Monthly Archives: September 2014

Facing Cabbage Head On

Since the recipe for sweet-and-sour red cabbage with apples that I was preparing for our country town’s annual Oktoberfest called for two heads, I had the opportunity to try both recommended methods for removing the core.

The recipe I was using, which I found on an Internet site, called for cutting the cabbage into quarters or eighths and making slanted cuts into the core sections on either side to release them. On the other hand, in his book How to Cook Everything (John Wiley & Sons, 2008), Mark Bittman suggests removing the core from the uncut head and even includes an illustration to help you do so.

The former is a lot easier. So unless you’re planning to stuff the leaves, my own recommendation is to cut the cabbage into pieces first and remove the core later. Before you begin, be sure that your knife is very sharp. And, as with any spherical item, think about slicing a small piece from one side to steady the vegetable on your board.

Present like a Pro

Yes, I know that in past columns I’ve said that we home cooks aren’t chefs and are not expected to be. Still, it’s nice to pick up home-entertaining ideas from the pros, since sometimes their tricks can so easily elevate our efforts. As it happens, I picked up several seemingly simple but stunning ideas at the housewarming party of some stylish new neighbors last weekend.

The cocktail menu by caterer Kate Baldwin ( of Richmond, MA, was enhanced by the alluring use of fruits and vegetables in the platter presentation. Among the dishes, two-bite vegetarian summer rolls were resting on a basket-weave of cucumber slices. Surprisingly flavorful silver-dollar sized smoked turkey sandwiches on tiny rolls, slathered with chutney and garnished with microgreens, were set off on brilliant burgundy-and-white striped raw Chioggia beet rounds. A bright orange papaya half not only lent color to a platter of lamb meatballs but became the clever receptacle for their wooden skewers.

The food was so good and the service so attentive that I’d hire Kate in a minute, if I were hosting a crowd. But next time I’m throwing a small dinner party, I might just try those presentation ideas myself.