Two Christmas Red Cabbage Recipes

 
Easy 'Make Ahead' Red Cabbage Pickle
 
 
Several people asked me for this recipe after seeing the picture in my December veg garden diary - so here it is! It's incredibly easy to make, can be made days ahead of Christmas so takes a bit of pressure off, and it looks very festive as it's the most gorgeous deep ruby red colour. Once made - it will last 3-4 weeks in a preserving jar in the fridge, goes with all sorts of cold meats or is delicious just sprinkled over a mixed green salad when you get to the 'detox phase of the festive season! Also nice on it's own - just spooned out of the fridge in those 'need to nibble' moments! (only when no one's around - so bad mannered but we all do it - don't we?!) It also makes a great present in a shiny new preserving jar, tied with a green ribbon. 
 
Don't be put off by what seems to be quite a large amount of sugar in the recipe - you won't be drinking the preserving liquid! It gives the pickle a lovely sweet/acid balance and great flavour, and also preserves it. When you've eaten all the cabbage - don't throw the pickling liquid away, you can boil it up fast for 2 mins, cool and refrigerate, and then use it again for making more pickle - it keeps for ages in the fridge. When it's been used once, it makes a pretty pink cucumber pickle as it's absorbed some of the colour! This is another relaxed recipe that doesn't need exact amounts - but be careful with the coriander - it doesn't seem very much but it packs quite a punch! I tried 2 teaspoons the first time I made it and it was truly awful, but rather than throw it away I rinsed off and re-used the cabbage without the coriander! It wasn't too bad - and I hate waste!! The flavour tends to take a couple of days to develop and strengthen, so if you use too much your cabbage will taste like it's been marinaded in perfume and be absolutely disgusting!
 
Recipe:
 
For a one litre preserving jar you will need:
 
225ml (8 fl.oz.) organic cider vinegar
 
275g (10 oz) unbleached organic castor sugar
 
2 level tablespoons sea salt
 
1/2 teaspoon organic coriander seeds
 
Stir this all together in a large glass bowl - it will gradually start dissolving.
 
575g or 1 to 1&1/4lb of red cabbage, main stalk/core removed and thinly sliced.
 
(Don't ditch all the smaller stalks - they add a nice crunch) As you chop the cabbage put it into the liquid and it will start to soften a little which makes it easier to pack into the preserving jar when it's all done. The colour will also change.
 
Cover and leave for half an hour or so. 
 
When the cabbage has softened a little - pack it tightly into the preserving jar, pushing it well down, covering with the liquid up to the top. Push it down again, making sure it's covered with the liquid, seal tightly and refrigerate.
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Red Cabbage Christmas Slaw - (or how to eat a Christmas Rainbow!)

 Photo to follow for this!
 
I always make this very festive looking, multi-coloured salad on 'St. Stephen's' or 'Boxing' Day - It's one of those well-used family recipes that I started developing over 35 years ago. Over the years since, I've gradually added bits and pieces to it and perhaps taken some away - as you do - and also added my own special fruity dressing.  I've been using pretty much the same ingredients for about 30 years and it's become a family staple we couldn't have Christmas without - everyone looks forward to it. If I stopped making it - I think there would be a revolt! It's also great at any other time of year when there's lots of cold meats to accompany it - particularly good with fatty or salty meats like ham or goose, or my rich and tasty nut (you wouldn't guess!) loaf. It tastes utterly delicious - crunchy, fruity and juicy - keeps for 4-5 days in the fridge and actually improves every day as the flavours develop and talk to each other! This - with a few crispy lettuce leaves - is all I want to look at for a few days after all the rich food of Christmas. Because it keeps so well it's a great chance to put my feet up for a few days (in theory!) and let them all help themselves - a nice break after the Christmas palaver! The rest of the troops like big steaming mounds of fluffy mashed potatoes with it too - I go on strike and they do that!
 
I find this great if I want to detox for a couple of days after eating so much meat and cheese over Christmas. I find that no matter what my seasonal excesses - usually many - I feel much cleaner inside after eating it for a couple of days!  The light dressing of oil helps you to absorb all the nutrients. (It really goes without saying that - unless you make this with organic vegetables and fruits, then you're loading your body with even more toxins, which it then has to deal with on top of the festive excesses you've already consumed!)
 
It's quite hard to be absolutely precise about ingredients - It's another of those 'seat of the pants'/ 'play it by ear' recipes that you can vary quantities in as you go along - according to taste and how big your veg. are. I like those sort of recipes - they're much more relaxed. These approximate proportions make a large mixing bowl full which will last 4/5 people a few days as an accompaniment to any cold meats, depending on how greedy you are! It's easily halved if necessary. You don't have to do mashed potatoes to accompany it - a few crispy-skinned baked ones are lovely too - and have a lower GI. I like 'Record' potatoes for mashing or baking - yellow fleshed and really fluffy when mashed, they also have a wonderful flavour baked and are perfect with it. 'Sante' are not a bad alternative.  I know it seems quite a lot of faffing around and chopping - but once it's done - you don't need to do another thing for a few days. Somebody else can peel or scrub the potatoes, while you sit and do the chopping! These are - needless to say - all organic ingredients as usual! You can use more or less of the ingredients as you wish without altering the flavour too much - but this is what works for me! I prefer the round-headed type of red cabbage in this recipe as the leaves are usually a bit thicker and crunchier. I grew one called 'Red Rookie' this year from Marshall's seeds - and it will be my standard from now on as it's a really easy to grow, early, great tasting variety.

 Recipe: 
 
575gm or 1&1/4lb (ish) Red cabbage - stalk removed and rest finely sliced/shredded - I do this in the food processor as it's quicker - but you don't have to.
 
4/5 very large carrots - grated - or shredded in processor
 
3/4 juicy sticks of celery - chopped across in 1-2cm - or 1/4 to 1/2in pieces (not stringy outside ones - save those for making stock with your turkey bones)
 
1 red pepper - cored, seeded and diced about 1-2cm - or 1/4 to 1/2in. size pieces.
 
3-4 pineapple rings chopped into 1/2in pieces - fresh is best but tinned will do.
 
A large fistful or so of whole almonds - blanched first by covering with boiling water from the kettle - soak until cool when the skins will slip off easily between your fingers - then chop roughly (I do think they taste better in this recipe if blanched and skinned - but no need to if you'd rather not).
 
A large fistful or so of sultanas
 
1/2 a red and 1/2 a green apple - cored and chopped but not peeled - I use red and green for the colour - but any apples will do fine
 
One or two oranges segmented - cut off the peel and outside pith first with a very sharp knife then cut each segment out without any skin - they're nicer that way.- but you can peel or just chop the segments if you like - but it doesn't look quite as pretty as the naked segments.
 
One medium red onion (approx 110g/4oz) - chopped medium fine.
 
Method:
Mix all the chopped ingredients together well - tossing them in using two large forks is the easiest way. (Or use your hands - your best tool - but make sure they don't have cuts or it stings like hell.) Then cover and refrigerate. Make it 2-3 hours before the meal if you can, as the tastes start to blend and mellow - improving after an hour or two of being mixed together. Take it out of the fridge about half an hour before your meal - so that it's not too cold to taste. Put it back immediately after everyone has finished and it will easily last 5 days - if it's not all eaten by then.
 
My fruity French dressing - for 1 quantity: (you will need 3-4 quantities for the rainbow salad recipe above to get a good coating - or again according to taste.)
 
6 tablespoons of oil - I use extra virgin olive oil for this particular recipe - but in my usual dressing - which everyone always wants the recipe for - I normally use  2/3rds walnut or hazelnut oil, and 1/3rd avocado oil as they are chock full of good nutrients . That would be a bit expensive in this recipe though - as it needs lots of dressing - and the cabbage etc. would mask the lovely nutty flavour to some extent.
 
2 good tablespoons of runny honey - (I use Ben Colchester's fantastic organic honey - made on the bog beside Johnstown and Urlingford in Co. Kilkenny - (I have an organic friend who swears he can tell exactly which wild flowers the bees were foraging on when producing any particular jar!)
 
1 & 1/2 tablespoons organic cider vinegar
 
Half a tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar - (if you don't have good stuff then use all cider vinegar as really cheap balsamic is usually disgustingly acid!)
 
A generous pinch of sea salt and several grinds of organic black pepper. If you've only ever tried ordinary non-organic - I promise you organic is sensational - an aromatic revelation!

Mix all the ingredients together really well - if you're only making one quantity then a small jam jar is handy to just shake it up in - but when making this larger amount for the 'Rainbow' salad - I tend to throw all the dressing ingredients into the blender, then pour into the salad bowl and gradually add all the salad ingredients as they're chopped, tossing them in as I go. Make slightly less dressing than you think you'll need - you can always make more at the end if you think there's not quite enough. There's nothing worse than an overdressed salad! (or an overdressed anything come to that!)
ENJOY!

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