Sometimes, as with the tomatoed chicken thighs a few days ago, spontaneous kitchen improvisation produces quite nice results. But sometimes one is, in all humbleness, totally knocked over with the outcome of an experiment. Like today.
I had to get rid of about 1 1/2 cups of quark [scroll down on the page], a traditional German and Austrian fresh cheese, for reasons of its own called Kesella in Sweden (if you are looking for substitutes it will be helpful to know that Kesella has 10% fat). Other interesting contents of the fridge were: the soft, light inside of a medium-sized head of savoy cabbage (yesterday the green leaves all went into cabbage roulades), around 200 grams of fresh salmon and an almost empty jar of goose fat from Christmas. The following recipe serves two.
(An aside about the goose fat: the Christmas goose, any Christmas goose, sheds between eight and ten dollars worth of fat while cooking, even if it is entirely stuffed with cubes of dried bread. It is a pity to discard this wealth. It keeps for up to two years in the freezer, and it is the only fat that goes really well together with white cabbage, savoy cabbage and almost everything else. One can, of course, also use chicken fat…)
I use half of what was left of the soft, delicious inside of the cabbage head, that is, about a third of the weight of a whole savoy head. I shred the cabbage, wash and drain it. I dice one shallot while two tablespoons of goose fat are warming up in a large pan. The shallot bits and then the cabbage are added to the fat and stirred around for a while. Appropriate spices are black pepper and thyme. Everything is salted and then I add a glass or two of dry white wine. I cover the combo and let bubble for 15 minutes until the cabbage starts to soften.
In the meantime I preheat the oven (225° C – 437° F), cut the salmon in thin slices and prepare the crowning glory of my dish: the quark sauce. For this I take the quark, one egg, a tablespoon of butter, some salt and nutmeg, and a dash of milk, and mix everything together in the blender. The consistency should be about like buttermilk. If you can’t get quark, use any fresh cheese that is not too creamy and not too sour; this was an experiment – yours will be an experiment, there’s nothing to lose.
Now I select an oven dish that will hold all the ingredients, use the cabbage for the first layer, cover it with the salmon slices and pour the creamy quark sauce on top. This is transferred to the oven and will be ready about half an hour later, or when a nice brown crust begins to form. You’ll be surprised…