Friday, December 25, 2009

Freezing Green Beans and Snow Peas

  1. Bring a very big pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil (the kind that will quickly come back after you add your room temperature beans.)
  2. Add rinsed beans, in one pound batches, though that depends on just how big your pot is. Do not crowd the beans!!
  3. Boil , or as it is more technically called, blanch the beans for 2-3 minutes depending on just how big your beans are and whether or not you left them whole, or chose to cut them into 1 inch or 2 inch segments.
  4. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. The key is that your beans are partially blanched, not completely blanched, before freezing.
  5. Shake the beans so that most of the water drips off and then lay them out of a baking sheet. If they seem really wet, pat them dry, to minimize ice crust formation on their surface.
  6. Then place your sheet, of well spread out beans in the freezer and come back to it in a half hour or so. What you are doing is beginning the freezing process in such a way that each bean freezes on its own, and not in a crammed, packed mass stuffed inside a ziploc bag. You want inidividual frozen beans, not a frozen ice block of beans.
  7. After a half hour or so of freezer time on the tray, go ahead and place them into ziploc bags with as much air as possible squeezed out of them.
  8. Come December, enjoy your summer green beans and snow peas by pulling out a bag full and blanching them straight from the freezer for 2-4 minutes in a big, well salted, rigorously boiling pot of water!!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thomas Keller's Favorite Simple Roast Chicken is My Favorite Too

Rich golden brown, crispy skin, juicy flesh. It looks that good because it is that good.

Salt, salt, salt, pepper. Hot oven.

a chicken


kitchen string (optional)

thyme (optional)

This recipe is from Thomas Keller in his own voice!
It's DELICIOUS! And SOOOOO easy, I can't tell you enough times. It's EASY! Sometimes I truss the bird, sometimes I don't. I only bothered with the thyme once. It is so simply good even without it. Why? Because the Synergy chickens are amazing and, I speak from first hand knowledge, taken care of so very well.

"Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.

Now, salt the chicken—I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don't baste it, I don't add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want. Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I'm cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip—until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook's rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be superelegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You'll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it's so good."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Synergy Chicken Stock, nonchalantly

Concentrated chicken stock. Simmered once more after pouring through a sieve. I save the beautiful fat on top.

one chicken carcass (or two if you have a big enough pot and have been saving them in your freezer)

This is more of a testimony than a recipe, on purpose.

There are endless ways to make stock. Some include onions, celery, herbs. Others instruct you to skim constantly. A recipe might tell you to simmer for no less than three hours, others say to simmer twice. I find that making chicken stock is a forgiving task. Sometimes I skim every fifteen minutes. Other times, I have forgotten to skim until the very end. It is something I put on the stove and walk away from. While it simmers, I putter around elsewhere, carefree.

Most of the time with chickens as flavorful as Synergy's I don't add anything to the pot besides the carcass, water to cover by a couple inches, and some shakes of salt and pepper. If I have half an onion or some "seconds" carrots, I'll throw those in. But I never add herbs or garlic or celery, since I don't know what I'll use the stock for ultimately and maybe I won't want those flavors.

High heat is initially necessary to bring your big pot of water and carcass to a boil, but then turn it down and find a gently simmering heat. Leave it uncovered, and skim occasionally. If the water level gets low, add some water, but try and avoid that problem by finding the gentle simmer point. Then three hours later or so, pour the stock through a large sieve and discard the solids. Chill stock, uncovered, until cool, then cover. Refrigerate or freeze. Discard the solidified fat before using stock, or better yet, save it for some future use.

To save space in your freezer, concentrate your stock by simmering it down after pouring it through a sieve.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Canned Dilly Beans

The green bean glut is on!

After the harvest on Friday, we knew we had more beans than we could possibly sell or eat at once, so Saturday evening, spurred by the abundance, we undertook our first canning project of the season.

As amateur canners, we carefully consulted and stuck to the recommendations of Nancy Chioffi and Gretchen Mead's book Keeping the Harvest. Their recipe for dilly beans and general processing instructions were easy to follow, and we only needed a few special tools:
  • pint-jars
  • new pint lids
  • large pot
  • makeshift canning rack to keep the jars off the bottom during processing (we used the rings off old canning lids)
  • jar lifter (available at the grocery store)
If you don't have experience canning, it's best to head to the bookstore or to the library (or jump on the internet) and read up before you get started.

We haven't opened a jar to try them yet, but the process seemed like a success. Do you have a favorite bean canning recipe? We'd love to hear about it!

from Keeping the Harvest by Nancy Chioffi and Gretchen Mead

2 lbs green and yellow wax beans, trimmed
1 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic
4 heads dill
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups vinegar
1/4 cup canning salt

Pack beans, lengthwise, into hot pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. The jars shouldn't end up too full -- leave enough room for vinegar solution to flow between beans. To each pint, add 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 clover garlic, and 1 head dill. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour boiling hot water over beans, leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Adjust caps. Process pints 10 minutes in boiling water bath (10 minutes from the point when water is boiling vigorously). Yield: 4 pints.

For best flavor let the canned beans stand for at least two weeks before serving. This allows the flavor to develop. And don't worry if they look shrivelled right after processing. They'll plump up in 4-6 weeks.

Fresh beans, trimmed to leave 1/2'' headroom in the jar and rinsed in a colander

Beans packed in the pint jars, topped with a garlic clove, a dill-head, and 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper

Once the jars are filled with the hot vinegar solution (leaving 1/4'' headroom), we wiped the tops of the jars with a dry paper towel to remove any moisture that might inhibit the seal. Then we put on the tops and screwed on the rings.

The jars were added to a pre-heated pot of water, positioned atop our makeshift can rack, made of old canning lid rings. It's important to use a rack and to make sure the jars don't touch each other or the sides of the pot in order to ensure an even temperature around the jar during processing. Once the water came to a boil, we processed for 10 minutes.

We lifted out the jars with our handy jar-lifter and put them in a draft-free place to cool for 12 hours.

The beans were a little shrively, but our sources promise this will go away in a few weeks.

After 12 hours, we tested the seal by removing the ring and lifting the jar by the flat lid. Success!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bran Carrot Squash Muffins

If you find yourself with lots of carrots or lots of extra zucchini, you can change the recipe to accommodate. If you happen to get an extra juicy carrot or zucchini, try to remove some of the liquid by squeezing a cup at a time in a paper towel. You can grate the veggies by hand, but if you have a food processor, by all means, save yourself some time and use it!

A few times when I've made this recipe, the muffins came out a little too sweet for my taste, likely because the carrots I used were super-sweet already. Consider crunching on a bite of your carrots before shredding, and cutting the sugar by up to half.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cup wheat bran
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 large eggs

1/2 cup organic canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups grated raw carrot

1 cup grated raw zucchini or other summer squash.
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Grease your muffin tin really really well and consider using muffin liners to make things easier on yourself -- this is important. The bran and all the carrots make these muffins fall apart more easily, so you'll need to take care or your muffins will stick and your tops will fall off. This is okay in a Seinfeld episode, but less cool in real life. If you're filling the muffin pan to the top because you want big crispy muffin tops, also make sure that you grease the top of the pan and not just the inside of the cups or it will stick.

Mix dry ingredients: flour, bran, salt, bkg pwdr, bkg soda, nutmeg, cinnamon. In separate bowl, mix eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar.

Add carrot & squash into wet stuff and mix to coat, then gently fold in dry ingredients 1/4 at a time until just combined.

Add raisins and walnuts, stir gently, then fill greased muffin cups 3/4 to all-the-way full. Cook 20-25 minutes at 400

A yummy breakfast treat -- goes great with a steaming cup of coffee

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Zucchini bread, three ways

Special zucchini bread with crunchy topping, adapted from 101 Cookbooks won second place in the tasting competition.

Hooray for summer! Every day on the farm brings new, exciting, and delicious bounties. Lately, the summer squash has gone for broke, and we're swimming in bright green zucchinis, stripy zucchinis, pattypans, and this curious fellow:

This year, one of our seed suppliers, Johnny's, sent out the wrong seeds to everyone who ordered Costata Romanesca squash. In fact, the lovely round squash isn't a Costata at all, but something else: still delicious and prolific, but rounder and slightly wetter than what we bargained for.

Turns out the mystery squash is perfect for zucchini bread. The seeds inside (even a larger one) aren't too big, so I just chopped off the stem, cut the squash in wedges, and used a food processor to shred it all.

I tested three recipes, a traditional sweetish walnut-cinnamon-nutmeg loaf, a slightly zany nutty loaf with a secret ingredient, adapted from 101 cookbooks and a savory zucchini-basil muffin recipe, adapted from a message board post on a Chowhound message board.

The tasting panel generally agreed that the zucchini basil muffins won out, with the zany recipe not far behind. The more traditional recipe turned out too dry and slightly over-sweet. It could have done with some soaked raisins and extra zucchini.

And the winner is...

FIRST PLACE: Zucchini Basil Muffins
Adapted from the LA Times by way of Chowhound.

1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 c. all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup shredded mystery zucchini (or any other type should work fine)
3 tbsp sweet basil, finely minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese to top

Beat egg in bowl, stir in milk and oil, then mix in sugar.

Sprinkle baking powder and salt evenly on top.

Mix in flour until just moistened, then gently mix in zucchini and basil.

Fill a well-buttered muffin tin so that the cups are nearly full (slightly more than 3/4). Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450 degrees, 20-25 minutes.

Makes 6-9 muffins. You can easily double for a bigger batch.

RUNNER UP: Special Zucchini Bread with sesame crunch
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup chopped walnuts
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp sesame seeds

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fine grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg + one yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tbsp curry powder

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter one 5x9 loaf pan, dust it with a bit of flour and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the walnuts, sesame seeds, lemon zest, and gingers. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again until mixture comes together and is no longer. Add the eggs, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini (low speed if you are using a mixer).

Sprinkle the baking soda on top of the mixture. Then sprinkle on the salt and curry powder as evenly as possible. Add the flour in 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until just incorporated each time. After the last batch of flour, fold in half of the walnut, sesame, ginger mixture.

Put the batter in the greased pan, making sure it is level with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Then sprinkle on the other half of the walnut, ginger, lemon mixture.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes on a middle oven rack. Check the bread after 35 minutes and cover if it begins to brown too quickly. The loaf will be done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Take the loaf out from the oven and let cool for about ten minutes, then remove from the pan onto wire racks to finish cooling.

Makes one loaf. To double, use 3 eggs instead of 1 egg + one yolk.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Freezing Tomatoes and other resources for food preservation

Here on the farm we're just coming into our summer bounty. With all the beautiful food around us: tomatoes blushing red, new zucchinis bursting from the vine, cucumbers coming to size and lettuce growing and growing, it's hard to think about the times of year when all these things just don't grow.

In the past our mothers and grandmothers found ways to preserve food to enjoy during leaner winter months when harvests were scarce or nonexistent. Preserving: pickling, jamming, canning, and drying is coming back into vogue as the economy encourages people to find ways to save, and folks become more excited about eating locally produced products. Ball Jar has seen sales of canning jars go up by 30% since 2007.

Some of our neighbors are well ahead of the trend: many folks on the island have been canning and preserving for years. And we know many more of you are interested in getting started. We had a question on the blog the other day about preserving foods, so we've put together some resources to help.

In the coming months, we hope to compile the wisdom of other folks on the island to give advice on island-friendly techniques for storing onions, garlic, and other veggies to keep throughout the year.

Freezing Tomatoes

Here at the farm, we like to freeze extra tomatoes to use throughout the year in soups and sauces. It's a simple process that takes just an afternoon or evening to process the pounds of extra tomatoes we harvest and can't use up.
1) Rinse your tomatoes well, cut out the stem area and discard. You can leave the tomatoes whole, or cut them in chunks, according to your preference. (We leave them whole.)
2) Place the tomatoes in a large soup pot with nothing else. Bring them to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer them for about an hour, until they are mushy.
3) Put the tomato mixture through a food mill, and discard the pulp that remains. (It should be only a small amount.)
4) Put the tomato mixture in individual glass jars (we use quart-size ball jars with plastic lids) and set on the counter to cool. Then put in the freezer. This should last at least a year.

Other Resources
The San Juan Island library is a great resource for books on canning and preserving vegetables. Check out books near call number 641.4.

Here are some key references to check out (* available at the library):

You can also check out these sites online:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Radishes Braised in Butter

Cooking radishes? Yep, it's actually the only way I will be charmed by their Easter basket colored selves into eating them.

Tender, a bit sweet, a bit tangy, still got some bite to them. Plus, they are still so colorful!
1 bunch of radishes, sliced 1/2 inch thick and greens removed (but saved for cooking up another time)
1 small fresh red onion (with green stems still attached, though you won't use them for this) or 1/2 small red onion sliced into rings
1 tbsp butter

pinch of sugar
1/3 cup water or chicken stock
salt and pepper


Melt the butter in a pan that is large enough to place all the radishes without overlapping. When it begins to brown, add the onion and sautee for three minutes till soft. Then add the radishes, sugar, water and a shake of salt and pepper and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the radishes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Uncover, turn up to high in order to bring it back up to a boil and evaporate off most of the water. If you like, allow radishes to brown a bit once the water has evaporated.

The freshly harvested red onions tend to have a milder taste to them then a regular cured one.

All from the Friday Harbor Farmer's Market.

White Bean, Sage and Garlic Scape Dip

Dip and toasted Cafe Demeter Organic Whole Wheat Bread. I was amazed at how yummy this dip turned out to be. And since many are at a loss for what to do with garlic scapes, as an intern, I've been able to make double and triple batches and freeze and gift them.

Garlic scapes among Synergy cabbage and snow peas at market.

Based on a recipe from The New York Times

1/2 - 2/3 cup roughly chopped garlic scapes (4-7, though this depends on how big the scapes are)
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves

1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Ground black pepper to taste

2 cups, or if using canned, one 15 ounce can, white beans drained (cannellini, navy, or great northern)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

In a food processor, process smaller starting quantities of garlic scapes, lemon juice, sage, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add white beans and process to a rough purée.

With motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through feed tube and process until fairly smooth. At this point, add more of the scapes, salt, and/or pepper, if desired, and process to a creamy puree.

When you serve the dip, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with more salt.

Pureed beans, scapes, sage, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Update: San Juan Island food on TV

Update: If you didn't catch the spot, you can check it out online here.

Last week, Madden, the chef at Steps Wine Bar and Cafe was interviewed about local island food, including Synergy's own carrots and potatoes!

The show should also feature local island spots and kayaking.

Check it out at 7pm on "Evening Magazine" on King 5 News, Thursday July 2nd!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Roasted Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas, or "brave potatoes," are a traditional Spanish tapa -- golden fried garlicky potatoes either topped with, or dipped into, a spicy, garlicky aoili. Tapas are Spain's snacks or appetizers, often taken with a drink in the afternoon, or late in the evening.

This version, which I made with new potatoes, is roasted in olive oil instead of fried, but the Bravas sauce is the same tangy, hot delicious mix you can find in many bars and restaurants in Madrid.

1 lb potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
3 Synergy garlic cloves, minced finely
paprika and salt, to coat

Bravas Sauce:
1/2 medium onion
4 Synergy garlic cloves (6 if you use regular garlic, which is smaller)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup mustard aioli
1 tsp paprika (pimentón dulce)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop potatoes into 1/2'' cubes. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, paprika and salt until evenly coated, then transfer to a baking sheet. Cook for about 1 hour or until brown and crispy, but not burnt. Take the pan out of the oven and stir every 20 minutes or so to prevent sticking and make sure potatoes brown evenly.

In the meantime, prepare the bravas sauce. In a blender, mix together all the sauce ingredients until well-incorporated.

Serve potatoes hot, with sauce on the side for dipping or with 2-3 tbsp mixed in.

Chinese Cabbage and Parsley Salad with Mustard Aioli

This simple, fresh-tasting salad is a great accompaniment to a summer picnic. Peppery, sweet Chinese cabbage works very well, but a more traditional variety can also be substituted.

Adapted from the New York Times

1/2 lb Chinese cabbage, shredded
1 cup trimmed, peeled, finely shredded carrot
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tsp sesame oil (optional)

Remove cabbage leaves one-by-one and wash carefully. Cut leaves in half, lengthwise, then stack leaves and slice horizontally with your knife, as thinly as possible. Use the entire leaf, including the sweet, juicy white stems. This should produce 3-4 cups of cabbage

Put cabbage in a large bowl, add carrot and parsley and toss. Add 1/4 cup of mustard aioli (or less or more, to your liking) and optional sesame oil and mix well to coat.

Mustard Aioli

1 egg
3 Dijon-style mustard
2 tsp ground ginger
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil

In a blender, mix egg, mustard, ginger, shallots and vinegar. When blended well, keep blender on low, open the lid carefully and gradually add oil. Use the remaining aoili as a substitute for mayonnaise, or in Patatas Bravas.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Double Green Garlic Soup

Green garlic bulbs.

Garlic scapes among other June and July Farmer's Market offerings.

Mondo Music garlic (Music is actually the variety name.)

The food processor making life easier.

And even easier.

The finished soup. Double garlic, cream, a little lemon, thyme and nutmeg. Don't forget the fresh, crusty bread for dipping (in this case it is ciabatta from Cafe Demeter.)

In my mind, the key to this silky soup is a generous quantity of freshly grated nutmeg garnishing the soup. It is fun to make
and sort of amazing to take three big garlic bulbs and three cups of scapes and turn it into such a smooth soup. Definitely serve it with thick toasted slices of a fresh crusty bread. If you dip a toasted slice of bread in the soup, the crunch is a wonderful counterpoint to the cream.

Though the soup is "double green" because the recipe calls for fresh garlic bulbs, whose flavor is milder, and the scapes are vibrantly green, the soup does lose it's color a bit and mellows to a murky green. To counter that, place some fresh thyme sprigs or blossoms in the center in addition to the freshly grated nutmeg.

Recipe from The New York Times

3 fat bulbs green garlic,* root and green parts trimmed, outer layer removed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups sliced garlic scapes (about 3/4 pound)

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, more for garnish

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

Ground black pepper to taste

1/2 pound new potatoes

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup half-and-half or whole milk

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg to garnish


Chop green garlic by hand or in a food processor. In a soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add green garlic and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add scapes, thyme, salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes.

Stir in potato and broth, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until scapes and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add half-and-half, and purée soup with an immersion blender or pour into a regular blender. Stir in the lemon juice and season with more salt and pepper. Garnish with nutmeg and thyme leaves, and serve hot.

* If green garlic isn't available at the farmer's market, use two-thirds are much regular garlic. Though if green garlic isn't available, then garlic scapes probably aren't either, and it just isn't the time of year to make this soup.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ginger Braised Pork with Chinese Cabbage

This recipe was inspired by the gorgeous Chinese cabbage I picked up from Joel and Margaret of Thousand Flower Farm last Saturday at the Farmers' Market. Joel wasn't sure how versatile this veggie could be, so I promised to make something and come back with a report on the results.

This gorgeous, slightly peppery, big-leafed cabbage is often used in soups and added to light broths in Chinese cooking, but it is also wonderful in stir fries, braised, like in this recipe, and chopped up raw for salad. The dark green leaves are soft and have a slight horseradish flavor, while the white stems are crunchy, tender, and super-sweet.

This recipe originally called for bacon, and that's how I made it the first time around, but all the tasters agreed that the marinated pork was more flavorful, had better texture, and was probably a little healthier to boot. You could also use thinly-sliced pork loin for an even lighter version of the dish.

Adapted from The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas

1 pound pork butt partially frozen and sliced as thinly as possible
1 tbsp fresh ginger
1 lb Thousand Flower Farm Chinese cabbage leaves
4 medium sized carrots, peeled
1 1/2 cups chicken broth and 1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp white pepper

1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Marinate your sliced pork for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight in the refrigerator. The longer you marinate, the more tender and flavorful the dish will be.

Separate and wash your cabbage leaves. If you have an extra large cabbage (like Joel and Margaret's!) use the larger leaves on the outside. Chop large leaves in half horizontally to fit the pot you'll be using, separating the dark green tops from the white bottoms.

Chop your carrots into 2'' portions, then slice the 2'' portions thinly.

To make sure your layers end up even, divide the cabbage leaves and carrot strips into 4 parts and divide the pork, bacon, and chopped ginger into 3 parts. Try to use the white stems on the lower levels, rather than in the top layers as they will cook better closer to the source of heat and to the liquid. Arrange cabbage leaves and carrots on the bottom of a large (3 qt) pot; cover with a portion of the meats and chopped ginger. Continue layering. On the last layer, put the carrot strips under the cabbage instead of on top; and if possible, save the prettiest, biggest leaves for the top -- this just makes for a prettier presentation.

Add your chicken broth and soy sauce, bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to medium so that the chicken broth is only simmering. Cover the pot and cook until the top layer of cabbage is cooked, about 30 minutes.

At this point, remove the pan from heat and carefully lift the mass from the pot using two spatulas (you may want to employ some help, though it is possible with just one person!), leaving the juices behind. Return the pot with juice to low heat. Add the cornstarch mixture and pepper and stir gently for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the mound of cabbage. Cut the layers into slices (like lasagna) and serve with generous amounts of sauce over hot jasmine rice.

Separating the ingredients into portions helps to make sure the layers are even

Layering in the pot -- notice the top half of the cabbage leaf fills the entire pot!

Braised cabbage, ready for eating!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cream Braised Green Cabbage

Now that we are harvesting cabbage, I cannot stop making this.

A bed of Gonzales cabbages.

Excerpted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, including author's tips.

This recipe calls for a fairly small cabbage. I like to use small ones because they're often sweeter and more tender than their big-headed siblings. If, however, you can only find a larger cabbage, you can certainly use it. Just be sure to only use as many wedges as fit into a single layer in the pan, and take care that each wedge is no thicker than 2 inches at its outer wedge. Otherwise, the cabbage won't cook properly.

You can also try this method on halved or quartered Brussels sprouts.

1 small green cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

First, prepare the cabbage. Pull away any bruised leaves, and trim its root end to remove any dirt. Cut the cabbage into quarters, and then cut each quarter in half lengthwise, taking care to keep a little bit of the core in each wedge. (The core will help to hold the wedge intact, so that it doesn't fall apart in the pan.) You should wind up with 8 wedges of equal size.

In a large (12-inch) skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage wedges, arranging them in a single crowded layer with one of the cut sides down. Allow them to cook, undisturbed, until the downward facing side is nicely browned, 5 to 8 minutes. I like mine to get some good color here, so that they have a sweetly caramelized flavor. Then, using a pair tongs, gently turn the wedges onto their other cut side. When the second side has browned, sprinkle the salt over the wedges, and add the cream. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and reduce the heat so that the liquid stays at a slow, gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and gently, using tongs, flip the wedges. Cook another 20 minutes, or until the cabbage is very tender and yields easily when pierced with a thin, sharp knife. Add the lemon juice, and shake the pan to distribute it evenly.

Simmer, uncovered, for a few more minutes more to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the cabbage. Serve immediately, with additional salt at the table.


  • Not wanting the indulgent richness of the cream as a side dish to accompany a summer dinner of lemon roasted chicken with rhubarb onion sauce, I followed this same cabbage recipe, but used an IPA beer instead of cream. It turned out delish and still a little creamy thanks to the butter.

Rhubarb Onion Sauce

Lemon roasted chicken with rhubarb onion sauce, roasted asparagus, and beer braised green cabbage.

This recipe for this sauce was guessed at based on this blog post, with its painfully unspecific description. I'm not actually sure the method behind this is sound (I dry sauteed a small onion. Is that done?) but it turns out delicious, so I am going to stick with it.

1 small onion, well-chopped
2 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)

1/3 cup white sugar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chili
salt and pepper to taste

In a small non-stick frying pan, saute the minced onion till dried out and browned a bit. Set this aside. In a small saucepan combine the sugar, red wine vinegar, and water over medium heat. Heat to a boil, stirring to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. When it begins to boil, sdd the rhubarb and dried crushed chili. When the rhubarb begins to fall apart, add in the onions and let it simmer till the rhubard has completely fallen apart and the sauce reaches a thickened jam-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Eat with fish, chicken, cheese (yes, I dipped a piece of cheddar cheese into this sauce.)
  • Stir in a generous amount of chopped mint before serving. Strange, I thought, but excellent.

The dry-sauteed chopped onion. Possibly sketchy technique.

The rhubarb is beginning to fall apart. Time to add the onion and simmer till thick.