Another recipe inspired by my recent vacation. My time at home in the kitchen has been filled with experimentation. I’m trying to recreate so many of the flavors that I encountered during my time away earlier this summer.
After my husband & I traveled throughout Provence in late June, we flew to Budapest to continue our vacation. Neither of us had ever been to Budapest, nor did we know too much about the city ahead of our arrival. My great-grandparents were Hungarian, and I grew up with some Hungarian influences in the foods that my grandma prepared. Dishes like her meatballs in tomato sauce (basically stuffed cabbage without the cabbage), caraway potatoes, Hungarian goulash, and strudel were a tribute to her family’s European ancestry. My own knowledge of Hungarian cooking was sparse - I knew that paprika and poppy seeds were ubiquitous, but not much else.
Before we left home, I browsed restaurant menus online. I always look at the restaurant reviews when we travel, since our time in another city is limited and I want to experience the best of what the local restaurants can offer to a hungry and curious diner! Finding “authentic” restaurants in Budapest was a bit difficult; there are plenty of ethnic restaurants serving the cuisine of faraway countries, including a large number of Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants. There are lots of casual restaurants serving local fare, but only a few got great reviews. My husband and I scoured websites and travel blogs, then made some reservations for the three dinners we had there. All of our dinners were delicious, but one stood far apart from the rest.
Our first dinner in Budapest was not in a restaurant, but rather a home-cooked meal by a Hungarian cooking teacher named Marti. I found Marti through Traveling Spoon, an online service which links travelers with locals all over the world. Imagine having a 4-course Shabbat dinner cooked especially for you - that was our experience in Budapest with Marti. She lovingly hand-made everything she served to us, including challah (with poppy seeds on top!), traditional appetizers, matzo ball soup, roasted goose legs, potatoes with lots of paprika, braised cabbage, and delicious pastries. We stuffed ourselves with plate after plate of Marti’s food, it was a memorable evening filled with lively discussion and amazing food!
In the time since our dinner at Marti’s, I’ve been thinking a lot about the meal that she prepared and how I can introduce elements of her recipes into my own cooking. I already make my own challah, but perhaps I’ll start sprinkling poppy seeds on top. During the colder seasons, I enjoy roasting duck legs for a hearty meal, but I’ll search for goose legs, instead, this coming winter. And perhaps I’ll bake some Hungarian pastries for the upcoming Jewish High Holidays as a tribute to Marti and my grandma. But for now, I’ll make braised cabbage.
Braised cabbage seems like an unlikely dish to eat in the summertime. But don’t be fooled - this recipe is light, flavorful, and full of crunch! I’m a big fan of purple cabbage, I like to finely slice it to add to my salads or even to sandwiches. It’s got a flavor which is unlike green cabbage, a mix or sweet and savory. I enjoy purple cabbage raw, fermented, and lightly braised - as in this week’s recipe.
Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think. And if you’ve been to Budapest, where did you enjoy eating? Where should I travel (and eat) next?
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Quick Caraway-Braised Cabbage
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
1/2 red cabbage (cut in-half top to bottom thru the core)
2 T sunflower seed oil
1 T caraway seeds
2 T red wine vinegar
sea salt & freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Remove the rough outer leaves and the core of the cabbage. Rinse under cool water and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, slice into very thin ribbons. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the sunflower oil. When the oil is hot, add the caraway seeds and stir constantly until they get darker in color and begin to pop, approximately 2-3 minutes. Quickly add the sliced cabbage and toss to coat the cabbage in the hot oil and caraway seeds.
Continue to sauté the cabbage until it begins to soften, 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the red wine vinegar over the cabbage and continue to cook until nearly all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat. Taste for seasoning, sprinkling sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper on top of the cabbage, as desired.
Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes a delicious accompaniment for roasted poultry or meat.
recipe yields 4 side dish servings
leftovers keep well in a covered container 2-3 days; reheat gently before serving, if desired
use a mix of green and red cabbage for a slightly different flavor