Tag Archives: cabbage

Daube (beef stew to you)

My god I think I’m getting old. I just started writing “it’s that time of year again…”, which I’m sure is the sort of thing I used to think old people said, along with “it’s a bit nippy” and “why did I come in here again?”, not to mention*, and this really is the worst, mixing up the names of the kids. I remember how irksome it was when my parents did it to me (and I had two sisters, imagine the embarrassment) but now I’m doing it myself. Put me down now please.

But it is though isn’t it? It’s the time of year when you’re allowed to start eating buttery, creamy, oily, salty, rich food that is, for the rest of the year, deemed too unhealthy. And I’ve been wanting to do this one for ages – it’s the perfect meal for a weekend lunch in winter. And it goes so well with the cabbage I did the other day.


Start by flouring the beef (use stewing or braising steak) and frying it in in small batches in a hot pan with olive oil. Make sure the meat is nicely caramelised before you put it into a large casserole. Then take a couple of handfuls of shallots and fry them gently with 4-5 roughly chopped cloves of garlic, followed by (if you like) a few handfuls of chestnut mushrooms each cut in half. Put these into the casserole and then deglaze the pan with a glass of French red wine – preferably from provence, but it’s not that important. Now pour in the rest of the bottle (not taking a cheeky little glass because you’re oh so naughty, unless of course you’re a mediocre celebrity chef).

Now all you have to is add fresh herbs – I’d go for bay leaves and a few sprigs of thyme and some seasoning – only a tiny bit of salt right now – you don’t want to dry out the beef.

Put the lid on the casserole and put it in a low oven (150c) for 2.5 hours. The picture below is before it went into the oven.

Once the daube is ready, make sure you season it to taste before you serve – it will certainly need salt.

Now, there are loads of things you can serve this with. When we used to eat it in France they would serve it with a bowl of buttery penne with a few sprigs of parsley thrown on top – which was lovely. You can also go with mashed potato (with sweet potato and plenty of butter, milk, cream, grainy mustard and seasoning). Of course, the cabbage is a must if you go with the spud option…Or even red cabbage…

Whatever you do with it – they’re going to love it. And, as ever, you’ll get loads of leftovers to keep you going for the rest of the week…

OK – I realise it’s somewhat reminiscent of dog food in the picture, but please trust me, it takes really good…


*I think “not to mention” is probably one too, no?

Embrace the cabbage

Cabbage is often misunderstood. People see it as the Pat Sharpe of the vegetable world – outdated, with no taste and to be avoided at all costs. Now that may be true of the mullet-sporting, back-stabbing (apparently) amateur DJ (who one of my ex-closest chums likened me to the other day – note the ex), but it certainly isn’t the case when it comes to that lovely round green bundle of crunchy sweetness that I have come to love more and more over the last few years.

As with most food, it’s simply a matter of what you do with it that will mean the difference between you offering your friends a pile of vomitous mess and the most beautiful mouthful of goodness they have ever had the pleasure of consuming.

So, here are two ways I’ve used it over the last few weeks – both of which I wholeheartedly recommend you try…

Coleslaw – really decent coleslaw. nothing like the crap from Tesco

This is so easy. all you have to do is finely chop a spring cabbage (see pic above), a fresh red chilli (with the seeds removed) and few spring onions along with a few grated carrots and a handful of raisins. You can also throw in a few cashews if you like. Now you have a choice: You can either go East by adding sesame oil, soy sauce and a little rice vinegar, or you can stay in Europe and go with olive oil, red wine vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper. Either way it’s fantastic with chicken, lamb and pork, and works really well in a wrap with any of the above.

Braised spring cabbage

This is even easier, and it takes no more than a few minutes…

As above, finely chop a spring cabbage and put it into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Leave it for no more than 2 minutes and then drain it in a sieve and put it back into the saucepan with fresh cold water. drain again and put back into the pan again with freash cold water, so that the cabbage stops cooking completely.

Now leave it until a few minutes before you want to eat, at which point you drain the cabbage and put it to one side, put a big knob of butter in the pan with a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic and let them soften for a few seconds before putting the cabbage back in and gently cooking in the butter for about 3-4 minutes until it’s warmed through, then season generously. That’s it. Nothing more to see here folks…

If you ever cook a beef stew (see my next post) then you must, must, must have this with it. Consider yourself told.

Sunday lunch

More crossants and pain au chocolat – I really have to get them to try something different for breakfast. I’m not worried though because it’s merely a prelude to the main event – Sunday Lunch…

Roast chicken with mashed garlic swede, cabbage, roast spuds and parsnips

Firstly prepare the chicken by stuffing with half an onion a handful of rosemary and thyme and a stick of celery, then slash the thighs and cover the whole thing with lots of salt, pepper, tarragon and olive oil. put it in a 220c oven – it needs to stay in there for about an hour and twenty minutes then pull it out out and rest it in foil while you make the gravy with the juices from the bottom of the pan, some flour, a glug of wine and the water that you used to cook the veg.

A few things to mention about the veg (although I’m not going to take you through it step by step – this isn’t a cookery book).  To get perfect results you must par-boild the spuds (10 mins) and parsnips (5 mins) before you put them in the oven (this time I used extra virgin rapeseed oil – bright yellow and beautiful) for about 40 mins. 

The cabbage should also be cooked in boiling water for a just a few minutes before dropping into cold water and leaving until ready to reheat in a pan with butter and lots of seasoning. The swede just needs to be cut into chunks and boiled in the water you used from the spuds. When the swede is cooked, take it out of the pan, and drop in a good chunk of butter with a couple of cloves of garlic finely chopped. Then put it back into the pan and mash – perfect…

Of course – all of this is for nothing without a big bowl of bread sauce – milk heated to simmering point with an onion and a few cloves, left to cool a little then strained into another saucepan. Add a few handfuls of breadcrumbs, lots of butter, a few glugs of cream and season…

Very simple but loads of work and loads of washing up. It’s well worth it though – especially for the chicken sandwiches later that evening. And DON’T forget to keep the carcass – put it in a saucepan with an onion, a few peppercorns and a carrot, then add boiling water and simmer for about forty minutes – perfect chicken stock and none of those rubbish stock cubes in sight.

Lunch is over and the weekend is drawing to a close – just enough time for a quick outing on the bikes and more wii (although no more wii sports which was an unfortunate casualty of the weekend – left on the floor and scratched to death by a careless short…)