor.
Other recipes you should make instead of this one:
If you’ve never had roasted radishes, you should. It mellows out the peppery flavor of the radish and the greens are delightfully bitter.
Roasted curried cauliflower is wildly easy, healthy, and tasty. If your kids hate veggies like mine, do like I do: serve it with ketchup and call them fries.
This chicken curry recipe is one of the better things I’ve found online, maybe ever. It’s spicy without being too hot, it makes the house smell delicious, and it provides an excellent lesson in making your own curry paste. I’ve also skipped the meat and made a good vegan version with hardier veggies (eggplant and okra were the stars), braising for less time.
This sausage and cornbread dressing is one of my favorite recipes of all time, a dish present on every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter table set at my mom’s house. The original recipe lives in a non-descript church cookbook from somewhere in the Middle South in the 1970s, and it’s in danger of being destroyed with time and use. Another iteration lives in an email from 2008, which is terribly inconvenient. I decided to record it here for posterity, with some of my own notes added.
This savory cornbread stuffing hits all the taste centers in your primitive lizard brain, with fats and carbs and meats galore. Sorry/not sorry about the sticks of butter.
For the cornbread, make any recipe you’d like as long as it’s a full unsweetened round. I make mine in a cast-iron skillet. And if you don’t feel like making your own Creole seasoning, get a tin of Tony Chachere’s.
I made this plum and apple torte on Wednesday night, and it looked and felt wrong until I pulled it out of the oven. It didn’t seem like there was enough batter, the batter was too thick like cookie dough, there seemed to be too much fruit-to-batter ratio, and the springform pan was too large.
Then I pulled it out of the oven and the batter had puffed up into a perfect little plum cake, swallowing the fruit, lightly dusted with cinnamon and sugar. It’s a rustic little dessert, heavy with fruit but not too sweet. It couldn’t be any simpler, and it’s delicious — DELICIOUS — on Day Two.
Lauren Bruce is the founder of the award-winning blog Feministe, and co-founder of local magazine Think Lafayette (RIP 2011-2016). She loves Twitter, bikes, kids, animals, cooking, yarn, gardening, politics, and the auction hustle. For more, see her bio and greatest hits.