Years ago when I was just a teenager one of my jobs in my father’s restaurants was to type up the daily menus. Some of the menu items have stuck in my mind more than others, as favorites of those who regularly ate there. Welch Rarebit was one of them, (Perhaps because I liked it so much myself). In any case, I sometimes feel sad that it seems to have disappeared from the memory of people my age and is completely unknown to a lot of others. Although usually served over crispy toast I have often used it in other ways as well, so for Thanksgiving I thought I’d like to incorporate it into a vegetable side dish. So I came up with this Welch rarebit Cauliflower.
Welsh Rarebit Cauliflower
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to brown the flour. Whisk in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add beer and whisk to combine. Pour in cream and cheese, whisk until well combined and smooth; this will take 4 to 5 minutes. Add hot sauce.
- Place a steamed whole head of cauliflower in deep serving dish, pour rarebit over it and top with homemade golden buttery toast crumbs (crumble two slices of white bread – sprinkle lightly with oil and brown in 400 degree Fahrenheit oven about 5-10 minutes), crispy bacon bits, and red pepper flakes.
- Garnish with fresh herbs or other vegetables as desired.
Who doesn’t love chocolate cake? I know I do. And I have to confess that I am very happy with a box cake mix. I have made scratch cakes and there are some that are great. But if you are in a hurry, a box chocolate cake mix does just fine. Especially if you dress it up with a homemade frosting. We recently were asked to make some desserts for a party and a chocolate cake was requested. I remembered a fudge frosting I had found in a Bon Appetitseveral years ago. Really simple but oh so delicious. So we baked up a fudge chocolate cake in three layers and spread this on it — everyone loved it!
- Bring cream, brandy and butter to simmer in a large heavy saucepan whisking until butter melts.
- Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.
- Add sour cream and whisk to blend.
- Refrigerate frosting until thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
By now you have most likely planned your entire Thanksgiving dinner, but even if you have, I’d like to suggest a simple side dish you might want to consider adding to the meal, or taking with you if you’ve been invited to someone else’ s home for dinner. The idea occurred to me as I passed our rather empty gardens and spied several rows of leeks still standing strong and holding their own out in the cold.
Since the earliest days in the Community, it has been our custom to serve the traditional Cape Cod Thanksgiving meal, which always included creamed onions. Then, when our gardens began to produce beautiful leeks we started using them instead. Many people prefer leeks because of their milder and more subtle flavor, and now they have become a “must have” addition to our holiday menu.
If you have never been introduced to leeks cooked in this particular way, they might very well become a favorite with you once you give them a try.
- Rinse leeks well, as soil can often be caught between leaves.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the leeks and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 30 minutes.
- Add the thyme, sage, white pepper, flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
- Add the cream and bring to a boil.
- Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add sherry, and season with salt.
It is now Lent. And I should be writing about very Lenten things like soups and bread, not desserts. That will follow later in the season. I’m hoping to do my favorite beef mushroom barley soup in a couple of weeks. So even though a lot of us give up desserts for Lent, I’d like to share my recipe for bread pudding, which can double as a great and satisfying breakfast. It is so wonderful served up warm with whipped cream, or cut into shapes to serve as individual desserts, or as a great snack in the middle of the afternoon. I wanted to make it the way I remember us making it in the early days of the sisterhood, which was to mix up the cubes of bread with butter and cinnamon sugar before adding the eggs and milk or cream. We also used whatever bread was leftover and saved — white and whole wheat, rye… you name it when making the bread pudding. I do love a homemade white bread for this, and especially something like brioche, which I will sometimes make up in large batches and have in the freezer for this sort of use. But that did not happen for this bread pudding, so I was really happy to find a loaf of the cinnamon swirl bread that we gave as gifts for Christmas! But you can use just about any firm white bread for this.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Butter a 9 X 13 casserole.
- Place bread cubes in a large bowl, add melted butter and mix well.
- Mix together 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon, and add to bread cube mixture again mixing well, so all the cubes are coated.
- In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup sugar, milk, eggs, cream and vanilla, then stir into bread cube mixture.
- Pour all into prepared pan.
- Top with additional cinnamon sugar.
- Bake in 350 oven about 45 to 50 minutes and pudding is puffed and golden.
- Cool slightly. Can be served warm, or chilled and served cold.
- Top with whipped cream if desired.
We leave our leeks in the garden to enjoy through the winter months. I took advantage of the January thaw to pluck a few for inspiration. I love using things up in a creative way, and I remembered that I had a few bags of croutons in the freezer, left over from our “O Antiphon” Party at Christmas, where we had served up a hot cheese dip on hollowed out bread bowls. I immediately thought of a savory bread pudding. I also found some sauteed mushrooms in the freezer — a treasure! So I added a little celery, some eggs and cream, and voila! I had tonight’s side dish for a roast, or today’s lunch with a salad and crusty bread.
Savory Bread Pudding with Leeks and Mushrooms
Savory Bread Pudding With Leeks And Mushrooms
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.
- Melt butter or bacon fat in large skillet over medium high heat.
- Add mushrooms, leeks, celery and saute until soft, about 10 to 12 minutes; add thyme and cook about a minute more until fragrant.
- In a large bowl, mix together bread cubes and vegetable mixture.
- Whisk together heavy cream, eggs, salt and ground pepper in another bowl.
- Mix custard into bread and vegetables, then transfer to prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle grated cheese over top.
- Bake pudding uncovered until set and top is golden, about 35 to 40 minutes.