The Veg Box Challenge - cabbage
On Wednesday of this week I was innocently taking part in #argyllhour over on Twitter when I somehow got myself into a challenge! Sandy from Fyne Futures was shouting about the excellent produce on offer from Bute Produce (sister company to Fyne Futures) and I had the idea that it would be lovely to get one of the veg boxes and blog about what I made with the items in the box. I blame Sandy for turning this into a challenge with @shazzbakes who, it transpires, was a quarter finalist in Masterchef 2017. Oh dear! She has a blog brimming with recipes if you're looking for inspiration.
I collected my veg box on Friday - the guys were great and insisted upon carrying it out to my car for me, such friendly and helpful service! In the box I got 1 leek, 1 cabbage (cannonball), 1 cauliflower, 1 turnip, 3 nice, fat parsnips, 5 carrots, 4 onions and a bag of potatoes. First of all, I just want to note what excellent value this is - the entire box was a mere £7.50. Brilliant - and being able to see where it was all grown, on Bute - the freshness is unbeatable. You can read more about the Bute Produce green box scheme here.
And so to the challenge - we have no rules, no agendas or parameters, we're free to do as we please with our veg boxes. The main idea behind this is simply to demonstrate a range of different ideas for cooking with seasonal vegetables. @shazzbakes gets her box next week and she'll have a couple of festive bits that I don't have, so there will be some nice variations and hopefully you'll enjoy seeing what we cook. I would also add that I'm not buying any fancy extras or unusual ingredients - I'll only use what we have in the house.
One final point - I'm no cook! My husband loves to cook and makes the majority of meals in our house. When I cook, I like to do big pots of bolognese or chilli, or one-pan dishes of various variety. I like simple, tasty things! There will be no Masterchef-level cooking from me!
Once I had got my veg box, I set about finding some inspiration for recipes to try. I've been raiding my recipe books and googling away and the first recipe I made used some of the cabbage. I found the recipe here and liked the simplicity of it. It's pork with cabbage, apple and mustard. Cabbage gets a bad rap - usually associated with awful fad diets and soggy, sweaty remains on the plate - but I really like it and I'll happily eat it raw! The recipe I chose has classic flavour pairings and so I was hopeful it'd turn out okay.
Some notes: I reduced the quantities as I was cooking for two and my only tweak was to use garlic oil rather than olive oil, as I'm a bit of a garlic fiend and love the flavour! Oh - and I didn't shred anything with the mandolin because I'm a complete klutz and cannot be trusted with such a sharp and violent instrument! The recipe calls for you to start the cooking on the hob and then transfer your pan to the oven. If you don't have an oven-proof pan then you can easily pop a roasting tin in the oven to warm while you start the dish on the hob, and then transfer it to the roasting tin to finish.
This recipe was really easy: onions and garlic into the frying pan to saute until soft, then you pop in your shredded cabbage to wilt down. It almost seems a shame to lose that lovely crunchy crispness but it soon yields and becomes ready to take on some extra flavours. The extra flavours come from some dry white wine, some cider vinegar, chicken stock, and some mustard. Once you've chucked all these in the pan, along with some thyme, you leave it to simmer and they reduce into a tasty liquor. While they're simmering, pop the pork steaks into a pan to brown all over...take 4-5 minutes...and once they're ready, you put them into the pan with the cabbage and put the whole lot in the oven for another 5-6 minutes. It's a quick dish - you'll have your meal on the table within 30 minutes. While the pan is in the oven, I chopped up the garnish - crisp granny smith apple and parsley. The recipe called for the apple to be cut into julienne with the mandolin - julienne is basically matchsticks and so I did that with a knife to preserve my fingers!
The final dish was plated by the hubster because I made a boo-boo! I brought the hot pan out the oven and, forgetting what I'd just done, grabbed the handle and burnt myself! So - while I stood with said hand under the cold tap, the hubster put the dish together on the plate...and a very pretty job he did too!
We both really enjoyed the dish - even if I had to eat mine one-handed as the other hand was in a bowl of cold water! You could definitely up the ante on the mustard and I would probably add a bit more seasoning but that's just me being picky.