Caramelized Cabbage with Bratwurst

I follow another food blogger who writes about traditional German recipes and every once in a while one comes along that sounds pretty good to me and easily adapted to allergy free. As usual, feel free to adjust to your tastes. Leave out the bratwurst and the dish becomes a side dish. It would also be very good with some diced apple or pear, much like the braised cabbage recipe on my blog.

In a large, high sided skillet, over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When shimmering add:

2 medium onions thinly sliced

12 ounces cole slaw mix (or small white cabbage shredded)

2 large baby bok choy washed and sliced into chunks

Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon of my Herbamare and 1/4 teaspoon pepper)

2 teaspoons date syrup (or date sugar if you don’t have date syrup, or 1 teaspoon agave)

Stir to combine and then stir every minute or so to keep the bottom from burning. When sizzling, reduce heat to medium and continue stirring every minute or two until caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. The onion and the cabbage will release liquid as they cook and that needs to evaporate before the mixture can begin to caramelize. Most important to stir often once the liquid is gone. Deglaze the pan with:

1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or 1 cup stock and 1/2 cup white wine if you can have it)

Add:

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon lightly crushed caraway seeds (I put them in my spice mill for about 2 pulses)

Stir and reduce heat to medium low and simmer until about half the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Sauce should thicken slightly as it reduces.

As the cabbage mixture is simmering, in a separate skillet over medium high heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add:

4 pork bratwurst, casings removed*

Brown on all sides then reduce heat to medium, cover, and let cook until cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Slice into bite size pieces and add to the cabbage mixture. Be sure to remove the bay leaf before serving. Can be served over noodles.

*Feel free to use any sausage your family prefers.

Avocado Coleslaw

I think I’m definitely getting lazier in my old age. Or perhaps it’s just a case of now only having to cook for myself so I don’t care anymore if someone else is going to like it. Anyway, instead of buying a small cabbage that I have to prepare, along with carrots, I’ve started buying the bagged coleslaw mix at the supermarket. So easy and so tasty.

Place in a medium size mixing bowl:

contents of one bag of prepared coleslaw vegetables – cabbage, red cabbage and grated carrots

1/2 to 1 cup of additional grated carrots*

In the bowl of a food processor (or blender) combine:

1 avocado peeled and seeded

1 cup vegan mayonnaise

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon agave nectar (or coconut nectar or honey)

1 teaspoon celery seed

Blend until smooth. If too thick, add several tablespoons water until it’s the right consistency. This will depend on the thickness of your mayonnaise since different brands can be thinner or thicker.

Combine the dressing with the coleslaw vegetables and stir until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

*TIPS: Liven up your coleslaw by adding some diced apple, pear, or jicama. I’ll also sometimes finely dice another 1/2 an avocado and add that to the mix.

Spring (or summer) Rolls

When I lived in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, there was a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant that introduced me to all kinds of new flavors. One of our favorites were their spring rolls! What a delicious concoction; meat, rice noodles and vegetables wrapped in a rice paper shell and deep fried. Oh so good. Generally a spring roll contains pork or shrimp and a summer roll (the unfried version of a spring roll) contains shrimp and no noodles but bean sprouts instead. Here I’ve substituted chicken but any meat (or meat substitute) would work. And they aren’t difficult to make as long as the steps are followed.

First cook whatever part of the filling needs cooking.

To a large pot of boiling, salted water add:

8 ounces pad Thai noodles (or linguini, gluten free of course!) [Optional but traditional]

Cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside to add to the cooked vegetables later. In a medium 10″ skillet over medium heat, heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add:

1/2 medium onion, sliced

1 cup of thinly sliced Chinese (or Napa) cabbage

Reduce heat to medium low and cook for several minutes until the onion and cabbage wilt. In a small bowl whisk:

1 tablespoon soy substitute

1 tablespoon date sugar (or syrup)

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Add to the skillet and stir to combine with the onion and cabbage. Add the pad Thai noodles if used. Remove the vegetables from the skillet. Either clean that skillet or using another, heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add over medium heat:

16 ounces of chicken breast, julienned (thinly sliced)

Cook, turning frequently, for several minutes, 3-5, until chicken is cooked. Remove from heat.

Let the vegetables and chicken cool thoroughly. If the fillings aren’t cool enough, they will melt the rice paper wrapper. In the meantime, prepare the uncooked fillings, any or all of the following:

1 medium carrot, any color, julienned

1 English cucumber, peeled and julienned

1 cup zucchini noodles cut into 4 inch sections

1/2 cup pea pods

2-3 green scallions (green parts only), cut into 4 inch sections

1/2 cup Daikon radish (julienned)

Avocado (julienned)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds (white or black)

Fresh herbs can also be added such as mint or basil leaves

As you can see, pretty much any vegetable could work, even string beans! You’ll also need:

10-12 rice paper wrappers (found in most oriental or specialty stores (or Whole Foods)

When the fillings are all prepared and cooled, using a 12″ container (I used a large pie plate), fill with about 1″ of warm water, not hot, just lukewarm works best. One at a time, place a rice paper wrapper , into the warm water, making sure the wrapper is covered by the water. You don’t want to soak it, just wet it completely. You’ll notice when it’s wet enough because the marks on the wrapper will disappear. Place the wrapper on a clean tea towel (cotton rather than a synthetic or fleece towel) and dry. I picked up the wrapper at this point, carefully, so it didn’t stick as much to the towel after filling.

As you see from the photo, I broke one but it was still useable. Once dried, place some of the fillings in the middle of the wrapper, horizontally, then fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling being sure it is tight at the top. Then fold in the sides of the wrapper and roll it up from the bottom to the top. The top should stick to the rest of the roll. If it doesn’t, rub a tiny amount of water on it with your finger.

Now comes the choice – spring or summer rolls? The only difference is the frying. If spring rolls are chosen, cook all of them. I cooked half and left the others for the next day’s lunch and they totally disintegrated in the oil the next day, the rice paper didn’t hold up to being refrigerated.

If spring rolls are the choice, heat in a large, high sided skillet:

3 inches of olive and avocado oils

Heat to 350 degrees. Olive oil has a low smoke point so mixing it with the avocado (which has a higher smoke point) keeps the olive oil from burning during this process. Once the oil is to temperature, add the spring rolls being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry, turning once (tongs are best for this), until golden brown. Unlike most fried foods, do not place these on a paper towel as the rice wrapper will stick to it even after fried. Instead blot lightly with the paper towel after frying.

If, like me, several of your wrappers formed holes when wrapping them in the vegetables, DON’T FRY THEM! The oil will get into the roll and it will be very greasy. Use it as a summer roll instead.

Dipping sauce (or dressing) if desired. Traditionally spring rolls are served with a peanut sauce but the restaurant always served them with a spicy soy/ginger/garlic sauce. Here are several recipes for dipping sauces.

“Peanut” Dipping Sauce:

Combine in a small bowl:

1/2 cup tahini or other seed or nut butter

1 tablespoon soy substitute

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1-3 tablespoons hot water depending on the thickness desired

Whisk to combine all ingredients.

Spicy Dipping Sauce:

In a small bowl combine:

4 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons date sugar (or syrup)

4 tablespoons soy substitute

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

slices of red chili pepper (optional)

Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce:

In a small bowl combine:

1 tablespoon soy substitute

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup date sugar (or syrup)

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Braised Cabbage (dairy-free, gluten-free)

My mother loved braised cabbage; this was her go-to winter vegetable when she was tired of peas, carrots, green beans or corn.  She always used red cabbage but any cabbage will work.  The onion adds a little tang and the bacon a smoky flavor.  I add pear; my mother always used apple.  Either will add some sweetness to the dish and, when combined with the fat from the olive oil and bacon, give it a full-bodied richness.  Prepare the onion, bacon, and cabbage ahead of time and this takes around 15 minutes to cook.  And it can be a vegan dish if you leave out the bacon.  Makes 4 servings using a 3-4 inch cabbage.

In a large saute pan, add:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped uncooked bacon (whatever bacon your family likes works fine) — IF your bacon is very fatty, don’t use the olive oil

Cook until bacon is browned.  If you have more than a couple of tablespoons of fat in the pan, drain some off. Add to the pan:

  • 1 cup chopped onion

Cook until onion is softened.  Add:

  • 4-5 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (any vinegar works but if white is used, a little less vinegar would probably be good unless your family really loves the taste of vinegar)

Cover and braise 5-7 minutes until cabbage is softened, stir once or twice during cooking.

Add 1 diced apple or pear and cook another minute or two until fruit is soft (the apple may take a few minutes more than the pear).  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup.  Add salt and pepper to taste, stir well, and serve.

You can also add 1 tablespoon caraway seeds.

Cole Slaw Two Ways (dairy-free, egg-free)

 

 

With a small cabbage (I like to use Chinese cabbage), remove outer leaves and cut in slides or wedges.  Put in your food processor and pulse until medium dice (depending on what you like, me I like to taste the cabbage but I know people, like my husband, who like cole slaw finely diced).

Put in a medium to large bowl depending on how much cabbage you have and add:

  • 1/2 cup diced scallion
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots

To make the dressing, put in a small bowl:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (see my recipe for egg-free mayonnaise)
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar

Stir until mixed and add to the cabbage mixture.  Depending on the amount of cabbage you have, you may need a  little more or a little less mayonnaise.  Salt and pepper to taste.

If you’d rather not have a mayonnaise-based cole slaw, here’s a vinaigrette to use instead:

Blend together:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite mustard

I use a canning jar and shake it until emulsified.