Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Kohl, Schinken und Käse Torte

Is Puff Pastry with Peanut Ice Cream, Chocolate Leaves, Praline Ganache and Condensed Milk Cappuccino any more delicious than a hot bowl of white corn grits with a tiny sprinkle of coarse ground salt and a large pat of creamery butter on a chilly morning, just because it takes a prettier picture? (Well, ok, maybe it is, but that was an unfair comparison…) Perhaps, but my point is that sometimes the most delectable foods aren't the most aesthetic...

Case in point, my recipe for…well, its, um, gee, I haven't got a name for it. Hang on. Let's see. It's cabbage and ham and cheese. It is Germanic. (At least, the cabbage idea is) Ah-ha! I shall call it Kohl, Schinken und Käse Torte, and despite the fact it is gloriously delicious, it doesn’t take a particularly appetizing picture. (See below)

So now that we have a name, and have established it isn't food-porn-esque, the concept should be explained. I had a cabbage and nothing specific to do with it, so by separating the leaves, steaming and reassembling with layers of ham and cheese, it turned out to be one of the best things I have made in ages. It is loosely based on something I saw in a restaurant a zillion years ago and have wanted to concoct ever since. The combination of flavors melded perfectly, with salty ham, nutty cheese, mild cabbage and a herbal-infused cream sauce, it was a perfect meal. I admit it is a touch advanced to make, but I suspect you are up to the challenge. Try, and enjoy!

1 large head of green cabbage
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, plus some to butter the dish
1 teaspoon dried sage or thyme
salt and pepper
14 large slices of white cheddar cheese (about a half pound)
4 heaping tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
14 thick slices of Parma ham (about 10 oz. total)
1 medium onion, sliced thin

You will need a medium sized metal mixing bowl for this recipe that is oven-proof. Or, a 10-inch round cake pan will work too. I prefer the bowl.

Slice the root end of the cabbage off. Turn root side up and starting from the stem end (root end, whatever) carefully pry the leaves off, one by one, keeping in tact as best you can.

In a large saucepot with a lid, steam the separated cabbage leaves until tender (about 10 minutes). When they are done, set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over very low heat, combine the cream, butter, dried herbs and salt and pepper to taste. You want the flavors of the herbs to infuse the cream, so let it heat for about 5 minutes. When done, set aside to cool.

Using a sharp knife, remove the ribs from the cooled cabbage leaves by cutting a V shape. You want to preserve the shape of the leaf, but make it more flexible.

Butter a medium sized metal bowl and begin to line with overlapping cabbage leaves, leaving a large overhang on the edge. Reserve two large leaves for the bottom of the torte.

Now begin layering, cheese, cabbage, onion, cabbage, ham, cabbage. After each layer of cabbage, ladle a few tablespoons of the sauce over. Continue until you are out of ingredients. The bottom layer should be the large reserved cabbage leaves with the overhanging leaves of the top layer tucked under. Find a heavy plate that is just smaller than the bowl and place on top to settle the torte. Refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Preheat your oven to 325 F.

Remove the plate from the bowl and cover the bowl with foil. Bake for 40 minutes on the middle rack. It is a good idea to have a cookie sheet or some foil on the bottom rack to catch anything that drips. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Invert the torte onto a large plate. (Be aware there will be a lot of sauce, so make sure the plate has a curved lip) Slice and serve.

Serves 6-8


About 2000 people in France are injured each year opening oysters

Today is National Cherry Cobbler Day!

According to the German butter ordinance, only table salt, lactic acid and the natural coloring agent betacarotene (a provitamin of vitamin A) may be added to butter during its production

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