White Foods

October 31, 2009

“If you want your cabbage chopped, washed, dried, sprinkled with salt or vinegar, there is nothing healthier. To enjoy it more, sprinkle with honey vinegar. Washed and dried, with chopped rue and coriander and sprinkled with salt. It does you good, permits no disease to remain in the body, and does the bowels good. If there was any disease present internally, cabbage will cure all, remove all sicknesses from the head and the eyes and cure them. Take it in the morning before eating.”

Cato (234 BC to 149 BC) from On Farming

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I love a good food quote, although I just read some rather asinine things Cato had to say on keeping slaves—he was notorious for his brutal views (ah the Romans)—but I’ll give it to him that his recipe sounds intriguing.

We’re coming to the end of our wonderful CSA (community supported agriculture) deliveries and the lettuce has given way to copious quantities of cabbage, turnips and cauliflower. Did I mention copious quantities of cabbage? I mean… lots of it. And cauliflower. I’ve been thinking out loud about these pale vegetables and the kind of nutrition that they give us, so I did a bit of research into cabbage. Cabbage, apparently is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in dietary fibre, vitamins C,K,A, B6, calcium, iron (who knew?) magnesium, manganese, folate, potassium, and thiamin. Cabbage also has a varied history and appears in raw, cooked, and pickled form on virtually every continent—from Chinese versions of bok and napa cabbages, to Korean kim chee, to Russian stuffed cabbage and borscht soups, to Irish corned beef and cabbage, not to mention Indian poriyals and uppama and of course the ubiquitous sloppy coleslaw found all across American diners.
Here is a terrific link to history and lore on cabbages that I found—it made me rethink my current ennui with cabbage. http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch33.html.

A quick and delicious dish I’ve come up with to eat through my cabbages before the next CSA delivery arrives is as follows:

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Sautéed Cabbage

½- 1 head of cabbage (any kind), shredded into long thin bits
1-2 ears of corn cut fresh off the cob.
1 garlic clove grated or minced
1 shallot or small onion sliced in thin rings
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 curry leaves if you have them
A handful of unsweetened dry coconut or a handful of chopped cashews.
2-3 tablespoons oil

Sauté the shallot and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil till onions start to soften and garlic is starting to brown. Add the shredded cabbage and sauté till beginning to soften, then add in the corn. Sauté till cabbage is cooked, though not soggy. In a separate pan heat 1 to 2 tsp oil and add the mustard and fennel seeds and curry leaves. Heat till the mustard seeds start to sputter, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut or cashews and sauté just until coconut starts to brown. Pour the spice and coconut mixture over the cabbage and corn. Mix well. Season with salt and black pepper and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

This is tasty as a side dish or as a light supper served with rice.

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Pear and Pecan Bread

October 10, 2009

Here is my dilemma: I cook an awful lot and I take scads of pictures, but I don’t post them on the blog. Its a lack of discipline or time on my part. So my computer is fast filling up with folder upon folder of delectable food photos, but only one out of every five recipes gets posted. What to do…

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Regardless, here is a quick and delicious dessert (or breakfast item) that I have become quite addicted to the past couple years. Its from the Joy of Cooking, my all time favourite cookbook. I’ve often said that if I had to leave my home suddenly and had the choice of only one cookbook to take along, this would be the one. It has EVERYTHING.
Pear bread is in the lovely family of loaf cakes, like banana bread, that whip together quickly since they use oil as shortening and often include some sort of mashed or grated fruit and chopped nuts.

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They are ideal for the fall when fruit and vegetables are abundant and a fragrant slice of cake is all you need to compliment a steaming hot cup of tea or coffee. The juicy pears in this recipe are set off by the lemon zest and juice, pleasant surprises in every mouthful. And of course the bread tastes even better the next day.

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Pear and Pecan Bread (from the Joy of Cooking, p 775)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 inch pan.
Whisk together:
1 1/2 c flour
1 c sugar (I usually cut back to about 2/3 or 3/4 c sugar)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

In a separate large bowl, whisk together:
1 large egg
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grate lemon zest
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 c grated ripe pears with juice (no need to peel)

Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and fold just till about 3/4 of dry ingredients are moistened. Add:
1 c coarsely chopped pecans.
Fold just till dry ingredients are moistened.
Scrape batter into pan, spread evenly, and bake in center of oven 1 hr and 15 min till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cool in pan 10 minutes then unmold onto a rack and let cool completely.

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I was channeling a little bit of Julie and Julia the other day, and Whole Foods had a sale on boneless chuck, so I bought one and half pounds of beef and made myself a mini pot roast for the week. I am generally not a huge beef eater (although I seem to be eating more of it recently, stay tuned for the beef eaters quarterly news letter featuring beef bourguignon…) Beef has always felt like a luxury to me since I like to get good quality meat that is grass fed and humanely raised—the price is generally out of range for my weekly food budget. The scarcity of it in my diet, however, does make me appreciate it all the more when I have the occasion to cook it. A tasty pot roast or stew will go a long way in my household of one and means lunch for an entire week.

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This particular roast is one of my favourite pot roast recipes, discovered a couple years ago when looking for a recipe for a Seder supper. I’ve only added garlic and substituted canned diced tomatoes for tomato paste in an otherwise perfect recipe from epicurious.com. What I love about the recipe is the tangy tomato sauce that cooks down with the dates into an unctuous sweet-savoury pudding. The recipe is nice served with rice and some cooked veg like ratatouille (a zucchini, a small eggplant, a couple of tomatoes, some fresh rosemary-thyme-oregano, garlic, and sliced onions, cooked just till the vegetables start to fall apart.) I also like the meat sliced cold in a sandwich, with a little bit of mayonnaise and the thick tomato sauce used in place of a condiment.

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Pot Roast with Oranges and Dates

1 ½- 2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast,
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, grated
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cups chicken broth or white wine
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle roast on each side with salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Heat 1 tablespoons oil in heavy wide ovenproof pot or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add roast. Cook until brown, about 8 minutes per side; transfer to plate. Add 1 tablespoon oil and onions and garlic to pot. Sauté until dark brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Mix in vinegar and allspice; boil until reduced to glaze, scraping up browned bits. Add broth, orange juice, and tomato sauce; bring to boil. Return roast and accumulated juices to pot. Scatter dates around roast; sprinkle with parsley.
Cover pot; place in oven. Braise roast 1 hour. Turn roast over, cover, and braise until tender, about 1 hour. Tilt pot; spoon off fat from top of sauce. Cool uncovered 1 hour or just let rest in pan for 15 minutes before slicing and serving with sauce.