Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ronny's Cabbage Rolls

I'm sure everyone has their version of cabbage rolls, it's such a universally popular dish. My mom had her own version which came with some kind of a tomato sauce and I loved it as a kid. Anyway I thought I'd share Ronny's version with you which uses agave syrup, soy sauce and long grain rice - which is a somewhat 'leaner' version of this age old dish. The combination of agave syrup, soy sauce and butter in his sauce (did I ever mention that Ronny puts soy sauce in a lot of things?) were a perfect match for the cabbage rolls and although I didn't have much of an appetite when dinner started, I think I ate six of them! He served his cabbage rolls with what he calls 'garlic mash', which is mashed potatoes spiked with crushed garlic.

Ronny's Cabbage Rolls

Ingredients for the Cabbage Rolls

Serves 4

1 Cabbage

3 dl Long Grain Rice

4oog Ground Beef

1.5 dl Whole Milk

1 Egg


Black Pepper

4 Tbsp Agave Syrup

50 g Butter

Ingredients for the 'Garlic Mash'

4 Big Potatoes

Whole Milk (enough to give the mashed potatoes a soft consistency)

8 Tbsp Cream

1 Medium Garlic Clove


Black Pepper

Ingredients for the Sauce

Juices from the Cooked Cabbage Rolls (as much as you can get)

Whole Milk


Soy Sauce

Step 1: Boil water in a big pot (big enough so that an entire head of cabbage can fit in it). Put salt in it when it comes to a boil.

Step 2: Core the cabbage and immerse in the boiling water, with the gaping hole facing-up for a few minutes until the leaves start falling off and remove them one by one on another plate with a cloth to dry.

Step 3: Cut off the hard parts of the cabbage (to make wrapping easier).

Step 4: Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Step 5: Mix cooked long grain rice with the ground beef, milk, the egg and some salt and black pepper.

Step 6: Wrap this mixture with the cabbage leaves and put them inside 2 buttered casserole pans.

Step 7: Drizzle agave syrup evenly over the cabbage rolls and put bits of butter on top of them. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Step 8: While the cabbage rolls are cooking in the oven, make your mashed potatoes the way you usually make them, and then mix in one crushed garlic clove, milk, cream, butter, salt and pepper.

Step 9: When the cabbage rolls are ready, use the juices in the casserole dishes to make a sauce.

Step 10: In a sauce pan, simmer the juices with a bit of cream, milk and a dash of soy sauce.

After I wrote that this was a 'leaner' version of cabbage rolls some of you might be thinking: cream and butter?! Well, what did you think? It's cabbage rolls - so there's a limit to how 'lean' it can really be, right? Let's just say Ronny's version uses cream and butter in a restrained way and lets the combination of the sweetness of the agave syrup, soy sauce and butter dominate.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chickpea Cookies

This is a modified recipe of the Sneaky Chickpea Mounds from Just Call Me Marta. Because cooking is all about learning new techniques, I just had to make this once so I could get a feel for what it was like to use pureed chickpeas in a cookie batter, and hopefully I'll be able to apply this technique on some other recipe one day - probably in some round of Paper Chef when we have some impossible combination of ingredients.

Without chocolate, these cookies taste like something you've bought at the health food shop. With chocolate...well, they taste much better.

If I were to make this again, I think I might replace the whole wheat flour with corn meal to give the cookies some crunch. I don't know if this is how they were meant to turn out since I didn't have quinoa flour and replaced this with AP flour, but mine were as soft as cake.

In either case, it's an interesting idea on how you can feed your children pureed chickpeas without them knowing it. Sneaky, eh?

Marta's Sneaky Chickpea Mounds (Modified Version)

Makes 47 Cookies


400 g Cooked Chickpeas

1 egg

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

1/3 Cup + 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour

1 1/4 Cup AP Flour*

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt

*Original recipe uses Quinoa flour.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 176C/350F.

Step 2: Process the chickpeas, egg, sugar and olive oil in a food processor until creamy and smooth.

Step 3: Mix this with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Don't be afraid to use your hands and knead until it's this nice smooth ball.

Step 4: Roll into logs and cut them and reshape them a bit so they are round.

Step 5: They won't spread out much so you can let them sit pretty close to each other. Bake for around 10 minutes.

Step 6: Let the cookies cool down and then dip them in melted chocolate. Feed them to your kids!

Note: I've been told that cardamom, saffron and rose water nicely complement cookies made with chickpea flour so it might be a great idea to use with pureed chickpeas as well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Raggmunk (Swedish Potato Crepes)

Ronny tells me this is Swedish farmer's food and very popular with senior citizens, but I think that most children would like this. Next time we have house guests I think this might make a nice brunch served with crispy Jamon Serrano and Lingonberry sauce. If you can get fresh Lingonberry it will even more tantalizing. In this photo you see crispy Spanish Pancetta which we didn't slice too thinly so it's not looking too hot. I think that Jamon Serrano would definitely be a better choice so long as you're living in Spain, but crispy bacon or prosciutto would definitely work!


Serves 4

2 dl All Purpose Flour

1 Tsp Sea Salt

4 dl Whole Milk

1 Egg

600g Thinly Sliced Potatoes

1/4 Onion (finely chopped)

Step 1: Mix flour, salt and some of the milk until you have a nice batter.

Step 2: Add the rest of the milk, add the egg and then mix it well so that you have something that looks like a pancake batter (but a bit more watery).

Step 3: Peel the potatoes and shred them into the batter.

Step 4: Add the chopped onions into the batter.

Step 5: Mix it well and then put a skillet on the stove top at maximum heat (if your pan is the type that doesn't ever get too hot). If not, set the dial to medium heat.

Step 6: Melt a generous knob of butter in the skillet and then start making your crepes. When the top looks dry it's time to turn it over.

Step 7: Serve with Lingonberry sauce and fried salted pork. I recommend serving it with fried prosciutto or Jamon Serrano.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chickpea & Peanut Butter Vegetable Stew

I felt like having chickpeas so I started soaking them in water yesterday and as I was cooking them this morning, I hunted for something new to do with them, and I found this.

I modified the recipe a bit and made long grain rice garnished with thinly sliced leeks and toasted coconut flakes.


2 Cups Cooked Chickpeas

1/4 Large Onion (chopped finely)

1 Celery (chopped finely)

4 Garlic (I used the garlic press)

1 Little Fresh Red Chili Pepper

1 Chicken Bouillon

4 - 5 Tbsp Peanut Butter

5 Tomatoes (from a can and the liquid that was in the can)

1 Tsp Cumin

1 Tsp Coriander

1 Tsp Turmeric

1 Medium Sized Potato (diced)

1/2 Red Bell Pepper (diced)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Step 1: Chop the celery and onions finely and cook until soft in a pan with extra virgin olive oil.

Step 2: Add the spices and stir a bit, then add all the vegetables and cook for a few minutes.

Step 3: Add all the other ingredients. Add extra water if necessary to make a stew like consistency.

Step 4: Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

Step 5: Serve with freshly cooked rice (I used long grain) garnished with a liberal sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes and thinly sliced leeks.

I used chicken bouillon because we're not vegetarian. If you don't like peanut butter this might be a nightmare, but if you do, the combination of the sweetness from the peanut butter and fresh red chili marry very well. I'd definitely make it again.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pizza Featuring Caramelized Onions

My head is still spinning from my online gaming. Why? What? Where?

Well, if you've taken a look at my profile, it does say that one of my hobbies is online gaming - so no surprises there.

Anyhow yesterday was one of the first days in a long time that I could peacefully read food blogs without worrying about enemy attacks on my cities and the recipe that caught my eye was a pizza recipe by Justin Schwartz of Justcook NYC.

Those of you who have ever been neck deep in the culture of online gaming will know what I'm talking about, but when you are involved in an intense war, the pantry starts to empty out like the rations in your virtual cities (because you can't leave the computer for long and go buy real life rations).

Justin's recipe was perfect as we already had the ingredients: Yeast, flour, onions.

And I will be honest. Ronny made this pizza from beginning to end and I didn't do a thing! Actually this isn't true. I did the easy part, i.e. making the caramelized onions.

In fact, it was Ronny who made sure I was eating properly throughout this recent gaming escapade. I think he understands because we used to do hardcore gaming together and that's how we met.

Anyhow here's Justin's recipe for his pizza featuring caramelized onions.

Ronny used a different pizza dough recipe. The one Ronny used is from the May/June 1988 edition of 'Cook's'. I can't really reprint it here because I don't have permission, but it's a recipe by Steven Connolly who was chef at Manhattan's Mezzaluna restaurant at the time. It's a thin, crisp type of crust and Steven Connolly has modified the recipe to work in home ovens. I've been using this recipe since my twenties.

What did we do different besides the pizza dough?

Well, we made a layer of mozzarella cheese, sprinkled chunks of blue cheese instead of Fontina cheese over this, covered this with a layer of fresh thinly sliced Spanish tomatoes (make sure your knife is sharp!), then topped it off with the caramelized onions.

This combination works for me as the tomatoes add a 'freshness' that's lacking from the other ingredients. Might I add that my favorite type of pizza usually only has vegetables, cheese and herbs on it. On the other hand maybe you feel like indulging in the thrill of the pure richness of cheese and caramelized onion heaven. If this is the case, follow the original recipe!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hardcore Online Gaming

I have no excuse for my hiatus other than that online gaming is a main hobby of mine and I got caught-up in a full-fledged war which consumed me during all my waking hours. I know, I know - I'm too old to be playing games...but since I don't have kids of my own I guess I'll always be a kid in some way!

It just wasn't possible to leave the computer and bake, because what if someone razed my city to the ground while I was trying to separate egg yolks from egg whites? Or what if someone pillaged one of my unguarded cities while I was cutting cookies?

Will start posting again soon...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Paper Chef #40: Heart Shaped Floury Potato Croquettes Dressed in Sesame Seeds & Thyme, Served on a Bed of Crispy Jamon Serrano

The ingredients for Paper Chef #40 were:

1. Floury Potatoes

2. Thyme

3. Prosciutto

4. Mother's Day Theme

So here's my entry. I used Jamon Serrano instead of Prosciutto as I live in a provincial city of Spain and good prosciutto is very difficult to come by. I also struggled with the 'Mother's Day Theme' since I've had a difficult relationship with my own mother. That said I I have to say that even though my mother and I have 'differences' and we don't exactly get along too well, she has played a major role in my education and she still does love her own way, or she would have killed me when I was being a difficult child!

Since my mother's passion in life is herbs and any edible plants (she has published more than 16 books mostly about these) - I've decorated my heart shaped croquette dressed in toasty white sesame seeds with fresh sprigs of flowering thyme. Hope this is enough to qualify for the 'Mother's Day' theme.


3 Large Floury Potatoes

1 Egg

1 Cup White Sesame Seeds (more or less)

Sea Salt (to taste)

Black Pepper (to taste)

Dried Thyme (to taste)

3 Cups Sunflower Oil (for deep frying - the amount will depend on the size of your pan)

100g Jamon Serrano (thinly sliced of course)

16 Sprigs of Flowering Fresh Thyme

This recipe makes 8 hearts.

Step 1: Boil the potatoes for around 60 minutes and peel them and mash them inside a bowl. Add salt, black pepper and thyme to taste.

Step 2: Shape them into hearts either by using a cookie cutter or with your hands.

Step 3: Beat one egg in a bowl and then dip the hearts in the egg.

Step 4: Transfer them into a bowl with a liberal amount of sesame seeds in them and coat them.

Step 5: Heat up the oil in your pan. Make sure there's enough to cover the croquettes.

Step 6: Lower the croquettes into the oil gently and just leave them in there for a minute or so until the sesame seeds are toasted. Everything is cooked so there's no need to leave them in there for longer than this.

Step 7: Remove the pan from the heat and then put the Jamon Serrano in the oil for literally 1 - 2 seconds and then make a bed of them on your plate with these. The purpose of this is to make them crispy to add a different texture to the mushiness of the potatoes.

Step 8: Very carefully, lay your heart shaped croquette down on the bed of crispy Jamon Serrano or Prosciutto and garnish with flowering fresh thyme, freshly picked from your garden.

Now you have something a little different to serve before your main course on this special day for mothers. The combination of flavors are somewhat exotic and the texture interesting with the toasty sesame seeds and crispy Jamon Serrano juxtaposed against the soft moistness of the mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Paper Chef #40

It's that time of the month again. This month Paper Chef is being hosted by Bron Marshall. The ingredients were picked by her lovely daughters from a little white bucket and they were:

1. Prosciutto

2. Floury Potatoes

3. Thyme.

There is no 4th ingredient this round but we have a theme which is:

Mother's Day

I'm guessing there will be lots of entries and I hope some of you will join in on the fun!