First, let me say that these cabbage rolls were outstanding!! However, I found this recipe to be so difficult to follow that I have modified it here for those who would like to give this dish a try. The original recipe was designed for 12 cabbage rolls, but 8 really produces a better cabbage to filling ratio. I do advise that you work with a few extra cabbage leaves. They are quite helpful in filling in holes and extending the leaf when rolling. My husband suggested that we use 1 lb. of ground sausage in the future. I have to say that I agree with him — the ground beef did not really add any flavor value even when combined with 1/4 lb. of ground pork. I also found that the sauce was a little thin once the cabbage rolls were cooked. I took about 3 T. of the sauce and added a little bit of flour to it and, then, added it slowly back into the sauce to thicken it. This recipe is a little work intensive, but it is so worth the effort. The cabbage rolls are very attractive when plated and complete meal all by itself.
STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS (Yields: 8 Cabbage Rolls)
- 4 quarts of water
- 1 large head of cabbage (will need 12 cabbage leaves)
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- Start boiling 4 QT water and add 2 tsp. salt when boiling. Remove the center core of the cabbage with a knife.
- Completely submerge the whole cabbage and cook the cabbage until the leaves are pliable and started to peel off, about 5 minutes. Using kitchen tongs or a fork, peel off and take out loosen outer cabbage leaves from the pot.
- Soak the cabbage leaves in iced water to stop the cooking process. Remove excess water from them with a salad spinner or pat dry with paper towel. Trim the tough, thick center vein at the base of each leaf (upside-down V shape). Alternatively, you can shave down this thick part. For a beginner cook, I recommend simply cutting it off.
- Chop the thick veins into small pieces, which will be added to the stuffing.
- 1 lb. ground meat (preferably ¼ lb. pork and ¾ lb. beef)
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup panko
- 2 Tbsp. milk
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt (½ tsp. table salt)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 T. all-purpose flour
- Mince the onion. With the knife tip pointing toward the root, thinly slice the onion within ½ inch off the base. Then slice the onion horizontally and cut perpendicular to the first slices you made. If the onions need to be chopped finer, you can run your knife through them in a rocking motion.
- In a frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil on medium heat and sauté onion until softened, about 4 to 6 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix the meat, sautéed onion, and the chopped vein parts of the cabbage with your clean hands or a wooden spoon.
- Add 1 egg, ⅓ cup panko, 2 Tbsp. milk, ½ tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper.
- Mix well until the mixture is sticky and combined. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes (this step is optional; however, it helps to solidify fat, keep the meat juicy and prevent from drying out, and enhance and trap the umami flavor.)
- Divide the mixture into 8 equal parts.
- Put 1 T. of the flour into a fine sieve for dusting. Working with 1 leaf at a time, overlap the bottom of cabbage leaf where you see the upside down V-shape. Lightly dust the flour over the cabbage leaf. The flour helps the stuffing stick to the cabbage and acts as biding agent. Add the stuffing in the center of the bottom part of the cabbage leaf.
- Starting with the stem end, roll the cabbage up tightly, tucking in the sides of the leaf as you roll.
- Use one hand to pull the edge of the leaf and roll the fillings tightly toward the edge.
- Insert a toothpick to seal and secure the edge so the roll doesn’t fall apart while cooking. Repeat with the remaining leaves and stuffing. What if the cabbage leaf is broken? You can still use it. Use a smaller cabbage leaf to “patch” up and roll the fillings the same way.
- 1 T. olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 (14.5-oz, 411 g) can of diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp. white wine
- 1/2 t. salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (240 ml) chicken/vegetable stock
- 1/2 T. butter
- parsley for garnish (optional)
- In a large pot (I use 6 ¾ QT. oval Dutch oven), heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil on medium heat and cook 2 bay leaves and minced garlic until fragrant. Then stir in the diced tomatoes.
- Reduce the heat to medium low. Add 1 Tbsp. white wine, ½ tsp. salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and bring it to simmer on medium heat.
- Place the cabbage rolls side by side in rows, seam side down, in the pot. If there are open spaces, stuff the leftover cabbage in the opening so the cabbage rolls won’t move around while cooking. Pour 1 cup of chicken/vegetable broth.
- Place Otoshibuta (drop lid) on top of the cabbage rolls. If you don’t have a drop lid or your pot is not round, you can make it with aluminum foil. Cut a sheet of aluminum foil and fold the edges up into a circle so that the lid fit fit inside the pot. Make several vents in the middle and place it down onto the simmering foods. Cover to cook on medium heat. After boiling, lower the heat to medium low heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add ½ Tbsp. butter to give it a little shine and more flavor.
- When you are ready to serve, carefully pick up the stuffed cabbage roll with kitchen tongs and put in a serving dish. Remove the toothpick and pour the sauce on top. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Otoshibuta (drop lid)
No telling why I decided to undertake such an unusual dish . . . but I am glad that I did. My guys love Chinese Sausage, and I was looking for a new and interesting way to serve it. Lo Bak Go (Daikon Cake) is a traditional Chinese dish that is usually served in Dim Sum cuisine. It is made of shredded daikon turnip and rice flour along with other components that may vary. This recipe uses dried shiitake mushrooms, Chinese sausage, scallions and dried shrimp to achieve the pleasant savory taste that is referred to as umami. Most of the ingredients can be found at your local grocery, but the dried shrimp may require that you seek out the wonder that is the Asian market. Take time for this outing and treat it like a field trip– huge bags of rice, live fish, exotics. It is like entering another world. This recipe takes some time to prepare. The mushrooms and the shrimp have to be rehydrated and chopped, the Chinese radish has to be grated and steamed, and the sausage requires some time to prep as well. I found the Chinese sausage to be quite soft and I wasn’t able to dice it raw. As a result, I chose to cook it on the stove top prior to dicing. If you chose to go this route, add the sausage to the cooked mushrooms and shrimp during the last two minutes to prevent overcooking. All of the ingredients are mixed together and then allowed to rest for 15 minutes prior to steaming. The steaming takes a full 50 minutes, and then the cake must cool for another 30 minutes before it is turn out. However, we are not done yet. The cake is in a fairly gelatinous state at this point and it must be cut into 1/2″ slices and fried in hot oil until crispy. I generated a lot of dishes (many thanks to my husband for taking care of those) and was pretty ready to sit down and enjoy my meal by the time everything was said and done. They were served along with Sriracha sauce and a Summer House Salad.
Note: Another trick for cutting raw meat is to put it in the freezer until it is just firm. This method is very effective and can be used for almost all meats.
DAIKON CAKES [Lo Bak Go] – (Serves 4)
- 1 Chinese turnip/daikon radish (about 20 oz.), grated
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon dried shrimp, washed, soaked and chopped
- 3-5 dried Chinese black mushrooms, washed, soaked, and chopped
- 1 Chinese sausage, diced
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- white pepper, to taste
- Grate the turnip using the largest holes on a box grater.
- Add grated turnip and water to a wok or large pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the turnip does not brown. The turnip will produce liquid, some of which will evaporate. Cook it until you have about 3/4 cup liquid left in the pan with the radish. Pour everything (including the liquid) into a large mixing bowl to cool.
- Heat your pan over medium heat and add a two tablespoons oil. Add the dried shrimp, mushrooms, and sausage and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped scallion and remove from the heat to cool.
- Add rice flour, cornstarch, salt, sugar, and white pepper to the mixing bowl with the radish and cooking liquid. Mix well until the dry ingredients are well-incorporated.
- Add in the cooked shrimp, mushrooms and sausage, and be sure to scrape the oil from the pan into the batter. Mix well and let sit for about 15 minutes.
- Give the batter a final stir and pour it into a well-oiled loaf pan. Place the pan into a steamer with plenty of water and steam over over medium-high heat for 50 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the steamer and let your turnip cake set for about 30 minutes. Once cooled, loosen the sides with a spatula and turn it out onto a cutting board. It should come out quite easily.
- Use a sharp knife dipped in water to slice ½-inch thick pieces. I know people who’d enjoy it just like that, but most people pan-fry them first. Add a couple tablespoons oil to a non-stick or seasoned cast iron pan over medium-low heat. Fry the cakes on both sides until golden and crispy.
~ from TheWoksOfLife.com ~
I really like this sweet and savory recipe for roasted carrots. I will admit right up front that I made some substitutions to the recipe, but I tried to keep it in line with the spirit of the dish. I decided to make a chipotle paste to use instead of buying harissa paste. I also discovered at the last minute that I didn’t have as many carrots as I thought. Since I had some cabbage leftover from the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls we made a day or so before, I chopped some up to round up the veggie component. It all worked out perfectly. A little sweet, a little savory, and a little heat — all the flavors combined to make this a really good side dish. A little something vegan/vegetarian for my non-meat eating friends.
HARISSA AND MAPLE ROASTED CARROTS (Serves 8)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2½ pounds small rainbow carrots, scrubbed, tops trimmed to about ½”, halved
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
- Preheat oven to 450°. Whisk garlic, oil, maple syrup, harissa, and cumin seeds in a small bowl; season garlic mixture with salt and pepper.
- Toss carrots and lemon with garlic mixture in a large roasting pan to coat; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until carrots are tender and lemons are caramelized, 35–40 minutes.
Do Ahead: Carrots can be roasted 6 hours ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Bring to room temperature or reheat slightly before serving.
~ from BonAppetit.com ~
Have you ever wondered what to do with that can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce? I had purchased a can for a recipe that only required just a dab of adobo — so now what?! I finally decided to make a Smoky Chipotle Paste that can be used in any number of ways. It may be surprising to learn that chipotles are smoked and dried jalapeno pepper that are rehydrated and packaged in a delicious tomato based puree. You can really do quite a bit with this paste — as a spread on a sandwich (try mixing it with mayo); to spice up soups & stews; beans & chili; and, of course, as an ingredient in sauces, etc. The first stop for this paste is going to be in some Chipotle and Maple Roasted Carrots. After that — who knows! I am thinking that it might do well frozen in tablespoon sized servings using an ice cube tray (one of my favorite kitchen tricks). That way I can use it as I chose without worrying about spoilage.
SMOKY CHIPOTLE PASTE (Serves 6-8)
- 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (approximately 7 ounces)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons corn oil
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse blend for 1 minute, or until you reach your desired consistency.
~ from PepperScale.com ~
This recipe gives us a beautiful mix of flavors and colors with a delicious balsamic based sauce. It is not a difficult preparation although it is a bit more of a complex due to the number of steps involved. The mushrooms are sautéed and then set aside, as are the green beans and the chicken. A fresh Greek dressing is added to the hot pan and combined with honey and balsamic vinegar over medium heat. The other ingredients are introduced back into the pan once the sauce becomes bubbly. Cook for another minute or two to heat through and serve family-style from the pan. The combination of ingredients in the sauce really create a wonderfully flavorful dish that is sure to become a favorite.
BALSAMIC CHICKEN TENDERS WITH VEGGIES (Serves 6)
- 2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive or avocado oil, divided
- 8oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 16 oz fresh green beans
- 1.5 lb. chicken tenders
- 2 Tbsp raw honey
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (find a lower sugar variety)
- 1 cup grape/cherry tomatoes
Ingredients (Greek Dressing)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 fresh squeezed lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Sauté mushrooms in large saute pan with 1 tsp of the oil, until just browning. Remove from pan, set aside.
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high, add green beans. Continue to sauté until green beans are cooked, but crunchy. Remove from the pan, set aside.
- Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high, add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes on both sides and remove once browned & cooked though. Remove from pan, set aside.
- In the same skillet, lowering heat to medium, add your homemade Greek dressing, honey, balsamic vinegar. Heat & stir until bubbling.
- Add back in the mushrooms, and green beans, toss.
- Add back in the cooked chicken and fresh tomatoes. Stir for a minute or two to combine flavors & enjoy!
~ from CleanFoodCrush.com ~
These stuffed peppers were absolutely beautiful when plated. I found a bag of mini pepper that I could not resist (is it wrong to say that vegetables are cute?) so I searched for just the right recipe to bring to the table. I had to make a couple of substitutions — I used a Vidalia onion (couldn’t find Walla Walla) and I rounded off my measurements with sunflower seed when I found myself running short of pine nuts. Nonetheless, it turned out quite nicely. The only suggestion that I have is that I would probably cover the peppers while cooking in order to preserve the moisture in the rice mixture. Beautiful, savory and such a pleasure to serve.
RICE STUFFED MINI-PEPPERS (Serves 6-8)
- 12 to 15 mini-peppers, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 cup finely chopped Walla Walla sweet onion
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 – 2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- a pinch of salt
- a pinch of ground red pepper
- Several sprigs of fresh thyme (enough to provide about 1 teaspoon of leaves)
- Wash the mini-peppers and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds..
- In a frying pan, cook the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, over medium heat, until lightly browned, approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the rice and pine nuts. Cook and stir until the rice is opaque and the nuts begin to brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth, sage, salt, and ground peppers. Stir, then drop the thyme sprigs on top and cover. Turn the heat to low and simmer until rice is tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- When cool enough to handle, pick the thyme sprigs from the top of the rice mixture and pull off the leaves discarding the stems. (The leaves should fall off easily.)
- Fill each half with the cooked rice mixture drizzling with a little olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and serve.
~ from MyOwnSweetThyme.com ~
Here is another recipe from our Fresh & Fabulous Spring Cooking class at Sur la Table. The chicken is cut into bite-sized pieces and marinated in a blend of Mediterranean spices for a couple of hours. In the meantime, the couscous is prepared while the chicken is soaking up all that beautiful flavor. A preserved lemon is juiced and the rind is minced and added to a combination of parsley, mint, butter, currants, pistachios and salt. We used raisins in our recipe, but any sweet dried fruit would be delicious. Cook the couscous according to the package directions, then drain and add to the seasonings. Grill the chicken using skewers (or pan fry on the stove top) and serve warm on top of a bed of couscous. This would be a fantastic recipe to create on the grill and prepare tableside for your guests.
GRILLED CHICKEN WITH LEMON-PISTACHIO COUSCOUS (Serves 4)
Ingredients (Grilled Chicken)
- 1 T. toasted and ground cumin seeds
- 1 T. toasted and ground coriander seeds
- 2 t. paprika
- 1 t. ground cardamom
- 1/4 t. cayenne
- 1/4 t. cinnamon
- 1 t. sea salt, plus more as needed
- 1 t. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 T. minced garlic
- 2 T. fresh lemon juice
- 3 T. olive oil
- 1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts of thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 16 10-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes
- 1 preserved lemon
- 2 T. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 T. chiffonade of mint leaves
- 2 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins, soaked in hot water for ten minutes and drained
- 1/2 cup roasted unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
- 3/4 t. fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- 1-1/2 cups plain dried Israeli (pearled) couscous
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium bowl combine all spices, garlic, lemon juice and oil; whisk to combine. Add chicken and mix thoroughly to coat with marinade. Cover and marinate for at least 1 and up to 4 hours.
- Cut the preserved lemon into quarters. Scoop out the pulp and press it through a fine mesh strainer into a mixing bowl to extract the juices; discard the pulp and seeds. Mince the rind and add it to a large mixing bowl along with the parsley, mint, butter, currants, pistachios and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Season the water generously with salt. Add the couscous and cook according to package directions. Once the couscous is cooked and drained well, transfer it to the bowl with the seasonings, tossing until ingredients are incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Remove skewers from water and pat dry. Thread chicken lengthwise onto each skewer. Season skewers lightly with salt and pepper. Grill skewers, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Spoon couscous onto the center of a warm serving platter, arrange skewers over the top and serve immediately.
~ from Sur la Table ~