I’m on top of the world!
That’s a bit of a lie in respect of a large swathe of my existence, but physically, I do appear to be sitting on top of the world. I’m not even talking about my body’s physical state of health, although I do try to retain my respectably svelte, snake-like physique (I actually make Mo Farah look like he could do with easing himself away from the buffet). I’m talking about the precise position in which I’m sitting to write this.
My previous desk was on the lower ground floor of a large Victorian property, facing a large, blank wall, which although being a bright room was below street level and had a slight sense of impending doom. No matter how bright the large, triple, south-facing box sash windows shone or how fresh-crisp white the ceiling’s paint was, I always felt a slight sense of weight, a conscious knowledge of the many floors of brick, wood and plaster sitting on top of me. No matter what rituals or practices I engaged in before starting work, the first impression was one of weight.
Suddenly, after a few changes, my desk is on the top floor of a large property, which sits on top of a hill and I’m snuggly nestled into a bay which houses some West facing windows, allowing unparralled views of the sun setting across the horizon. London stretches out to the right, parkland in front and the local traffic, people and other inhabitants pass way below my field of vision. Except the birds, they go higher, although not by much. The sense of weight has been replaced by a sense of lightness of being. It’s quite unbearable.
Yes, yes, it did roast!
By now I hope you’ve watched with sheer excitement the latest hot YouTube video of mine, Will It Roast? Part 2 – Red Cabbage. Writing that title down sounds incredibly dull, but I actually find making these videos really fun, so any feedback about them on here or YouTube would be utterly fantastic and I’d love to hear your thoughts, or requests. Anyway, the resultant cabbage was another beautifully cooked vegetable, again, simplicity itself in the preparation and making of. As promised I’ve put together a recipe using the baked cabbage and I’m really pleased to say I think this one is a corker.
Make that cabbage pop!
Cabbage doesn’t conjure up especially elegant or sophisticated culinary imagery, in fact, I’d say it sounds rather dull. So a cabbage side dish sounds like perhaps the most terminally dull complement to a meal since someone said “so, about Christianity…”. But that needn’t be the case, as side dishes deserve to shine and be the jewel in the crown of the meal, a small addition, yet one which adds all the sparkle and glamour and allows the meal to shine as it truly should.
I took the poor little cabbage, sliced it into hearty, meaty chunks, pan fried it and sweetened it up with balsamic, sultanas and apple juice. Apples and red cabbage are like Cheech and Chong, they just go together, so you know you’re on the right course as soon as that pair appear on the ingredients list. The balsamic adds some depth and the sultanas add the extra sparkle of interest on top.
Please don’t allow your cabbages to sit, ignored and maligned in the vegetable box of life, free your cabbages and allow them to shine, to be heroes, even just for one day.
Balsamic Soaked Red Cabbage
By Gavin Wren
Uses a frying pan and a roasting tin
1 whole small red cabbage
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
A small handful sultanas
150 ml apple juice
Rub the 1 teaspoon of olive oil into the outside of the cabbage, so that it’s covered all over. Place in the oven and cook for 2 hours, 30 minutes.
Once cooked, you can remove the outer, burned, blistered and crispy leaves and discard them as they’re too bitter to eat. Leave the ones which are discoloured, but soft.
You can now leave the cabbage for as long as you want, up to several days, before doing the rest of the recipe, or make it immediately. Just leave to cool then cover and store in the fridge until you want to cook it.
Slice the stalk off the bottom of the cabbage then cut the cabbage into roughly 2cm thick slices, ideally 4 slices total.
Heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes, making sure the pan has really warmed up.
Add the cabbage slices and cook for 3-5 minutes on one side, it should have coloured from the cooking, leave for longer (or turn up the heat a bit) if not. Turn them over and cook for a further 3-5 minutes on the other side. Whilst cooking the second side, put the sultanas in the pan and pour 1/2 a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over each slice.
After the second side has cooked, turn off the heat, remove the cabbage slices (not the sultanas) and put them onto plates for service. Pour the apple juice into the pan, swill it around and with your spatula quickly scrape any charred bits off the bottom of the pan and mix into the juice. Pour this along with the sultanas over the cabbage slices and serve!