Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cabbage and potatoes

I feel like I've been eating only potatoes and cabbage for the past few weeks. Money's low, winter is upon us and my attempt to focus on locally grown ingredients/in season produce has come up with two regulars: potatoes and cabbage. The former I can enjoy in hundreds of forms, this can be attested to by anyone who's spent two minutes with me around a potato of some form - in short, I have a deep and loving connection with potatoes. Cabbage is harder to stomach (get it?!). In the past 3 months I've has coleslaw, spicy cabbage salad, braised cabbage, cabbage rolls, tacos, and the list goes on, but I'm always looking for something new - enter okonomiyaki.

I saw this recipe on 101 cookbooks and I knew going it it would be a blandish okonomiyaki compared to the dishes I know and love from my fav Japanese restaurants. Without Japanese mayo, okonomi sauce or other accouterments, I knew it couldn't be everything I would want, but sometimes you want to master a simple recipe that you can add to. In restaurants I like it with some udon noodles, gyoza or meat mixed in, but I tried this simple version to take a shot at something new.

Japanese Pizza - Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pizza) Recipe

2 cups cabbage, finely shredded (2-3mm wide)
1 cup leeks, well washed and chopped
2/3 cup flour

a couple pinches of fine grain sea salt
2 eggs, beaten
1+ tablespoon olive oil

Garnish: toasted slivered almonds, chives/ herbs

Combine the cabbage, leeks, flour, and salt in a bowl. Toss until everything is coated with a dusting of flour. Stir in the eggs and mix until everything is evenly coated.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a generous splash of olive oil. Scoop the cabbage mixture into the pan, and using a metal spatula press it into a round pancake shape, flat as you can get it. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden. To flip the okonomiyaki, slide it out of the skillet onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip both (together) over. If you need a bit more oil in your skillet, add it now, before sliding the okonomiyaki back into the skillet. Again press down a bit with a spatula and cook until golden on this side - another 3 -5 minutes.

When you are finished cooking, sprinkle with toasted almonds and chives, and slide it onto a cutting board to cut into wedges. Enjoy immediately.

Serves 1 - 2.

------- I'm going to admit that while this tasted good, I piled it a little too high and I think some of the egg went uncooked. I didn't add chives or almonds, since I was just testing the cabbage pancake part - it is way more like a potato pancake (made with cabbage) than any type of pizza. I didn't finish eating it, but that shouldn't stop you from trying it, just make sure it's mixes very well, you have it stacked thinly enough. Making it again I would cook it on medium for longer and let it cook through more. You could also make smaller individual "pizzas" which would be easier to handle.
Potatoes were simple and delicious:

1 lb new baby potatoes, halved if needed
3 T olive oil
1 handful of fresh herbs (had had thyme on hand, it was great. Rosemary is ideal.)

Set oven to 400 to 450 degrees. Coat potatoes in oil in a big bowl, add herb. Spill onto baking pan with foil or silpat on it. Roast for 45-60 minutes shaking the pan every 15 minutes to avoid sticky messes. Potatoes are done when they've not only browned, but the skins have wrinkled like your fingers after an hour in the tub.
Everybody loves sandwiches serves up another gem.
Made this last week, was delish. Froze it and re-heated it on the stove.

Curried red lentil stew with chickpeas and rainbow chard

2 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaping T of a medium-spiced curry paste (I used mild because I'm a baby)
1/2 t dried red chili flakes (You can use red pepper flakes instead)
5 1/2 c vegetable broth
2 c red lentils
1 large bunch of rainbow chard, tough stalks removed, coarsely chopped
1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained

In a large pot, heat oil and saute onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Mix in curry paste and dried chilies and stir until well blended. Add broth and chard and bring to a boil. Add lentils and turn down heat to a simmer, adding the chickpeas to the mix. Cover and stir occasionally until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes. Serve over brown rice and top with yogurt, if desired.

-------------This was so easy to make, I can't emphasize that enough. It also introduced me to using curry paste. I love Indian food the most out of all ethnic foods, but I've never really cooked it myself. I'm aware that some would say only I, an unskilled cook, raised on bland English food, would use this curry paste instead of knowing the inner workings of a full-fledged spice cabinet by heart, but boy did it punch of the flavour of this dish - no regrets here! I am eager to follow up this success with more recipes featuring curry paste.

The potatoes were a good rice stand in (since I forgot to make it amidst all my cabbage drama.) and it was great for lunch too! I love lunch leftovers.

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