Cider cabbage with bacon

This is a recipe inspired by friends and family.  Our friend Pete has a friend, Chris, who produces his own cider on his farm near Ludlow.  Pete describes himself as Chris’ Chief Helper as he often spends his weekends at Farmers’ Markets selling the cider.  He had told us that he was selling it at a market near us, so after years of hearing about this cider we thought it was about time that we gave it a try.  So, off we went and purchased some medium and dry cider.  Now, I am afraid that you can no longer to tempt me to drink cider, (tales of a misspent youth would explain), but I do love to cook with it and Mr OC is more than happy to drink it.

On the way home from the market we called in to see Mr OC’s family and my sister-in-law told me about how she sometimes cooks cabbage and bacon in cider with wholegrain mustard and crème fraîche.  Now this seemed like a very good idea indeed and so this is my take on her recipe, adding a bit of garlic and using the rest of the double cream in the fridge rather than buying some crème fraîche.  It’s a really good way of eating cabbage and I think it would be especially good with roast chicken.  We had it with yorkshire puddings because I had no chicken and I think you can never pass up the opportunity of eating yorkshire puddings.

I only wish the photo had been better and had done the cabbage justice.

1 small cabbage, shredded
4-6 rashers of bacon, snipped into bite-size pieces
100- 150 ml cider (depending on the size of your cabbage)
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
100ml double cream
salt and pepper to taste


Heat a little oil in a large pan over a medium heat and cook the bacon until golden, add the garlic and cook for a minute.  Add the shredded cabbage and stir well.  Add the cider and cover the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is cooked through.  Add the cream and the mustard and stir to combine.  Cook until the cream is bubbling. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with something to mop up the cidery juices.

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Potato, cabbage and sausage gratin

This gratin came about from a mixture of things.  I love boulangere potatoes, and a few weeks ago I had a cabbage in the cupboard waiting to be used so I added a layer of cabbage and I was surprised at how good it was.  Then Rachel from Rachel Eats did the most amazing take on Rowley Leigh’s Cabbage and Sausage Cake, her majestic oak tree, as it became known.  Now, before I had read Rachel’s words on the Cabbage and Sausage cake nobody could have convinced me to try such a thing.  However, I was convinced by her words and the art of her photography that it had to be a good thing, so I made it one night a couple of weeks ago.  It tasted divine.  Mine didn’t look as good as Rachel’s, well for one thing I nearly dropped it as I turned it out, but it tasted very good indeed and probably even better reheated the next day. So, I thought perhaps a bit of sausage may just work in my potato and cabbage gratin. And, do you know? It does. So, thank you to Rachel for the inspiration.

When Mr OC ‘phoned me today and asked what was for tea, which is his habit (sometimes he asks me this question when he ‘phones as he walks from the train station to work.  The man thinks about his stomach a great deal! ) and I suggested a potato, cabbage and sausage gratin, I could tell from his tone that he thought this may be a bad idea.  But when he was halfway through eating it tonight he declared it “actually quite good, not as bad as I thought it would be”. I suppose this may not be considered high praise, but his plate was wiped clean by the end so I am taking it as such. He even declared that it didn’t need the gravy that I had forgotten to make.  Anyway, my view on the matter is that it is delicious, and that goes for the dish with or without the sausage.

4 – 5 medium-sized potatoes
5-6 leaves from a savoy cabbage
4-5 good quality sausages
2 cloves of garlic
25g butter
570ml (1 pint) chicken or vegetable stock
½ tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper


Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the cabbage leaves for two to three minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold running water to cool quickly and fix the green colour.  Shred the cabbage.

Peel the potatoes and slice thinly.  Chop the garlic finely.  Skin the sausages.

Generously butter a gratin dish and layer half the potato, topped with a layer of half the cabbage.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the chopped garlic.  Dot lumps of the sausage meat over. Layer the remaining cabbage, followed by the remaining potato.  Pour over the stock.  Season and sprinkle with the thyme and dot with the remaining butter.

Cover the dish with foil and cook in a preheated oven at 200°c (gas mark 6) for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 30-40 minutes until the top is golden and crusty. Serve with good bread to mop up the juices.

Preparing the gratin

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Red cabbage

red cabbage

It’s cold outside and that for me signals the time to cook red cabbage to serve with a roast.  I normally cook Delia’s version of slow cooked red cabbage but I fancied a change and this recipe is inspired by Nigella Lawson’s use of red wine in her version of Red Cabbage which can be found in her Feast book. I wanted to use sour dried cherries again to echo the sauce that I was making for the duck that we were eating this with and it worked beautifully.  My husband can normally take or leave my red cabbage (more for me!) but he commented on how much he liked this version so it may have to be the version I use in the future (less for me).

1 red cabbage, shredded finely
1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
2 eating apples (I used Egremont Russets), peeled, cored and chopped finely
200 ml red wine
1 star anise
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
25g dried sour cherries
1½ tbsp dark brown soft sugar


Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan over a gentle heat and cook the onions until soft. Add the cabbage and the apples and stir to combine.  Add the red wine, the spices and the cherries.  Add the sugar and stir to combine everything well.  Cook for a few minutes until the wine is bubbling and then turn the heat down as low as it will go and cook for at least two hours.

Any cabbage left over can either be reheated the next day, when it will taste even better or it can be frozen.  If frozen, defrost thoroughly then place into a pan and reheat thoroughly.

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