Whether it’s January, the time of draconian resolutions to eat only healthy food, or any other time of year, I chafe at the idea of denying myself delicious food. It took me awhile to figure it out, but diets don’t work for me. I’ve found that striving for moderation is the key to eating well and feeling good about myself. (For smart thinking on diets, you’ll want to read this post from Winnie Abramson of Healthy Green Kitchen — and don’t miss her Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls.)
It is with that perspective, I’m writing about two wildly different, but equally satisfying dishes that bowled me over this weekend. Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern in New York developed Kale, Cabbage and Carrot Salad for the Wall Street Journal’s Slow Food Fast column. A colorful, healthful mix of wintry vegetables is tossed with a creamy, homemade mayo dressing flavored with the briny kick of capers, garlic and fresh lemon juice. What’s not to like about this versatile side that complements anything from a piece of grilled fresh salmon to a puffy, creamy and cheesy egg dish (which is what I served with it).
At the Farmers Market, I picked up a bunch of colorful purple-green, heirloom kale, bright orange carrots, a tiny cabbage and some candy sweet onions.
This salad, which comes together in about 30 minutes, is tossed in the flavorful dressing and then rests before serving. The vegetables soften a bit and the flavors marry.
The approachable Chef Anthony took to Twitter to extol the virtues of the salad, noting that it’s well-suited to a number of heartier vegetables, including kohlrabi and radishes. Unlike most green salads, if you can make this one last to another day, it holds its crunch beautifully and the flavors intensify. In addition to the assertive flavors, my crew loved the slaw-like feel to it and noted how well it would pair with a BBQ meal. I’d like to try the salad next time substituting green apple for the carrot. And, I’m thinking chard would be a worthy stand-in for kale, too.
Leaving the healthy for the decadent, let’s talk about New York Times Dining columnist Melissa Clark’s Butterscotch-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls. She noted the inspiration for her sweet-and-spicy update on a breakfast classic came after a pre-holiday shopping trip to Ikea, where she was enveloped by the spicy aroma of the place.
These indulgent rolls make quite an impression, but also are easy to make. The Bug handled many of the steps with my supervision, and baking them is a fun project for the weekend, when chores and activities can be done while the dough goes through two rises.
I love when flavor gets “layered in,” to a dish, and that’s exactly how Melissa approached these rolls. With its sweet-and-smoky notes, brown sugar is mixed into the dough, filling and glaze. Ground cardamom flavors and perfumes the dough, while nutty brown butter is the base for the cinnamon filling, which is brightened by the addition of pleasantly pungent freshly-grated nutmeg.
Bourbon, with its hints of molasses, vanilla and cinnamon, takes the butterscotch glaze to a new plane. We couldn’t get enough of this rich, intensely-flavored sauce, which would make a luxurious topping for a spicy apple or pumpkin cake, too.
Here again are the links to the Kale, Cabbage and Carrot Salad and Butterscotch-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls. You’ll enjoy the instructive video that Melissa made to accompany her column. I hope your year has begun on both healthy and sweet notes!