One thing I have noticed recently is how much photographing food for this blog ends up dictating what I cook. On Tuesday I made a mushroom lasagne. It was extremely delicious. Like, really good. I have made this lasagne at least twice before. Why have I never blogged the recipe? Because it looks rather unattractive. Mushrooms, which are beautiful when raw, often make any sauce with which they are combined a greyish colour. I have also never worked out the proportions of the lasagne right so that has lots of elegant layers that would distract from its uninspiring colour. So the lasagne was kept for dinner (when there isn’t any natural light) and I endeavoured to make something more visually appealing for lunch. When I was at the green-market I saw two types of cabbage – Savoy and red, and I thought to myself: “I knew Savoys were in season, so I spent some time looking up recipes which use Savoys. But, the red cabbages are much prettier. Surely I could just substitute red cabbage in the recipes I have already found?” So I bought red cabbage instead – in fact I bought two of them, which means that, even after a day of cooking cabbage, I still have to figure out a way to use up the other cabbage in my fridge within the next couple of days before it goes off.
To be honest, I just don’t know whether you can substitute red cabbage for other sorts of cabbage. The recipes for different kinds of cabbage appear to differ considerably (I don’t think I found a single red cabbage recipe that did not include sugar or fruit of some kind, which was certainly not the case with the savoy). And as I had never cooked with it before (I don’t really think I have eaten that much of it before, come to think of it) I was very unsure how it would hold up. So I ended up spending a great deal more time researching recipes, until I found this one.
I have to say, for a vegetable that I bought almost entirely on the basis of its appearance, it is quite wonderfully beautiful. Just look at this picture (click on it for a bigger version). It looks like something that would be documented in a natural history woodcut. It looks like a cross section of the human brain. It is complex and lovely and a beautiful colour. And (unlike mushrooms) it changes to another beautiful colour when cooked.
Luckily, this dish also tastes really good.
Baked Red Cabbage with Apple and Goat’s Cheese
(From The Times Magazine)
Serves between 4 and 8 depending on whether you have it as a side or a main
1 red cabbage (I used one and a quarter as mine were pretty small)
2 cooking apples
1 large brown onion
3 cloves of garlic
50 ml red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 log of goats cheese (I used about 200g/7oz)
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Remove any wilting outer leaves of the cabbage and chop into quarters. Remove the hard centre, and shred (ie slice). Quarter the apples, remove the core, and slice (leave skin on). Halve the onion, and then slice. Place cabbage, apple and onion into a casserole pot with a lid. Crush the garlic into the same pot, and add the vinegar, mixed spice, sugar and a large pinch of salt. Toss together. Cut up the butter into cubes, and dot it over the top.
Cover with lid, and bake for 2 hours, giving it a stir every half hour or so.
After two hours, take your pot out of the oven, and place rounds of goat’s cheese on top of the cabbage. With the lid removed, put under the grill for 5 minutes or so until the goats cheese begins to brown. (Keep a constant eye on things at this stage, as you do not want to burn the cheese).
Serve hot or room-temperature, as a side, or with fresh, crispy bread as a main. You can also make this without the goat’s cheese – the cabbage alone is lovely served at room temperature on toast (or blinis) topped with strips of smoked salmon.