Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dirty bones and a pile of whole wheat pasta and cabbage...

Because this is Halloween week, I figured we better do something special for the Weekly Wednesday Treat Day! Dachshunds are known for being diggers... and look what Gus found for us - Dirty Bones!

Just kidding... these bones are light and crispy meringue cookies that we pipped into homely shaped bones. Two ingredients make up these meringues - sugar and egg whites! How easy is that? You can flavor them if you like - I used a dash of vanilla, but if you really wanted to spike up these bones, toss in a few drops of peppermint! While some recipes have you beat the two ingredients together, usually with a stabilizer like cream of tartar, I prefer the method we used in this recipe. I like this way, which we have used before, because it evenly dissolves the sugar into the whites and also warms the mixture up so you get the best volume possible. Cold egg whites won't give as great of a volume as warm ones will.

You can control the size of your bones by how hard you squeeze the pastry bag, the tip you use and how fast you move it - I used a 1/4" tip and made short, big, long and skinny bones. Once they were all pipped out, baked and cooled, I dirtied them up by dusting each one with Dutch-process cocoa powder using a soft pastry brush. You can use any kind of dark powder you like though - sweetened (hot) cocoa powder, chocolate malted powder or even a product like Nesquik. I opted for Dutch-process cocoa because these cookies are already plenty sweet and its smooth nature added just a whisper of chocolate. If you really wanted to go all out to serve these, fill up a shallow pan with dirt (ground up Oreos or chocolate wafer cookies) and stick the bones in like a graveyard! Do remember, you'll have to be gentle with these as they are somewhat fragile - however, don't fret if they break... just called them broken bones!

Jeff has never really been a big fan of cooked cabbaged... we've had it a couple of times in different recipes and while he didn't hate it, he didn't love it either. Well, I think we are making some headway as he commented that it actually worked well in this Spaghetti with Sweet Sausage and Cabbage I made for dinner tonight!

Once we had water boiling and seasoned, we dropped stiff strands of whole-wheat spaghetti into the pot and left it bubbling away to soften. As we did that, I started cooking the sausage in just a touch of oil to get the party started. Once crumbled and browned, we transferred the meaty bits to a plate, leaving the intense drippings behind, and tossed in thin slices of red onion, a touch of water and shreds from a large head of Savoy cabbage. Savoy cabbage has leaves that are more crinkled, are not as tightly packed together and are a bit thinner than an average head of regular green cabbage. However, they are not always easy to find - so if all you have is green cabbage, use it!

It will take a few minutes to stuff all that cabbage into your skillet, unless you have one humongous pan, so just keep stirring, covering and adding it until all of the sliced green leaves fit in. Once the cabbage is tender, the mixture is tossed with the pasta, along with enough reserved cooking water from the cooked pasta - this loosens everything up and creates a light sauce to keep the dish moist. To add a bright note right before serving, the dish is given a splash of white-wine vinegar while still warm. We typically always have hot Italian sausage on hand, but I went out and specifically got a few links of the sweet sausage to make this dish. I'm happy I made that choice - the spices inside that raw sausage married well with the milder cabbage and I think the hot version might have tried to take over and not allow the more delicate nature of the cabbage to come through.



  1. Joe -

    My mind must be in the gutter, but I don't see "broken bones" - I am definitely seeing something else ;-)


  2. Now that you mention it......

  3. ! Out of the gutter please!