In the red for Valentine’s Day

Choosing red foods for Valentine’s Day will help put you in the celebration mode and encourage you to buy local apples and cabbages. In addition, when you buy local, you are doing your food budget a favour because the prices are generally lower than their foreign counterparts. Of course, buying local also helps support our Canadian farm industry.

This Valentine’s enjoy the taste of these special recipes, but remember, they are good for other winter meals too. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Braised red cabbage and apples

As a child, this was one of my favourite winter vegetable dishes. I loved the sweet-sour combination of vegetable with fruit. The spicy taste makes it an ideal companion to pork dishes or roast chicken. Leftovers are tasty when re-heated the next day too.

Tip: To slice cabbages easily, especially large cabbages, use a sharp chef’s knife and cut cabbage in halves, then quarters, then cut out the centre core and discard. The core tends to be tough and bitter in taste. Once you have the cabbage quartered, it is much easier to slice thinly and evenly.

2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
8 cups (2 L) thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1 lb/ 500 g)
2 apples, peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
1 each, cinnamon stick and bay leaf
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1/4 cup (60 mL) red wine vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper

In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook covered until lightly golden, about four minutes. Add cabbage, apples, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.

Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook covered, stirring often, until cabbage is tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. If cabbage looks too wet, cook several minutes uncovered allowing liquid to evaporate. Discard cinnamon stick and bay leaf before serving.

Cover and refrigerate any leftovers. Re-heat in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for about 20 minutes or in the microwave.

Apples and cranberry pastry

Apples and cranberries are a perfect marriage of colour and taste. This combination coupled with a buttery rich pastry produces a perfect dessert. If you have cranberries in the freezer, they will work well in this recipe. Be sure to look for Canadian apples in the supermarket and support our local farmers.

Butter puff pastry is readily available in the freezer section of your supermarket. President’s Choice makes an excellent product already rolled and ready to use. If you do not have cardamom, substitute cinnamon with a pinch of nutmeg.

1 sheet (250 g) butter puff pastry, thawed
2 cups (500 mL – about 3) peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced apples
1/2 cup (125 mL) each, dried and fresh cranberries
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp (30 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, toss apples and cranberries with lemon juice. In small bowl, combine sugar and cardamom until evenly blended. Sprinkle over apples and toss to combine. Set aside.

If puff pastry is pre-rolled, cut into nine 4-inch (10 cm) squares. If pastry has to be rolled, lightly flour counter surface, place puff pastry on counter and roll out to 12- by 12-inch (30 cm by 30 cm) square. Cut into squares as above.

Divide apple mixture between pastry squares, leaving narrow ¼-inch (5 mm) edges bare. Place baking sheets on oven racks in top and bottom thirds of pre-heated oven. Bake 16 to 20 minutes, switching baking sheets on racks halfway, or until pastry is golden brown.

Transfer to wire racks. Pastries may be enjoyed warm or at room temperature, sprinkled generously with icing sugar. Pastries are best made and served the same day.

 

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  ~  janmainskitchen@yahoo.ca

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