"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Recipes–Spicy Cabbage

Cabbage is a wonderful vegetable!  It lends itself to an almost infinite variety of recipes, hot and cold; and it keeps forever.  Yet, although cabbage can be cooked with bacon, olive oil and garlic, juniper berries and white wine, curry powder, Asian spices, and a variety of other ingredients, it is never just a vehicle.  It has its own distinctive taste – sweet, sometimes with a slight tang, earthy and fragrant.  There is good reason why cabbage was a staple in Russia and the North – it can keep in a root cellar for most of the winter.

In previous blog posts, I have given recipes for the following (for detailed recipes go to the blog site (www.uncleguidosfacts.com) and in the search box, type whichever recipe you are looking for:

* Alsatian choucroute – cabbage cooked with bacon, white wine and juniper berries.  This is a classic dish of Parisian brasseries, served with at least two cuts of ham, German-style sausage, and pork shoulder.  It is not hard to make, and just needs to be stirred occasionally until the liquid has been reduced.  The best choucroute is at the Brasserie Flo followed by the Brasserie du Terminus de la Gare du Nord; but it is good anywhere.  If you do not have juniper berries, you can use gin.

* Fried cabbage – nothing fancy about this dish which I have been making for decades.  The trick is to brown the garlic in olive oil and cook the cabbage over high heat so it browns slightly.  The result is a very sweet, tender cabbage

* Boiled cabbage – again, nothing fancy.  A head of cabbage is quartered, simmered in water with bacon until done, then reserved while the liquid is reduced.  Yummy.

* Boiled cabbage #2 – same as above, except add honey, sherry, and cloves

* Kiev-style cabbage – chopped red and green cabbage, onion, apple, bacon, brown sugar, cloves, carroway and celery seeds, white wine, balsamic vinegar.  The apple and the two kinds of cabbage and bacon make this a particularly delicious dish

* Cabbage salad – I don’t call these cold cabbage dishes ‘coleslaw’ because many of them stray far from the original; but given they are are chopped cabbage in dressing, they are variations of coleslaw.  Here are a few ways I have suggested making cabbage salad:

  Classic – chopped onion, red pepper, mayo, mustard, yoghurt, and lots of sweet pickle relish

  Asian – fresh chopped coriander, olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, grated ginger, garlic

  Indian – chopped onion, grated ginger, curry powder, sweet mango chutney

  Earth spices – chopped onion, mayo, sour cream, vinegar, and the following spices: coriander, carroway, anise, fennel, celery, dill seeds; dill weed; powdered cumin, horseradish

Last night I wanted to try something new with cabbage – a salad with some new spices; and I realized that there was spice – chili powder – that I hadn’t yet tried.  I thought that if combined with a bit of Old Bay Spice and Cajun Spice, it would be spicy and different.  I was right.  Try it!

Cabbage Salad with Chili Powder

* 1/2 ‘tight’ head of cabbage, chopped finely.  Always heft the cabbage before buying and be sure that it feels heavy and dense.  These cabbages are always better than the lighter ones which have a lot of air spaces between the leaves

* 1/2 large onion, chopped

* 1/2 red pepper, chopped

* 2 Tbsp. mayo

* 2 tsp. Maille mustard

* 2 Tbsp. whole milk yoghurt (non-fat or 1% are OK)

* 1 Tbsp. chili powder

* 2 tsp. each Old Bay Spice, Cajun spice

* 10 grindings fresh black pepper

* 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

* 1 Tbsp. sugar

- Place the mayo, yoghurt, mustard, vinegar, sugar, and spices in a large mixing bowl and mix well.  Taste and adjust if necessary

- Place the chopped cabbage, onion, and red pepper into the sauce and mix well

- Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at least 8 hours (you can eat right away, but letting the salad sit for a while allows the spices to blend and come out more

- Serve

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