Hide the cabbage in a chocolate cake?
By Darcie and Dean Hossack
I’m in the market for a good cabbage recipe. Old-style, new-style, veggie or not – I’m open. I just want something my three kids, ages two, five and seven, will eat.
I would love to hear your answer to this, because I’ve received the BIG FAIL from the kiddos for both brussels sprouts AND cabbage this week. This evening, I was obliged to heat up last minute hot dogs because everyone was so grossed out by the cabbage.
Desperate Housewife, Maryland
At first we thought we’d be at a disadvantage here. After all, we don’t have kids. We haven’t had to gnash our teeth while trying to coax a trio of progeny to eat what’s good for them!
How could we hope to council you on cabbagery, when our closest experience involved the nutritional angsts we encountered throughout the 14 year life of our first cat? It’s funny, but parents never seem to take the comparison kindly (insert winking emoticon smiley face here).
On the other hand, we have been kids. And so we remember what our poor parents suffered while trying to coax, force, bribe or otherwise get us to finish eating our hated veggies.
In Dean’s case, it was a plateful of cooked (formerly frozen, possibly canned) peas swaddled in mint sauce. Stop and consider this for a moment. Canned peas. Bottled mint sauce. This, the inspired idea of his dad, who must’ve supposed that what’s green must go with what else is green.
As the story goes, Dean, his brother Todd, sister Michelle, were told to sit at the table until they each finished every pea before them. Instead, they sneakily called their mom at work. She told them to give the phone to their father.
Soon after, the peas went in the rubbish bin.
For my part, my poor mother met against a wall of childhood resistance over tinned green beans. The Frenched kind. Mushy grey-green shards of pure evil. Evil left to soak for months–years, even–in their own aluminum-encased vitreous.
And now that you mention it, the same resistance could just as well have played out over cabbage, whether green, red, savoy or their cousins from Brussels.
Cabbage rolls could occasionally encourage me to sample cabbage-as-wrapper.
But it’s a recipe Dean and learned in our 20s, Bubble and Squeak, that I’m convinced is your best chance.
A British dish that involves mashed potatoes, Bubble and Squeak is said to have gotten its name from the sounds the potato/cabbage mixture makes as it fries.
And if the silly name and rude noises don’t do the trick, I can only think to hide the cabbage in a chocolate cake. After all, it’s worked before for carrots and zucchini.
Bubble and Squeak (serves 4)
2 cups peeled and diced rutabaga
2 cups peeled and carrots, peeled and diced
12 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 1/2oz butter
1 bunch kale (or 14 oz Brussels sprouts or Savoy cabbage) finely sliced
Bring a large pot of boiling, salted water to a boil and cook the rutabaga for about 10 minutes. Add the carrot and continue to cook until tender, then drain. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook potatoes. Drain and allow the vegetables to steam off some of their moisture.
Mash or run cooked veg through a food mill (the latter is preferable if you have one).
In a non-stick pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the kale and cook about 3 minutes. Add the mashed veg. Fry, patting together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring every minute, until hot throughout and beginning to take on a golden crust.