Posts tagged ‘cabbage’

February 8, 2012

Last night’s dinner: Mushroom, chestnut and cavolo nero casserole

Casserole? Well, you could call it a stew. I was intending to cook this (mostly) in the oven, as you should with a casserole, but I didn’t. I was hungry. I cooked it on the hob. It was quicker. It was still good. There.

First, in a deep, wide saucepan or frying pan I fried a sliced onion in a little olive oil until it softened. I then added three sticks of celery, cut into 1-inch pieces. Then I added lots of mushrooms – a supermarket tub each of button, chestnut and oyster varieties, the larger ones being halved or even quartered. Don’t try and get them all the same size however; it’s nice to have them varied. Cook the mushrooms on a medium heat for 15 minutes while they release heir juices and then soak them back up again.

As the mushrooms are cooking, boil a cupful of green lentils (not Puy) until tender in a small pan of vegetable stock, with a bay leaf. When they have finished cooking, drain, removing the bay leaf, but retaining a little of the stock.

Now, take 150g or so of vacuum-packed or tinned, cooked chestnuts and chop them coarsely. Add to the mushroom mixture. Then add the lentils. Then pour in 100ml of sour cream and stir well. If the mixture could do with a little more liquid, top up with any reserved stock.

From here you can continue to cook on the hob for another 15 minutes. While you’re doing so, blanche a few handfuls of cavolo nero or savoy cabbage in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water.

When the mushrooms finish cooking, add the cavolo nero and another 100ml of sour cream. Simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Before serving, add a handful of chopped chives and a handful of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley.

Serve with crusty bread and, if you like, an extra dollop of cream.

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February 6, 2012

Last Night’s Dinner: Sweetcorn and chickpea soup with greens and a chilli-soy salsa

Sweetcorn; chickpeas; kale. Should they go together? A chilli-soy salsa? It’s that last piece of description that gives away the some geography to this soup: it’s an Asian, perhaps Thai or Indonesian-influenced concoction and the background note under the combination of leaves, kernels and legumes is a spicy coconut broth. The salsa – well, though the word might shout Mexico and link to the sweetcorn, it’s a thoroughly Asian-influenced topping too. Let’s make it…

For the salsa we finely diced one red pepper, finely sliced two spring onions and a finely chopped red chilli (or two). Combine these together. Next, toast a handful of sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan for 5-10 minutes, tossing them occasionally and taking care not to burn them. When they’ve started to turn golden take them off the heat and splash some soy sauce over them. They’ll become slightly sticky. Leave to cool and then stir into the salsa. Finally roughly chop a handful of coriander leaves and add to the salsa.

The soup is something of a fusion of West and East but the ingredients complement each other perfectly and are often found together in varying combinations around the world. The kale could be Savoy cabbage, cavolo nero, spring greens, spinach or even pak choi. We had some kale left, so that’s what went in the pot – and it’s great with chickpeas.

First, make a ‘curry’ paste: grate a 1-inch piece of ginger, finely slice three cloves of garlic and three medium shallotts. Finely slice two green chillies (strength to your licking) and two sticks of fresh lemongrass. Place all these ingredients in the jug of a food processor/blender. Now add 2 teaspoons each of ground cumin and ground turmeric. Add half a cup of water and blend to get a smooth, thick sauce.

Heat a large saucepan, add a dash of sesame oil and add the curry sauce, cooking it for five minutes – you should smell the aromas. Then add a medium-sized tin of sweetcorn kernels, a tin of chickpeas and a tin of coconut milk. Stir. Then add 600ml of vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or so then add some handfuls of roughly chopped greens. Cook for 5 minutes more if you’re using soft greens (spinach etc) or 10 minutes if you’re using tougher cabbage or kale etc.

Check the seasoning and serve, topping the bowl with a good spoonful of salsa and a squeeze of lime.

October 26, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Socca crepe of roast squash, caramelised red onion, kale and pine nuts, with tomato coriander salsa and goat’s cheese cream

A Cotter special, taken from For the Love of Food.

Let’s look at that long recipe title again: Socca, squash, onion, kale, pine nuts, coriander, tomato, goat’s cheese, cream. Seems like a lot of ingredients, doesn’t it? And yes, in some ways it is. Put simply, however, this is just a stuffed pancake. The pancake is southern French thing made from gram (chickpea) flour – which usually puts you in mind of Indian recipes. It would be possible, though not quite as heartwarming, to make the pancake from wholemeal flour, or any kind of flour really, as long as it will form a thickish crepe that you can fold without breaking and yet also become a little crisped up too.

The filling is a neat combination of flavours and textures. The root notes are the sweetness of the squash and onion. The greens then cut through this and add some textural rough edges, while the pine nuts add an occasional, miniature bit of bite. The goat’s cheese cream is, essentially, a tangy dressing that helps cut through sweetness and the salsa brings some zip – just in case the rest is in danger of becoming cloying in the mouth. A recipe where every ingredient knows it’s job. And it’s a looker too!

September 7, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Gratin of greens with pink fir apple potatoes

Sunday 21 August

Having picked up some lovely pink fir apple potatoes (surely the most potatoey of small potato?) at the farmer’s market, and it being a Sunday, we decided to keep it simple for dinner. Now, here at ETP Towers we could quite easily eat variations on spuds and cabbage every day. Maybe that’s some Celtic/Northern/Peasant heritage creeping in, but a plate of potatoes and greens suits us just fine. Today however, Ella offered to ‘pimp her greens’ (cavolo nero and purple kale, but Savoy cabbage would be fine) by making a gratin of them.

Let’s not delay by recounting recipes in detail. If you want to make a proper cheese sauce, compare methods on the internet and go for it. You’ll need butter, plain flour, milk and cheese – unless you want a special variation (like our previous ‘cheat’ method, here).

At home we’ve discussed at length how to get a cheese sauce the right consistency – not to gloopy, not too watery – at the end of the gratin’s baking time. Sometimes a perfectly good sauce on the hob transforms itself into something less than perfect in the oven. Should you cover it, have less or more sauce, make it thicker or thinner on the hob? Does the type of cheese you use affect the outcome? Well, maybe they all do. Comparing notes, the ETP team would recommend not using too much sauce and perhaps not having it too hot in the oven. But that’s not a guarantee.

After all that, the rest of the method is easy. You make a cheese sauce, lightly steam some greens for 3-4 minutes, lightly fry a sliced onion and then add ’em all to an oven-proof dish. Bake until golden and bubbling. Serve with them lovely spuds.

August 8, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Roast tomato and pepper broth with potato, butter beans and greens

(Our last home-cooked meal in London)

Believe it or not this hearty yet summery supper came about as a way of emptying our fridge and store cupboard before our impending move from the city. It’s typical that we would have a couple of peppers, some tomatoes, a few old spuds and half a cabbage (or similar) lying around. It’s also typical that this is the kind of thing we’d end up making with those ingredients.

The first job was to roast a red and a yellow pepper, just coated with a little olive oil, along with a couple of chillis and three cloves of garlic, still in their skins. Also into the oven went a small tray of halved tomatoes, skin side down, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. They both need to roast at around 190 degrees for 25 minutes or maybe a little longer. The tomatoes should be starting to collapse and the peppers’ skins almost blackened in parts.

When done, drop the peppers into a plastic bag, tie it and leave to cool/steam for a few minutes – this will help loosen the skins a little. Leave the tomatoes to cool a little, in their roasting tray.

After 5 minutes or so, take the peppers from the bag, slice them open, deseed them and peel as much skins from them as you can (but don’t worry too much if some skin remains). Slip the garlic cloves from their skins and chop the stalks off the chillis. Tip all the roasted veg into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Next, pour the roast veg sauce into a large saucepan/stockpot and add 400ml of water or vegetable stock. Heat until it comes to a boil and then leave on a slow simmer. It should look like a rustic tomato soup.

Now, take your potatoes and boil them until just tender and steam whatever greens you have (dark green cabbage, kale or cavolo nero), stalks removed, for around four minutes or, again, until just tender.

Tip the potatoes and greens into the soup along with a tin of butter bins (other white beans would be fine here but the size of the butter beans is good with this) and simmer for five minutes.

Serve, if you like, with crusty bread.

Depending on the exact amount of ingredients this will turn out more like a stew or more like a soup. I don’t think it really matters. What counts most of all is the deep, rich flavour and aroma of that roast tomato and pepper broth.

One final thing: we’ve described this as summery. Why? Well, because ripe summer tomatoes and the ‘new’ potatoes we used seem to shout of that season. But this is a dish that translates to autumn or winter too. I’d try to make it more ‘stewy’, less ‘brothy’ for those darker months.

June 6, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Greens with satay sauce

Wednesday 18 May

Where to begin with satay sauce? I reckon it’s best to imagine it as an Asian sweet chilli sauce with the addition of peanuts. That’s essentially how we make it, in any case. Some people simply add a dollop of peanut butter for that sweet peanut flavour, but we grind skinned peanuts, coarsely in a food processor and then soften them by simmering in a little water for 15 minutes until they’re almost creamy.

For the chilli sauce I made what is becoming our ‘standard’ base, which can be adapted for many Indian curries and Chinese/Indonesian/Malaysian recipes. Essentially, for sauce for two people, you take a couple of medium shallots, two cloves of garlic and some chillis (to your liking!). Add a little oil and a dash of water if you need and blitz in the small jug of a food processor until you have a paste. Spoon into a dry frying pan and ‘cook it off’ for about 10 minutes.

[For a curry paste, you might add dry spices, tomato or ginger. For some Vietnamese dishes – more of which soon – lemongrass.]

I added a splash of soy sauce and of Chinese rice wine vinegar near the end of the chilli sauce cooking. Then add the simmered peanuts, et voila.

The rest of the dish is basically stir-fried greens – and almost any would do – plus a little assortment of veg. I had some spring greens to hand, so they went in the wok, along with some oyster mushrooms and some shavings of carrot. Once it’s sizzling, piou over the satay sauce and heat through for a few minutes. Serve on egg fried rice.

You wanna know about the rice again? Okay then:

Never fry rice if it’s still steaming and hot. Allow boiled long-grain rice to cool completely before letting it even look at a frying pan. Once cool, heat a little sunflower and a tiny bit of sesame oil a wide frying pan and add the boiled rice. Once it’s crackling and hot, add a little soy sauce. Make sure the soy is evenly distributed through the rice and cook for 5 minutes. The crack an egg per person into the rice, stir quickly and cook for another 10 minutes, making sure the egg cooks through, dries out somewhat, and becomes mostly broken apart.

Hope you enjoy.

May 9, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Dhal with coconut cabbage

Wednesday 4 May

Feeling rather strapped for cash, I decided to see what I could rustle up without spending a single extra penny at the shop. So, there was a bag of yellow split peas in the cupboard, a couple of onions lying around, a tin of coconut milk and half a white cabbage that was almost on its way out. Plus spices. What to do? Indian of course.

We love a dhal at ETP Towers and they’re so easy. I made this after soaking the split peas for a few hours first. Then… chop an onion and fry in sunflower oil for 5 minutes. Rinse then add the split peas, plus 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp turmeric and some chilli powder (to your liking). Cover with boiling water – about an inch or so above the top of the split peas and simmer for about 45 minutes until the split peas are thoroughly soft and the consitency is that of a thick sauce. Then stir in a little tamarind paste and a couple of squirts of tomato puree. Chop three cloves of garlic, place it in a metal ladle with a small amount of sunflower oil and heat over the flame of a hob until it turns golden. Stir it into the dhal mix.

For the cabbage, slice an onion and half a white (or green, for that matter) cabbage and stir-fry both for a few minutes in a wok with some grated ginger, mustard seeds and a green chilli. Then add a tin of coconut milk and simmer until the cabbage softens and the milk has mostly evaporated.

Easy. And cheap.

By the way, there’s not much I could do with the photos of this. It’s not stylish food but it’s tasty and nutritious. I feel a mini-feature about food photography and its perils may be in order soon. Watch this space…

April 23, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Thai salad

Friday 22 April

…yesterday’s lunch, actually. Ella made a Thai salad with some lovely Asian baby salad leaves, shredded white cabbage and Chinese leaf, pepper, herbs and chilli. The salad is pepped up with a dressing made with lime and lemongrass. Love it – and eating al fresco on the balcony is always a winner.

March 22, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Seasonal Greens with Crushed Peppercorns

Monday 21 March

I know, that’s a mortar and pestle above, not a picture of last night’s dinner. However, there’s a good pic of the food, along with the recipe, here.

Our seasonal greens were some purple sprouting broccoli and a savoy cabbage, served on crushed baby potatoes. It was a little like a posh bubble and squeak and the peppercorns added depth of flavour – a fruitiness – rather than a real kick. Little did I know when I bought my Sichuan peppercorns that I be using them in this. But I will do again…

March 17, 2011

Denis Cotter vegetarian recipes for St Patrick’s Day

It was a Denis Cotter veg-fest in the Guardian today, as the vegetarian chef from Cork City delivered three recipes for St Patrick’s Day. Each is a vegetarian dish using some classic Irish ingredients. First up is a braised turnip galette of mushrooms and chestnuts (here), then there is a cabbage timbale with tomato sauce and parsnip gnocchi (here) and finally, and the one I think I’ll make first out of the three, blue cheese potato cakes with bean and cider stew (here).

There’s always a fair amount of work to do in Cotter’s recipes – he’s not a one-pot cook – but it’s the combination of elements in his cooking that sets him apart. So you know that with the potato cakes it won’t just be the way the blue cheese and cider hang together well, it will be the addition of the rosemary aioli that lifts it to unexpected places. With the galette it will be the red wine sauce that does the trick and with the cabbage timbale it will be the tomato and thyme sauce – or perhaps the fact that the gnocchi is made with parsnip, not potato. It’s the addition of third element on the plate that makes the difference.

Happy cooking!