Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Cozy Little Dinner

I'm learning over and over again that 100-mile winter dinners are quite lengthy in time to make. So often I am getting caught with not having started anything the night before (not soaking the beans, not making bread the day before, not having homemade chicken stock at hand) that I am forced to get resourceful in the world of 'quick' 100-mile winter food. If you think about what's available: grains, starchy vegetables, pork/lamb shoulder, stewing beef & other sinew-y cuts, beans, dried peas, etc... it's obvious that these items need a bit of work to make them not only edible, but delicious. That's not to say that we won't splurge on quick-cooking cuts of meat (ala sirloin or t-bone steak) or fish once in a while, or make a quick frittata for dinner, but I feel obligated to venture out of the "go-to" realm of food. I've been at this for 3 and a half months now, and restricting one's diet to eggs and potatoes doesn't feel like progress. So, what does one make for a 100-mile dinner, on a rushed school-night at the tail-end of winter, being economical, and with the intention of being more creative than eggs and potatoes?

Some form of bean/cabbage hash and spiced, roasted potatoes has been the new thing. Okay, so it's not as creative as you thought...but I'm refining my cabbage cooking skills to get dishes that aren't overwhelmed, rather complimented by it's robust flavour. The hash is essentially a mix of caramelized onions, some root vegetable (I used little dice cubes of turnip), a green (spinach or kale), great white northern beans (pre-cooked to al-dente) and green cabbage, all simmered in chicken stock (or plain water and a bay leaf) with some dried herb thrown in, and a spoonful of creme fraiche stirred in at the end when the stock has reduced and absorbed. Season & serve with a hard, aged local cheese. Roast potatoes with whatever spice you fancy on the side :) Figure I'll ride the cabbage and beans thing for a while until that too feels like taking the easy road.

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