Cabbage and Meatballs

Every year around Succot I make a giant pot of my mother’s stuffed cabbage recipe (with some small tweaks) and distribute it to my in laws and parents.It disappears off plates faster than I can blink. However the rolling and stuffing make this a one time a year deal. The At Home Gourmet, as well as several other cookbooks, tried to solve this dilemma by creating the same flavorful dish WITHOUT the need to neatly package the meat inside the cabbage.

This cabbage and meatballs recipe was trotted out recently on a WEEKDAY night much to the shock and awe of my family. Not only was it not Succot it wasn’t even Shabbos! That’s how easy this recipe looked – I didn’t wait for a special occasion.

Ingredients: ground beef, matzo meal, egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder, shredded cabbage, ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt, watercabbage and meatballs raw

The Process: I mixed the beef, matzoh, egg and spices in a bowl. The rest of the ingredients were dumped into a pot over a low flame. When the sauce and cabbage began to boil I formed the meatballs and dropped them in. Everything cooked for 1.5 hours while I went about my business as usual.

For a cheaper but more work version you can slice your own cabbage instead of buying the pre-shredded bag.

The Results: This too disappeared before I could blink. Bowls of meatballs and cabbage were being fought over by family members. A huge hit and very easy to make. However you cannot scrimp on the cooking time – your cabbage will be raw!

I still like to make the pretty cabbage rolls for Succot (this recipe looks like it is depicted – a stew like mix). If time was short though, this would be a pretty good substitute.cabbage and meatballs cooked

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Granola Bars

The At Home Gourmet is full of foods that I would typically purchase and eat, in more wholesome versions. This granola recipe is a prime example. Chockfull of fruit and nuts it really packs in the flavor. I was eager to try it as I currently purchase a ridiculous amount of expensive granola ( Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter is my favorite but it can get pricey).

Ingredients: Old fashioned oats, almonds, pecans, shredded coconut, butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, pitted dates, dried figs, dried apricots, craisins, raisins

To save on costs, I bought most of this in the bulk food section of my grocery.

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The Process: First I preheated the oven and prepped a baking sheet with a silicone liner. Then I mixed the oats, almonds, pecans and coconuts together and spread the mixture in an even layer on the baking sheet. This toasted in the oven for ten minutes. IMG_5764

 

While that was going on, I melted the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and salt over a low flame and brought the whole thing to a boil. The oat mixture was then ready to be transferred to a mixing bowl. The boiling honey was poured over it and the dried fruit quickly added in. Everything got pressed onto the prepared pan and made a return trip into the oven for 30 minutes. I then let everything cool before attempting to slice it.

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The Results: This oatmeal was crumblier than I anticipated based on the photo of a neat square in the cookbook. I had quite a bit of trouble cutting a neat square, even with appropriate cooling of the granola. The photo below is the only square I managed to cut. The rest was eaten in pieces. However this was very tasty and great for sprinkling into yogurt or munching dry.

I was sadly unable to share the granola with one of my children as she is pecan allergic. Therefore this was an adult only food in my house, but I would bet that older children would enjoy it. Obviously this granola is not for the toddler set as it contains some choking hazards.

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Mommy’s Asian Chicken and Spaghetti

Who doesn’t love spaghetti? What kid won’t eat chicken? Put the two together and you have a staple food in our house: chicken and spaghetti. However this recipe from The At Home Gourmet is not the traditional Sephardic chicken and spaghetti we are used to. It uses soy sauce for a more Asian taste and looked like it would take significantly less time to create.

Ingredients; spaghetti, chicken cutlets cut into strips, olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, sugar, ground ginger

The Process: First things first, you have to boil the spaghetti according to package directions and drain it. Nothing surprising about that.

While the spaghetti was cooking I sautéed the garlic in the olive oil and then added the chickens trips to the hot pan and cooked them for about one minute. Then I added soy sauce, sugar and ginger. The chicken was coated in the resulting sauce, and cooked for another 4-5 minutes. I found stirring and having a non stick pan important to prevent the chicken from burning. I tossed this into the spaghetti, a

nd voila dinner as served.

The Results: For the amount of effort needed (minimal) this turned out pretty well. We still prefer the taste of Chicken and Spaghetti from the Aroma’s of Aleppo cookbook but that recipe takes a significant investment of time and labor. I also didn’t love how much sugar was in the recipe. I will still make this again as a quick and easy dinner but it is not on the all time favorite list.

Fried Meat Ravioli

This recipe from The at Home Gourmet caught my eye because I enjoy all forms of pasta, and love new ways to use ground meat. It reminded me of a cross between samosas and kreplach, so I set out to see if it was any good.

 

Ingredients:

flour

salt

eggs

vegetable oil

water

chopped beef or turkey (I used beef)

olive oil

vidalia onion

garlic

cumin

oregano

basil

parsley

chives

ketchup

salt/pepper

I normally have all of these things on hand, so found it easy to simply dive in. One of the things I like about this cookbook is that many of the recipes use things I already have and do not require multiple trips to specialty stores.

The Process

First I made the dough. While the instructions say to use a fork to mash everything together I quickly found this was slow and not very effective. I found clean hands worked far better to get everything into a good dough ball quickly. I used a fairly large amount of flour while rolling out and cutting the circles. The dough was not very easy to roll with my roller unless it was very well floured.

The spice mixture for the meat smelled wonderful while cooking. It was quick and easy to make the filling. No complaints there. Once I starting filling I quickly realized I had more dough than filling. Luckily there are instructions for freezing the dough and I can report that this does in fact work well (I filled them with a potato mixture a few days later). While filling small food items like ravioli is always tedious, and I could never get as much filling as I would like into each circle without risking overstuffing, I did not have any difficulty sealing the circles and they actually stayed shut during frying. That was a serious accomplishment and following the directions and pressing with a fork around the edges was key to keeping things together.

My one complaint was that I had a tough time getting the edges to fry evenly as they are always a little above the oil line unless you stand the ravioli on its side. While this might have been solved by adding more oil, the recipe calls for pan frying, not deep frying and I hate to waste that much oil on one recipe.

The Results

Mine came out slightly darker than those photographed in the cookbook, but the overall result was pretty similar. They also tasted great, although they are very heavy (what fired food isn’t?). This is not going to taste like a pasta ravioli you typically order in a restaurant. It is fried, so there is more crisp than toothsome, soft pasta dough yet less crisp than an eggroll. The ravioli do not do that well on reheating and should be eaten fresh.

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