Monday, March 19, 2012

A Cabbage Affair

Chicago, Hyde Park.

You will need a pencil and paper to get through the following paragraph:
The plan was to meet Ellen, the mother of Fred's Brother's daughter Christa's "intended," Andy, by having them all (including baby Stella) over for dinner, along with Fred's son Alex and Alex's partner (childhood sweetheart? "intended"?) Hanna. Fred's daughter Lucy and boyfriend Lou were in New York. (Not Fred's boyfriend. Lucy's boyfriend.  Didn't I warn you to get a pencil?)  

It was also the plan to have cold Chicago weather. Hence, Fred was sent out for cabbage-y ingredients on Sunday so that I could cook on Monday, having returned from Oakland on Sunday night.  

In the end, Andy couldn't come, at all; Christa, Stella and Ellen could come Tuesday, and, furthermore, the weather got HOT.  So: Alex and Hanna and Fred and I went ahead with our winter dinner on Monday, but in 80 degree heat, and Ellen, Christa and Stella joined us for a cabbage-redux lunch on Tuesday, warmed by the March sun beating through the windows.   

In other words, it all worked out.


MENU:  
• Cabbage stuffed (maybe) with Rice, Lentils, Nuts and Raisins
 
 • KALE and Avocado salad, with Rumeli's Nutritional Yeast and Soy •Sauce Dressing
 and,
the best part: Key Lime Pie brought by Stella.



Ingredients below Fred's spice cupboard


Cabbage (maybe) stuffed with Rice, Lentils, Nuts and Raisins

So, being someone who can roll grape leaves in my sleep (remember Alanya’s wedding?), I thought rolling cabbage leaves would be a snap, or a song, or, at least, a possibility..  Much to learn here, as I couldn’t seem to separate the leaves from the head, at least not in whole pieces, even after first par-boiling ---and then, finally, boiling the hell out of them.

After a pan of "rolled and stuffed," I made the rest into a layered pseudo-sarma, which was actually wonderful, as the taste of the filling is complex and should not be overshadowed.   In fact, the filling is super.

The sauce is good (but I needed to use the 3 cans of 28 oz.) However, stay tuned.  I will might try this again with a creamy tomato sauce.

The recipe comes from HERE, but their ingredient list was not reflected in the instructions and v.v., so I both adapt and correct for that. 

 BTW:  thinking of the 2 sittings, I considered doubling the recipe.  Then I read the fine print: serves 34.   In fact, this did make one large tray of rolled and one large casserole.  Consider halving it, but use the 2 cans of tomatoes.

      FILLING
1 c. basmati rice
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 c. lentils

3/4 c. raisins (black were good. white or currants also ok)
3/4 c. toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1 lg. onion, diced
1 lg. red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 lg. cabbage

      SAUCE
2 (28 oz.) cans tomatoes + another can, or perhaps another, or + a 16 ounce can (you need the liquid.  Be sure to use a pan with room) (I used chopped tomatoes.  Don't.  Too dry.)
4 tsp. dried basil or to taste
2 tsp. ground cinnamon or to taste
balsamic wine vinegar to taste
white sugar to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring 2 cups of water to boil, adding the rice and turmeric. Return to a boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Cook the lentils in 3 cups of boiling water until soft. Saute the onion, pepper, and garlic in olive oil. 
 

In a large bowl, combine the sauteed vegetables, rice, lentils,  eggs, almonds and raisins.

To prepare the sauce, combine the tomatoes, vinegar, basil and cinnamon in a large saucepan. Adjust the cinnamon/basil mix until it's hard to taste either seasoning alone, and then add the salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Fill each cabbage leaf with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup filling, beginning at the thick end of the leaf. Begin to fold this over, folding the edges in as you go to make a neat roll.  This is only if you actually get nice, soft, whole leaves.  I did the best I could, sometimes using pieces, and  putting the seam side down.  The rolls that are closest in the above photo are in pre-boiled leaves.  

 Place the rolls in one or two pyrex pans, covering with the sauce.

When you get fed up with this, 
 
make layers of cabbage (not too much) and filling, ending with cabbage and then covering with sauce (lots).


(Bake the cabbage rolls and the casserole,  covered at 350 degrees, 45-60 minutes.) (oops, I forgot to cover them..)





Rumeli and Cy’s Salad Dressing:
Combine in a blender 1/2 cup nutritional yeast, 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup cider vinegar and 2 T garlic which is basically two good sized cloves. Blend on liquefy, if your blender goes that high. The recipe calls on you to slowly drizzle in 1 to 1-1/2 cups sunflower oil*, but I’ve learned I can just dump it. Spin it on high a while longer and you’re done.

*I've never made it with sunflower oil, Cy used mostly grapeseed oil with a bit of safflower oil when he made it; this time I just used grapeseed because I didn't have either of the other kinds.

CAREL'S NOTE: I used 1 cup of canola oil.  Somehow it didn’t taste like Rumeli’s, so I added more garlic, more soy sauce and a heaping t (maybe a T?) of Dijon, making it more like our regular house dressing.  Next time:  Grapeseed oil, for sure.

Heated cabbage discussions between Fred and Alex

and Fred with some dissent from Hanna,

Tuesday's Cabbage Redux
 
Ellen, Christa and Fred.  Stella took the photo, obviously, having set her drink down first.

STELLA!
 
 lucky Uncle Fred

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