Monday, December 18, 2006

Convincing Red cabbage part 1

I am blessed with avid non-red vegetable eating family in my house.
When I married my Dear Husband, included in the package came but a "few" dislikes for certain kinds of food. He wouldn't eat peas, sprouts, no cabbage apart from kale, from the extended family of beans only the green beans (sperziebonen) flat beans (snijbonen) and sugar snaps, and exclaimed only to eat fava beans (tuinbonen) when they were doubly shelled and soaked in milk (!!?) and yes my dear readers I did this twice..… Oh yes, young and in love.

I did give off a warning though, once there were to be children in this house I intended to raise them to eat (or at least try) any food available and I expected him to sit at the table and hide his dislikes and eat a few bites just like the rest of us would. Thus warned -and I hope convinced by my cookings skills- he started to more or less like a variety of vegetables but still shied away from beetroots and red cabbage. I am, after all, a master of disguise. Hiding cabbage in stir-fries, showered sprouts with nuts and bacon bits, creamed cauliflower to soup and make a devilishly good chili con carne. And the children? Well, they did fine, and ate it all .. except red coloured foods! I have been scraping bits of red from almost any nook and cranny of my children, not too mention the day I was so fed up trying to feed them I threw their plates on the kitchen floor. Very satisfying crash! Not so satisfying cleaning afterwards. Did you know beetroots have a really good upward flow? So, no rootbeets, and most certainly no red cabbage! Hmm, nurture or nature?
But then .. years and years ago, celebrating our anniversary with a luxurious dinner, we were served game and of course the obligatory red cabbage. No other vegetables. It got me grinning at the other side of the table but not for long! My husband cleaned his plate! Completely! His remark; but this is good! So I asked the waiter to ask the chef; the answer was: the lady can guess and you may say yes or no but I won't reveal the secret, there are 13 ingredients in that cabbage dish. Well I almost had them all, missing but a few. So that left me with a task to recreate.
I spotted a recipe for red cabbage in a cooking magazine which had almost all mentioned ingredients. To this day I make this red cabbage, it's an instant hit with everyone at the table. Soft, fragrant and sweet. Through the years I've changed and added and simplified and made the recipe my own, so:

Red Cabbage á la Mème,

1 medium sized cabbage, shredded (500 gr.)
1 bottle red wine
½ liter of portwine
200 gr sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
8 black pepper (lightly crushed with the blade of a knife)
6 juniper berries (lightly crushed with the blade of a knife)
3 cloves
1 handful dessert rice (I do have rather big hands)
!! Edit: to soften the cabbage: add some vinegar (approx. 1 dl!)

2 apples (grated)
1 fairly large potato (grated)

Pretty straightforward directions: Mix everthing except apples and potato and leave to macerate overnight (or preferably 24 hrs). Don’t drain! Bring to a boil, temper heat and let simmer for 1.1/2 hours. Add grated apples and potato. Cook for at least 30 minutes or longer. Make sure it never sticks to the bottom of your pan!

This recipe is originally meant for 500 gr. of cabbage but I used a whole cabbage with the same quantities, no problem.

I am aware that with the wine and portwine this is a very luxurious (expensive) recipe but in the past I have simplified this recipe by substituting the wine and port by using a bottle of “glühwein” (neat trick with all necessary flavours included in the bottle, am I smart or what?) which is readily available this time of year and had good results too (fiddling a bit with spices and cutting down on the sugar). And all of my children -including the big one- will eat "normal" red cabbage now, as they are used to the idea that they like it..... I just cook it, add some baked apples...
Mind games!!


  1. Now there is a timely and useful recipe! I have not one, but TWO heads of red cabbage in my fridge! No-one here likes it either ...

    I will try your recipe and see if I can change their minds. Oh, and you know from my blog that I too have thrown plates on the floor in exasperation. Luckily mine contained no beetroot :0

  2. Nature or nurture. Always a fascinating question when we observe our offspring and compare with ourselves. It does seem that there are some bites of hard wiring that get passed directly and clearly from one generation to the next or skip a generation.
    Oh, dear plate throwing! How I can relate to the ultimate satisfaction and hellacious clean up. As it becomes more memory than action, I've found the satisfction outweighted the consequences.
    Perhaps it is a little luxurious recipe but tough troops require strong measures. Looks wonderful.

  3. Moi,

    Wat voel ik mee met je man en kinderen. We noemen deze etenswaren GROENte; het hoort in mijn beleveing dus ook GROEN te zijn en zeker niet rood. Oranje (worteltjes) gaat nog mits ze niet te gaar zijn.

  4. Hoi Peter, oef, ik geloof dat het maar goed is dat je niet bij mij aan tafel hoeft te zitten...(alhoewel dat over het algemeen best meevalt hoor).
    Enne, jouw argument van GROEN-te heb ik inderdaad ook van de andere kant van de tafel te horen gekregen. Zou het dan toch een mannending zijn dan, groene groente?


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