In need of something savory, I grabbed the Napa Cabbage from my latest CSA box. Its long broad leaves just begged to be stuffed, and I was happy to obliged. Two pounds of ground beef, some spices & rice made 12 perfect meaty packages. I cooked them covered in a simple tomato sauce of a can of whole tomatoes blended with garlic.
I decided to give the Blasted Broccoli from Dana Treat a try. As I said before, I hate broccoli so I didn't really care if I ruined it. I cleaned the head of broccoli - finding a wee inch worm hiding in the stalks. I tossed it on olive oil and popped it in a hot oven. Then tossing it in a bit more olive oil with 3 or 4 cloves of minced garlic and a schtickle of red pepper flakes. Back into the oven it went to sizzle away. It actually smelt good.
Here is your first Yiddish lesson - SCHTICKLE. A schtickle and bissell are similar that they both mean "a little bit", but in cooking a schtickle - a generous pinch - is a bit more than a bissell.I thought I had really burnt it when it finally came out, but decided to taste it anyway. It was GREAT! Garlicky & kind of crunchy, it was perfect. In fact, after my dinner guest left, I ate all the left overs.
Since Masha was coming over for dinner and cupcakes, I decided to also make a salad with the last of this week's CSA lettuce (thank goodness the lettuce season seems to be slowing down). I made a quick simple vinaigrette & tossed in the raspberries left over from make buttermilk cupcakes with berries. Masha brought red wine to go with our dinner. The dinner and the company made the night.
After a couple of helpings of stuffed cabbage, salad, and broccoli (we both agreed that the Blasted Broccoli was simply amazing in the way it transformed this veggie), we were ready for cupcakes. I had 3 to choose from: banana daiquiri with blueberries topped with a rum glaze, vanilla with dark chocolate chips topped with vanilla chocolate swirl cream cheese frosting, & buttermilk with berries,. We each indulged in a couple different flavors & Masha left with an assorted 4 pack.
For the stuffed cabbage recipe, click the read more link
Amy's Stuffed Napa Cabbage
12 large board Napa Cabbage leaves - the outer-most leaves
2 lbs 85/15 ground beef
1-2 cups cooked rice cooled *see below for Always Perfect Rice
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Pinch of dried thyme
28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
s&p to taste
Preheat oven to 350.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and remove from heat (I use my dutch oven which holds the heat). Place cleaned leaves in water and cover. While the leaves are in the water, mix the beef, rice, egg, bread crumbs, and thyme in a bowl. It is easiest to dive in with your hand (I keep one out to keep clean) to mix. Add as much bread crumbs & rice as you want. The more, the more you can stretch the recipe. Just go with your own preference.
Gently remove the leaves from leaves from the water and lay out on a paper towel. Be careful not to tear them. While they cool enough to handle, add the tomatoes and garlic to the food processor work bowl and blend. I like it smooth, but if you prefer chunky, just pulse a few times. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Spoon some of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the baking dish. Make an approximately 3oz meatball. Lay out a cabbage leaf with the inside of the leaf facing up with the base closest to you. Placing your meatball on the base, start rolling the leaf up from the base to the tip. Let the meatball smush out a bit, but not too much that it goes past the edge of the leaf. Place in the baking dish with the seam side down. Repeat until the you are done.
Spoon the rest of the tomato mixture on top of the stuffed cabbage in the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and cook covered to 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 10-15 more minutes. I just sneak a peak inside one stuffed cabbage to make sure it is cook to my liking. After removing from the oven, tent it with foil and let it rest (it will be bubbling) for 10-15 minutes.
Always Perfect Rice
a bissell olive oil (remember your lesson from above?)
1-2 cups uncooked long grain rice
salt & pepper
2 bay leaves
In a medium sauce pan (that has a cover) heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the rice and stir. Keep stirring - the rice is getting coated with olive oil and toasting. You will see the rice start to appear "chalky" and some may brown. You will smell it toasting. Keep it moving to keep it from burning & add your s&p to your taste. Once the rice is toasted, add your water. First add enough water to completely cover the rice. It will sizzle & steam so be careful. Now add enough water to raise the level over the rice to the same width as your middle finger & index finger held sideways. As soon as it comes up to a boil, turn the heat to low, add the bay leaves, & cover. Do not touch for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes you'll have a perfect pot of rice, just fluff with a fork and discard the bay leaves.