Red Cabbage and Apples

This dish appears in all seasons at RedQuarters, although it really is more of a fall/winter recipe. Red cabbage (Rotkohl) is a German staple, along with green cabbage. You need a red cabbage, one or two tart apples, a bay leaf, two (or three) juniper berries, vinegar, water, butter, maybe white wine, and a bit of sugar.

1 medium-sized head of red cabbage

1 or 2 tart apples (Granny Smith)

2 Tablespoons butter


1/4 c cider vinegar

1 bay leaf

2-3 juniper berries

a bit of sugar

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

Chop the cabbage and apples fine. (I prefer more finely shredded cabbage, DadRed likes a coarser chop.) In a heavy pot large enough to hold the cabbage, melt the butter. Add cabbage and apples, bay leaf and juniper berries. Stir for a minute or two. Turn up heat and add vinegar, some water, and wine (if using). Stir. Once liquid starts to boil, turn down heat, add sugar, stir, and cover. Stir once in a while until cabbage is tender, adding a little water if it seems to be getting dry. (I prefer more tender, DadRed leans towards crisper.)

Serve hot. Can be made in advance and re-heated. Serves small horde, depending on size of cabbage. Goes well with sausage, schnitzel, or game (turkey, venison, boar).

Per Red Family tradition, the finder of the bay leaf wins the opportunity to do the dishes.


MomRed’s Meat Loaf

Meatloaf is not all that common at RedQuarters any more, in part because everyone is so busy. However, MomRed announced that she was making a meatloaf, and far be it from DadRed or me to object.

The original recipe comes from the 14th edition of the Kitchen Secrets of The Daughters of Norway. It was published in 1956, and the recipes are not modern “lite-cooking.” Half of it is baked goods.

So, you need (for the meat): 1 1/2 Lb ground meat (MomRed used two pounds, one chub of beef and one of jalapeno sausage)

1/2 can of tomato SAUCE

1 cup fresh bread crumbs (MomRed used the remains of cereal*, which are saved for this very thing)

1 chopped onion

1 beaten egg

1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix everything and put it in a loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 F, while combining:

1/2 can tomato SAUCE

2 T prepared mustard (Ingelhoffer’s German is the RedQuarters usual)

2 T brown sugar

1 C water** (MomRed used 2/3 cup ketchup)

2 T vinegar

Pour one half of the sauce over the meat loaf. Bake for 45 minutes. Top with more of the sauce. Bake for another 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 160 F. (If you use 1 1/2 pounds of meat, reduce the cooking time to an hour or so, depending on your elevation. Either way, baste it half-way through.)

It tasted very good both fresh and on the second day. It is moist and flavorful, but not spicy.

*Bread in Houston got moldy rather than stale, so rather than toast fresh bread in order to make bread crumbs (which would be wasteful), Gammy saved the last bits of breakfast cereal. She also used them in rolls.

** The water made the sauce too thin, so MomRed went for a lower volume and more flavor. It’s whatever you and your family prefer.

Adventures in Dining

Finnan Haddie, Cullen Skink, Haggis, black pudding . . . all sound like things that normal people don’t eat, or if they do eat them, it is only out of either politeness at a formal event, or from dire necessity. Having tried three of the four, and liked them, well, you know me. I’m also one who eats regional German and Polish meat products with unseemly gusto, and am pretty much willing to try most things once.

Haggis was once described as “a sheep’s stomach stuffed with what you’d think people who ate a sheep’s stomach would stuff it with.” (Brent Olson). In other words, bits of sheep meat, a filler (oatmeal is traditional), other meats, and some spices of some kind. It’s a loose-meat sausage that features as the central dish for Burns’ Night suppers, when it is piped into the room and someone recites Burn’s poem, “Ode to a Haggis.” For a while, you could not import real Scottish haggis because it includes organ meats not approved by the USDA. Approved kinds are now out there, including vegan. No, I don’t want to know how you make a no-animal-product sheep and pork sausage.

Haggis appears on breakfast menus, on burgers, and as part of the “Full Scottish*” or “Traditional Scottish” breakfast. I tried it, in part because the first morning in Hexham I was eating on my own and could be daring**. It is fattier than most sausages, with a dark flavor, but not as dark as the blood pudding slices. After some munching, I decided that I liked it. It has a loose texture, a bit like ground beef. I did not ask the particular ingredients, but it is dark, so I suspect liver is on the list. After that, if it was on the breakfast menu, I had some. All jokes aside about herds of haggis and the dangers of cornering a large, adult haggis, it’s good if you don’t mind the slightly greasy mouth feel.

The blood pudding came in rounds like a thick patty of breakfast sausage. It was spicier than I’d expected, more pepper and other things. Again, I liked it, and had it with eggs, or in breakfast bap. I didn’t see it on many supper menus, unlike in parts of Germany and Austria. Main-dish blood pudding (or blood sausage) is probably more seasonal, or not considered standard pub food. A quick recipe search only turns up blood-pudding, not a sausage-shaped version.

Salmon also appeared at breakfast, and I had some. However, I really liked the smoked haddock (hot smoked, so not finnan haddie) and poached or scrambled egg. The egg tamed the salty side of the fish. Haddock is a firm, white fish that came in short-thick fillets or chunks when served at breakfast. I wasn’t sure about the combo, but to me, haddock is salty. Granted, I don’t eat much salt or use it in cooking, so most people would find it about right. Anyway, it went well with egg and a toast “pusher.”***

Cullen skink, alas, is not a small, lean lizard in a Balmoral hat. Nor is it really spelled “Colin,” despite what some computer programs keep trying to correct it to. [Grrrrrr] It is a creamy fish soup with smoked haddock. It is wonderful, at least the samples I tried. The name comes from Cullen, a town credited with the origin of the recipe, and a Scots word for beef knuckle (skink). When hard times meant that no one could afford beef, but fish was still cheap, behold, a new fish soup. It’s a bit like a thin chowder, unless you can get “the good lumpy bits from the bottom of the pot.” I suspect the exact thickness and ingredients vary from cook to cook, and region to region.

*A Full Scottish breakfast is: eggs, haggis, black pudding, farmer’s bacon [ham], baked beans, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, a scone, and toast. Oh, and small link sausages. The portion size determines if you are ready to work for a full day without getting dinner, or if you roll away from the table and fall asleep again as your arteries clog. I approve of this breakfast. The English version omits the haggis for bacon-bacon, at least according to the menus.

**I got up at 0500 or earlier, because of sunrise. I’d go walking, or read, or write, then get breakfast as soon as it was available. The first morning in Hexham, the kitchen staff were listening to symphonic metal. My table was near the kitchen door, and I enjoyed Within Temptation, Leaves’s Eyes, and others until the boss lady realized that music “was too loud.” So she put on light jazz. I preferred the earlier soundtrack.

*** Yes, the toast came on a toast rack, with butter on the side for you to add later. By the end of the trip, I decided that, given how I used the toast, drier, cooler slices worked just fine. I still prefer American pre-buttered, hot toast in a stack on a plate.

Piperade a la RedQuarters

Piperade is a recipe that is attributed to the Basques, or at least comes from that corner of Spain and France. The version I grew up with . . . came through Louisiana, perhaps, or from Florida, maybe. I recall it as one of those dishes that MomRed used to stretch the budget, sort of like beans-n-bacon-n-cheese, succotash, and scrambled eggs with chili.

The official version seems to start with “first, roast tomatoes.” That never happened at RedQuarters, because, well, that’s not what you did at home in the 1960s-70s in the US (unless an accident happened in the oven . . .) Canned diced tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, scrambled eggs with ham, that’s what I recall. So it is a very, very distant Americanized cousin of a Basque dish that used post-1492 ingredients.

one can diced tomatoes, partly drained

four-eight eggs, scrambled (depends on how hungry people are and how much ham you have)

1/2 diced onion

a plop of garlic (1 Tablespoon, but I like a lot of garlic. Can be omitted)

one small bell pepper, diced

Paprika or other warm, peppery spice to taste

4-5 ounces cooked ham, diced or minced (can substitute inexpensive ham, or even leftover lunch-meat ham)

Heat oil or butter in a heavy skillet. Add onion and garlic, sautee until onion is translucent. Add bell pepper and heat through. Add tomatoes and paprika, reduce heat and cover. While sauce is cooking, melt butter in a skillet and cook scrambled eggs to desired done-ness. Add ham to eggs just before the eggs are done. Bring sauce back to a high simmer or low boil and add eggs and ham. Serve hot. It shouldn’t be too runny, unless you want to serve it over toast.

I would probably add more spices and so on now. It’s hot, filling, tangy, and can be adjusted to local taste.

The Other, Other Southern Religion

Baptist, Methodist, BBQ, and football. If you were to ask most people in the southern US about the most common religions (not denominations, because then you start getting ACC, SEC, and those tossed in) practiced in the region, those would probably be the top four. (Outside of Louisiana. They’re . . . different.) Bar-b-que, BBQ, bar-be-que, however you spell it, it involves meat, heat, and sauce. Bar-b-que is not smoked meat, although there is a lot of overlap. Or perhaps smoked meat is not bbq. Continue reading

Beans – Black Turtle Beans

A rerun from 2014 (!) Since Lent starts Wednesday and is considered a time to cut back on fancy things, and since beans are cheap, tasty, and black beans in particular hide a lot of add-ins (no one will see them in that inky black liquid . . .) They are also good comfort food when winter decides to hang on longer than perhaps desired.

This is a variation on a recipe from a well-known restaurant in Santa Fe. Black beans, aka turtle beans or frijoles negros, do not require overnight soaking. I still soak them for an hour or so, to drown any extra animal protein and because I’m usually cooking a few other things at the same time.

You need black beans, protein (optional), a dollop of garlic, 1/2-1 cup celery, spices to taste (cumin, cilantro, chili powder, chipotle pepper, whatever you prefer), and water and chicken or vegetable broth. Continue reading