Calgarians have given me a lengthy list of requests for recipes for their favourite restaurant dishes, and I was glad to see one of my all-time favourites pop up repeatedly: the charred cabbage with mimolette cheese at Pigeonhole.
It’s a brilliant way to cook cabbage, one that has inspired me to make riffs on it for years. The jalapeño vinegar-spiked mayonnaise was a revelation!
When I first took their recipe for a spin, I happened to have some drained chickpeas by the stove, which I crisped in a hot skillet (with a little oil) after the cabbage came out, and they were so delicious on top. It’s a great spin on the original if you’d like to boost protein for dinner at home.
The bananas foster pie at Bridgette Bar has almost as loyal a following. I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s a brilliant combo: salty pretzels in the crust — they use pretzels and graham cracker crumbs, but I used all gluten-free pretzels so I could share with a celiac friend — caramelized bananas, a cinnamon-spiced custard and an Italian meringue on top, though I made a Swiss meringue, which is a little less intimidating for the home cook!
Thanks to chefs Blair Clemis and Sterling Cummings for sharing these recipes!
Pigeonhole’s Charred Cabbage with Mimolette
Pigeonhole has always been about showcasing great vegetables, especially in its early days. This dish is no exception, taking an ingredient often overlooked in cabbage and applying a cooking method more typically used on meats to create a dish that has really stood the test of time.
It is a simple presentation that showcases great cabbage from Sudo Farms here in southern Alberta and a relatively unknown cheese: mimolette.
The method of charring the cabbage, then roasting it in a generous amount of butter, results in an end product that is tender and juicy with a deeply caramelized crust and that eats closer to a steak than what most people would expect.
A jalapeño crema lends a bit of mild heat and shavings of rich mimolette over the top helps to round out the mild bitterness inherent to the cabbage.
Courtesy of Blair Clemis, regional chef for the Concorde Group.
- 1 head green cabbage
- Jalapeño vinegar (below)
- Mimolette cheese
- 4 parts seeded jalapeño
- 2 parts water
- 2 parts vinegar
- 1 part sugar
To make the jalapeño vinegar, blend all the ingredients in a high speed blender and season to taste with salt. Use this to season your mayo of choice (Hellmann’s, Kewpie, etc.). Usually about 2:1 mayo to jalapeño vinegar is a good jumping off point.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Cut a two-inch thick cabbage steak from a head of green cabbage. Try to keep the stem intact as it helps hold the cabbage together during the cook.
Heat a heavy bottom pan (ideally cast iron) over high heat until just smoking hot.
Add 2 to 3 tbsp of canola oil to the pan and add the cabbage in. There should be enough oil to help with the contact of the cabbage to the pan, but not so much that it’s swimming in it.
Be careful as the pan is likely to spit a bit of hot oil at this point.
Continue searing until you see a dark brown crust form across the surface at the cabbage. Once seared place a lid on the pan — foil will work too — and bake in oven for about 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and place pan back on the heat. Flip cabbage over so the seared side is facing up and begin searing the other side. Now we can add salt. Season heavily. (A lot of the salt will “wash off” in future steps, so be generous.)
Once colour has began to form on the other side, add 3 to 4 tbsp of butter and allow to foam in pan. Tilt the pan slightly toward you so the butter pools near the handle, and while using a large spoon, scoop the foaming butter and pour it over the cabbage. Continue basting until cabbage is tender.
A good indicator of doneness is if the stem of the cabbage is soft when pressed with a finger. Be careful, it will be hot.
Once done, remove the cabbage from the pan to drain and discard the fat.
On a warm plate, add a healthy dollop of the jalapeño crema and top with the cabbage. Shave mimolette generously over the top to cover and serve.
Bananas Foster Cream Pie
Sterling Cummings of the Concorde Group was kind enough to share the recipe for their bananas foster pie.
Of course, in the restaurant world you never have to make just one pie, so I scaled it back to make a single pie and swapped a Swiss meringue for an Italian meringue, which is made by whisking a hot sugar syrup into egg whites.
- 3 cups lightly broken pretzels
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 packet plain gelatin
- 2 ½ cups milk (or try coconut milk for a banana cream-coconut cream combo!)
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise
- 2-3 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup, Roger’s Golden syrup or honey
- 2-3 tbsp rum (optional)
Bash your pretzels into relatively fine crumbs — there will be a range — in a heavy duty Ziploc bag with a rolling pin, or by pulsing in a food processor. (This is how I like to do it.)
Blend in the sugar and softened butter until the mixture is well combined, and press it into the bottom and up the sides of a nine-inch pie plate.
Refrigerate or freeze until firm and preheat your oven to 350 F.
Bake your crust for about 15 minutes until pale golden and set. Set aside to cool completely.
To make the custard, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk.
Put the gelatin into a small dish and cover it with cold water. Let it sit to soften while you make the custard.
In a saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat your milk to a simmer. Whisk a bit of the warm milk into your egg mixture. (I use a ladle or measuring cup to scoop it out — add a couple to your egg mixture, whisking vigorously.) Then slowly pour the warmed egg mixture into the hot milk on the stove, whisking as you pour.
Heat until it thickens and bubbles, reduce the heat and cook for about a minute, then remove from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin and butter.
Set a sieve over a bowl and pour the custard through, whisking or stirring with a spatula to help push it through the sieve and get rid of any lumps.
Put a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin forming, and let cool to lukewarm.
To sauté the bananas, set a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and when it starts to foam, add the bananas.
Cook until they start to turn golden, then gently flip and add the brown sugar, syrup and rum (if using) and cook for another minute until syrupy.
Place the caramelized bananas in the bottom of the pie crust (along with any caramel from the bottom of the pan) and pour the custard overtop, smoothing the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.
To make the meringue, whisk to combine the egg whites and sugar in a wide glass or stainless steel bowl you can set over a pot of simmering water.
Bring an inch or two of water to a simmer, place the bowl overtop and stir frequently until the mixture is very warm, turns clear and the sugar dissolves. (You can feel whether or not it’s still gritty by rubbing a bit between your fingers.)
Beat with an electric mixer for several minutes until it thickens and forms stiff peaks, like shaving foam.
Immediately pipe or spread over your cooled pie, shaping dramatic peaks with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Use a blowtorch to brown it, or run it under the broiler for a minute or two until deep golden.
Makes 1 pie.
Serves: About 8.