Oh Drama! Oh Glory! Oh Cabbage!

Four Cabbage Stir-Fry

As you may recall, I am experiencing a bit of a cabbage glut. Thanks to mom, who came to the rescue with our family’s traditional cabbage salad, I used up the Wakefield, but the fridge still boasted a red cabbage, a Savoy cabbage, and most of a napa cabbage. And then the baby bok choy arrived…

Mom to the rescue, again! While mom was reading the cabbage salad recipe to me over the phone, she kept noticing other scrumptious-sounding recipes on the same page, and describing them to me in mouth-watering detail, so I had her read them to me, too. When she got to a recipe called “3 Cabbage Stir Fry,” I knew salvation was at hand.

I gathered four friends, and together we shredded the red cabbage, the Savoy cabbage, the napa cabbage, and sliced the baby bok choy. I hauled out the giant wok, made a double recipe of sauce, and we started stir-frying. (We had to do it two batches – that was a LOT of cabbage!) The results were beautiful and delicious and filling. I’m not saying I’d go out of my way to buy three or four different kinds of cabbage to make this, but it was truly just about that good.

Recipe is beyond Continue reading

Too many cabbages? Que sera, sera

Que Sera Cabbage Salad

I’ve been so very tired lately. Too tired to cook, too tired to even figure out what I might want to eat. Luckily for me, exactly one and one half blocks from my house is a Mexican restaurant that makes a pretty decent and decently priced kid-sized bean, rice, and cheese burrito. I went down there yesterday and and once again bought my main meal of the day, asking them to add a side of this fantastic cabbage salad they make there. Then I carried my paper bag of burrito and salad back to my house and ate my rice and my beans and my cabbage. Meanwhile, down the hall, there were four kinds of cabbage in my refrigerator.

Yes, four kinds of cabbage. A half a head of napa cabbage, a red cabbage, a Savoy beginning to wither, and the most recent addition to the community, a pointy Wakefield. So I did what any girl would do when confronted with this sort of cabbage surplus. I called my mom.

Every year when I was a kid my mom and I would throw a huge Chanukah party. Well over a hundred people would pile into our little house, lining up in rowdy crowds outside the kitchen for latkes, and heading back to the dining room for plate after plate of the cabbage and cucumber salads my mother would start making the night before in enormous vats, keeping her eye on all the steps involving ice water and salt and vinegar throughout the night as she transformed our house into a twinkle-lit wonderland. It was this fresh, silky cabbage experience that I wanted to replicate, as much a winter cabbage association as the heavy cooked cabbage dishes I’d been putting off making.

Here, straight from Mom and the Silver Palate Cookbook, is the Que Sera Cabbage Salad of my youth (scaled down for a home audience, of course!).

(Recipe behind the “more”…) Continue reading

Savoy Cabbage

The last straggling survivor from the Week 9 box was this lovely crinkly head of Savoy cabbage. (Well, that’s not counting the napa cabbage, of course, but we all know how I feel about that.) I kept putting off cooking it because what I really wanted to make, what I kept fantasizing about until I would catch myself drooling at odd times, was a wonderful dish called ribollita, which is a Tuscan bread soup. I first had this soup courtesy of my mom’s boyfriend, who is an amazing chef, especially of Italian and French cuisine, and I immediately fell in love. That was many years ago, and he gave me the recipe, but I’d never made it on my own. And now, sadly, wheat and I are seriously estranged for health reasons. And I knew that my dense little slices of gluten-free bread were in no way going to make the pillowy bread stew of my Tuscan dreams.

Ribollita (Tuscan bread soup)

So you know what? I decided to go for it. I got one of my two favorite kinds of bread – potato rosemary – because if you’re going to go down, do it in a blaze of (rosemary-scented) glory. And I prepared the soup, using the whole head of cabbage because the cabbage is one of the best parts. And if I fell immediately asleep with the spoon still in my hand from wheat-induced fatigue (which I truly did) at least my dreams were sweet ones, full of savory warm goodness. What’s “comfort food” in Italian? I’m pretty sure it’s ribollita.

Ribollita (Tuscan Bread Soup)

1 1/4 C. cannellini beans (I used canned – otherwise cook separately until tender)
4 T. EV olive oil
8 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (I used tempeh bacon)
1/2 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice (I skipped b/c I didn’t want to buy a whole thing of celery)
3 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 head Savoy cabbage, cut into 1-inch dice (I used the whole head)
1 leek, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 T. tomato paste
4 C. stock*
4 C. water*
6 thin slices coarse-textured white bread (I used potato-rosemary bread – yum!)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fruit EV olive oil
1/3 C. grated Parmesan cheese

Place half the cooked beans in a blender or food processor and process until smooth, adding water or broth if necessary. Set beans and bean puree aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is light golden, 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, cabbage, leek, potatoes, onion and tomato paste. Add stock and water to cover by 1 inch. (*I ended up needing more stock and water than recipe calls for because I used more beans, cabbage, etc. I used about 6 cups of each, total.) Simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 1 hour.

Add the beans and bean puree and simmer 5 minutes. Add the bread and stir together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool one hour or overnight.

To serve, bring to a boil. Serve immediately, drizzled with fruity, high quality olive oil and sprinkled with cheese. (These toppings are not optional toppings – they really complete the soup in an essential way.)

Serves 6 to 8.

I tried to eat this accompanied by a salad of lovely red-leaf lettuce, but I fell asleep before I could get to the salad course!

Napa Cabbage in the Mist

I’ve simply given up on the lettuce, but now the abundance of napa cabbage means that it has basically become the new lettuce. (Hear that, trendsetters for ’08? Napa Cabbage is the New Lettuce!)

But then, just in time for the new year, when no napa cabbage should be left forlorn, Napa Cabbage with Shitake, Ginger, and Red Miso-Sake SauceI remembered an old recipe that I think will ensure that I’ll be eating as much of that long, tender, elegant cabbage as Eatwell can throw at me. Turning once again to my beloved Asian Vegetables cookbook, I dug out a recipe I haven’t made in years for halibut steamed in packets of napa cabbage. This was the kind of recipe that makes a lasting impression; four or five years later, my mouth can still recall perfectly the incredible taste of the dish. I don’t eat fish anymore, but the part of the dish that stands out so brightly in my memory wasn’t the halibut or even the cabbage, but rather the amazing sauce tucked in the packets alongside the fish. What I ended up with – sans halibut – was so good I went back for thirds. I have definitely found the Official Napa Cabbage Recipe of 2008. Cheers!

Napa Cabbage with Shitake Mushrooms,
Ginger Matchsticks, and Red Miso-Sake Sauce

Napa Cabbage with Shitake, Ginger, and Red Miso-Sake Sauce – 1 head napa cabbage
– 10-12 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
– 2 inches ginger, cut into “matchstick” sized pieces
– 4 T. red miso
– 2 T. mirin (sweet rice cooking wine)
– 4 T. sake (or to taste)
– 2-3 T. sugar (or to taste)
– 1 T. water or broth (or to taste)

Slice napa cabbage across the head into pieces. Unfurl the pieces and place in a steamer basket. Squeeze excess water from mushrooms and slice into thin strips. Put mushrooms and ginger into basket with cabbage, tossing to mix. Steam for ten minutes.

To make the sauce: combine red miso, mirin, sake, sugar, and water, until you have a tasty, sweet, slightly boozy concoction that makes your mouth water with delight. Make sure it’s not too salty or strong from the miso – you can add a bit more water or broth, keeping in mind the sauce will get thinner and more unwieldy the more water you add.

And now for my exciting food-blog-geek news! For my holiday presents this year, Duck tricked me out with all kinds of treats that I’ve been yearning after as I put together In My Box. The gorgeous crackle-glaze bowl in the photos above is from a huge assortment of beautiful dishes he got for me to spice up my food plating, and the FREE-FLOATING PHOTOS (a first here and which you may notice I am A LITTLE EXCITED about) come courtesy of my incredible new D-Flector, a miraculous portable photo studio background thingamajiggy which allows me, at long last, to take pictures of my food floating in the pure mists of empty space. I’m still just barely learning how to use all my new toys (the pics above are a bit more pixelly than I’d like, for example) but I am terribly excited and predict much beautiful food to come, just so I can have the pleasure of taking pictures of it in the mist!

Sweet Potatoes and Cabbages

Yum. Thai red curry with pillowy sushi rice. More winter comfort food, for a California girl raised on pan-Asian comfort food, that is.

Despite repeated okonomiyaki sessions, I still had a ton of napa cabbage. And an untouched Wakefield cabbage on top of that. What would I do with this festival of cabbage that wouldn’t require long periods of fermentation or the application of corned beef?

After mentally combining my many cabbages with what remained of my box – a few sweet potatoes and carrots – plus a tub of tofu and a couple cans of coconut milk from my recent trip to an actual grocery store, the direction dinner was heading in seemed clear.

Thai Red Curry with Sweet Potato, Cabbages, Carrots, and Tofu

Napa Cabbage

As the weather gets colder, I find myself with a hole in my belly that can only be filled by some kind of indefinable, completely yummy food. For me this mysterious ultimate craving usually falls into the savory category, and I do know that it should be hot, and have a soft, yielding texture.

I’ve had this huge napa cabbage sitting in my fridge since the previous box, and so I decided to see what my beloved Asian Vegetables cookbook had to offer. In the section for napa cabbage I found a recipe for okonomiyaki, which are Japanese savory pancakes. The recipe might as well have been subtitled “The answer to your winter food longings.”

I sliced up some of that napa cabbage along with a red onion I’d bought (because who can resist that color combo of pale green and lavender?). I mixed a few of my eggs with some broth and flour and tamari, stirred in the veggies, poured it all in a hot oiled pan, and scattered bits of my beloved tempeh bacon on top.

Okonomiyaki, uncooked

Then I cooked it, quartered and flipped it, let it cook through, and sprinkled it with toasted nori and sesame seeds.

Hot, savory, yielding. Stuffed with sweet, soft napa cabbage and red onions. Full of flavor from the seaweed and sesame. And I haven’t even mentioned the crazy dipping sauce made with ketchup, sake, and dried mustard!

Okonomiyaki, cooked

(The recipe for okonomiyaki is beyond the “more”) Continue reading