Brrrr, a chilly morning, below freezing, but beautiful here in the Minervois. I went out to take some photos in my pyjamas and my hands were frozen in 5 minutes.
The views from the car on the way to school were spectacular…
Thrills and spillage in the home of Kat (& Benjamin Darnault Wines) in Minervois, South of France
Smelling the fresh air.
…I’m at last getting the hang of this season.
Here I am, sat at the computer, trusty old ugg boots on my cold feet (can’t knock the Aussie out of this girl – thanks Mum for retrieving them out of the bin in Oz) and a roaring fire in the potbelly to my left. Nearly all the vines in the area have now been pruned, the days still mostly crisp amd summer seems an eternity ago! It’s hard to imagine the abundant green leaves and plump fruits of the summer vines now that they’re bald and trimmed… BUT the days are longer and the blossom’s bright petals around the landscape signal Spring approaching. Before too long the leaves will be sprouting all over again! So now is the time to make the most of what’s left of the cold and enjoy some winter meals!
I have a trusty mother-in-law who provides me with ideas for new dishes (is she worried her only son won’t be eating well enough?!), and the first time I cooked this was last Autumn (ahh, the beautiful Minervois Autumn! – for a glimpse, see below).
This recipe is perfect for the Autumn/ Winter chill! It’s a braised cabbage dish, that you leave simmering slowly on the stove for a few hours. I bought the baby cabbages at our local Tuesday market from Valerie, an organic producer whose beautiful garden we visited a few months ago. It’s a luxury having access to such amazing produce. Her stall is one of my regular stops on Tuesday market day as her produce is so fresh and delicious – and after seeing her garden I’m in awe of how much hard work goes into filling her baskets of food each week. And no matter how frosty the market mornings get at this time of year, Valerie always has a huge smile and happy to share recipes. Merci Valerie! p.s. her home-made jams are worth trying too – especially the Muscat Jelly which is an incredibly good partner to aged ‘fromage de brebis’ (ewe’s milk cheese)
Here’s how I make the VERY SIMPLE braised cabbage:
+ Cut cabbage up into quarters (or halves if small) and steam for about 15 mins. Remove. ( this step is quite important if you suffer unwanted gaseous situations!)
+ In a heavy frypan or cast iron cooking pot, fry a couple of thinly sliced onions until golden in sunflower oil.
+ Add about 250g of chunky ‘lardons’ pieces (bacon) and fry together until browned.
+ Place cabbage pieces on top and cover with lid and cook on very low heat for about 2 hours.
Serve this on its own for a simple lunch dish, or with pan-fried crumbed veal. If you want something lighter than cabbage, use ‘endives’ instead. I think we call these ‘witlof’ in Australia? No need to parboil!
Whether you’re eating this on its own or with an accompanying meat, this tastes delightful when paired with a crisp, dry white. We often serve this with Benjamin’s Picpoul de Pinet 2009… which we actually enjoyed with friends last night!