Red Cabbage

I usually make French-style red cabbage, with red wine and bay leaves. But tonight I wanted something a bit sweeter, thicker, warmer. More in keeping with a British November night.

In an oven-proof casserole, fry some lardons (or the fat end of a piece of ham, which is what I had), an onion and a leek until it’s all nicely sizzling and browning off. Add shredded red cabbage, and a Bramley apple chopped up (cored but not peeled). Stir around and add ground cloves, salty chicken stock, a couple of glugs of Starbuck’s Gingerbread syrup (or crumbled ginger biscuits, or gingerbread) and a glug of Apple Balsamic Vinegar.

Cook in a low oven, Gas Mark 3-ish. An hour will cook it, but you can keep it going for longer if you like it softer.

We had it with crispy pork belly. Taste before you serve, and balance the sweet/sour/salt. You could add chestnuts, but adjust the seasoning as they can leach the salt out of the sauce.

Planning Ahead

Now I've gone back to work, I'm finding it diffcult to guarantee enough energy to cook properly in the evenings. Plus it's COLD, and we want the sort of food that takes ages and ages. And we're poor. So I've been cooking several stews or similar over the weekend, that can just be finished off and reheated. Today I've made:

  • red cabbage in red wine, with onions, bacon, goose dripping, thyme, bay and lots of pepper – to be finished with vacuum packed chestnuts and to eat with gammon steaks and baked potato if we're really hungry
  • beef braised with fresh ginger, star anise, slices of mandarin orange, lots of carrots, beef stock and sake

I've got something with celeriac and blue cheese in the pipeline, but that will have to be last minute. There's a curry sauce and veg waiting to be stir-fried with some chicken. Which makes four huge meals and puts me ahead of the game. In the past few weeks we've had:

  • goose legs cooked in fat with garlic and thyme in the slow-cooker, fished out and flashroasted
  • venison liver braised with bacon and lots of red onion in stock and redcurrant jelly
  • soft tortillas stuffed with beans, or veg, or chilli, coated with spicy tomato sauce, topped with cheese and baked
  • giant suet herb dumplings cooked in thin veg soup

The larger Christmas meats are beginning to show up now, especially in freezers, and I'm thinking about how to do those and then portion them up.

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Christmas Dinner 2007

Found some goose breast crowns in LIDL, weighing about a kilo each, for £8. The instructions were to roast at 200 (Gas Mark 6) for an hour, and that worked really well. I was using a single small oven this year, and that let me roast the potatoes underneath and the celery stuffing on the bottom.

Two of them gave off about a pint of good quality fat, and we carved off two whole breasts from each one, one breast per person. That was a large portion of solid meat, and there was a spare breast for slices if seconds were required.

The German meat stall at the Sheffield Christmas Market sold sealed longlife bags of shredded red cabbage cooked in apple juice, I microwaved one of them as a veg.

Dad did his oriental braised sprouts, and carrots with soy sauce and star anise. There were some steamed new potatoes, as well as the roasties.

Plain gravy made in the goose roasting tin, with some Chardonnay left over from Christmas Eve supper.

EDIT: Whoops, forgot, apple butter sauce with cloves as well

Bottle of Quinze President with main course.

A Waitrose "richly fruited" christmas pudding, with cream or white sauce, and a tiny bottle of Royal Tokay wine.

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Braised Red Cabbage with Preserved Lemons

We have braised red cabbage a lot in the winter. I have made it for years, and have finally settled on the Chou Rouge a la Limousine (with red wine, spices and chestnuts) recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. (By the way, if you haven't already done so, visit http://blogs.salon.com/0001399/2002/08/25.html). My Mam used to make it with brazil nuts in. I've found this variation in delicious December 2005, from Tom Norrington-Davies. He calls it a tagine, although he swiftly admits it isn't, but it does have a middle-eastern tinge to it.

Serves 6, 97 cals per.

  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled but whole
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 medium (800gms) red cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small preserved lemons (large would be home-made, I suspect, while small are Belazu size)
  • 2 tbsps sultanas
  • 2 tbsps verjuice or wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 125 ml fresh vegetable stock or water
  • chopped fresh coriander to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4. Heat the olive oil in a casserole and fry garlic, cloves, and cinnamon briskly until garlic just starts to brown. Add cumin and onion, stir to coat. Add cabbage and stir again.

Halve the lemons, discard the insides and slice the peel thinly. Add to the cabbage with all other ingredients, stir well, cover and bake for 50 minutes until cabbage is soft.

Remove from oven, keep covered, and rest 30 minutes.

Fish out the cinnamon and serve, topped with chopped fresh coriander if you want.

Not sure about browning garlic, that's not usually a good thing. Why the resting? It's a veggie version, no bacon or ham or anything.

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Gado Gado

This was on offer at some of the Indonesian and Surinamese resturants we went to in Amsterdam, and I've seen it around before, but never got round to trying it. It looked like a veggie version of bang bang chicken, which I do love. This recipe is from delicious magazine from January 2005, and looks as good a place to start as any. Edited down for 2, 389 cals per serving. They emphasise that you should use all the ingredients, even if the list seems a little peculiar at first – which may say something about their target audience, because it looked quite reasonable to me.

  • Quarter of a small white cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 50 gms mangetout or French beans
  • 125 gms beansprouts
  • Half a cucumber
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled but for 5 minutes only, peeled and sliced

Sauce

  • 2 generous tbps crunchy peanut butter
  • Half tbsps ketjap manis or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or light soy
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Quarter tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 1 shallot or half small onion, finely chopped
  • Half handful rice or prawn crackers, roughly crushed

 

Blanch the cabbage. Cook the mangetout for 2 minutes and put into cold water. Blanch the beansprouts if you want.

Peel the cucumber and slice in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds and slice it into crescent shapes.

Mix all the veg and divide between bowls. Top with egg and season with black pepper.

Put the peanut butter in a bowl with 200 ml hot water, the sauces, juice and chilli. Let sit for a few minutes then stir together, the heat in the water will dissolve the peanut butter.

In a saucepan, heat the oil and fry the garlic and shallots until translucent. Stir in the peanut mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Longer and it starts to thicken up, it should just coat the back of a spoon.

Serve the salad with the sauce in a bowl on the side, topped with the crushed crackers.

Interesting way of doing warm peanut sauce, I've always just heated it all up together in the pan. And I would imagine it would be quite salty as well, especially if you used a regular peanut butter and not a low-salt-low-sugar one. Sounds like some fun textures though.

 

 

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In Memoriam – Julia Child

The recipes that I use most are more for the winter – we have either her Chou Rouge a la Limousine (red cabbage braised with red wine, spices and chestnuts) or Endives a la Flamande (braised chicory) every week just about. But at some point this week we will have (not necessarily at the same meal !) Cotes de Porc Sauce Nenette (pork chops with mustard, cream and tomato sauce), Chou-Fleur Beurre au Citron (cauliflower with lemon butter sauce), and I have some halibut fillets which could use a Sauce Mousseline Sabayon. And some squid tubes I was planning to stuff and steam in a Coulis de Tomates a la Provencale (tomato sauce with fennel and orange peel among other good things). And the Foie de Veau Saute Sauce a l’Italienne recipe (calf liver with tomato, mushroom and ham sauce) will do very nicely for some chicken livers over pasta. If the weather does turning minging, I am also tempted by Laitues Braisees (braised lettuce) in place of salad. It means spending some time today preparing things, but it will be worth it. If you haven’t been pointed at it already in the last couple of days, I can do no better than send you to the Julie/Julia Project at http://blogs.salon.com/0001399/2002/08/25.html I am up to October 16 2002, and rationing myself to a month at a time.