Merry Christmas!

There simply is no rest for the weary... Work today and tomorrow, so do not feel Christmas-y at the mo'... But need to eat, so have thought up a nice dish to nibble on.

Inspired by a nice photo in the January 2010(!) issue of Martha Stewart, I made braised red cabbage a couple of days ago. Although I have no qualms about eating leftovers as is, it just does not feel quite like a Christmas Eve thing to do, so I dressed up my cabbage with a lovely risotto. Like so:
It was delicious, and quite in the tone.

Granted risotto rice is not a local staple... If you are gung ho about your food miles but are craving a risotto-like grain, try barley. Although hulled or pot barley is higher in fibre and nutrients, pearl barley makes a softer and starchier risotto, it is also more readily available in regular supermarkets.

You can follow Martha's recipe for braised red cabbage with caramelised onions, but I was rushed and starving when I made mine, and have come up with an easier recipe.

Braised Red Cabbage, Onions, Rutabaga and Ice Cider

¼ medium red cabbage per person, halved
½ medium red onion per person, quartered
½ small rutabaga per person, cut into 1cm (½") wedges
salt and pepper
Ice cider, regular cider, cider vinegar, or any liquid you want (water; your favorite local beer; homemade white wine...)
crisp bacon or smoked coconut
to garnish

Generously butter an oven-proof dish large enough to contain all the vegetables.
Throw in your prepared vegetables, trying to keep them in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper (you can use smoked salt if you have it).
Slosh generously with cider (at least 1cm/½" deep).
Cover with foil and pop into a 180'C/350'F oven. Bake for 45 minutes.
Remove cover from the vegetables, and return to the oven. Leave to braise for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cider has reduced to a thick, pink syrup.
Serve with the crispy bacon or smoked coconut, if desired, atop local-flavoured risotto.

Risotto (serves 2)

2 Tbs butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 splash ice cider, or wine, or beer, or whatever
200g Vialone Nano rice, or Arborio rice, or short grain brown rice, or pearl barley
±750mL (3cups) water, vegetable or chicken stock
50g (± ¼cup) finely grated sharp cheddar, or your favourite local, hard cheese

In a pan, melt butter and add onions on medium heat.
Cook off onions until translucent and fully cooked, but not coloured.
Add rice or whichever grain you choose to use, toast grains for about 5 minutes (if you are using rice, you will notice the grains turn see-through).
Splash in the cider -this liquid is strictly for flavour purposes, if you avoid alcohol, you do not need to forgo risotto, you can use raw apple juice or just water.
Cook off cider until evaporated, add enough water to just cover the grains, and stir, stir, stir!
The secret to a proper risotto is vigorous stirring: it extracts the starches from the rice whilst separating each individual grain.Keep adding water, and occasionally taste a couple of grains to check doneness. Although risotto is supposed to be 'al dente', it should not crunch: the grains -whether rice or barley- should be firm but not gunk up your teeth.
When the rice is done to your taste, stop adding water. Cook off whatever liquid is left until the risotto is as thick as ketchup.
Add water if the risotto is too thick.
Throw in cheese, stir until completely melted.
Serve. The plated risotto should spread out a little, although some prefer a thicker, firmer dish.

A heart warming dish for a cold, cold evening.

Bon app'!


  1. That sounds like a lovely meal. Hope you get a break from work to enjoy some festivities... Merry Christmas!


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