Two Recipes! Corned Beef and Cabbage; Best Soda Bread
Isaiah 28: 27 “Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick.”
Some scholars believe caraway is an authentic herb mentioned in the Scriptures just like cumin. Other scholars believe that the caraway (or karawya as the ancient Arabs called it) could mean cumin. Either way, this is an important and healthful spice or seed.
How did the ancients use caraway? Most certainly caraway was used in bread, cakes and soups, but its tender young leaves were often used like the bitter herbs in simple salads and minced for cooking. Caraway was used in a type of rice pudding in the Middle East. Guests were treated to this pudding when they would visit a new mom. It’s a popular tradition even today – this treat is supposed to increase milk supply in nursing mothers, and also to give strength.
It’s a biennial herb, meaning it completes its life cycle in two years – the first year it flowers and the second year it sends up seeds. The seeds look a bit like cumin or anise seeds. If you have any leftover caraway seeds in the pantry, go ahead and plant them in the herb garden or a pot. You’ll have caraway plants to enjoy, along with a steady supply of seeds.
Caraway contains protein, fiber, calcium and iron, vitamin C, plus it has anti-inflamatory qualities, antioxidants, and a low glycemic index. It also helps prevent gas buildup. To me it has a real pungent flavor and if you bite into the seeds, they taste like savory licorice. They’re a spice in breads, especially rye and sometimes pumpernickel, and caraway is used a lot in Scandinavian and Central European cuisines. And my German mother-in-law always put caraway in her homemade sauerkraut. It’s used to flavor cheeses like Havarti. Aquavit and Kummel liqueurs have as one of their flavorings the caraway seed. And in Germany, you’re offered Kummel as a digestive aid after a heavy meal.
CROCKPOT CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE
1 package corned beef brisket with spice & herb packet included – a good spice packet will include caraway. If it doesn’t and you like the flavor it imparts, add a teaspoon of caraway seeds yourself.
1 pound carrots, cut in large pieces
1 large onion, cut in large pieces
1 head cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
3 cups liquid: Can be all apple juice, or a combo of water and apple cider
Spray inside of crockpot. Lay vegetables on bottom. Pour liquid over. Place brisket on top and sprinkle with contents of spice packet. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4, until meat is fork tender and can be sliced easily. (Corned beef is the same as beef brisket, but corned beef is brined with spices usually added in a separate packet, while brisket is not brined.)
BEST SODA BREAD WITH CARAWAY
You know how soda breads can be dry? Not this one – it’s nice and moist and incredibly flavorful. Addictive served warm from the oven. It would be perfect alongside the corned beef & cabbage.
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 generous cup dried fruit: try raisins, currants, cranberries, cherries, whatever!
2 teaspoons caraway seed (optional but very good)
1 cup sour cream (I use natural, not low fat)
Raw sugar for sprinkling on top (opt but good)
Preheat oven to 375. Mix flour, soda, salt, sugar and butter until mixture is crumbly. Add raisins, caraway and sour cream. Beat gently until blended. Form into mound-shaped circle on sprayed cookie sheet. Bless the dough (this keeps the devils out!). Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 45-55 minutes. Don’t overbake. When toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, bread is done.
Rita Nader Heikenfeld writes a weekly cooking column and blog for the Community Press, appears weekly on Sacred Heart Radio, and is the author of several cookbooks. An adjunct profesor at the University of Cincinnati, she is Macy’s Regional Culinary Professional (CCP) and is a Certified Modern Herbalist. She lives “in the sticks” outside Batavia, Ohio with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs.
Rita’s Bible Foods segment airs on the Son Rise Morning Show every Thursday morning at 7:22 am (rebroadcast Friday at 6:02 am). Tune in to hear her discuss the history behind each recipe and the scripture verses that inspired it. And of course, for cooking tips!