Monday, January 30, 2012

Imbolc Celebration Menu

One of the ways in which I used to celebrate Imbolc/Candlemas was to inscribe a wish for the coming year onto a candle and leave the candle to burn. We would stay up all night with the candles to make sure there were no fires.

However you decide to mark the occasion, may you have a warm, nourishing meal on your table. Here is a homey winter meal (that's a little bit Slavic!) and a deliciously different appetizer. Hold on to your socks, as this post is recipe heavy!

Imbolc Celebration Menu

Baked Brie with Bacon Jam
Stuffed Cabbage
Balsamic Beets
Poppy Seed Noodles
Rye Bread with Caraway Seeds
Stuffed Figs in Wine

Bacon Jam

1.5 pounds applewood smoked bacon, cut into ½” pieces
2 medium red onions, finely diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup strong brewed coffee
1-2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
Smoked salt to taste (or just use regular salt and ¼ tsp liquid smoke)

In a large pot, cook the bacon until bacon is slightly browned and fat is rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but about 3 tablespoons of the fat.
Cook the onions in the bacon fat until onions are translucent, 7-8 minutes. Do not brown.
Add the vinegar and coffee. Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any stuck bits. Stir in the brown sugar.
Add bacon back to the pot.
Simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is thick and syrupy, about an hour. Watch it and stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick. When most of the liquid is evaporated and the sauce is thick, it is done. Stir in the paprika, ancho chile powder, and smoked salt.
Allow jam to cool. Store in jars in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Baked Brie with Bacon Jam

½ package puff pastry, thawed
1 wheel of brie
¼ cup bacon jam

Preheat oven to 425 F.
Take a sheet of puff pastry. Roll slightly on a lightly floured surface.
Place the wheel of brie (rind and all) on the sheet of pastry. Top with bacon jam.
Fold the puff pastry over the top of the cheese.
Bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Cabbage

8 cabbage leaves, lightly blanched in boiling water for 2-3 minutes
1 pound ground beef
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons oil
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
½ cup white wine
½ cup beef broth

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, egg, parsley and rice. Use your hands to thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
Divide the meat mixture into 8 portions and form into thick oval shapes.
Take one cabbage leaf and fill it with 1/8 of the meat mixture. Roll it burrito-style to form a package. Secure with toothpicks if needed. Repeat.
In a large skillet with a lid, heat the oil on medium heat. Cook the garlic for about 5 minutes, until softened. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and beef broth.
Add the tomato sauce.
Place the cabbage parcels seam-side down in the skillet. Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 40 minutes, basting often with the sauce.

Balsamic Beets

8 small beets (about 2 pounds)
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim the beets and place in a large pot. Cover with water. Boil until tender. Drain and allow beets to cool.
Remove the skins and trim the ends of the beets. Slice into rounds or wedges.
In a sauce pan, simmer the balsamic vinegar for 5-7 minutes, until thick. Add the beets and stir to coat.
Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Poppy Seed Noodles

1 1-pound bag wide egg noodles
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons poppy seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the noodle in salted boiling water until al dente.
In another pot, heat the oil on medium. Cook the shallot for 5-7 minutes until softened but not browned.
Add the poppy seeds.
Add the drained egg noodles and butter. Toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Rye Bread with Caraway Seeds

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees), divided
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon caraway seed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups rye flour
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Add brown sugar, caraway, oil, salt and remaining water; mix well. Stir in rye flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down; divide in half. Shape each half into a ball; place in two greased 8-in. round cake pans. Flatten balls to a 6-in. diameter. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Stuffed Figs in Wine

10 dried Mission figs
¼ cup soft goat cheese
2 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup red wine or port
¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Heat the oven to 325 F.
Slice the figs most of the way through, but do not cut them completely in half.
Mix together the cheeses and honey.
Stuff each fig half with a scant teaspoon of filling.
Place in a baking dish.
Mix together the wine and vinegar. Pour over the figs.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and formed a bubbly, thick sauce. Figs should be softened.

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