Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘cabbage’

Can any ol body make Kimchi?

I’ll admit, the thought of it was very intimidating.

I was picturing something very exotic, or spending all day in the kitchen over large vats of something or other.  Requiring group of friends working feverishly to complete it in one day.

Or the need for hard to find equipment or ingredients.

Trouble was, I guess I didn’t really even know what Kimchi was.

What it comes down to is pretty much Korean style sauerkraut.

Something people have been making for years with little more than a bucket or crock, some salt and a big rock!

So why was I getting myself in a tizzy over it?  Why not just give it a try? Cabbage is pretty cheap, if it doesn’t work out…..oh well.

I’m almost embarrassed at just how easy it really is!

Then again, fermenting of food has been around a LONG time.  That’s how many cultures have survived by being able to preserve the bounty of the Summer for the long Winter ahead.

And then don’t even get me started with just how very good for you it is!  Talk about probiotic!!  This stuff is where it’s at!!

So not even knowing where to start, I did what any smart person would do, I looked up some recipes on the internet!   Admittedly, there were several and true, some did sound a little exotic and involved but I managed to find one that made sense.

Many of the recipes also called for “fish sauce” or “shrimp paste”, two things I actively avoid due to my shell-fish allergy but found no trouble working around that.

There were many many recipes, but I finally decided on this one:  Homemade Vegan Kimchi

I did not have, nor had the time to look for, the Kochukaru ( Korean chili powder) so I improvised on that.

I also didn’t make as huge of a batch as this recipe appears to make, in case it was disgusting and then I would have went to all the trouble and then would have to toss it!!

Here is what I used:

  • 1/2 large napa cabbage
  • 1/2 (maybe less) daikon radish
  • 1/2 red onion
  • Salt  ( Kosher or sea)

For paste:

  • 4 green onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 birdseye Thai chilis ( small red ones)
  • 1 tbsp smokie paprika
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar

I peeled the leaves off the cabbage one at a time until I had taken off about half of them.  Use your judgement depending on how big your cabbage is.   After washing them, chop them into about 2 inch chunks,

I used only 1/2 of the daikon because it was quite large.   Peel it and then cut it into strips.  Smaller than French fries but bigger than match sticks.

Slice the red onion into full circle rounds about 1/4 inch thick.

Place all of these ingredients in a large bowl and then sprinkle generously with salt and toss to make sure everything is getting some salt on it.

 

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Then let it sit for a few hours until it gets quite whilty and releases some liquid.

 

When the cabbage mixture is ready to go, it is time to make the paste.

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Add all of the other ingredients ( except the green part of the green onions, just chop and mix those in   with the cabbage, but do it now, not during the wilting part) to the food processor and combine till it makes a nice paste.  ( Add a bit of the cabbage water if it is too thick)

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Then add the paste to the wilted cabbage and toss well until everything is nicely coated.

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Then carefully shove it all into a super clean Mason jar ( or more).  The other recipe suggests poking it down with a chop stick.  Really pack it in there, making sure there aren’t any air pockets.  And then pour in any remaining liquid from the bowl that will fit.

Seal it up tight and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours, then into the fridge for at least a week before testing it!

 

ONE WEEK LATER:

Time to check out the magic!!

A huge word of caution here that no one seems to mention in any of the recipes I saw…….

Kimchi is ALIVE!!  Fermenting is done by live ( but very friendly) bacteria and so after they have done their work on your cabbage, they are eager to show you!!

So when you open your new Kimchi for the first time, DO IT OVER THE SINK!  It is almost like a bottle of soda that has been shook! And it WILL spew everywhere!!

I had NO idea!!

Once that nonsense was over and I safely got the lid off…….I gave it a sniff.  It had a strong odor and it wasn’t particularly appealing, but the time of truth had come.  Time to taste it.

 

I was fully ready to dislike it, but instead I was surprised, amazed and delighted by the taste of something that I quite honestly can’t say as I have tasted before!   I was expecting something tangy, vinegary or pickley.   But it was none of these.

Instead, it was the most delightful mixture of salty, sour and a little bit spicy.

I was absolutely delighted with my experiment!

Since then, I have become obsessed with my Kimchi!!  As the lady in the commercial says “I put that @#%$@* on EVERYTHING!”

It is particularly wonderful for livening up any old boring sandwich!!  Fabulous as a burger topping, adds zing to any rice bowl type dish.  Add it to salads or as a condiment with eggs or omelets.  I could go on and on and keep trying it with everything!

Just DON’T heat it!  It is a live food, heating it will destroy all of its goodness!!

So don’t be afraid, give it a try yourself.

I would be very interested to hear just you make out!

 

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Vegan Challenge-Week 1 check in

Well…… I’ve DONE it!!  One whole week with not a hit of animal product past my lips! As suspected, it really hasn’t been that hard because we already enjoy many vegan dishes a week, so it’s not like it feels all “weird” to be eating the things we do, it’s just the every meal aspect of it and of course the cow milk in my tea! Oh and much to my dismay, discovered that most, readily available, chocolate products all seem to contain dairy!!

So what have I been eating you ask?

vegetables II

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On the first night I whipped up a little “Spicy Tofu with vegetables and noodles”.

Start a little before and marinade the tofu for maximum flavour.

Marinade:

  • 2 cloves crushed fresh garlic
  • 1 inch knob of fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp sweetener of your choice – I used brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy  or Bragg sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

I whizzed it all up in my mini chopper but if you do your mincing and crushing by hand, just mix it all in a bowl.

Meanwhile, chop up a block of firm tofu into 1 inch cubes.  I put them directly into a glass baking dish in one layer and then pour the marinate all over them and make sure they are evenly coated.

Let sit for at LEAST half hour, but the longer the better.

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When you are ready to eat, assemble your goods.

So now like any “stir fry” type thing, feel free to use what ever vegetables you enjoy but this is what I used:

  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 4 medium size cremini mushrooms cut into fours
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage thinly sliced
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach with a rough chopped

Meanwhile:

Put on a pot of water to boil for the noodles.

I was surprised to find out that “Catelli Multigrain” noodles are in fact vegan.  I use these most of the time anyway but had never registered that they were egg free before because it wasn’t a priority, but good to know.

Then while the water is boiling, you might as well prepare a little garnish to go on top.

I chopped up a couple of green onions and made some carrot juliennes ( match stick size) with my new julien peeler ( I’ll show you that another time)

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Okay, let’s get started.

Firstly, in a large skillet or wok,  you want to pan fry your marinated tofu ( adding the marinade in a little at a time till it cooks down)  in a little neutral oil, till it gets  a little crispy on each side, just to give it some texture and the marinade makes a bit of a gooey sauce.

Then remove from the pan and keep warm in a heat safe container.

Add a little more oil and then toss in your vegetables.

Put you noodles in the boiling water and give a little stir.

Keep tossing the veg around until the cabbage starts to get nice and wilted.

Once the noodles are done, drain quickly and keep a bit of the cooking water.  Then toss the noodles into the pan with the veggies and toss them together.

Turn off the heat.

Give them a generous shot of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and then keep tossing it everybody is well acquainted.

Place into your favorite bowl,  spoon on a helping of tofu, then top with the green onions,  carrot sticks and a sprinkle more sesame seeds.

Voila!  Vegan!

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A little mid week Chinese chicken

Back in the day……

There was nothing I loved more than a great Chinese Buffet!

I had this one particular friend, who she and I would dawn our most spacious sun dresses and steal away to the buffet and eat till we could barely walk!

But times of have changed.

Now I try to eat healthy and then since I developed that pesky shell fish allergy, going buffets where I don’t know exactly what’s in everything, is simply just high risk behaviour!

But every now and again, I get a strong craving for some Chinese style chicken!

So last night I googled “Sweet and Sour Chicken” and so this recipe is loosely based on the first three or four that I looked at.

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Start by cutting and appropriate amount of  fresh chicken ( I used boneless breast) into nice manageable strips or bite size chunks.

Place the chicken in a bowl with one egg white,  2 tsp of cornstarch and 1/4 tsp of salt.   Mix throughly till the chicken bits are well coated, then set aside.

Meanwhile chop up a bunch of your favorite Asian style veg into nice strips.

I used:

  • red pepper
  • yellow pepper
  • red cabbage
  • broccoli

But any nice firm veg will do.

And some finely chopped fresh ginger, about 1″ knob or at least 1 tbsp.

 

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Oh yes…..and you will probably want to be cooking some rice or noodles or something on the side to go with it……or not.

Okay, now you are ready to go.

Get out your wok, or in my case big skillet and get it pretty smokin hot!

Then add about 1 tbsp of high smoking temp oil.  Do NOT use olive oil!!  I used coconut, it has a nice neutral flavour and can get nice and hot before burning.

 

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Once the oil is nice and hot, dump your chicken in the pan and quickly spread it out to a single layer.  But then DON’T touch it!!  And yes it will immediately stick!

But then after a minute or two of cooking, with a good strong spatula, flip it over and let it go another minute or two.

Then remove it to a CLEAN bowl or plate.  Don’t worry if it still looks a little pinkish, it will cook some more soon.

Then add a little more oil to the pan, let it heat, then toss in all of your veg, including the ginger and give them a good toss.

 

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NOTE:   now in all the “Sweet and Sour” recipes I looked at, they were using pineapple as the “Sweet”.   I didn’t have any so I substituted in the sauce (coming next) but if you WERE to use pineapple chucks, this is where you would toss them in, with the veg and then use the juice in the sauce.

 

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Sauce:   So as mentioned, the real recipes called for canned pineapple and then the juice in the sauce.   But the closest thing I had was oranges.

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 white or rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • and in hind sight, I would have used a pinch of chili flakes

Mix that up well.

Once the veg have cooked for a minute or two, pour in the sauce, mix well and turn up the heat until the sauce starts to bubble.

Then add the chicken back in to the pan.   Stir it all up, put the lid on and let simmer for a couple of minutes until everything is well cooked.

Serve with your favorite side dish!

Easy chicken!  And the best part is……you know EXACTLY what’s in it!!

 

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Kinda lasagna sorta

The worst part about moving of course, is trying to find anything!

All the best and most organized packing in the world can still result in a lot of things being “misplaced”.  That is what is so disruptive about moving and makes you feel so unsafe.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but they say moving is up there with the top 10 most stressful happenings in life……up there with divorce or deaths!!

And when you are packing, you tend to do crazy things that must seem a good idea at the time and perhaps even logical.  But on the unpacking end you often find your self asking “WHAT was I thinking there??”

So this past weekend was the first time the Chef and I have both had the whole weekend off together and been able really get a handle on the new place.  Most of the stuff has been unpacked for a bit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is in the right place.

I kid you not, we spent almost four hours arranging and rearranging the living room.        We purchased some new furniture that will be arriving in “two to four weeks” so it is even harder when you don’t even really know what things will look like.

We had already had a number of configurations that we had tried for a week or a few days at a time, but nothing felt right.   But I think we finally found one we can work with……until the furniture comes and then we have to start all over of course!

But we did manage to finally arrange the pantry.

It’s been hard to cook or eat because we didn’t know where anything was….or if you thought of a dish you might only have half the ingredients, but then only to discover in a different cupboard the other stuff you would need.  It’s been chaos!

So after a long day of “arranging” neither of us felt like going out to a store, nor did we really feel like cooking but…….you gotta eat right?

So this is what I came up with.

Baked cabbage with cheese and veg

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I present this as only a guideline of what you can do with a bunch of random stuff.  Please feel free to substitute or omit  as needed.

First I cooked up a pot of green lentils.  At first I thought I would make some sort of lentil dish fried up with onions and veg on rice etc.

But then I found a cabbage in the fridge.  When I say “found” you know what I mean, a recently purchased one, not one that came with the fridge!

And so I thought I’d really like to use that too.

There were also some nice Portobello mushrooms and some red peppers.

Hmmm….what next?

Okay.

So in a large skillet with a little oil add:

  • 1 -2 chopped onion
  • 1-2 cups sliced mushroom
  • 1 red, green, yellow or combo sliced pepper

Cook those down until nice and soft, feel free to add any herb or spice flavours that inspire you.

When these are cooked, toss them into a flat baking or lasagna style dish and spread them around.

Then add in the cooked lentils and mix them in well.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, add a little more oil then add finely sliced cabbage.  Sliced very thin like you are making coleslaw but don’t stuff the pan too much.

I used a whole small cabbage.  But cook it in batches so that it cooks down nicely and it is okay if it gets brown bits on it.  Adds flavour!!

As you finish each batch of cabbage, add it to the baking dish and continue to mix it in with the other vegetables.

Once you have done about half the cabbage, sprinkle with a layer of good melting cheese like mozzarella or other cheese you might use in a lasagna or pizza.

Once all the cabbage is added then add a tin of tomato  or prepared spaghetti sauce and thoroughly mix through everything.  I only had half of a tin on hand, but it really needed a whole one!

Once it is well mixed, layer with another layer of the melting cheese and then a bit of what ever other cheese you might have just as an accent.  I used some orange cheddar and some blue cheese.

Then bung it in the oven at 350 for about half hour ( it’s mostly all cooked just need to heat and melt cheese) and then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes till the cheese on top starts to brown a little.

There you have it!

Kinda lasagna sorta

Now I will admit, if I had to do it again, there would be a few things I would do differently.  Like make sure I had enough sauce.   And I would probably put some extra fried onions on top.  Or even better, those old school crispy onions that Grandmothers seem to like to put on green bean casseroles at the holidays!!

It would make a fine Vegetarian supper with a salad and some nice bread.  Or actually it would do fine as a side dish.

The point is, you can usually make something out of nothing when you have to!  Be creative!

We did end up getting to have some Thanksgiving Turkey dinner after all and it went very well, just missing a couple things…..like the gravy ladle.

It will show up….with the damn blue lampshade I can’t seem to find.

To the new garden

I’ll admit that I haven’t been to the blog too much lately.

But I have a very good reason. ( Other than the fact that my WordPress was broken!!)

The Chef and I have moved to a new place and it has been one thing after another stopping us from getting on with it.

So I haven’t been doing much cooking and I haven’t been doing much gardening and I certainly haven’t been doing much blogging!

But I am looking forward to this being a full weekend of no outside responsibilities, so I can concentrate on getting things in order, so we can start “living our life”!

There!

But have a LOOK at the new kitchen! Coarse this is before we moved all our stuff into it!! I will update you when it is settled!

The New Kitchen

And this is the new patio, again, before we moved in!

But how are the plants in my garden doing you ask?

Chick HERE if you want to catch up on the trials and tribulations of my balcony garden!

Well, when we got back from the Oregon trip, the birds had really had their way with things!

They apparently got a taste for beet greens and so they didn’t make it.

beaten beets

And then they went for the cabbage!

Tormented cabbage

But since we’ve moved, the new deck is pest free so any of those who made the move are faring quite well.

The crazy arugula just keeps on growing! We cut it and eat it and it just grows back! Marvelous!

Active arugula

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Do you remember my ONE tomato? Well this is him!! All grown up and red. I must eat him soon!

Original tomato

And look, now he has all kinds of friends! Didn’t I predict that? That come October I’d have all kinds of tomato!!

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And these are the cabbage now, since being bird free and able to grow in peace. They still don’t seem to be turning into a nice cabbage ball that I am accustom to at the market, but they are at least decorative!!

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And last but not least, the most pleasant surprise!

BEANS!

It took forever for them to even sprout! And now the little plants are growing all kinds of beans!!

Fantastic!

But it is October now and even though it has been sometimes warmer than in the dead of summer lately, I think it might be time to wind things down for this season.

A turn in the weather

It’s disappointing  that I feel the need to write a blog like this in July, but it really has been a weird weather summer  all around.   Scorching heat and drought some places while others are cold, raining and flooding!

I remember that when I lived back east in Montreal or Toronto I would cherish a summer day like this.  We would usually have suffered weeks of blistering heat, so a cold rainy day would be very welcome.   We never get “blistering” heat here in Victoria but summer is usually a good solid “nice”.

But why not make the best of it??   Actually I couldn’t be happier with this kind of activity!

First I popped a batch of  BREAD IN A POT into the oven that had been “festering” over night and will take it out in a few minutes.

And then why not have a nice bowl of soup to cheer you up!

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I had some left over spicy Italian sausage from my STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS the other day so I started with that.

Heat up your Dutch oven or sturdy pot and then add in the sausage ( loose sausage not in casing) and stir it around until it is well browned.   Then add:

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 stock of celery finely diced
  • 1/8 – 1/4 green CABBAGE shredded

Add those to the sausage and stir them up until well wilted.

Once they are all well acquainted I tossed in a handful or two ( 1/2 cup) of my favorite legumey soup mixture.    It comes from the bulk section of my grocery store and is a combo of  green and yellow split pea, barley, lentil and maybe a bit of rice for good measure.  I really enjoy this combo because some of the items cook down while others keep their shape.

So toss that in and then stir making sure the legumes are well covered with all the juices etc of the sausage and veg.   Let that go for a few minutes and then add enough stock or water to just cover everything.

Bring it up to a boil, then turn it down to a nice simmer.  It will need at least 45 minutes to cook but that’s why it’s a good “go about your business” kind of dish.   But do check on it and stir it from time to time.

Then about 10 minutes before you are actually ready to eat it, toss in a very large handful of chopped kale.   This step IS optional, but you know me……..KALE is our friend!!

Let that cook in and then you are ready to enjoy!!

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Growing things and veggie storage tips

What with it officially summer now and the growing of produce in full swing, I thought I would share this veggie storage chart with you to help maximize the life of your produce!

veggie-storage

Meanwhile, life on the balcony garden is doing as well as can be expected.

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The cabbages are growing like gang busters!  But cabbage is a hearty plant so I suppose we can count on them.

But I don’t know, in the close up I’m not really seeing what will be a head of cabbage some day.  I don’t think that these big leaves suddenly curl up in a ball??

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The beans are still pushing away.  But doubt anything will come of them with their late start in the season!

Beans

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The tomato plants have lots of flowers now but no little tomatoes yet.   The wind lately has just been relentless and so I think it has tired them out.

Tomatoes

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And the potato plant is so big and strong and flowering.  I only hope that the potatoes growing underneath are half as hardy!   And I really have to resist the urge to “look at them”!  Last year I couldn’t help myself and pulled them up way too soon.   But luckily I shoved them back in the dirt and they kept growing until that “unfortunate incident” that occurred last year!  ( click here to see that )

Potatoes going strong

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I have had an unfortunate development with the patty-pan squash plant.  Heart breaking really, for no apparent reason he seems to have given up the will to live.

It was neither over watered, nor under-watered, nor do I see any evidence of foul play when it comes to squirrels or other critters.  The only variable to report is the incessant wind of late.  Maybe he just got exhausted.  He started off so strong and healthy.   Sad development.

Poor poor patty pan

I did however add some arugula seeds to the rest of his box and they are sprouting beautifully!

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The beets are in fine shape, but I guess like the potatoes, I will have to be patient and not yank them out to see “how they are doing”!

Beets

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And last but not least, I am very pleased to say that the Swiss Chard has made a fine come back.  It was touch and go there for awhile.

Although, I must admit, I have not yet let them stay outside.  They continue to be in the living room away from those nasty birds!

Swiss Chard

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Happy Gardening!

Click here if  you would like to catch up on my adventures in the balcony garden.

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Growing stuff – May 25th

Another week on the balcony garden.

Added a few new friends to the mix.

Got some little red cabbage pants but I only had a shallow pan left for them.   I will start them there and if they grow too big and seem unhappy, I’ll have to get them a bigger bin.

Red cabbage

Also added some beet plants.  They got the last available deep pot because they are underground growers after all.

Beets

Got a couple of mint plants to go in the window box with the oregano.  Mint and oregano…..that should go….they live together all the time in Greek food!!

Mint and oregano

And the potato plant literally seems to get bigger every day!!  But the beans I planted two weeks ago have not yet showed any sprouts at all.  Maybe the seeds were bad, but I won’t give up on them yet!

The Balcony Garden

Gyoza – not just a party snack

As we get closer to the holidays I am still on the quest for interesting party snacks.

The Chef suggested we make some home made “Gyoza”.   Or as I would know it as an Asian dumpling type thing.

I was willing to give it a try.  But let me warn you right off the top, these babies are pretty labour intensive and instead of them being a party snack, I would suggest having a gyoza making party! Because if you had a production line full of friends to help with this, it would make it SO much easier.

Let’s start with the filling.  Keep in mind, these can be made with pork, chicken, shrimp or completely vegetarian ( maybe even vegan if you check what’s in your won ton wrappers! )

In fact, the Chef informs me that you could even make dessert versions with mascarpone cheese and strawberries and the like!

They are a versatile snack.  But a lot of work.

Here is what we used for this batch, but feel free to substitute as needed.

  • ground raw pork
  • finely minced red onion
  • shredded carrot
  • shredded cabbage
  • finely minced garlic
  • finely minced ginger
  • soya sauce
  • white/black sesame seeds
  • raw egg

In a large skillet start with the pork and cook till almost completely done , then add all of the other ingredients except the egg.   Once all the vegetables are cooked, crack in the egg and mix it in well.  This will help hold the filling together.

Let it cool down so it will be easy to work with.

Now it is production line time!   Get everything set up to save time. 

  • Have baking sheets lined with parchment paper
  • Round won ton wrappers
  • a bowl or glass of water
  • filling mixture
  • dumpling press

The dumpling press is my new favorite toy!  Boy do I wish I had THIS baby when I was making my empanadasWould have made life SO much easier!

Dumpling press

I found this at a local hardware store for $3.00.  If you see one, pick it up.  You will love it.

So here we go.   Lay down the won ton wrapper.

Dip your finger in the water and wet the outside ring of the wrapper so it will stick together.

Add a bit of filling.  You will have to experiment until you get the exact right amount that works best.

Place with won ton wrapper full of filling on the dumpling maker.

Squeeze shut.

Open again and carefully peel the dumpling out of the mould and place on the parchment lined baking sheet.

Repeat.  ( you can see now why having a production line for this activity would help!!)

Make sure you keep the surface of your dumpling press dry by wiping it off after every few dumplings, otherwise things will start to stick.

When the tray is full put it in the freezer.   Even if you are going to be eating them soon.  This will help them keep their shape when cooking or once totally frozen you can bag them up and use them later!

So, now to cook them.

First we will boil them in a pot of water.  But only a few at a time because if they touch, they will stick!  So, boil a few and wait till they come to the surface then fish them out.

Dry them, and then into the frying pan, cook on both sides till they are a bit crispy and brown.   Same thing, only a few at a time so they don’t stick!

Then they are ready to eat!

A little dipping sauce and you are good to go!!

Gyoza with dipping sauce

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Stuffed Cabbage

I always try to do the more “labour intensive” dishes on a Sunday afternoon.  And now with the days being cooler and shorter I’ve been turning to the heartier things that I like to make.

This is one of my favorites.  I’ll admit it is “step heavy” but if you have the time, it is well worth it.

The recipe comes from Laura Caulder’s “French Food at Home” show and subsequent cookbook that I got for Christmas a couple of years ago.

As is usually the case, I tweaked it here and there for my own needs, but will direct you to Laura’s actual recipe so you have a fighting chance!

(Click HERE ) for Laura’s recipe.

 So start with boiling a big pot of water to blanch your cabbage in.  While that is coming to a boil, set out a good size cutting board or work surface and cover it with a clean dish towel and then cover that with about the same size as the towel of cheese cloth.   And then have about a foot long of butcher to cooking cord ready.   This will help when you are in the thick of it.      

Lay out cheese cloth

Cut the core out of the cabbage and gently pull the leaves off one by one and place them a few at a time in the boiling water and poke them under water with a spoon or something.  They really only need to be in for a few minutes till they are pliable.    Then take them out and put them in a bowl of really cold or iced water to stop the cooking.   Repeat till most of the cabbage is done except for the very middle, yellow looking part of the cabbage.  That will be chopped up and added to the filling as per the recipe.

Blanched cabbage

Then lay your cabbage leave out on another clean dish towel to dry off a bit while you make the filling.   Make the filling as per the recipe.  I have made it before without the bread if you are looking for a gluten-free option and it worked just fine.  

Cabbage filling

Once your filling is ready, you can start assembly.

Cabbage, filling, cabbage filling etc till you have used up your materials.

Start with largest leaves on bottom

Try and taper in as you stack the leaves

Then wrap er up real tight in the cheese cloth, that helps it keep a nice shape when you serve it.

Wrap it up good and tight

Laura says to put it in a wire basket or stand or whatever inside the pot, I didn’t.  Only because I didn’t like the idea of stuff leaching into the water.  So I just put it directly into the pot with liquid about half way up the side.  I used half chicken stock and half plain water.

Fill liquid to half way up

THEN, about half way through cooking, I added a little something extra.  I added some chopped cremini mushrooms and some quartered new potatoes.   As you will see this adds a complete meal feel to it.        

Take the cabbage package out when done and let it set awhile in a bowl.  Juice will run out of it so you don’t want it on the counter or just a plate.

Then as the recipe says, cook the liquid down a bit to concentrate the flavours and in my case make sure the mushrooms and potatoes are cooked.  I also added a couple of shots of Worcestershire sauce for good measure.

Once the cabbage has rested a while, put it on a cutting board, being sure to pour any escaped juice back into the soup pot!   Then cut off the cheese cloth and you should have a nice looking cabbage.

Stuffed cabbage

 

Cut it in half first and then in our case, each half in half, to make four servings.

Quarter cabbage

 Place the quarter in a bowl and then add some broth around it with the potato and mushroom and you have a DELIGHTFULLY warming hearty supper!

Stuffed cabbage with steamed new potato

It is worth every bit of effort!        

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Comfort cabbage soup

Have you ever come home, you are tired and you have nothing but cabbage in the fridge?  Who hasn’t?!

Well, don’t fear, I have something for you that is quick, easy and surprisingly satisfying.

Here’s what you’ll need.

Your trusty dutch oven or favorite sturdy pot.

Turn it on to medium heat and add a good shot or two of olive oil about 2 tbsp.

Chop up a medium onion into nice diced bits and toss into the heated pot and stir them till they become translucent.

Then coarsely chop on the natural grain of the cabbage so that you get nice long strands like when you are making coleslaw.  I used half of a big green one.  Chop it and then rinse well.  Then into the pot it goes.

Add 1 tsp of salt and a few twists of fresh ground pepper.

Cook this till the cabbage gets nice and sweaty.

Now add a good shot of red wine vinegar, I guess about a Tbsp maybe a little more.

Then add:

  •  one clove of fresh garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar ( optional but makes a big difference)
  • 1 tsp smokie paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes or a few shots of hot sauce

Stir this stuff in till it is well mixed.  Then add a small can of tomato paste and stir well making sure everything is well coated.

Cook this about 5 minutes longer then add either the stock of your choice, or just plain ol water.

If you stop here it is a vegan dish.  If you add something a little more meaty like some bits of Italian sausage, then it goes to a different place.

But at least now you have a base to make it your own.

Easy cabbage rolls

I was always intimidated by cabbage rolls.

I first had them as a kid at my German friend’s house.  I was one of those annoying  picky eaters when I was a kid.  Actually I take that back, I WAS a picky eater until I went to Girl Guide camp one summer, where they actually try to make a man out you!!

It was a traumatic event.  It was 10 years old, my first time away from home, deep in the woods, living in tents, with 15 year olds in charge of us and it rained the entire time!  The food was frightful and sparse, luckily we didn’t have to kill it ourselves.  It was a turning point in my life, I was never a picky eater after that!  In fact that’s probably where my tendency to over eat began,  because after that camp experience every meal felt like it could be my last!

But I digress.  Back to the cabbage rolls that I had at my friend’s house.  Normally I would have never eaten something so exotic in those days, but my friend’s mom’s cabbage rolls were the best!

Here is my version.

First you need to boil up a big pot of water.  Then cut the core out of a medium size green cabbage.

Core a green cabbage

Then when the water is boiling, or even just about there, toss in the cabbage.   Well, be careful cause boiling water can burn, but you know what I mean.

Cabbage in the pot

It won’t take long for the leaves to let go.  So keep poking at it with a wooden spoon and the leaves will come loose.   As they do, fish them out with some tongs and put them in a bowl of very cold, or ice water so it will stop the cooking and they will keep their shape and not get too soggy.

Cooling down the cabbage leaves

Meanwhile, or before you start boiling your cabbage, you will want to make your filling.

There are various “traditional cabbage roll” fillings so feel free to use the one of your choice but this is what I used.

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 pound bulk spicy Italian sausage
  • the left over smaller leaves of the cabbage once large leaves are removed, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp smokey paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 pinch salt
  • a few twists ground pepper

Mix well.  I find the best way is to just get in there with your hands and squish it together.

Cabbage roll filling

Now it is very easy to make Vegan or Vegetarian versions of these by replacing the meat with extra rice and some sautéed vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, carrots or combinations of these, as well as some cooked brown lentils for example.

Now you are ready to assemble.

Place a cabbage leaf on your work area:

Cabbage leaf

Now if the bottom of the ridge or vein of the cabbage is too tough you can make small slits and remove the hard part to make the leaf easier to roll, but this one was just right.

Add the filling:

Filling on cabbage leaf

Then fold in the sides and roll up into a nice package with seam side down.

Cabbage Roll

Then place into a lightly oiled baking dish in a single layer.

Cabbage rolls in baking dish

Then top with the tomato sauce of your choice.

Cabbage rolls in tomato sauce

At this point you could sprinkle with breadcrumbs, or some grated cheese or if you really wanted to be decadent, a little bit of brown sugar!  But on this occasion, I left them o natural!

Place is a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes till they get all bubbly.

They are just fine all by themselves or you could add some salad and bread to round out the meal.

Enjoy.

Cabbage rolls in tomato sauce

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