braised cabbage, two ways

A while back, before the ground froze and things were still growing in these parts, a dear coworker shared her garden with me.  She gave me cherry tomatoes, green peppers, and a beautiful, ginormous head of cabbage.

I love cabbage but apart from making coleslaw a few times I haven’t really done much with it so decided to seek out a new way to prepare it and in the process could not decide between two different recipes in the same Mark Bittman cookbook so opted instead to make both.  Since the head of cabbage was so large I chopped it in half and had plenty to use with each recipe.

I braised the cabbage two ways, first with wine and nutmeg, and the next time with apples and cloves.  Both were very good but I think I prefer the wine and nutmeg method.  It had less ingredients so was a little simpler to prepare and also think it really complemented the flavor of the cabbage.  Of course if you are a person who likes savory and sweet together than the apples and cloves version is the way forward.  Just don’t pull the move that I did and think that if 3 cloves are good than 5 must be great because they for sure overpowered the dish… lesson learned!

Braised Cabbage with Wine and Nutmeg (from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 head cabbage, preferably Savoy, about 1 ½ pounds, cored and shredded
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Place the olive oil or butter in a large, deep skillet that can later be covered, over medium heat.  Add the cabbage and stir until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add salt and pepper, then the wine; let the wine bubble away for a few moments, then add the sugar and nutmeg.  Cover and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.  Check the seasoning and serve.

Cabbage Cooked with Apples (from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds Savoy or other cabbage, trimmed and shredded
  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds sweet apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable stock, or not-too-dry white wine, apple cider, or water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons apricot or raspberry jam or currant jelly
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or cider vinegar

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large, deep skillet, saucepan, or casserole.  Add the cabbage, apples, and cloves and cook, stirring until the cabbage is glossy, about 3 minutes.

Add the liquid, turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or more, until the cabbage is tender and the apples have fallen apart.  If the mixture dries out, add a little more liquid.

Stir in the jam or jelly and season with salt and pepper.  Add the lemon juice or vinegar a few drops at a time, tasting after each addition, until the sweetness of the cabbage and ales is balanced by a nice hint or acidity.  Discard cloves and serve.

Cinco de Mayo fish tacos for you

Yesterday I felt like I discovered a new world.  I knew I wanted to make fish tacos for Cinco de Mayo and needed to stop at a Mexican grocery store to pick up a few of the ingredients, namely “crema,” which is Mexican sour cream.  (It’s like traditional sour cream except it’s a little thinner and has more salt.)  I popped into a little Mexican mercado I had passed before and in the back of the store which was otherwise like any other small grocery store there was a team of people making fresh corn tortillas and serving up a variety of meats.  It smelled amazing.  You had the option to buy the tortillas and meats by the pound to take away or you could order food to stay and eat in.  Yes please!  So for lunch I had tacos carnitas y barbacoa with a tamarind soda for less than $5.  Gotta love that.  But I digress.

Last week a coworker passed me the following recipe for Baja Fish Tacos saying she thought I might like them, and boy was she right!  Don’t let the length of the recipe intimidate you– it was so simple and fast to prepare.  There are several components: the sour cream, the pico de gallo, the slaw, and of course the fish itself, and you could skip any of the first three, but I don’t recommend it.  The pico is a little spicy, the slaw a little sweet, and the crema the perfect salty cooling balance.  The recipe calls for mahi-mahi but you can use any flakey white fish.  I used tilapia based on my coworker’s suggestion and it was great (and less than half the price of mahi-mahi.)

And make sure to enjoy with a cerveza!

Baja Fish Tacos (adapted slightly from recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

  • 1 pound mahi-mahi, cod, tilapia or other white flakey fish (I used tilapia)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¾ teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt, to taste
  • 8 corn tortillas, 6 inches in diameter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place corn tortillas in aluminum foil and sprinkle with a few drops of water before sealing.  Place wrapped tortillas into oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Combine the oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic, and salt. Coat the fish with the marinade.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Place fish, one fillet at a time in heated skillet.  Cook for 4 minutes on one side and then flip over and cook for 2 minutes more.  Flake fish and place in each tortilla, and top with the Southwestern Slaw and Chipotle Pico de Gallo. Add a dollop of Mexican Crema, fold in half, and serve immediately.  (See below for recipes.)

Southwestern Slaw (from recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

  • 2 cups fine-shredded green cabbage
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced jalapeños
  • 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
  • Salt, to taste

Combine all the ingredients. Allow the mixture to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours before serving.

Chipotle Pico de Gallo (from recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

  • 1 cup medium-dice tomatoes (seeded before dicing)
  • 4 teaspoons minced red onion
  • ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ canned chipotle pepper, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro chiffonade (cut into thin strips)

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. The pico de gallo is ready to use now or it can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Mexican Crema (from recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

  • ½ cup Mexican sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. The cream is ready to use now or it can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.