Friday, November 21, 2008

Another satisfied customer

This is the face of satiety that inspires me to cook:

(Kat is a true joy to nourish)

Ah yes, life is good. And here's one of the many reasons why this is so: Stuffed cabbage. Some may get heartburn from it, but I get heartache for it, with considerable frequency, as the temperature outside drops. My original thought had been to create stuffed cabbage bathed in mushroom gravy, but after throwing together an on-the-fly Near East-inspired pilaf, I knew that my Eastern European-esque sauce would result in cultural chaos of the first degree. And so, I gathered my weapons and went in for the kill on a simple tomato-based sweet and sour sauce.

Before I get into specifics, I must apologize for my lack of accurate measurements here; on this culinary occasion I more closely resembled a mad scientist than a careful chef. So what follows here is more of a felicitous happening than a tested recipe:

Not Your Grandma's Stuffed Cabbage:

Make the filling:
Saute 1 yellow onion, chopped, in oil until translucent and soft. Add 1 cup brown rice, stir until it becomes glossy, then add 2-1/4 cups water, bring to a boil, and simmer about 40 minutes, till rice is tender and water is absorbed.

Allow the rice to cool a bit, then fold in some raisins, pistachios (
toasted and roughly chopped), shredded fresh mint, all-spice, cinnamon, and salt to taste and set aside.

Prepare the cabbage:
Place 1 head of cabbage in salted water to cover and simmer until leaves start to separate. Drain and set aside to cool. Once cool, separate the leaves, setting aside the largest ones to use.

Stuff the cabbage leaves:
Overlap two cabbage leaves on a flat surface and place a few tablespoons of pilaf towards the edge of the upper leave. Roll the end of the leaf over the pilaf, then fold the two sides in (as if you were making a burrito!), finish rolling, and position the package seam side down in a large baking dish.

Make the sauce:
Bring some water (maybe 2 cups?) to a boil, add a few tablespoons of tomato paste (try to find 100% tomato paste, extra stuff), the juice of one lemon, demerera (or some other unrefined cane) sugar (2 tbsp.), a few squirts of shoyu (or other soy sauce), and salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes, then remove and pour over the cabbage rolls into the baking dish.

Bake the dish (we're almost there!):
Bake covered at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, then uncovered until the cabbage rolls are puffed up and the sauce is slightly reduced.

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