Fun Food Friday: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


This is not a Jamaican Dish, but more a cheap healthy and delicious dish to make with ingredients that are fairly cheap here.   This recipe is adapted from the Book “We Love Your Body”  which I really enjoyed reading.

Large Head of Cabbage

Onion

Tomatoes or tomato sauce, or both

Rice or quinoa (any type of grain will work, even roast rood veggies (but they will not stay in the roll as well.

Herbs and spices

Oil

Protein source, Chicken, veggie mince, beans, whatever floats your boat, I do not think fish will work though.

Nutritional Yeast or cheese if desired.

Nuts or seeds if desired

Various veggies such at carrot, zucchini and whatever you think will mix well in your grain with a tomato sauce.

First you have to cut the core out of cabbage to ease the removal of leaves.    I like to pull the leaves out and soak in salt water to ensure no extra Protein sources are hiding in the leaves.  If you want you can blanch the the leaves with a quick dip in boiling water for about 1.5 minutes.  Otherwise you can just choose to roll the raw leaves, blanching just makes the rolling easier.

Cook up your grains.  I am a meal prepper so I prep this type of stuff up ahead of time and it almost always ready to go.  Season and add cooked protein along with sauteed veggies as desired.  Mix all ingredients together but not the sauce or cheese/nutritional yeast.  The seeds can go in at this time, they add a nice little crunch to the dish at the end.  You can also use them as garnish when serving.

Once everything is mixed nicely you can start stuffing the rolls.  First you must oil your baking dish or lay down parchment paper.  Hold cabbage leave curve side up. If leaves re too inflexible you can blanche them for a few minutes to soften the large vein down the middle.  Fill with about 1/4 cup of filling, for smaller leaves fill so that you can roll them nicely and they end up like a little burrito.  Lay the rolled leaf face down in baking dish.  (The side that the leaves are loose will go face down, if your leaf is too small use a secondary leaf to ensure filling stays in.  Continue to fill leaves until your dish is full.  and nicely laid out.  The idea is to be able to put a spatula or flipper under the rolls individually to serve them.

Once your rolls are ready you can prepare the sauce.  Even if I actually use a prepared sauce, I typically spruce it up with more veggies finely diced and herbs.  Now cover the rolls by spooning sauce evenly over them.  They do not need to be completely covered unless you love extra sauce, but it makes it much harder to serve that way.  (If you like extra sauce, save some to cover after plating.)

I have a gas stove that I have no idea how hot it gets but for argument sake, 350 degrees.  Light that bad boy up and put your dish in the oven.  Because I have no idea how hot mine actually is, I keep a pretty good eye on it.  I check it after 30 minutes, but around 45 is when I add the cheese/nutritional yeast.  Finish off by allowing the cheese to melt/toast up.

The rolls are super hot when you first pull them out, I suggest waiting a few minutes, more like 15 minutes to allow them to cool some before plating and eating.  As a side note you can prevent the sauce from getting too dry by covering with foil while cooking.

Fun Food Friday: Eggplant Medallions


Baked garden egg for Eggplant Parmesan  or sandwiches

Ingredients:

Eggplant

Salt

Egg

Breadcrumbs

WW Flour

Seasoning (your choice)

coconut oil, just because I refuse to use vegetable oil, nasty mon!

Directions:

Clean and slice the eggplant, best if you do round disks unless you are going to use a french roll

lay the disks on a plate or cutting board and sprinkle salt on both sides of the disk. *This removes the excess water to ensure a crisper texture. Let stand about 30-60 minutes.

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Beat an egg or two, depending on how much eggplant you intend on making.

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In a separate bowl mix up the flour and breadcrumbs with the seasoning, the more breadcrumbs the better, the ratio should be 2/1 breadcrumb to flour. Season as you like, this might take a couple of tries to get exact, I like a lot of herbs in mine!

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When you are ready to bake, turn the oven on to 300 and lightly grease a pan or cookie sheet. Or if you are really invested layer parchment paper and forget the oil, your choice. Dip a piece of eggplant into the egg batter then toss it in breadcrumbs. Lay it on the baking dish. Repeat until all the eggplant is finished or the baking dish can hold no more.

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Bake for about 10-15 minutes depending on how thick you cut the eggplant, the thicker the disks the longer you need to bake, flip over and bake another 10 minutes. Pull out of oven and remove from baking sheet. Repeat until the disks are all done. *** Bonus I tend to use any remaining egg-batter as scrambled eggs for a sandwich. The breadcrumb mixture is not able to be used again so I tend to make small batches at a time to save ingredients.

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At this point you have lovely breaded and baked disks of eggplant. For eggplant parmesan  simply use a store-bought tomato sauce or make your own and heat it up. Place over pasta and layer the eggplant nice on top of sauce. Finish with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

For sandwiches pick a nice bread and desired toppings. I personally use tomato and roasted red pepper along with some Muffeletta or some jalapeno spread, both from Rolands and readily available at some local shops, in Ochi General Foods and Petcom both carry them. This is also nice with a little cream cheese on the bread to keep the bread from getting soggy. Just like any sandwich option, the choices are endless. Enjoy!

New challenge: Creating a segment of food ideas for the rest of my service!


So I love to cook.  Probably to my detriment, never trust a skinny chef!   I love to cook, I love to eat and I absolutely love to create with food.  Instead of buying a sauce that is essential a problematic compaction of chemical preservatives, I will often try to find a way to re-create this with more natural ingredients.  I do not know about you, but not once have I found Sodium Benzoate for sale by itself on the grocery selves!  One of my favorite things to create is dressings, tahini, miso, lemon vinaigrette, mustard vinaigrette, tomato based russian dressing, and even my own peanut sauce are just a sample of some the things I have created.

Today I am going to share some ideas for how to recreate some of these sauces and dressings!  To start I must tell you that I typically create to taste, not an exact science.  Also as a single person cooking for a single person I am not about to mass produce a sauce that really should not stick around more than a few days.  (That is the only good thing about preservatives, you can let it sit around for quite some time!)  So one of the basics I want to cover is what to keep on hand always.  I have a comprehensive list below:

ingredients

  1. Vinegars:  Rice Wine, Red Wine, Apple Cider, White, Balsamic, and any other variety you might like.  Each vinegar is needed for different things.
  2. Oils:  Sesame oil, Coconut oil, Olive oil, I never use vegetable oils or canola oil!  EVER!
  3. Lemon and lime juice, either fresh fruits or concentrates.
  4. Garlic, fresh or powder.
  5. Hot sauce and hot peppers to zip up the intensity.
  6. Liquid aminos, or tamari, not standard soy sauce, too salty.
  7. Dried and fresh herbs and spices.
  8. For a creamy dressing I use low-fat Greek yogurt and a small bit of sour cream, no mayo, I simply hate mayo.
  9. One final thing, Spirulina powder, this super-food is great mixed into a dressing.

It might be a bit expensive to get all ingredients at one time, so build up your pantry.  I suggest you find a recipe or two you and your family might enjoy and gather those ingredients first.  The other thing I do is flip through my on-line magazine subscriptions and modify the recipes with ingredients I have readily available here.

For those in more remote areas without refrigeration, you will want to keep only what you can use on hand and those dressings or sauces that have no need for refrigeration, not the creamy dressings!

I save all my jars, man sometimes I have too many, sometimes I struggle to find some.  I especially love the little caper jars and green olive jars.  These make great containers for the dressings and sauces and glass with screw top lids keeps ants and rodents out!  If an insect or rodent can bite into glass I am moving out!

First dressing I want to cover is:  Lemon vinaigrette:

Ingredients:

  1. Lemon juice
  2. Olive oil
  3. Spirulina
  4. garlic
  5. dried herbs
  6. salt

I start with One tbsp of olive oil and two of the lemon juice.  I always use a 2/1 acid/oil ratio.  I then chop the garlic up and add in what I think is enough, for me a whole clove is typically enough for a double batch of this.   A pinch of herbs, salt and Spirulina and let this sit for an hour or so to blend.  Shake well before using.  This one can sit at room temps for a couple of days.

Peanut Sauce/Dressing: This one I use for spring rolls and an Asian style salad with tofu and crisp veggies.

Ingredients:

  1. Peanut Butter
  2. Sesame oil
  3. Water
  4. Hot Sauce
  5. Garlic
  6. Salt
  7. Liquid Aminos
  8. Rice Wine Vinegar

Again one tbsp of peanut butter and sesame to 2 tbs of water and rice wine vinegar.  I always add water last.  This dressing will clump so you use the water to create a more liquid consistency and add it slowly, you do not want to water down the flavor.  I add a clove of chopped garlic or a tsp of garlic powder, be cautious about how much you add, taste as you go.  Salt is added as desired.  Liquid aminos start with 1 tsp and adjust to taste.  You can play with the ratios but this is the basics of the dressing.  Less liquid will create a thicker sauce.  I let this one sit overnight to really get the flavors blended together. I add a little hot sauce to kick it up a few notches, this is not essential and you should take into account who is going to eat this, little children might not like this with too much hot sauce, unless they are like me when I was a kid!  This is shelf stable for a few days.

Basic Vinegarette:

Ingredients:

  1. Olive oil
  2. Vinegar, your choice:  stronger flavor vinegar should be used only if you want to overpower the item you are dressing.  Ie:  a plain lettuce would be nice with apple cider or balsamic vinegar.  A busy salad might do better with a basic white or red wine vinegar.
  3. Garlic
  4. Salt
  5. Dried Herbs

The ratio is 2/1 oil/vinegar and add the rest of the ingredients based on taste.  Let this stand around for a few hours before use.  You can add Spirulina but just a pinch.  This is shelf stable for a few days.

Tahini Dressing:

Hopefully you can get a tahini paste but if not you can make your own by grinding up sesame seeds.  For those without a food process, I happen to be one, you can use a large mortar and pestal and get a serious arm workout!

Ingredients:

  1. Tahini
  2. Olive oil
  3. Sesame oil
  4. Garlic
  5. Salt
  6. Lemon juice
  7. Hot sauce (optional)
  8. Water

Mix 1 tbsp Tahini with 1 tbsp of Olive oil and 1 tsp of sesame oil, 1-2 cloves of garlic finely chopped or 0.5 tsp of garlic powder, inch of salt and 2 tbs lemon juice.  Add a splash of hot sauce at the end to taste if desired.  This will become paste if you do not add more liquid to break it down.  Add water and more lemon juice as needed to keep it from being a paste. Let this sit in the fridge overnight.  This is not really shelf stable and should be kept in the fridge for about a week.

Miso dressing, I love this and I use it in the same cases I would use the peanut dressing.

Ingredients:

  1. Miso paste
  2. Sesame oil
  3. Water
  4. Garlic
  5. Liquid Aminos
  6. Rice Wine Vinegar
  7. Hot sauce
  8. Salt

Mix 1 tbsp Miso paste, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 tbs Liquid Aminos, 2 tbs rice wine vinegar, dash of hot sauce and pinch of salt.    Add water as needed to break this down from the clumpy paste form.  Allow to blend for at least an hour before use.  This is not a shelf stable dressing and should be kept refrigerated for no more than a week.

Creamy yogurt dressing:  I use this for veggie dips and I limit my consumption of this one.

Ingredients:

  1. Yogurt
  2. Sour cream
  3. Cream cheese (optional)
  4. Dried herbs
  5. Salt
  6. Garlic powder or cloves

This one is best using garlic powder.  I use Braggs 24 organic herbs and spices because it is delicious, but any mixture of dried herbs is nice.   1/2 cup of yogurt, 2 tbsp sour cream and or 1 tbs cream cheese, 1 tsp herbs and spices, 0.5 tsp of garlic powder or one clove minced, I prefer the powder for this one.  Mix together and add salt to taste.  Let sit for an hour in the fridge to ensure mixture is even.

Tomato based dressing:

Ingredients:

  1. Tomatoes
  2. Tomato paste
  3. Olive oil
  4. dried herbs
  5. Vinegar, prefer white but any will work
  6. Water
  7. Garlic
  8. Salt

Mix 2 chopped plum/Roma tomatoes, bonus if you fire roast them first.  If you want to get fancy add onions marinated in vinegar overnight.  1 tsp of tomato paste, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbs vinegar, garlic minced or powder, pinch of salt and dried herbs.  Mix together and add water to get consistency.  ***Bonus: you can add yogurt or sour cream to create a creamy dressing.  Allow ingredients to mix for at least an hour, but better overnight.  This is not shelf stable and should be refrigerated for no more than a week.

One final dressing:

Chimichurri: I make this when I buy parsley and cilantro and have too much left over to use before it gets slimy.  Great way to use up those ingredients from another recipe.

Ingredients:

  1. Cilantro
  2. Parsley
  3. Garlic
  4. Salt
  5. Olive oil
  6. Vinegar and/or Lemon juice

This one is subjective.  I try to use 2/1 ratio for the olive oil and vinegar, and use white distilled vinegar, it works best or lemon juice. I put the rough chopped herbs into the blender with the liquids, based on how much I have in the blender, this is typically a large batch for me.  Add minced garlic and a pinch of salt to taste.  You do not have to have both herbs, but is better with both.  I blend until it is a nice consistency and will freeze in ice-cube trays if there is too much.  This dressing is typically poured over meats after cooking in many South American countries.  I use it for salad dressing.

***Note that I actually mix all dressing right in the jars except the Chimichurri.  I also use scissors designated for food only to finely cut up garlic, this is much more efficient than using a knife and cutting board.

dressings