Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cabbage two ways

Inspiration for cooking wanes in the bleak days of February when very little of last summer's bounty is still left in the larders, and the days of fresh still seem far off.  I was moved to buy an organic cabbage and first used more than half of it to make kimchee – the simple version according to Tassajara Cooking.  It's a two-day process rather than the longer traditional fermenting. 


Day 1

Cut cabbage into bite-size chunks and put into non-reactive glass or ceramic bowl.

Mix with ~1 ½ T salt.

Mix.  Press down with a plate on top and a weight.

Store overnight in the refrigerator.

Day 2

Pour off accumulated water.  The salty water can be saved for soup.

Add garlic, ginger, toasted sesame seeds, and red papper to taste.

Store in glass or other non-reactive containers in refrigerator.

Kimchee is a delicious additive to add kinds of things – salads, pita sandwiches, soups…
OK still another half a cabbage left.  There are some carrots in the hydrator too.  Ah, masala!  Masala is a mixture of vegetables, with Indian spices.  My introduction to the basic recipe for masala came from another of my early favorite cookbooks from the seventies, The Golden Temple Vegetarian Cookbook(These are the cookbooks I actually learned to cook from back in the seventies when I was in my twenties.  I learned to make bread from the detailed directions in The Tassajara Bread Book.)  As with many of the recipes in the Tassajara, this one can be adapted to use many different kinds of vegetables according to what it is available and what turns the cook on. 

Vegetable masala – Basic masala for curry

Cut several cups of vegetables in advance.  This time I'm using just cabbage and carrots, but any combination you think is compatible works..

Heat 1/3 cup oil – sesame is best

Fry up 2 or 3 onions; add 2 T minced ginger and a few cloves minced garlic

After the holy trinity (i.e. onions, garlic, and ginger!) is soft and fragrant, add 1 tsp jeera (either cumin seed or caraway seed), 1 tsp turmeric, a tsp of garam masala*, ¼ tsp or more cayenne pepper and salt to taste.

Stir for a couple more minutes and then add a couple tomatoes (fresh or canned).  The tomatoes are optional.

After that is cooked down, add the several cups of vegetables.  When it comes back to heat, add some water, and lower heat and cover til cooked, stirring occasionally. 
* garam masala is a mixture of spices, so if you don't have that, you can just put in a little of various spices according to taste including cumin, coriander, cardamom, pepper, cloves, cinammon.