14 March 2010

Cabbage and Macarons (NOT together)

I've wanted to talk about this for a while now: cabbage.

My flatmates and I have gone in together on a box delivery scheme. It's wonderful. Every week, a box of organic fruit and veg is delivered to our flat which we then divy up and enjoy all week-and then the next one arrives! There is almost always something to eat at home and fresh fruit for lunches, all for a small price considering the quality we receive. (By the way, I think this is an ingenious idea and would love to see it take off in other cities, specifically in the US.)

But as it is winter and most of our veggies come from the UK whenever possible, it mean a lot of cabbage. Actually every week a whole cabbage. At one point, we had four cabbage heads in our refrigerator, which is more than one per person- a cabbage surplus.

Don't get me wrong, cabbage is a remarkable vegetable. It grows in the winter, keeps well, feeds many, is nutritional and generally is pretty hardy stuff. It is truly marvelous if you live on a small, cold island in the north that anything grows at all in the winter.

Maybe it is because I was raised in the south (not on a small, cold island in the north), or maybe it's because i was raised in the US, or maybe it's just me, but I don't have a clue what to do with cabbage. Nothing immediately comes to mind ... or even after a while. So after trolling the internet for recipes and asking British colleagues and friends what to do with the three-four menacing green (and sometimes purple, just for a change) leafy things, there seem to be a few, though not many, options:

1. cabbage soup-great for dieting but makes the house smell
2.Russian borscht- good for purple cabbage
3. cabbage stir fry- nice with mushrooms and noodles; I wonder if Bak Choi is technically the correct cabbage to use in this case though
4. stuffed cabbage- Greek staple, which can be either cabbage or vine leaves (otherwise known as dolmaides)
5. coleslaw- great with a traditional pulled pork barbecue
6. sauteed cabbage/brussel sprouts

Number 6 is what I ended up making frequently over the past couple of months. Good thing it turns out I like cabbage.

Essentially, you throw a large spoonful of butter into a wok or large pan, add strips of cabbage and maybe some diced onions and pancetta and stir it around on a high heat for . . . about 10 minutes or so or until you think the cabbage is done. I don't mind it being a little crunchy or bitter, but definitely cook to taste. The number of stories I hear of how people grew up eating horribly overcooked cabbage almost put me off the vegetable! You can also steam or blanch the cabbage for a few minutes before throwing it in to be sauteed.

This dish is great with pork (with or without the pancetta included) and can be used to instantly British-ise any meal. Try it- you might even like cabbage in the end!

I mentioned last week (sorry about the delay in posts) that I spent last weekend in Paris with a friend. It was great! We found a wonderful,possibly the best, baguette shop in Paris, a cute and cozy brasserie for dinner, and a delicious chocolate shop where we bought amazing macarons. I think I was so engrossed in the medieval churches and sites and staying warm that I didn't manage a single picture of food whilst I was there. I may even be demoted from amateur food photography and blogging if it happens again. Still, I managed to document the macarons I brought back to try.

I have never tried macarons before, though they are strangely hugely popular right now. I didn't even have any expectations on how they should taste when I tried them. So with a variety of 6 to try, my fiancee and I sat down to encounter a whole new culinary (or maybe more accurately, dessert) experience.

They were light as air, melted in your mouth and had a delicate and not too sweet flavor. In other words, they were fantastic. I am definitely a fan and they even came in a cute box!

If I am feeling really adventurous, I may even try to make them one day. Maybe.


  1. Also, you can eat it raw in a salad, though maybe that depends on the cabbage. I'm thinking of that white cabbage thing (is that even cabbage?). Either way good work making one of the traditionally 'bad' vegetables look very tasty

  2. j'aime bien les macarons! And what a cute box. Do tell me where you went to find them.