November 06, 2014

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

In the summer of 2001 I was in Finland touring and staying with a dear friend. For 3 months my friend and I laughed, drank wine, sat out in her fabulous garden and COOKED! A lot!

I taught her many of my recipes and she showed me how to make many of her own creations but best of all she taught me many fabulous Finnish dishes. One of my absolute favorites was Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.

The Finnish way to make the rolls is to make the stuffing with cooked white rice, onions, cream, egg yolks, salt, pepper and uncooked ground beef and drizzled with melted butter and maple syrup. It is then served with a sweetened lingonberry jam. The Russian variation of the rolls is done by making a creamy tomato sauce that is poured over the rolls before baking them.

I have, over the years, made some changes to the way I prepare my rolls. No cream, no tomato sauce and no jam. I often use sour cream in place of the cream but I also use strained yogurt. Another major difference is, I cook the onions and ground beef to make the stuffing. I like the looser consistency to my stuffing that precooking the meat brings. I also usually use brown rice instead of white rice. This is a personal choice. You can, of course use white rice for your rolls.

Making these rolls are a labor of love because it is a time consuming process. But I have to tell ya, the look of happy-joy on Fuzzy's face (my husband) when I tell him I'm making them, it's totally worth the work.

What you'll need:

400g ground beef

2 cups brown rice, cooked

2 egg yolks

3 tbsps strained yogurt or sour cream

1 large white cabbage, cored

2 medium yellow onions, diced

1 small red onion, diced

1 small leek, finely sliced

2 green onions, finely sliced

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp dried oregano, separated

2 tbsps butter

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsps, paprika powder, separated

Salt, to taste

White pepper, to taste

3 tbsps good maple syrup

1 teaspoon molasses syrup

1/2 cup strained yogurt or sour cream

Okay, here we go!

Using a very sharp knife, core your cabbage. Don't abuse your leaves too much, you what nice, big pieces to work with. You'll need a large pot, big enough to hold the cabbage with some wiggle room. Fill the pot half way with water and salt. Place the cabbage, cored side down, into the pot and put on medium heat a cook until the leaves begin to loosen. Watch this carefully, you do not want to ver cook the cabbage.  When the leaves are at a workable tenderness, drain off the water and sit the cabbage aside and let it cool. The time it takes all depends on the tightness of the cabbage.

Now it's time for the stuffing. In a large skillet, place your butter and vegetable oil on medium high heat. Add the onions, leeks, green onions, garlic and half of the oregano. Sautée until the onions become transparent. At this point, lower the heat and add the maple and molasses syrups and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Remove the onion mixture from the skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, brown the ground beef. When it is cooked, stir in onion mixture and half of the paprika powder, the remainder of the oregano, stir in the cooked rice and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside to let it cool, slightly.

In a bowl, wisk the egg yolks and then whisk in your strained yogurt or sour cream. Mix this into your cooled stuffing.

Prepare a very lightly oiled baking dish to place the rolls and set your oven at 175C

On a clean surface, gently peel a cabbage leaf, being careful to keep it whole. If you find that the middle stem is too thick, thin it slightly with a sharp knife so that it is flexible enough to roll.

Place a generous dollop of stuffing into the bottom center of the leaf and roll the leaf, while also folding in the sides to make a nice tight package. Place it into the baking dish, seam side down. Do this until you've used all of the stuffing. I like to reserve about a tablespoon of the stuffing to use as garnish.

Use the remainder of the paprika powder to sprinkle over the top of the rolls and if you reserved the tablespoon of stuffing, sprinkle that over the top as well. Cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover, tilt the pan slightly and with a spoon gently spoon the released juices over the rolls and place them back into the oven uncovered for another 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

These are positively delicious! As I said, they are time consuming to make but oh, so worth it!

Go, eat!!

If you enjoy the recipes, please share my blog with your friends.

November 03, 2014

Luscious Lip Scrub - Deliciousness ON Your Mouth...Not In It!

Usually I reserve this blog for great things to put into your mouth. This post is a recipe for something to go onto your mouth. All natural Luscious Lip Scrub!!

With colder climates approaching, many of us suffer with dry skin. Our mouths, being one of most exposed features to the elements, often suffers with drying, chapping and peeling. This can get sore and cracked and for ladies, our lipstick looks like crap on top of cracked, peeling lips.

There are lots of high priced lip scrubs on the market and most contain a great deal of very suspect ingredients. You probably have everything you need for this scrub right in your pantry.

I use a lip scrub year round, as I wear makeup on a regular basis for stage and I wear lipstick with a sealer on top to hold the color throughout a performance and keep it off of my teeth. The sealers work magic but dry out my lips. I use the scrub at least once a week.

What you'll need:

small glass jar
2 rounded teaspoons extra fine granulated sugar
1 rounded teaspoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons almond oil (or any oil you prefer)
optional - 1 drop vanilla extract, if you're one of those folks who need flavor

I have a small glass jar that had sample preserves in it. I washed it thoroughly and boiled it and it's lid to be sure it was totally sterilized. Using a clean, stainless steel spoon, mix together your sugars and oil.

To use this mixture, moisten a wash cloth with warm water and hold it on your lips for a few moments to soften the skin. Use the end of a stainless steel spoon to get a small amount of the mixture for use. NEVER put your fingers into the mixture, you can contaminate it and bacteria will grow. NOT GOOD. Gently massage the mixture into and around your lips for a few minutes. Don't press too hard or too long so as not to irritate your skin. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and then apply your favorite lip balm.

You'll enjoy smooth, kissable lips all season long!!!