Medoc Stuffed Cabbage

November 14th, 2014

Chou Farci 1

In the Medoc region of France stuffed cabbage is called Chou Farci.  But stuffed cabbage is called many names by numerous cultures.  The Polish name for stuffed cabbage is Golabki or Galumpkis.  The Czech name is Holubky.  The Serb and Croatian name is Sarma.  How then did my Mother come up with the name Habacha?  I have no idea where that originated.  But I do remember how wonderful her cabbage rolls tasted.

Chou Farci 2V

So naturally when I received Mimi Thorrison’s new cookbook,  A Kitchen in FranceI was excited to try her version of stuffed cabbage.  Instead of individual cabbage rolls, she makes one large stuffed cabbage with layers of meat and cabbage leaves.  She uses the ruffled Savoy cabbage which, when fresh, has a bright green color.  I had a hard time finding a bright green savoy cabbage, but did finally find one at my local supermarket.  Use the prettiest bright green leaf for the bottom layer as this is what will be seen when it is inverted.

Chou Farci 3Once the cabbage leaves totally enclose the filling, it is ready to go into the oven.  “It’s all wrapped together in a pretty parcel” in Mimi’s words.  I have to say that this pretty parcel was a lot easier than wrapping individual cabbage leaves.

Chou Farci 4Once cooked it is ready to be inverted onto a serving plate.  You can see now why you should use a pretty cabbage leaf for your base.  I also reinforced that leaf with two others underneath it to keep the filling intact.

Chou Farci 5The meat and sausage filling studded with vegetables was delicious and the cabbage leaves held up well.   This was another successful recipe from my new favorite cookbook.

CHOU FARCI

1 head Savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, finely diced
2/3 pound ground beef
2/3 pound good quality bulk pork sausage
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Rabelais spice (see Note) or ground allspice
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup canned whole tomatoes, crushed, with their juices
1 large egg

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, core the cabbage leaves and separate them, discarding any coarse outer ones.  Cook the leaves in the boiling water for 8 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch souffle dish or charlotte mold with butter.  Put a large pretty cabbage leaf, domed side down, in the dish.  Top with another leaf and continue arranging the leaves until the entire base and sides are covered.  You won’t use all of the leaves at this point (reserve enough for 4 to 5 layers).

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Cook the onion and carrots until softened, 4 minutes.  Add the ground beef, sausage, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, spice and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring once or twice, until the meat is browned.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes, with their juices, and simmer until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the meat mixture has cooled, discard the thyme and bay leaf.  Add the egg and mix well.

Put a layer about 1/2 inch thick of the meat in the cabbage-lined dish and top with a cabbage leaf.  Repeat until you’ve used all of the meat and filled the dish, about 4 layers.  Finish with a final layer of cabbage, making sure to tuck in the leaves on all sides.

Bake for 40 minutes.  To unmold, invert a plate over the souffle dish, flip the plate and dish, and remove the mold.  Serve immediately, cut into slices.

Note:  Rabelais spice is a mix of allspice, nutmeg, and curry – a traditional spice in France since 1820.

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Mimi’s Lyonnaise Potatoes

November 8th, 2014

Lyonaisse Potatoes 1

It is official.  The cookbook that I have been patiently awaiting arrived in my mailbox last week.  Mimi Thorisson, of the lovely blog Manger, published her exquisite book A Kitchen in France; A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse.  I am totally thrilled with it.  It is a large book, worthy of coffee table placement.  The pages are thick and of the finest quality.  It is richly photographed by her talented husband Oddur and Mimi’s prose about their lives in the Medoc region of France is spellbinding.  I will stop gushing now, but I believe that anyone would be happy to own this cookbook. Click on my Favorite reads widget on the right to get the information about the book from Amazon.  You have to be on my home page to see the link.

A Kitchen in France 2

The recipes are unique and are arranged seasonally.  Trying to decide which ones to try first was a pleasant dilemma.  Most of the recipes are easy and familiar. But there are a few that are uniquely French and a little challenging, like squab pie with foie gras and armagnac.  I am starting with recipes that are familiar to me and you can’t get any more basic than the humble potato.  Mimi’s recipe for Lyonnaise potatoes is easy and delicious.

Lyonnaise Potatoes 2V

 

By sauteing the partially cooked sliced potatoes in several batches, you are assured that you will get evenly browned potatoes.  The finished dish with the cooked onions goes into an oven for about 10 minutes at the end.  This makes it possible to make the dish ahead of time before the final finish in the oven.

Lyonaisse Potatoes 3The potatoes are buttery and crispy.  Mimi calls Lyonnaise potatoes “the little black dress of side dishes”.  It goes with everything.

MIMI’S LYONNAISE POTATOES

2 pounds new potatoes, peeled
About 11 tablespoons butter
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, thinly sliced
A bunch of fresh parsley, leaves removed and finely chopped

Put the potatoes in a large pot, add enough salted cold water to cover, bring to a boil, and cook until parboiled, 10 to 15 minutes.  Drain in a colander and rinse under cool running water.  Let cool for a few minutes, then slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices.

In a large saute pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.  Add about one-quarter of the potatoes and fry, seasoning them with salt and pepper, until golden, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.  Continue frying the potatoes, adding more butter each time (you should use about 8 tablespoons in total), until all of them are cooked.

Meanwhile, in another saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Cook the onions until golden, about 5 minutes.

Return all of the potatoes to the pan, add the onions, and mix gently.  Cook for 5 more minutes for the flavors to combine.

Transfer the potatoes and onions to a large baking dish.  Bake until gently sizzling, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the parsley over the potatoes and serve.  Serves 4 to 6.

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Trout Fishing in America

August 7th, 2014

Trout Fishing in America 1

 

We are on a short trip in Northern Georgia.  I wanted to find a cabin in the woods away from everything so that we could totally relax for a few days.  David wanted to try his hand at fly fishing.  Trout Fishing in America is the name of a book by Richard Brautigan written in the 1960’s that became a cult classic for a generation of young people.  We still have our copy on the bookshelf.  The book had very little to do with trout fishing.  But I liked Trout Fishing in America as the title to this post because it has everything to do with trout fishing.

Trout Fishing in America 2

 

We have trout streams all around us in North Carolina, but David has only fished them once or twice.  Since the cabin we rented was on a trout stream, he decided to gear up and give it a try. This trip was supposed to be about complete relaxation after all.  Notice the hot tub in the background.

Trout Fishing in America House

 

The stream is below the cabin.  We loved listening to it, but it was not the best stream for fishing.

Trout fishing in America 3

 

It was too small.  David was able to find better fishing on a larger stream.  Unfortunately he had no better luck there.  But never fear.  He retreated to Betty’s store in Helen, Georgia and came home with these beautiful dressed trout.  I seasoned them inside and out and put lemons and bacon around the outsides.  The recipe came from Nancy Fuller from the Food Network.

Trout Fishing food 1

I need to offer a word here about renting get-away cabins.  It is always wise to bring your own skillet and knives.  Unfortunately I did not follow my own advise this time. There was not one skillet in the cabin big enough to cook the fish, let alone bacon and eggs for breakfast. The skillets that were here were small and useless.  I tried to fry our eggs one morning and I defy anyone to make an over easy egg in what I had to work with.  The knives were a joke. And did I mention the can openers that did not work?   What I can’t understand is how this cottage has not addressed these issues.  Surely someone before me has complained.  Doesn’t anyone cook anymore?  But in spite of my handicaps, I managed to put some really good trout on the table.

Trout fishing food 2

I think I worked harder on this dish than David did trying to catch it.  By the way, he loved it.  It was a really good trout recipe that may need some tweaking.  My bacon was not totally crisp the way I like it. I think it would be good to cook the bacon briefly before wrapping it around the trout, although you want it to be still pliable.  The seasoning on the inside of the trout was spot-on.  I am hoping that when I am home and have better cooking equipment, I will make this trout even better.  We are off to The Montaluce Winery in North Georgia on my next post.  Now it is my turn to indulge.

BACON WRAPPED TROUT

Two 8-ounce rainbow trout, butterflied and dressed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives and thyme
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon, plus 4 thin lemon slices
4 slices bacon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Sprinkle the inside and outside of the trout with salt and pepper.  Combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the herbs, capers, garlic, lemon juice and some salt and pepper in a small bowl and divide the mixture between the two trout.  Fold the trout back onto themselves, lay 2 lemon slices on top of each fish, and then wrap each trout with 2 slices of bacon holding the lemons in place.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and coat lightly with the remaining tablespoon olive oil.  Place the trout, lemon-side up, in the pan and cook for 3 minutes, then place in the oven.  Roast, flipping halfway through roasting to ensure the bacon is crisp, for 20 to 25 minutes.

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Creamy Corn Chowder with Bacon

August 4th, 2014

Corn Chowder 2

 

We have dear friends from Iowa who have a log cabin in Lake Lure.  They built their cabin here after staying at our rental cottage a few years ago.  They fell in love with Lake Lure and now have their own stunning get-away retreat.  They arrived from Iowa last week with fresh picked corn from home.  You can’t get any more authentic than corn from the heartland of America.  What to do with the bounty?

Corn Chowder 1

 

Why, corn chowder of course.  We have had cool, rainy weather AGAIN!  This was the perfect summer soup.

I have a long history with sweet corn.  It was one of the crops that dotted our farmlands in Michigan when I was growing up.  As teenagers my friends and I spent time in corn fields.  I guess that makes me kind of weird.  What were we doing in corn fields you may ask?

1. It was a great place to park.  Any couple who wanted privacy could find a hide-away under the full moon, hidden next to the stalks.  Very romantic.

2. Carloads of girlfriends loved to stop the car  on the road and run to the fields and gather a few ears to eat.  We usually ended up with field corn meant for cattle.  We were once attacked by a wild pig, but darn it was fun.  We laughed and considered ourselves daring.

3. Corn fields were just a part of our environment.  Still today, I measure the height of the corn by the old adage ” The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye” and know when it is ready to pick. Growing up in corn country, you just knew.

Corn Chowder Cropt

This corn chowder is hearty with a depth of flavor.  I simmered the shorn corn cobs in the vegetable broth mixture for a while to release as much flavor as possible.  Give it a try when you have lots of corn.  It can easily be doubled.

CREAMY CORN CHOWDER WITH BACON

3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/4 cup flour
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
6 to 7 ears of corn, kernels removed and a few cobs saved to flavor the stock
1 1/2 cups cream, 1/2 and 1/2 or milk
Several sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled for garnish

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, red pepper and garlic and cook until onion is soft.  Add the flour and cook 2 minutes stirring frequently to slightly brown the flour.  Add the vegetable broth and 4 of the reserved corn cobs and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, partially covered.  Remove the cobs and add the celery, carrots, potatoes and corn kernels.  Cook over low heat until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.  Add the cream, thyme and salt and pepper to taste and cook gently for another 15 minutes.  Serves 6.

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Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta From Mamma Agata

July 30th, 2014

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta 2

 

Back in early June we attended a Blogger event put on by Larry of Big Dudes Eclectic Ramblings.  The theme was Italian. We dined waterside and pretended that we were on the Amalfi Coast.  Larry loaned me one of his Italian Cookbooks to take home so that I could test some recipes.  I almost didn’t want to return it to him.  The cookbook is Mamma Agata: Traditional Italian Recipes of a Family that Cooks with Love and Passion in a Simple Genuine Way.  I loved the cookbook for many reasons.  The recipes are simple.  There are many tricks revealed to make your food delicious and the illustrations are numerous and beautiful.

Mama Agata Cookbook

 

Mamma Agata is an institution on the Amalfi Coast of Italy.  She has cooked for many famous people including Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy.  In recent years Pierce Brosnan has found the delights of Mamma Agata’s simple but delicious Italian food.  As have thousands of others who have attended her fabulous cooking school.  Together, with her daughter Chiara and son-in-law Gennaro, they will spend a day with you at their breathtaking villa teaching you how to cook true Italian food and pairing it with just the right wine.

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta 1

 

I decided to try this recipe using sausage and peppers and homemade tomato sauce because the farm stand that I visit is just now getting in local peppers and tomatoes.  Using the freshest ingredients possible really does make a difference on your finished plate.  One of the tips that Mamma Agata offers when making her fresh tomato sauce is to start with a pan off of the heat.  Add the olive oil, garlic and basil all at once and then put it on the heat.  As it heats, the oils from the garlic are released and they along with the basil infuse the oil with their essence.

Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta 3

 

Topped with shards of Parmesan, this really was one of the best pasta dishes that I have ever made.  If you want this cookbook it is probably best to go to Mamma Agata’s website to order it.  She ships worldwide and your copy will be signed.  When I tried to order it on Amazon the book prices started at $170.00.  What is up with that?  By the way, Larry made this dish also.  You can find his post about it here.

PAPPARDELLE CON PEPERONI E BALSICCA (SAUSAGE AND RED PEPPER PASTA)

Serves 4
1/2 lb. Pappardelle Pasta
2 1/4 lbs. of red and yellow sweet bell peppers
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small red or white onion, chopped
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
2 lbs fresh cherry tomatoes, quartered (I used only 1 pint)
5 fresh basil leaves, torn
2 pinches Sea salt
1 cup Mamma Agata’s Tomato Sauce (See Below)

Prepare Mamma Agata’s Tomato Sauce

Wash the peppers and remove the stems. Cut each pepper in half and remove and discard the seeds from inside the peppers.  Slice the peppers lenghwise, but not too thin and not to thick.

Saute the peppers in peanut oil for ten to fifteen minutes until soft.  This makes them easier to digest and also brings out the flavor.  Once the peppers are cooked, place them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

Wipe out the pan and add the butter and olive oil to it.  Once melted add the chopped onion and cook until golden brown.  Remove the onion to a small bowl.  Add the sausage to the pan and cook and sear on all sides.  When nicely browned return the onion to the pan, prick the sausage all over to release the juices and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the peppers to the pan, lifting the sausage so that it is sitting on top of them.  Add the cherry tomatoes, torn basil leaves, salt and the tomato sauce.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook the mixture for 30 minutes.  When done remove the sausage and cut it into rounds and return to the sauce.

Cook the pasta according to package directions to just the al dente stage.  Drain and add it to the pan with the sauce and cook gently for about 2 minutes to marry the flavors.  Serve in bowls topped with shaved Parmesan.

MAMMA AGATA’S TOMATO SAUCE

1 quart of vine-ripened roma tomatoes, pureed
10 fresh cherry tomatoes
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of fresh garlic
3 fresh basil leaves

Mamma Agata’s Secret
The Roma tomatoes used to make this sauce should be vine-ripened so they are sweet.  Sweet tomatoes are the key ingredient in many Italian dishes.  If the tomatoes are not ripe and sweet, we recommend adding a spoonful of sugar to sweeten the sauce.

Add the olive oil, garlic and basil to a large saucepan.  NOTE: When you add the olive oil, garlic and basil to the pan, do so all at the same time.  Do not heat the oil first, then add the garlic and basil to the pan, but rather place all three ingredients into the pan at room temperature and then heat the pan.

Heat the ingredients over a high flame to release the natural oils contained in the fresh garlic, greatly enhancing the flavors of the tomato sauce.  Be careful not to allow the garlic to burn or the oil to smoke.  If this happens, you must throw it out and start over.  The garlic and oil should only be on the high flame for one to two minutes before proceeding to the next step.

When the temperature of the oil begins to rise, add the tomato puree and fresh vine-ripened cherry tomatoes to the pan.  Be careful not to burn yourself or let the oil or tomatoes splash on you.  You should hear a nice sizzling sound and soon you’ll enjoy a wonderful aroma from the fragrant ingredients releasing the oils and combining.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook gently for 30 to 45 minutes.  MY NOTE:  My sauce was a little thin so I added about 1/2 of a jar of a purchased spaghetti sauce (Rao’s Marinara Sauce).

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.