Monday, February 28, 2011

Making Semur Daging (Indonesian Beef Stew) in Jerusalem

What makes a Jewish dish, or a dish Jewish?  There are certain obvious constraints -- kashrut, cooking prohibitions on the Sabbath, demands of certain festivals -- that help to determine the contours within which Jewish dishes are developed.  Then there is the influence of the local country, culture and economy.  Jewish families would often employ local non-Jews as cooks or maids, and this is one way that local dishes became Judaized.  Jews (and right-thinking people everywhere) make stuffed cabbage, but what a Hungarian will serve you is very different from what you will get in a Litvak home.  Gil Marks (I think) has said that Jewish food is food that is part of a Jewish life, and is used to mark special Jewish occasions.  In our family, that means that Semur Daging (Indonesian beef stew cooked with sweet soy sauce) is a Jewish dish.  How did this happen?

We wanted to make something special for Shabbat dinner the Friday after President Obama was elected in 2008, and in view of the time he spent in Indonesia (where his mother worked on microfinance and women's economic development for the Ford Foundation, where I also used to work) we tried Copeland Marks' recipe for this stew from his now out-of-print book The Indonesian Kitchen.    It soon became one of Harry's favorites dishes, and he requests when pressed on birthdays and other special occasions, like Rosh HaShanah or his last Friday night dinner at home before leaving for Israel last August.  It has become domesticated as one of our Jewish dishes, so to speak. Harry likes it so much that he wanted a recipe that he can use once he is living in an apartment in Jerusalem, beginning March 1.  So, this recipe is for him and his friends Zach Zimmerman, Seth Englebourg and Rachel Aronson in the hope that they will cook it for themselves.  (I hope that this qualifies as a sufficient shout-out.)

I have made a number of changes in the recipe. I eliminated the water that Marks calls for and and added some bones to make the sauce richer, substituted shallots for onions when they are handy, added a fresh hot red pepper and or a bruised stalk of lemon grass when one is around since it provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of the stew, and cooked it much longer and slower to make the beef really tender.  Those of you have one might want to try it in a slow cooker.  It is extremely easy since the meat doesn't need to be browned. 

If you want to make this in Jerusalem, or somewhere else other than New York (I don't mean to channel the famous Steinberg cartoon here, but it is sort of unavoidable) you may find it hard to find some of the ingredients:  laos, known in English to the extent that it is known at all, as galingal; kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), and salaam leaf, which even I usually leave out.  Some of the spices, like cloves and nutmeg, are available under the Israeli label Pereg, so they must be available in Jerusalem as well.  There is a population of Thai guest workers in Israel, so they may be able to find galingal (known as kha in Thai) in one of their markets.  Its Arabic name is kholanjian so you may also be able to find it in an Arab spice market.  A Thai market will certainly have lemongrass.  You are on your own for salaam leaves, which I generally leave out.  The key ingredient that you may not be able to find is kecap manis, Indonesian sweet soy sauce. Friends of ours are going to Jerusalem for a wedding the week after Purim and offered to take things over for Harry.  I thought about having them carry over some kecap manis  (and galingal) but was worried about what would happen at airport security and customs.  Instead, Amy and I tried out numerous possible substitutes and found a mixture of dark soy sauce and sugar to be an adequate substitute.  It was very challenging, but that is the kind of thing that parents do for their children, even those who rarely call or skype. 

So, here is a recipe for semur daging, with the original ingredients if you are cooking it in New York, where you can find almost everything, as well as some substitutions if you are someplace else like Jerusalem, which has other virtues. 
Semur Daging in New York and elsewhere:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion (one small) or shallot (one very large or two medium)
  • 2 pounds boneless beef  (chuck or kalechel is ideal; flanken or shank are great, but then use 3 pounds and leave out the bones)
  • 1 pound beef soup bones with some meat on them (neck rib, etc)
  • 1 slice fresh ginger  
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, ideally fresh ground
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, smashed and cut in a few large pieces  (optional)
  • 1 fresh red chili pepper, sliced (optional)
  • 2 quarter inch slices fresh galingal (laos/kha);(if you can't find it, use dried slices or 1 teaspoon powder, or substitute 2 more slices ginger)
  • 4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (Use kecap manis if you can find it, if not you can substitute 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce and 2 additional tablespoons brown or white sugar.)
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar (I like apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  1. Heat the oil in a pot, and add the onion or shallot and saute on medium until soft.
  2. Add the meet and bones and saute on high until it loses its red color.  It is not necessary to brown.
  3. Add all the spices (ginger through galangal) and saute a minute or so.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, turn heat down to very low, so the stew just barely simmers, and cook for two  to two and a half hours until the meat is very tender.  Stir every 45 minutes or so so that all of the meat spends at least some time submerged.  You can also bring the pot to the simmer on the stove and then transfer it to a 300 degree oven to bake for 2 and a half to three hours, stirring about halfway through.  I think that the meat comes out best in the oven. 
  5. Fish out the ginger, galingal and lemon grass if you can.
  6. That's it.  Serve with rice  (click here for an easy recipe) to 4 or more people.

What to serve with this?  In addition to white rice, you can try my imitation fast gado gado, and Indonesian salad with peanut sauce, adapted to what is available in Israel.  Mix smooth peanut butter (try 1/2 cup) with 2 tablespoons soy sauce, the juice of one lime, and a teaspoon of harissa.  Mix well until smooth. Dribble in a little water until it is pouring consistency.  Taste it and add more soy if it needs to be saltier, lime juice if you want it more sour, and more harissa if you want it spicier.  Put some shredded cabbage on a plate.  Top with cold boiled green beans and, if you want, sliced boiled potatoes.  Shred some raw carrots on top (just use a vegetable peeler to make shreds right onto the salad) and top with sliced scallions.  You can use other vegetables if you want.  Garnish with quartered hard boiled eggs and pass the peanut sauce separately for everyone to dress their own.  The stew is also very good with any tender green, like spinach or bok choy, sauteed with shallots and/or garlic.

How to adapt this for Pesach?  Don't even think about it.  Soy sauce is a misnomer.  It is made mostly from  wheat cakes with some soy fermented further in water which is then drained off to make the sauce.  Soy sauce is sort of the Platonic form of hametz. .There is no way you can make this pesah-dik even for people who eat kitniyot.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brussels sprouts reconsidered

One day I wasn't sure exactly when Amy was going to get home, and I was also in the mood for roasted Brussels sprouts.  (This could actually describe almost any day.)  Rather than roasting them at 425 like I usually do, I roasted them at 350 so that they would take longer to cook.  They ended up in the oven for about 30-35 minutes, and then I broiled them for a few minutes at the end.  Also, rather than spraying them with oil spray, I tossed them in a bowl with a little olive oil. And they were better.  Amy often complains that Brussels sprouts taste too cabbage-y (duh). but I have to admit that with longer slower cooking, the cabbage flavor was less pronounced. To serve, we drizzled them with a little more oil and then sprinkled on Aleppo pepper, toasted sesame seeds, zaatar and more Maldon salt.   Yum.  (Since these spices should be readily available in Jerusalem, this makes it a good dish for Harry, Zach, Seth and Rachel to make there.  I have no idea if it is as easy to find Brussels sprouts.)   Here is how to do it:

Revised roasted Brussels sprouts:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse the Brussels sprouts, trim off the root ends, and cut them in half lengthwise.
  3. Put them in a large mixing bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  You conscience should dictate the amounts, but you can get by with less than a teaspoon for a pound of sprouts. Mix well to coat them with oil.  Sprinkle with coarse salt (I like Maldon) and toss again to mix.
  4. Put on a baking sheet cut side down.  (I line it with foil to make it easier to clean, but they will caramelize better if you don't.  Spray the sheet or foil with oil spray if you would like.) 
  5. Roast for 30-35 minutes until tender. Broil for a few minutes if you would like , but be careful not to burn.
  6. Serve plain or season.  They are very nice drizzle with a garlic or lemon infused olive oil.  Or, do as I did above, and drizzle with plain olive oil, and toss with salt, sumac, zaatar and toasted sesame seeds. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cheese souffle two ways, and a paen to ricotta

Souffle has been called a sauce holding its breath. Conventionally, you make a very thick bechamel sauce, beat in some egg yolks, and then add cheese or another flavoring ingredient.  You then fold in beaten egg whites which trap air bubbles expand in the oven , causing the souffle to rise.  It always seemed like too much of a patschke (Yiddish for production) to me, until we were eating at Picnic, a local restaurant with our friend Louise who was in from Chicago.  She ordered a cheese souffle which we all swooned over, and said, "You know, you can make this easily for yourself.  I do it for dinner all the time and it's a cinch."  When she got home she sent us her recipe and she was right, it is a cinch.  Her recipe is below, and has become our go to Sunday night dinner.  It isn't much more difficult than an omelet, and so much more satisfying.  I include Louise's recipe at the bottom.

Years ago I read a recipe for an "easy" souffle, which uses ricotta rather than a bechamel sauce as the base.  The results are pictured below.  It is a little easier, since you don't have to make the sauce.  On the other hand, it is more difficult to work the whipped egg whites into the ricotta mixture, and you need to use a few more whites to compensate for the heaviness of the ricotta.  I actually think that it tastes better.  I urge you to try both.

Both can be varied by adding about 1/2 cup duxelles, chopped spinach sauteed in butter, or for something wild,  Indian green cilantro chutney.  My favorite of all, however, is chopped fresh chervil -- use a generous 1/4 cup, chopped in either of the recipes below.  If you are using the spinach or mushrooms, you can keep in the nutmeg but otherwise, leave it out.

Cheese souffle, ricotta version

  • 3/4 cup ricotta (the better the ricotta, the better the souffle:  see below)
  • 3/4 cup grated cheese -- we used an aged Gruyere, but any full flavored hard cheese that melts well could be used; Comte or a good aged cheddar would be nice as well
  • 2 egg yolks
  • salt, freshly ground white pepper, paprika, cayenne and nutmeg
  • 6 egg whites
  • butter for the casserole
  • additional   grated Parmesan or Grana Padano 

  1. Place a large piece of aluminum foil on a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
  2. Push the ricotta through a sieve into a medium bowl, or if you are too lazy, break it up the ricotta with a fork until smooth.  Mix in grated cheese and egg yolks until smooth.  Season with a pinch each of the salt, pepper (freshly ground white preferred), paprika, cayenne and nutmeg.  (The nutmeg is optional, but nice, and should ideally been freshly grated.)
  3. Butter a one quart casserole very thoroughly, and add sprinkle with the Parmesan.
  4. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat them in a large bowl with a balloon whisk, or with an electric mixer, until soft creamy peaks form.  This is emphatically not a patschke.  By had with a whisk, it takes about 5 minutes.  If you have a copper bowl, so much the better, but who has a copper bowl?
  5. Using a rubber scraper, fold about 1/4 of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture to loosen it. 
  6. Pour the mixture back into the rest of the egg whites, cutting and folding gently from the bottom until well mixed.  Do not over mix, it does not have to be smooth and uniform.
  7. Pour into the casserole, and sprinkle the top with a bit more Parmesan.
  8. Place casserole in the oven and bake for about 23 minutes.   (Exact times are a bit difficult to determine, and depend on size of dish, temperature of ingredients, and the actual temperature of your oven.  The top should be light brown when done, and the inside somewhat liquid.  If it is slightly over or under cooked, it will still be delicious.)
  9. Serve immediately.  You wait for a souffle, it does not wait for you.  When you cut into it, the top will be a bit crusty, and the bottom a light cheesey sauce.
  10. Serves two with salad and a glass of wine for special, easy every-night dinner.
In praise of ricotta : If you have only had supermarket ricotta out of a plastic container, you never have had ricotta.  The first time I had the real thing was when Amy was a visiting nurse in the Bronx.  Her territory included Arthur Avenue, famous as the Little Italy of the area.  It is now more of a Little Albania, but most of the Italian businesses are still around.  She brought home some fresh ricotta from one of the local dairy stores.  The owner warned her that she had to rush straight home and not make any other stops, because it would not last long in the car.  This was obviously serious stuff.  When we got it home, it practically floated out of the paper when we unwrapped it.  We ate it for dinner with a salad and bread from the Terranova bakery with just salt, pepper and olive oil.   Mark Bittman published a recipe for toasted peasant bread topped with ricotta, sliced peaches, and arugula salad, which kicks this up a notch, so to speak.

Ricotta literally means "recooked."  I prefer to think of it as milk stopped in its tracks, concentrated, and raised to a higher level of consciousness.  It is made by boiling the liquid whey which is leftover when certain kinds of cheese are made and the solids are removed.  The remaining proteins coagulate and are strained out, and you have ricotta.  This may not sound that appetizing and whey is not all that physically appealing but it is wonderful stuff, far to good to feed to animals which is a traditional use.  It is tart, sweet and milky, and in India is used for drinks, makes a terrific rice when used as the cooking liquid, and is the real secret in an excellent mattar paneer (peas with cheese).  However, ricotta must be its greatest use.  Although we are used to the creamy ricotta, it may also be salted, pressed and smoked.  I remember being served several kinds of ricotta in hotels in Naples and Sorrento, each in a different state of solidity and seasoning, and one better than the next.  Fairway stocks a creditable fresh ricotta from Joe Calabro's in West Haven, Connecticut.  I urge to you seek out some good ricotta for your own happiness.  It also adds a lot to this particular recipe.

Louise's Souffle

This is the recipe that Louise sent us, which is made the more conventional way, with a very thick bechamel sauce. If you use the lesser quantity of butter, which is what the original recipe called for, the roux will be difficult to work with and the sauce will be a bit lumpy.  It will not affect the final product, and the caloric content will be much lower.    I used skim milk, Louise uses unsweetened almond milk -- feel free to use whole milk, half and half, or even soy milk.

  • butter and grated Parmesan or Grana Padano for preparing the casserole (and to sprinkle on top) 
  • 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 tablespoon  flour
  • 1/3 cup milk (skim, whole, soy, half and half or almond milk -- make sure they are unseasoned)
  • salt, white pepper, paprika, cayenne and nutmeg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup  packed grated cheese, as above
  1. Butter a one quart casserole and sprinkle with Parmesan.
    Line a rack in the middle of the oven with aluminum foil and preheat the oven to 425
  2. Melt the remaining butter in a small pot and stir in the flour.  Let cook over low heat for a minute, stirring then remove from the heat for a moment's rest.
  3. Now pour in the milk, whisking vigorously, and return to low heat to simmer for 1 minute, stirring constantly as the sauce thickens.
  4. Season with the salt and spices -- just a pinch of each..
  5. Again remove from the heat, and whisk in the egg yolk.
  6. Put the egg whites in a clean bowl, and beat until they form soft peaks.
  7. Add a dollop of the egg whites to the sauce, and mix in with about half of the cheese.
  8. Now fold in the rest of the egg whites and the cheese.
  9. Transfer everything to the prepared casserole. 
  10. Bake for 21 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the soufflé has risen.
  11. Serves two for dinner with a salad.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The food that made the revolution-- Koshary

This past week we witnessed one of the great triumphs of the human freedom and the human spirit. I write this as a Zionist. What have the Egyptians done but begun to take control of their own destiny, just as Zionism allowed the Jewish people to take control of their's. The January 25 revolution is comparable to the end of apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the civil rights movement and I would argue ( most Egyptians would disagree but I hope that they will be able to change their mind in the coming years) the creation of the state of Israel.  But history is uncertain and tragic. No one knows what is going to come of recent events and all of the great turns in the past have had unforseen consequences for good and ill.  One of my favorite stories is about a conversation between Henry Kissinger and Zhou En-lai in the 1970s.  Kissinger asked Zhou what he thought were the consequences of the French Revolution.  Zhou's reply:  "It's too soon to tell."   But for the moment, and regardless what ultimately happens, we can and should share the joy of the people of Egypt.

There are many questions about the Egyptian revolution.  How will political parties coalesce?  Will the military cede power to civilians?  What role will the Moslem Brotherhood, a complex and divided movement, ultimately play?  Who will emerge as leader?  What will happen elsewhere in the Middle East?

But for me, one question surpasses all others.  What were they eating in Tahrir Square? The answer is actually quite simple:  Koshary.  There are also many photos of koshary vendors hawking their wares in Styrofoam containers in Tahrir. For an on the ground report, see this from the Serious Eats blog.

Koshary is the ultimate Cairo cheap street food. It is a layered concoction of pasta, lentils (often mixed with rice), spicy tomato sauce, and browned onions.  I have heard two derivations of the name:  either it is related to kitcheree, and Indian rice and dal porridge or pilaf,  or it denotes that the dish is kosher, in that it is vegetarian and could be eaten by relatively observant Jews.  It is not peasant food, but quintessentially urban.  It is also not really home cooking, but rather the type of thing you pick up at the corner, like pizza in New York. My daughter came back from a visit to Cairo raving about it and asked me to make it for her.  Though generally not made it home, is not at all difficult, and many of the parts can be made in advance so I hope Maya will now make it for herself. 

I have adapted my version from the recipe in Clifford Wright's monumental cookbook, A Meditteranean Feast:  The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean from the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs , which does for the cooking of the region what Braudel did for its history.  His recipe is also available on his website .  I have altered it somewhat by increasing the proportion of lentils and changing the spicing to make it more interesting, but still consistent with Cairene flavors.  So, if you want to share the sustenance of the people of Cairo, as well as their joy, try this recipe for:

   Since this is a mixture, I am presenting each constituent separately.  The final proportions are approximate, and can be altered to suit your taste or how much of each you have on hand.  This will serve about 6 for dinner with a salad. You can easily double the recipe.

For the onions:

This takes the longest so you will need to start it first.   Cut a very large Spanish onion in half, and then into thin rings.  Heat 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, add the onions and saute on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden and then  start to brown.  Turn up heat to high and cook, stirring for another 3 to 10 minutes, and take out when some but not all of the onions turn dark brown but not black.  Remove with a slotted spatula or spoon and drain on paper towels.  They should crisp as they cool.  It is difficult to give exact times because there are so many variables. 

For the pasta:

Boil about 1/2 pound of pasta in  well salted water until more tender than you usually would. When done, drain well, add a bit of butter, and set aside in the serving dish. Traditionally, the pasta is a mixture of elbows or ditalini and broken up spaghetti.   Use a mixture of what you have around, and long as there is come combination of tubular and long pasta.  I used penne, linguine, and farfalle.  Use only macaroni pasta, not egg pasta.

For the lentils and rice:

Rinse and then soak 1 cup French green lentils in water for about 4 hours. (This softens then so that they cook in about the same time as the rice.  If you use regular brown lentils, then you don't need to soak.  Rinse 1 cup of rice (I used jasmine) soak in water 1/2 hour and drain well. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee or olive oil in a 3 quart pot.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of whole cumin seed and  saute a until it begins to darken.  Add 1 onion, finely diced, sprinkle lightly with salt and saute on medium-high until it softens and begins to brown.  Add 2-4 cloves sliced garlic and saute another minute.  Add the rice, saute a minute, and add the drained lentils, and mix well with the rice.  Season with a few grindings of black pepper.  Add 2 cups of boiling water (you may need a bit more depending on the shape of your pot to cover the rice and lentils). Cover tightly, and cook for 20 minutes.  (I generally don't salt this much until it is done, because salt can inhibit the softening of the lentils.) Set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes. This makes a fine dish by its own, especially topped with the onions, and is called mujedderah.

For the tomato sauce:

Heat a little olive oil in a 2-3 quart pot.  Add one small onion, finely diced.  When it is soft and golden but not browned, add about 6-10 cloves of garlic, crushed with some salt in a mortar and pestle and mixed with 2 teaspoons ground coriander and 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper. (You can also smash the garlic on a cutting board with the flat of a cleaver or large knife and work it into a puree, and then work in the spices. If you don't have Aleppo pepper, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne at the end with the vinegar.) Cook the garlic spices and onions on low until the garlic looses its raw aroma, about 2 minutes.  Add one 6-ounce can of tomato paste and stir to saute a few minutes.  Add 2 -3 cups boiling water (or cold water and bring to the boil) mixing it in slowly to dissolve the paste into a sauce.  Add about 20 grinds of black pepper.  Cook 20 minutes and add 2 teaspoons rice or white wine vinegar.  Taste for spciness, salt and sourness.  In addition to using it on koshary, this sauce is great on broiled fish or plain steamed or sauteed vegetables, especially green beans.

Putting it all together

Traditionally, a shop would have all the components warm and just assemble it in a serving bowl or to-go container when ordered.  You can do something similar and keep them separate and warm on hot plates or over boiling water and let people assemble it themselves, but I think it is a whole lot easier if you put it together before serving.  Put the buttered warm pasta in a serving dish, top with the rice and lentils, salting to taste as you put them on.  Pour about one quarter of the tomato sauce on top.  If necessary, you can reheat it all now in a microwave or oven.  Just before serving, top with the fried onions and pass the sauce separately. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chocolate tofu pudding with lavender

There is nothing like the combination of chocolate and lavender, particularly with milk chocolate.  It is soothing, sexy and refreshing, sort of like a day at a spa.  (Not that I have ever spent a day at a spa, but I imagine it would be very relaxing if I did.)  

This is an adaptation of Mark Bittman's recipe for Mexican Chocolate Tofu pudding , which calls for silken tofu, which is the texture of a very soft custard. I once made this when I only had regular tofu in the house, and it came out just as well.  It only takes a little more blending time to break down the bean curd.  The tofu will keep your guests guessing, but it works extremely well, and there is no danger of scorching milk or curdling eggs.  It is also pareve, and makes a wonderful dessert after a meat meal.  It keeps for a few days, and the flavor gets more intense as it sits. 

Bittman's recipe is seasoned with chili and cinnamon, hence the Mexican in its name.  We had some lavender in the house which we bought at our CSA, so I substituted it for the original seasonings and the results surpassed my expectations.  The lavender in question is dried lavender flowers, which you can buy at farmers markets and herb and specialty stores.  It is worth searching for.   Combining the lavender with the tofu had a similar effect to putting it in milk chocolate.    I have made it both ways.   Some people like my wife prefer it Mexican-style, but I will go with the lavender every time.  You may be skeptical, but please try this recipe. 

 Chocolate tofu pudding with lavender

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dried lavender flowers
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used 4 squares of a Scharffenberger's bar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound tofu (anything other than extra firm will work) 
  • Extra chocolate to shave on top, if you want

  1. Combine sugar and water and bring to the boil.  Boil for 1 minute.
  2. Add lavender and boil another minute.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit.
  3. Melt chocolate by your preferred method. (I usually zap in in a microwave for 20 seconds at a time in a glass measuring cup until it softens.  It takes less than 2 minutes, but be careful not to burn it.)
  4. Put the tofu, chocolate and vanilla in a blender.  Strain the lavender-infused syrup into the blender, pressing the lavender to extract as much flavor as you can. Blend until very smooth.  Depending on the power of your blender, it may be necessary to stop it and stir it from the bottom with a rubber scraper.
  5. Pour into either individual serving dishes or a single bowl (glass is nicest) and chill.  The individual servings will set in less than an hour, the bowl will take a few hours.
  6. Serves 6.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cabbage with mushrooms and sesame

This is one of those dishes that you eat when you think you need another vegetable with dinner and there really isn't anything in the house.  What's so special?  It is easy to make,  the caramelized cabbage and shallots are delicious, and cabbage is one of the few vegetables you don't have to take out a home equity loan to buy nowadays.   We threw it together tonight and it was good enough that I  should add it to the blog:

Cabbage with mushrooms and sesame

  • 1 large shallot, peeled, halved and sliced thin (use 1/4 cup onion or scallion if you don't have shallots)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 6-8 large cremini mushrooms (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/2 small head cabbage, about 3/4 pound
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon Bragg's aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
  1. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet.  Add the shallot and cook on high for about 3 minutes until it begins to soften.
  2. While the shallot is cooking,clean and slice the mushrooms.  Disregard any advice you have ever received not to wash mushrooms and instead to remove any dirt with a damp cloth or paper towel.  Life is to short and it doesn't really work anyway.  Instead, dump the mushrooms into a largish bowl of water, swish them around to remove the dirt, and remove them.  If any are still dirty, empty the bowl and fill it with cold water, and repeat.  Slice the mushrooms about 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and saute on high until browned, about 5 minutes.  Regulate the heat so the shallots don't burn.
  4. Meanwhile, core and shred the cabbage and add to the skillet.  When the mushrooms are brown, add the cabbage, salt lightly, and saute on high for between 5 and 10 minutes, to your taste.  About a minute before you are done, add the Bragg's or soy sauce. 
  5. Add the sesame oil and seeds when you turn off the heat.
  6. Serves two, but it can easily be doubled or tripled if you use a larger skillet.