Ma Petite Chou

After all of last week’s bacon, beer and cake (and, of course, the unfortunate pants incident), I decided to declare this week the week of the vegetable. Hooray for veggies! And whole pairs of jeans!

I recently came across this recipe, featuring cabbage (and not much else, actually – the recipe is supremely simple), and decided to try it on for size as Tuesday’s dinner. The result was so satisfying that I decided to re-declare this week as the week of the cabbage. Hooray for cabbage! Cabbage is, in my opinion, a highly underrated and misunderstood vegetable. (Except in France, where ma petite chou - my little cabbage - is used as a term of endearment. Adorable, n'est pas? Those French are onto something.) Usually busy being smothered by mayonnaise in coleslaw or playing second fiddle to boiled corned beef, cabbage is crisp and leafy and downright delicious, and deserves to be cast as the leading lady every now and again, I say.

So, on Tuesday night, cabbage was the Kate Winslet in the cast of components for my tasty dinner of cabbage with hot sauce. I used Savoy cabbage instead of green cabbage, and added a capful of toasted sesame oil to the soy sauce/hot sauce mix, because I was feeling fancy, that’s why. Savoy cabbage is often described as the king or queen of cabbage, mostly because it’s the sweetest, tenderest of its species. It’s also the belle of the cabbage patch ball – it has pretty, crinkly, puckered leaves instead of plain old smooth ones. Eating Savoy cabbage is kind of like putting on your Sunday best – your pretty, lace petticoat instead of your everyday taffeta. You know, if you’re Laura Ingalls Wilder.

In keeping with cabbage week, Wednesday night’s dinner featured kale (which, incidentally, is in the cabbage family) with chickpeas, pancetta, and asiago cheese. Let me tell you something about kale. It seems sort of scary, what with all of its giant, husky, deep-green, curly-tipped leaves, but boy, that stuff is good. It’s wintery and fresh and satisfyingly crunchy, if you’re careful not to overcook it. Also, kale is a super food. I don’t mean it’s a super food in the sense of, like, “hey, that kale sure is swell.” I mean it’s a superfood, and should get a blue spandex suit of its own. Not only does kale contain certain cancer-fighting and cell-detoxification compounds, one cup of the stuff provides obscene amounts of vitamins A, K, C, E, fiber, calcium, potassium and iron, as well as over 25% of your recommended daily dose of manganese.* So, you know, that’s good. I bet if A-Rod had discovered the super powers behind this particular form of cabbage, he would have put down the steroids and started munching stalks of kale. Chase Utley…take note.

Above, the beginnings of kale with chickpeas, pancetta and asiago. (Please excuse my blurry photography. Also, the lighter looking rectangles are hunks of leftover cabbage. I figured since they're cousins, they wouldn't mind sharing a pot). Below, the cheesy, cheesy end.

Kale with Chickpeas, Pancetta and Asiago

I had a few helpings of this as a meal for dinner, but it would also make a great side dish for roast chicken or pork. If you’re eating it as a meal, this dish serves about 4. As a side dish, it could serve about 8.


  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
  • 6-8 cups kale, tough stems removed, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chick peas (rinsed and drained, if using canned)
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper (to taste – I used about ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper)
  • 1 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese


Preheat your broiler. In a deep pan or Dutch oven, sauté the pancetta over medium heat until crispy, then remove from the pan. Add the onions and garlic, and sweat until soft and translucent (if the pan seems too dry, add a splash of olive oil to get things going). Add the chickpeas, kale and chicken stock and simmer, letting the kale wilt slightly and the chickpeas get warm (add the kale in batches, if there doesn’t seem to be room enough in the pot). When the kale has softened up, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, and let simmer until most of the liquid has reduced from the pan.

If using a regular pan, transfer the kale mixture to a baking dish (the dish is going under the broiler, so you’ll want to make sure you use a pan or dish suited to withstand the heat – a Dutch oven or glass baking dish should be fine). Sprinkle the crisped pancetta on top of the kale mixture, and then top with the shredded cheeses. Place the dish under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

*Thanks, World’s Healthiest Foods website (whfoods.com).


A cheerful mix of bacon, Ryan Adams, and lemon cake

I was feeling sort of blue this week. Maybe it was the end of my food-and-family-filled Midwest extravaganza, or the fact that it snowed all over Boston. Again. Or maybe it was because of the 4-inch long rip that appeared down the back pocket seam of my dark skinny jeans on Friday - while I was still in them. At work. That definitely could have been it. Then again, maybe I was feeling blue because I subconsciously wanted to match my emotional state to the color of my lips and fingertips - after the heat in my apartment decided to stop working. At any rate, one thing was clear when Friday afternoon finally rolled around: I needed bacon, Ryan Adams, and lemon cake.

First, the bacon. Kath and I went to the BusyBee for breakfast on Saturday, and after squeezing into the small, crowded box lined with teal-blue booths, I was already starting to feel better. At least, I was starting to regain some feeling in my fingertips. The way I think of it, the BusyBee is to restaurants what Merrells are to shoes: sturdy, no-nonsense, and full of older people. And they do a great breakfast. We each had two eggs over-easy, with bacon, homefries and wheat toast. Nothing fancy, just good, old-fashioned breakfast. Yum.

Saturday night brought the second ingredient in my anti-blues cocktail: Ryan Adams. Mr. Adams and his band were set to play at the Orpheum Theater in Boston and, after much hand-wringing and Craigslisting, Katherine managed to get tickets. Our friends Lexi and Josh came down from New Hampshire and we all ate macaroni and cheese and drank beer before heading over to the concert, where we drank more beer and swayed to the folksy rock beats of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals. It was fabulous. They played a bunch of songs I recognized, and many which I did not. For me, the highlights were Two, Oh My Sweet Carolina, a cover of Wonderwall, and my favorite, Come Pick Me Up. Everytime I heard the "I wish you would..." part of the song, I felt slightly squeezy in my chest. I think because I love those lyrics. So sad and vivid and sort of funny. And they come with harmonica riffs. Chest squeezy ones. ...Whatever, just listen to the song.

Today is Sunday, and it's rainy, so I decided to make lemon yogurt cake. Not that I mind rain on Sundays - Sunday rain happens to be the coziest kind of rain. I just thought that lemon yogurt cake would be the perfect way to frost the cheerful cookie of a weekend I've been having.

I was right. This cake is wonderfully light and delicious, with an airy, moist crumb and a subtly bright, fresh lemon flavor. It made the whole apartment smell eggy and lemony, like summer. Almost made me forget it's February. ...Almost. Anyway, this cake definitely lends itself to rainy Sundays - make it while you wait for your laundry to dry and listen to Easy Tiger, and then eat it while you watch the Oscars Red Carpet, and be thankful that you get to eat lemon yogurt cake while Kate Beckinsale (who I bet has never eaten lemon yogurt cake) has to waltz her tiny self down a long carpet in a corset and 5-inch heels only to sit through a 5-hour ceremony to not get an award. Yeah... I choose cake.

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten's recipe in Barefoot Contessa At Home


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Confectioner's sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto a baking rack over a sheet pan or platter. While the cake is still warm, poke a few holes in the top of the cake with a fork, then pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool. Sift confectioner's sugar over the cake, to decorate.

Enjoy with homemade blueberry sauce or a cup of hot tea.


On Things That Are New

Um, hi.

So, uh, I'd like to introduce you to my, um, my blog. You know, like, officially. Olivejuiced, meet readers (ahem, mom and dad), readers, meet olivejuiced.

...Great! Now that all the introductions are out of the way, this is much less awkward.

So, in honor of my new relationship with the interwebs (I blog!), I'd like to discuss some other new things:

1. My future as a culinary student. (Yay!)

Starting June 9th, I become a newly clogged and elastic-panted student at The French Culinary Institute in New York City. (Yaaay!) I imagine there will be a lot of yelling and burning and slicing and sore feet - it will be intense and tiring and delicious. I can't wait.

2. My beautiful, large, inexpensive apartment in New York City.

...Hah. Whatever, I know it's out there somewhere.

3. My silk printed dress from Anthropologie.

It has pockets! And a lovely scoop neck. And pockets!

4. Casey's status as a legal drinker.

Congrats, little Casels! Here are some commemorative photos of the momentous occasion, just for you.

I'd forgotten how much I love Madison - even in February. It smells like lingering smoke, stale beer, cold air and fried food. I've heard that just standing on State Street makes your arteries clog.

But, it was fun. We chomped on beer-boiled brats, Gritty burgers (with Gritty sauce), and fried cheese curds. We slurped fresh ice cream from Babcock, and we drank beer from a boot (toe up). We also jogged around the Capitol, ice-walked on Lake Mendota and did hot yoga. Needless to say, it was quite a trip. And, best of all, I got to see my very favorite Badgers.

At any rate, dear reader(s), it's been an exciting couple of months, and I imagine things will only get more interesting, what with a move to the big apple and freshly pressed chef pants on the horizon. I will do my best to keep you posted.