When I think “cottage cheese” I think of my grandmother who would greet me, growing up, with an offer of diet chocolate soda (she stocked that stuff like it came from the fountain of youth) and cottage cheese with sugar and cinnamon. The texture of cottage cheese was so foul to me that when choosing a picture for the top of this post, I couldn’t even stomach what came up on Google Images. Somehow, though, I’ve been thinking about cottage cheese lately. Is that just a grandma thing? Has yogurt displaced it? Are there any young people who eat cottage cheese? If so, are you one of them? Please tell me more in the comments.
It’s time for chopped liver to make a comeback. I mean think about it: chefs flaunt their charcuterie and pâtés at places like Bar Boulud in New York and Salt’s Cure here in L.A. And what is chopped liver if not liver pâté’s chunky Jewish cousin? I grew up eating the stuff–my grandmother used to warn (as I mentioned in this old post), “Don’t eat that, it’s an organ meat!”–and to this day I’m not quite sure what she meant by that. But you’ll be surprised–if you put this on your coffee table with some crackers and a few whisky drinks (Craig made Manhattans) it’ll get quickly gobbled up.
“What do we need that for?” asked my grandmother, and she had a good point.
You see my whole family, well most of my family–mom, dad, grandma, grandpa–came to see my Brooklyn apartment on Friday, and after a lovely lunch at Miriam (where we shared hummus and I ate an Israeli breakfast), I led my parents and grandparents across the street to The Chocolate Room. It was there that we ordered a brownie sundae and my grandmother protested. “It’s too much food,” she said, shaking her head disapprovingly.
And then it came. The waitress set it down and suddenly my grandmother was transformed; she lifted a spoon with profound determination and dove in with all her might. My whole family attacked at once and the dessert before us vanished in 0.33343 seconds. This proves something I’ve suspected for a long time: nobody can resist a brownie sundae.
Last week, on a chilly night, I wanted a healthy, inexpensive dinner. I popped open one of my top five favorite cookbooks ever, Molly Stevens’s “All About Braising,” and re-read her recipe for braised cabbage. I’d read it a few times before but was never quite convinced that braised cabbage could taste all that good.
Boy, was I wrong! There’s a reason she calls it “World’s Best Braised Green Cabbage”–it’s tender, flavorful, and, paired with Rachel Wharton’s Bodega Beans, a deeply satisfying, cold-night vegetarian dinner.
Here’s the quick version. Preheat your oven to 325. Oil a 9 X 13 baking dish. Cut a 2 lb green cabbage into 8 wedges. Lay the wedges in the dish. Then scatter one thickly sliced yellow onion over the top, along with 1 large carrot cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil over the top, and 1/4 cup chicken stock or water. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes; cover TIGHTLY with foil and bake 1 hour. Remove, flip the cabbage over, re-cover with the foil, and bake another hour. Once the cabbage is tender, remove the foil, increase heat to 400 and let the vegetables brown, another 15 minutes more. That’s it! Sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve.
As a nice corollary to this recipe, I wrote a piece a few months ago about my grandmother’s boiled cabbage from childhood. I didn’t have the stamina to submit it everywhere for publication, so I’ve decided to publish it below. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Molly’s cabbage.
Jon Robin Baitz is the Pulitzer-prize nominated playwright of such plays as “The Substance of Fire (which starred a young Sarah Jessica Parker), “The Film Society” (which starred a young Nathan Lane), “Three Hotels,” “A Fair Country,” and, most recently, “The Paris Letter.” You may know him better, though, as the creator of the hit ABC show, “Brothers and Sisters.” My grandmother watches that show religiously and, to her, Jon Robin Baitz is something of a god.
Which is why, a few weeks ago, I was a bit startled to see that a god subscribed to my blog. Well, actually, I wasn’t sure. You see the form above where you enter your e-mail address? To make that work, I use a program called Feedblitz. And every so often I visit Feedblitz to see who’s signed up: I’m often surprsied by the names I find–hey, didn’t I go to school with him? Didn’t he beat me up?–and I was doubly surprised to see the name Jon Robin Baitz right there as the most recently subscribed.
Here’s where I took a risk: I decided to e-mail this Jon Robin Baitz to see if he was the famous writer Jon Robin Baitz. Who knows, maybe there are thousands of Jon Robin Baitzes in this world, all from the same unoriginal parents? I wrote a simple message: “Are you the writer and did you just subscribe to my blog? If so, I’m incredibly flattered!” A few minutes later a response came: “I am the writer, yep, but more than that; I love your blog, so much, and your book, and I am a Brooklynite, and you are a tonic.”