One minute it was 2013 and with a blink of an eye it turned into 2014. That is pretty much how I felt last year went, in a mere moment. I am hoping that this new year has more fun, laughter and happiness for all of us and that we actually have time to remember and cherish it. I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and a wonderful turning of the new year!
Christmas went well for us. Santa was very good to me and I made out like a bandit as I received everything I had wished for and more. But the day itself went beautifully and I hope everyone enjoyed it and that next year is just as special. The cooking itself had been done in stages in the days up to it but the on the day cooking actually went to plan. There was panic of course when we unwrapped the turkey and realised that I still had to remove some feathers and a few yucky other bits… I am not so good with the raw poultry. Then there was the worry of ‘oh god how on earth will that fit into the oven’?! And it barely fitted, we had to almost shove it in. But nothing was burnt or under cooked, the only casualty of the day was the forgotten cabbage dish, and the only people who missed that was myself and D as we had practiced it and knew that it existed.
So with the festive season well and truely over, we can now let out a sigh and relax back into normal routines. And at last, I can experiment in the kitchen again. With the shelves of the fridge looking a little barer, I am back to my usual wonderings of what on earth am I going to cook for dinner? Many items are left but not what you would usually pair together. But with three heads of cabbage sitting in the bottom of the fridge, I wanted to use them rather than waste. Even if they cost only a mere 5 cent each! There is much cheese left, herbs, cranberry sauce, mushrooms and a packet of sausages and some stale bread…. Well when all else fails, make something Polish. Last year my mother in law gave me a present of a Polish cook book. I think it was a hint. But for the first time, I am using the book. Took me long enough! D has been talking about stuffed cabbage for ages and I have finally given in and made a semi Polish dish, with my own twists to it.
I started to make my cabbage rolls, I made my filling and got the cabbage out of the fridge. I boiled my water and went to get a tea towel to dry the cabbage leaves on. I came back from the hot press and could not for the life of me think what my next step was. I looked around and had my filling, check, I had my water boiling, check, my tea towel, check but realised I had no cabbage. I looked out the kitchen window and saw the puppy running very proudly down the garden path, and yes she had a cabbage (bigger than her head may I say) in her mouth. She has grown so big that she can now swipe things off the counter in a blink of an eye and get passed me without me noticing. So I ran down the garden after Cara and rescued the cabbage, tore a few bite mark ridden leaves off and used the untouched inside leaves. We have since started to push things on the counter a foot inwards to avoid a rematch.
(Stuffed cabbage leaves)
This is the ultimate Polish comfort food I have been told. It is earthy and warming and delicious. You can make this with any filling really. I strayed from the traditional due to pure laziness. Traditionally this is stuffed with ground pork meat, rice, egg and onion and baked in a casserole dish in a tomato sauce. I stuffed mine with pork sausage meat, mushroom, a little shredded cabbage and sourdough bread. I will definitely make these again.
- 1 large savoy cabbage
- 400 g ground pork or pork sausage meat
- 200 g piece of stale sourdough bread
- 1 tsp thyme leaves,
- 1 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
- handful of grated parmesan
- 1 glass of milk (about 120ml)
- 3-4 large mushrooms, finely chopped
- handful of shredded cabbage
- 1 tin of tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 50 ml cream
- 1 stock cube
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper
Start by bringing a pot of water to the boil. Cut the bottom of the cabbage off and peel the leaves. Discard the very tough outer leaves. Blanch your leaves a few at a time for about a minute and leave to dry on a tea towel.
For the filling, dry fry the mushrooms in a pan for a few minutes to colour and soften. In the last minute, throw in the shredded cabbage set aside to cool.
Meanwhile take the crusts off the bread and tear apart or slice and place in a bowl with the milk to soften for a few minutes. Mash with a fork. This is a tip I picked up for making Italian meat balls.
In a bowl mix your pork meat, herbs, parmesan , bread, mushroom and cabbage mix and season.
Flatten your cabbage leaves out and take a spoon of your pork mix and form into a rough ball. Place onto a cabbage leaf and fold the sides inwards and fix with a toothpick. You can trim the thickest parts of the stalk to fold more easily with a knife of peeler.
When all your leaves are filled and folded, start the sauce. In a large casserole dish, heat the oil and gently fry the garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add your tinned tomatoes and stir. Crumble over the stock cube and add the sugar. Stir. Pour in the cream. Bring to the boil. Place your cabbage rolls into the sauce and cover with a lid for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes, uncover, remove the toothpicks and turn the rolls over gently. Cook for another 25 minutes.
For me, I need something with these little cabbage rolls. So I served them with a side of leftover fried up Christmas roasted potatoes and crispy bacon pieces on top. Yum!