Braised Green Cabbage

Snowstorms and late nights at the office have me searching for winter comforts like herbal tea, down-filled blankets and warm, satisfying food. This is the season for braising and one of my favorite dishes comes from Molly at Orangette (adapted from Molly Stevens). Not only is this recipe inexpensive and simple to prepare, but it elevates the lowly cabbage to something silky and elegant.  I'd highly recommend it if you too are in need of a winter warm-up. 

I was thrilled to learn recently that I had won a Lowel Ego light set through the Menu for Hope raffle! I took the first photo in this post at 9:30 pm on a dark, blustery Chicago evening. These lights make a huge difference for evening food photography and I can't wait to experiment with them more. Thanks to Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen for contributing such a generous raffle prize and to Pim of Chez Pim for hosting the sixth annual Menu for Hope.  This year, the event raised nearly $79,000 for the UN World Food Program!

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Kalynskitchen - Woo Hoo!! How fun to see you’re already putting the lights to good use. They really are great, I know you will love them!

Kalynskitchen - Woo Hoo!! How fun to see you’re already putting the lights to good use. They really are great, I know you will love them!

Hannah Teter - This dish looks really delicious and I want to eat it. It is very colorful too. I’m confused about what the second picture. What are we looking at? That’s for leaving me wondering

Hannah Teter - This dish looks really delicious and I want to eat it. It is very colorful too. I’m confused about what the second picture. What are we looking at? That’s for leaving me wondering

dana - i’m very impressed with all that you do. i live in the northwest suburbs, let me know if i can help! i wish i’d come across your blog sooner… dana

dana - i’m very impressed with all that you do. i live in the northwest suburbs, let me know if i can help! i wish i’d come across your blog sooner… dana

Gemma - Thanks so much Kalyn! They are wonderful!
Hi Hannah – The second picture is of photo lighting equipment that I recently received. It helps with low-light photography.
Hi Dana — That’s very sweet. Thank you for visiting and introducing me to your wonderful blog. Looking forward to reading it!

Gemma - Thanks so much Kalyn! They are wonderful!
Hi Hannah – The second picture is of photo lighting equipment that I recently received. It helps with low-light photography.
Hi Dana — That’s very sweet. Thank you for visiting and introducing me to your wonderful blog. Looking forward to reading it!

Chipotle & Cumin Black Bean Soup

Earlier this week, I joined a handful of other Chicago cooks at the Hideout for the weekly winter Soup & Bread event. It was a full house and we helped to raise $400 for the Franciscan Outreach Mission through donations. Thank you to everyone who came out!

It was a delicious night. Check out the Soup & Bread cookbook and if you live in Chicago, be sure to stop by one of the upcoming Wednesday night events. A big thank you to Martha Bayne and the Hideout for continuing to organize events that benefit local and international organizations.

Chipotle & Cumin Black Bean Soup

Inspired by Bon Appetit

Ingredients

16 oz dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
Water
1 Tbl olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp ground cumin
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped*
Salt and black pepper
2 Tbl fresh lime juice
1/2 C sour cream (optional)
Cilantro (optional)

Method

In a large pot, bring the dried beans and 7 cups of water to
a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, adding more water if
necessary. Cook until the beans are tender. Salt to taste (salting earlier will
cause the skins to toughen).**

In a second large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat
and add the onion and bell peppers. Cook until tender and beginning to brown,
about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and chiles and cook for 1 minute. Add
the prepared beans. Cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Season to
taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the lime juice. Serve
with sour cream and cilantro to garnish.

*This soup is spicy. 
Reduce the chiles for a milder soup.

**Beans can be prepared a day or two ahead.  Allow to cool at room temperature and store
in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you prefer to use canned
beans, substitute 7 to 8 cups. Do not drain.

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Nupur - What an incredible heartwarming (and tummy-warming) project- and your soup looks wonderful!

Nupur - What an incredible heartwarming (and tummy-warming) project- and your soup looks wonderful!

Ed Schenk - I love Black Bean soup. Thanks for the recipe!

Ed Schenk - I love Black Bean soup. Thanks for the recipe!

Jada - I’ve been soup-crazed lately, and since I’m always chipotle-crazed, this will definitely hit the spot!

Jada - I’ve been soup-crazed lately, and since I’m always chipotle-crazed, this will definitely hit the spot!

Gemma - Thank you Nupur! I was honored to be a part of it.
No problem, Ed. Enjoy!
Good to hear, Jada. I hope you like it!

Gemma - Thank you Nupur! I was honored to be a part of it.
No problem, Ed. Enjoy!
Good to hear, Jada. I hope you like it!

Soup & Bread

Soup

For the second time in a matter of weeks, I'll be teaming up with the Hideout and some great Chicago cooks to raise money for those in need. 

Soup & Bread
at the Hideout
1354 W. Wabansia
Wednesday, February 3
5:30 to 8
Free

Yes,
free soup and bread!  Though, each week a local food pantry benefits
from the donations that diners are able to contribute.  The cooks
donate the ingredients and labor. I'm making a chipotle & cumin
black bean soup. (Not pictured -this is a poached egg soup). 

Others will be contributing:
lamb chili with red wine and black beans
smoky red lentil soup
chicken and winter vegetable soup
squash and pear soup
potato, butternut and leek soup

Chicagoans, join us! Take shelter from the cold and find comfort in a warm bowl of homemade soup. If you don't live nearby, be sure to check out the lovely Soup & Bread cookbook.

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Kaitlyn - That would be a lot of fun! I think I might come!

Kaitlyn - That would be a lot of fun! I think I might come!

Caleb - I found your food blog going through a few links. Glad I ran into it. Didn’t know that the food blog/recipe community was so big online. I love your posts!
I was wondering if you would like to exchange links. I’ll drop yours on my site and you drop mine on yours. Email at ramendays@yahoo.com or stop by my site and drop a comment. Let me know if you would like to do a link exchange.
Cheers,
Caleb
http://www.ramendays.com

Caleb - I found your food blog going through a few links. Glad I ran into it. Didn’t know that the food blog/recipe community was so big online. I love your posts!
I was wondering if you would like to exchange links. I’ll drop yours on my site and you drop mine on yours. Email at ramendays@yahoo.com or stop by my site and drop a comment. Let me know if you would like to do a link exchange.
Cheers,
Caleb
http://www.ramendays.com

Gemma - Hi Kaitlyn, that would be awesome if you came out. Please say hello!
Hi Caleb, I don’t participate in formal link exchanges, but I’ll be sure to look at your site. Thanks for stopping by.

Gemma - Hi Kaitlyn, that would be awesome if you came out. Please say hello!
Hi Caleb, I don’t participate in formal link exchanges, but I’ll be sure to look at your site. Thanks for stopping by.

Maple Pecan Bars

When I agreed to join other Chicago cooks and bakers tonight for the Hideout Haiti Benefit & Bake Sale, I knew I needed a recipe that I could make the night before and that would be easy to individually wrap for sale in compact, but rich quantities. While I'm not a big pecan pie fan – (dry pecans, corn syrup) – these maple pecan bars appealed to me with their thick caramel filling, cookie crust and maple syrup. The bars are soft when warm and crisp and brittle when cool. I made two batches last night, yielding two dozen squares. I hope you will come out to the Hideout to join us tonight and sample some of the wonderful contributions. All proceeds will be donated to Partners in Health, an organization that has been working on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years.

Update: The Hideout Benefit raised nearly $8,000! The bake sale contributed $752 of this total.  Thank you everyone!

Maple Pecan Bars

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking

Ingredients

For the crust:

1 1/4 C unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/3 C light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbl butter, at room temperature

For the filling:

6 Tbl butter
1/3 C pure maple syrup
2/3 C light brown sugar, packed
1/3 C heavy cream
2 C pecan halves

Method

Preheat oven to 350F.  Carefully line an 8x8x2 inch glass baking dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil, allowing the foil to extend over the sides of the dish.  Lightly butter the foil.

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for crust.  You will have a dry dough that sticks together when you press it between your fingers.  Press the crust mixture into the prepared baking dish in an even layer. Bake the crust, rotating half way through, until the edges are lightly browned and the top feels firm when gently touched. About 15 minutes.

After the crust is finished baking, begin preparing the filling by combining the butter, maple syrup and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until all the ingredients dissolve. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute.* Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the cream.  Then stir in the pecans. Pour the hot filling over the partially baked crust and spread evenly with a spatula.

Bake until filling is somewhat set when you shake the pan and small bubbles appear over the whole dish. About 25 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes.  Transfer dish to the refrigerator and allow to cool for an hour.

Gently lift the foil liner to remove from the baking dish. Gently peel away the foil and cut into pieces using a sharp knife.  Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

(*A few words of advice for bakers who get nervous about cooking sugars
on the stove top.  This is a pretty simple recipe to ease into the
process. The butter, brown sugar and maple syrup mixture will begin to
simmer along the sides, but wait until you are seeing more vigorous bubbles in the
middle of the mixture before you start timing the minute that the
recipe calls for the boil.)

show hide 18 comments

Sally - WOW! I just ate the pecan bar I bought at the hideout an hour ago and I have never eaten anything so delicious. Really. wow.

Sally - WOW! I just ate the pecan bar I bought at the hideout an hour ago and I have never eaten anything so delicious. Really. wow.

Sally - How many Weight Watchers points do you think they have?

Sally - How many Weight Watchers points do you think they have?

Kalynskitchen - Hi there,
It looks like you won my prize for Menu for Hope, woo hoo! (I always like it when it’s someone I know who wins.) As soon as you get the official e-mail from Pim, send me your address and I’ll get it ordered for you.
Congratulations!
Kalyn

Kalynskitchen - Hi there,
It looks like you won my prize for Menu for Hope, woo hoo! (I always like it when it’s someone I know who wins.) As soon as you get the official e-mail from Pim, send me your address and I’ll get it ordered for you.
Congratulations!
Kalyn

Gemma - That’s so flattering, Sally! I’m thrilled to hear that. I sincerely hope no one sits down to crunch the nutrition data on these…
I just saw that in the wrap-up, Kalyn. I’m so happy! I’ve been trying for that raffle item for a few years now! I’ll be in touch as soon as I hear from Pim. Thank you!

Gemma - That’s so flattering, Sally! I’m thrilled to hear that. I sincerely hope no one sits down to crunch the nutrition data on these…
I just saw that in the wrap-up, Kalyn. I’m so happy! I’ve been trying for that raffle item for a few years now! I’ll be in touch as soon as I hear from Pim. Thank you!

Samantha - Oh my. I wish I had one of these RIGHT now.

Samantha - Oh my. I wish I had one of these RIGHT now.

All Recipes - I’ve got to try this one out :)

All Recipes - I’ve got to try this one out :)

smilinggreenmom - That is awesome – way to go! I would like these but would have to omit the pecans due to nut allergies in our home. I would also love to make them with Kamut Khorasan Wheat flour for all the added nutrients! This looks fantastic – thanks and again “kudos”

smilinggreenmom - That is awesome – way to go! I would like these but would have to omit the pecans due to nut allergies in our home. I would also love to make them with Kamut Khorasan Wheat flour for all the added nutrients! This looks fantastic – thanks and again “kudos”

kickpleat - This is killing me. Looks amazingly rich and sweet. My kind of treat.

kickpleat - This is killing me. Looks amazingly rich and sweet. My kind of treat.

Gemma - Thanks Samantha and All Recipes. Give them a try! Baking with caramel can be slightly tricky at first, but the results are so good.
Glad you like them smilinggreenmom. I bet substitutions would work well here, but I’m not sure what a good pecan replacement would be. Let me know if you try them without the nuts.
Thanks kickpleat! They are so rich and lovely. I might have to make more this weekend.

Gemma - Thanks Samantha and All Recipes. Give them a try! Baking with caramel can be slightly tricky at first, but the results are so good.
Glad you like them smilinggreenmom. I bet substitutions would work well here, but I’m not sure what a good pecan replacement would be. Let me know if you try them without the nuts.
Thanks kickpleat! They are so rich and lovely. I might have to make more this weekend.

Hideout Haiti Benefit & Bake Sale

Cake

Chicago readers, please join me this Monday night (January 18th) for the Hideout Haiti Benefit
featuring music from the Waco Brothers and Eleventh Dream Day, a poster sale by Judgeworks, and a bake sale organized by Joanna of My Vegetable Blog and The Kitchn with volunteer contributors: Janine of Rustic Kitchen, Andrea of Forkable, Kathy of Stresscake, Daniel of Fruit Slinger and Waffleizer, and me — Gemma of Pro Bono Baker.

The benefit event is $20 and all door and sale proceeds will be donated to Partners in Health. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Show starts at 8 pm.

We need more bakers!  If you live in Chicago and would like to contribute about two dozen baked goods (or another homemade product) to the effort, please contact joannam(at)apartmenttherapy(dot)com.  Joanna has also generously agreed to pick up contributions on Sunday night for interested bakers that cannot make the benefit event. Please contact her as soon as possible to coordinate.

If you can't make it to the event and would still like to contribute to Partners in Health, you can do so below. Partners in Health has been working on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years and, along with other organizations, is in desperate need of support to meet the needs of those affected by the crisis in Haiti.

Stand With Haiti

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Joy - Good for you!

Joy - Good for you!

Gemma - Hi Joy, it was a lot of fun. The Hideout has some great fundraising events throughout the year for many different causes. I hope to be involved with a few again this year.

Gemma - Hi Joy, it was a lot of fun. The Hideout has some great fundraising events throughout the year for many different causes. I hope to be involved with a few again this year.