Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Braised cabbage with apple

I should have called my blog Ugly Food. Not only do I not have the time, the patience or the daylight to set up my food nicely for beautiful pictures. I also don't have an eye for aesthetics at all, unfortunately. So I'm guessing you are not reading this blog for the pretty pictures. I have been feeling very guilty about the crappy pictures on the blog. But then I decided I would stop stressing. This is what the food actually looks like in my kitchen. This is what I eat when I desperately need some food, any food, when I get home from the gym and am starving. For beautiful food pictures, there are so many other blogs. And I do appreciate them, oh so very much. But until I live in an apartment where it's at least theoretically possible to take pictures in daylight (and when I have a job which doesn't keep me away from home for all daylight hours and then some), the pictures will be what they are.

Still, even given the horrible quality of the pictures, this food is really not one of the pretty ones. Maybe I should set up a Pinterest board of my most disgustingly looking foods. This sweet potato and lentil stew would be one of the top contenders, as is today's recipe of braised cabbage with apple. But you will have to trust me when I say, whatever all my foods lack in beauty, they most certainly make up for in flavour. Otherwise they would not be here. I have given up so much in the way of food, to try and live a more healthy life. I have (almost completely) given up bread, pasta, rice, cheese, sugar, chocolate, well... pretty much everything good. So one thing I'm not willing to compromise is the flavour of the foods I'm cooking. I'm always browsing Pinterest and food blogs for new flavour combinations I wouldn't think of myself, and this recipe certainly is one of those. I would never think of putting that much cider vinegar into anything I cook. But I had to give it a try, although I was a sceptic. And evidenced by the admittance of this recipe into my blog, you can probably guess that it turned out a winner.

I have talked about food kismet before. That feeling of the world just klicking into place when you happen upon a recipe for something you have all the ingredients for in your kitchen. And I'm on a mission to try and use up as much of my stockpiled food as possible.  I don't want to end up in three years time with a truckload of tins which are out of date. I hate wasting food. That's what I learned at home. Don't throw food away. Ever. Leftovers can always be re-used in some dish or another if you are clever. So I absolutely hate it if I have to throw away anything that has once been edible. It just takes a bit of planning ahead. I feel like I've failed badly in my planning if things go to waste. Obviously, if I had a somewhat bigger freezer, things would be much easier as most food freezes quite well. I like to cook big batches of food, and freeze individual servings, so that they are easy to take away to work for lunch or leave in the fridge in the morning for a quick home-cooked microwave dinner. Anyway, my point, which I almost lost in all that pointless jabber, was that this recipe was really the right recipe at the right time. It seems like a head of white cabbage has lived in my fridge for way too long, and I have been meaning to use it up but never quite found the right thing to cook. Then bang! There it is, in my blog feed. Braised cabbage with apple from Little B Cooks. I even had a left over Granny Smith apple, which also needed to be used up asap. And I had a can of apple cider which has lived in my kitchen so long I almost tend to think it has always been there. I wouldn't dare drink it anymore, but figured it would still do for cooking.

This recipe is copied almost unaltered from Little B Cooks, so please head on over there to see the much prettier picture, and to check out the great blog. The original says this recipe serves four, which maybe it does when it comes to normal human beings, but for me this was only enough for two sides. And also, half of the recipe only contains 170 kcal, so I say, go for it.

Braised cabbage with apple from Little B Cooks (serves 2):
10 g butter
1 big onion
1 big apple (I had a Granny Smith lying around)
1/2 medium head of cabbage (I ended up with 266 g of cabbage in the pan)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper for seasoning

According to my estimate, one serving (half of the recipe) contains 170 kcal (4g fat, 28 g carbs (of which 17 g sugar) and 2.6 g protein).

The howto:
Finely slice onion, apple and cabbage. Heat the butter in a big skillet or saucepan, and cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the apple slices, and cook another minute or so. Add the cabbage, and give it a good stir and let cook for minute, and then add the apple cider vinegar and cider. Let cook until cabbage is softening, and almost all of the liquid has evaporated. For me this took about 20 minutes, as I had sliced the cabbage quite fine. To finish, add balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and let cook for a final few minutes. 

The verdict:
I was a bit sceptical about the whole thing when I chucked in the entire quarter of a cup of cider vinegar. I was certain the dish would turn out weird and vinegary and a bit bitter. But I was so very, very wrong. When I had my first taste, I was completely sold. I love the sweet and sour combination, and that was certainly what this dish was all about. The lovely sweetness from the onions, apples and the cider, and the tang from the vinegar. It was really good. If, for some crazy reason, you happen not to be a huge fan of cabbage, I think this is a great recipe to get into cabbage. It doesn't taste very cabbage-y, so it's a bit of a soft start into the world of cabbage. Cabbage is so great, it has beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber, and it's really cheap and low calorie food. Just remember to cook it properly to avoid problems of the windy persuasion. 

I served the cabbage as a side with fruity pulled pork. And felt very German, eating pork and cabbage. But it is a great combination. And my fruity pork is rather sweet too, as it has pineapple in it. It's a bit like this recipe for fruity pork, but I left out the raisins, and instead of cooking pork cutlets, I used a big chunk of pork loin. Then everything gets to hang out in the crock pot over night, and out comes this amazingly delicious and super tender pork.  I thought the combination was really good, if I say so myself. But I am a big fan of sweet food. And I like it that I can cook lots of sweet dishes without adding any sugar, but just by using the natural sugar from the fruits. This is a dish I will most certainly make again, probably pretty soon as I still have the other half of that cabbage in my fridge...

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