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COLE SLAW – MY CONTRIBUTION TO THE CRAWFISH BOIL

A week or so ago my post provided the details of a crawfish boil in Silicon Valley. For that great event, my daughter-in-law asked me to make coleslaw. I call her the “Salad Queen” because she whips up the most delicious salads on a moment’s notice, but she claimed that coleslaw was not something she liked to make. I confess that I’m not a big fan of most coleslaw, either. That’s because they often contain the core of the cabbage head, the cabbage is in big chunks with the heavy taste of cabbage, and the salad is swimming in runny mayonnaise.

Years ago I learned the first important lesson for coleslaw from my younger daughter when she was only about ten years old. She was assigned to do the cabbage chopping for a family gathering. We thought she would be finished in just a few minutes, but a half hour later she was still chopping and the cabbage was as fine as I had ever seen it. She had also removed the core of the cabbage before she started the project. Everyone loved one of her first cooking projects.

The second lesson comes from a consideration of the origins of the word, coleslaw. It is derived from the Danish word, koolsla, meaning cabbage (cole) salad ( sla, a contraction of salade). The point of all that is you can use any kind of cabbage or even cabbage relatives you want (especially shredded Brussels sprouts, but also broccoli, rabe, or cauliflower) , and you can put anything else that catches your fancy in the salad.  Apples, carrots, celery, and chopped nuts are among the most common additives.

The third lesson for me is that a little mayonnaise goes a long way – much farther than you think. In recent times, I always add less mayonnaise than I think the dish needs. That includes tuna salad, sandwiches, and coleslaw In every instance what I have learned is that less is better, and you can always add more. Of course, homemade mayonnaise is better than bottled, and it doesn’t take too much extra time to make. Another option is not to use mayonnaise at all; freshly made vinaigrette is a refreshing substitute.

For the crawfish boil, I decided to use napa (Chinese) cabbage and red cabbage along with red onion, carrot, bell pepper, and celery for the basic salad. I used vinaigrette with a shot of sesame oil for the dressing. Here is the recipe.

RECIPE

Coleslaw

Ingredients

  •  1 large head, napa cabbage, cored, sliced and chopped very finely
  • 1 small head red cabbage, cored, sliced and chopped very finely
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, grated, and chopped finely
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients

Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard, preferably Dijon
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic powder, and sugar.
  2. While whisking continuously, drizzle in the olive oil until completely incorporated.
  3. Stir in the sesame oil, and correct seasonings with salt and pepper

Dressing the Salad

  1. Pour only about half of the vinaigrette onto the coleslaw and gently stir in until the salad is completely dressed
  2. Add more dressing as needed, being especially careful not to use too much. The coleslaw should be moistened but not damp with dressing
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Napa cabbage

Napa cabbage

Red cabbage

Red cabbage

Red onion

Red onion

Carrots

Carrots

Celery

Celery

Green bell pepper

Green bell pepper

Chopped vegetables

Chopped vegetables

Finished coleslaw

Finished coleslaw

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NEW YEAR GOOD LUCK – BLACK-EYED PEAS AND CABBAGE

It is the custom in the US South to eat black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Day, one for good luck and one for wealth. Some believe that not to eat these dishes will result in the opposite effect, bad luck and poverty.

Our family lived in Louisiana to get into the custom, even though we didn’t really believe the superstition. The habit has persisted even though we have lived outside the South for many years. There must be lots of other former Southern citizens in our Southwest community, because canned and frozen black-eyed peas are always sold out days before New Year’s Eve.

There are many versions of cooked black-eyed peas which qualify as good luck charms the New Year: Hoppin’ John, Texas caviar, black-eyed pea vinaigrette, and plain ol’ Southern black-eyes. The following recipe borrows from all of those classics. Likewise, the cabbage dish is an update of plain old boiled cabbage.

It may be too late for you to get your protection for 2013, but hold onto the recipes for next year. In the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

RECIPES

Good-Luck Black-Eyed Peas

Ingredients

  • 3 strips bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • water for cooking peas
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 3 ounces Canadian bacon, large dice
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 or more dashes Tabasco sauce

Method

  • Fry the bacon in a small pan over medium heat until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels and transfer the bacon drippings to a heavy-bottomed soup pot.
  • Over medium heat, put the chopped onion in the soup pot, cover, and sweat for 5 minutes until translucent and softened
  • Add the peas and enough water to completely cover the peas. Bring to the boil and then reduce to the simmer, covered, for 1½ to 2 hours or until the peas are tender.
  • Add the bell pepper, celery, tomatoes, and green chiles. Stir in the Canadian bacon.  Continue to simmer for 30 minutes more or until the tomatoes are cooked down.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and Tabasco
  • Serve in wide-brimmed soup bowls.

Braised Napa Cabbage, Red Onions and Mushrooms with Dilled Greek Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 small napa cabbage cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium red onion sliced in thin crosswise rounds
  • 6 cremeni mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup minced dill fronds

Method

  • Combine the cabbage, onion, mushrooms, chicken stock, wine, salt, and pepper in an oven-proof covered pan
  • Over medium-high flame, bring the pan to a boil, cover, and then transfer to the middle of an oven pre-heated to 250°F
  • Braise the vegetables for 60 minutes or until they are tender. Check frequently, and add water if needed
  • In the meantime, combine the yogurt and dill in a small bowl. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Chill in the refrigerator while the vegetables are braising to bring out the dill flavor.
  • Drain the cooked vegetables and serve with yogurt SAUCE.

If you wish, serve the black-eyed peas with cooked rice, along with cornbread on the side for dipping.

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