Preparing European Stuffed Cabbage Rolls—The Right WayFor some foods, like potatoes, there is no wrong way to make them. For other foods, like the popular European dishes featuring stuffed cabbage, there are a lot of wrong ways to make them. The stuffed cabbage rolls are extremely common, but there are a number of interesting variations across Europe. If you are interested in some of the most interesting and enticing ways stuffed cabbage rolls are made, here are a few variations that are sure to you grab your attention.
Image Source: Wikimedia.orgSome Background Information: Cabbage should almost always be stored in cold water before preparation. Almost all cabbage rolls feature strong similarities: cabbage (obviously!) being stuffed, in some way, baked and then topped with sauce. The variation is in how the leaves are prepared (boiled or peeled off cold) and in what the filling contains. Generally speaking, you need to remove the leaves from the core. You do not want stems in your cabbage roll. The filling (or stuffing) should be a savory mixture of grains, of rice, some meat, and a light sauce to keep the inside moist. In most cases, you will want to place a small amount of stuffing on a prepared cabbage leaf and then fold or shape the leaf according to national custom. Once done, place the cabbage roll, seam side down, and bake. Here are a few interesting variations! Bulgarian Stuffed Cabbage: The Bulgarian national dish of stuffed cabbage roll is called "Sarmi." This variation of the stuffed cabbage roll is one of the most popular versions out there, truly a foodie’s delight. The basic ingredients are cabbage, obviously, stuffed with lean pork, veal, rice, and yogurt or sauerkraut. These rolls are usually topped off with a light tomato and paprika sauce. Making these stuffed cabbage rolls is not that difficult. Take the cabbage, cut out its core and then boil it in hot water. When tender enough, pluck the whole leaves off the cabbage. Heat olive oil in a pan, then add the stuffing: Circle B Ranch ground pork, other meat of choice, the rice, and etc. Place a few leaves down as a base and put the cooled stuffing on top, then wrap excess cabbage leaf around it. Wrap until the stuffing cannot escape and then cook, again, in a pot. This recipe should take around one hour to complete. These stuffed cabbage rolls are eaten as a main course in Bulgaria, and for a good reason; the mixture of the rice, pork, and veal make this among the most savory variations of cabbage roll commonly made in Europe. Polish Stuffed Cabbage: The Polish version of stuffed cabbage rolls is called, "Gołąbki," which is pronounced 'Gaw-Wohmp-kee.' Similar to sarmi, these rolls are stuffed with pork, mature beef and rice, though it is common for the rice to be replaced with barley and these rolls are often cooked on a stovetop until tender. Instead of using cool cabbage, bring the cabbage to a boil. Having done so, place a small amount of the meat mixture into the cabbage leaf, place seam side down and bake for 25-30 minutes. Gołąbki should be smaller in size than Sarmi. This Polish dish is considered both a comfort food and national fare. The Polish version is very popular throughout Eastern Europe, though it usually a lot more of a casual meal than its Bulgarian counterpart. Greek Stuffed Cabbage Rolls: For something a little different, you can attempt the Lahanodolmathes, a Greek stuffed cabbage roll that often uses lamb or goat instead of beef or pork. Similar to the Sarmi, it usually comes with yogurt included in the filler which offers a smooth texture along with the savory meat. The major difference here is that you would substitute the beef filling with lamb. Otherwise, Lahanodolmathes is similar to its Bulgarian and Polish counterparts. For best results with the tomato sauce, let a sauce simmer for thirty minutes to an hour without a lid to thicken, stirring as needed. Season to taste and pour over the finished stuffed cabbage rolls. These traditional cabbage rolls are easier to roll than many of their counterparts, and the rolls are usually covered in a heavy tomato sauce to accent the flavors. Adding a more robust tomato sauce gives this roll a far more robust and Mediterranean flavor. For a fresh tomato flavor, try using Marina's Italian Style Tomato Sauce.
Image Source: Wikimedia.orgKosher Stuffed Cabbage: Though European in origin, the Kosher stuffed cabbage, Holishes, offer an obvious deviation from their counterparts: no pork! Less pork means more room for beef, with eggs, matzoh meal and rice commonly rounding out the stuffing recipe. You can find an interesting recipe here if you would like to try to make these yourself. Holishkes are actually rolled, instead of shaped. Use a similar method to the Gołąbki, but instead of tucking excess leaf, roll the leaf over. Place the rolled cabbage leaf seam side down when baking, of course. Common and popular among the Jewish communities, Holishkes are a staple food that started as a special harvest meal for Sukkot that became a common dish year round. Topped with a sweet and sour sauce based on raisins, this variation of stuffed cabbages really offers something very different than many of its counterparts. Vegetarian Variation: If you are looking for a vegetarian variation on the stuffed cabbage roll, there are a number of interesting directions you can take. While many of the more common recipes are not traditional, they do offer a healthy alternative to those who like stuffed cabbage rolls but do not want the meat. Rice is joined by yellow onion, ripe tomato and seasoned to taste with dill and parsley. This fresh garden variety is a strong choice for those looking for a lighter meal. Final Thoughts: Stuffed cabbage rolls are a surprisingly versatile food that can be used in a number of different ways. These traditional European recipes offer a relatively easy meal choice that you can make with a little bit of practice and the right ingredients. By following these traditional recipes, you should be able to recreate genuine European cuisine without breaking the bank or breaking your back. An interesting, exotic but healthy meal is much easier than you thought it could be! About the Author: This great guest post and delicious recipes were provided to us by Mike Jones from Ice Maker Experts. [ ... ]
First, let’s talk about the health aspects of the method. The longer you cook a food, the more nutrients you destroy. A pressure cooker cooks food quicker (in less water than boiling)—you keep more nutrients, the good stuff, in your food. Some studies also show that pressure cooking reduces the amount of unsaturated fat content and aids with the digestion of legumes and grains.When it comes to efficiency, pressure cooking is a fantastic method. Less cooking time means using less energy (saving money on the electric bill), and you spend less time in the kitchen (giving you more time with family). As well, pressure cooking does not heat up the kitchen because the appliance retains all the heat and steam. No more sweating over the hot stove, and no cleaning the stove either. Simply clean the pressure cooker, and you are done. If you have a pressure cooker, or if you decide you want to give pressure cooking a shot, here is a delicious recipe to try out: Three-Bean Chili I have also included a couple of links here to give you more information about the cooking method. This article gives you a little history on the pressure cooker and explains exactly how the appliance works if you are unfamiliar with the process: http://www.thekitchn.com/a-primer-on-pressure-cooking-193715 For readers who are considering purchasing a pressure cooker, this comprehensive blog reviews many different brands while just giving you the facts. The review covers all aspects of the machine, from the positives to the negatives, without showing favoritism: http://wonderstreet.com/reviews/the-best-pressure-cookers Other Resources: http://learn.eartheasy.com/2012/09/top-6-benefits-of-pressure-cooking/ http://www.eatingwell.com/article/15711/what-is-the-effect-of-pressure-cooking-on-nutrition/ http://www.healwithfood.org/health-effects/pressure-cooking-nutrient-loss.php https://www.jenreviews.com/pressure-cooker-vs-slow-cooker/ [ ... ]
Don’t Like Eggplant? Here Are Three Tricks That Will Make You In Love With EggplantEggplant is one of those vegetables that is hugely disliked among children and even many adults. Why is that? There are a few reasons. Back in the day, people who used to grow eggplants didn’t eat the vegetable. They used eggplants to store their ornaments instead. The eggplant was never on their dinner plates because they used to think this vegetable caused cancer, brain-related diseases, and other severe health problems. As we all now know, there is no truth to those claims, but there is another reason many people do not eat eggplant—when cooked incorrectly, you can experience a bitter or mushy taste or the combination of both. But there’s great news! The bitter taste of eggplant has been reduced significantly due to the advancement of agricultural science. There has also been a huge increase in the variety of this vegetable. Now, let’s take a moment to address a common misconception about eggplant. If you think eggplant is a vegetable, then let me correct you. I have mentioned eggplant as a vegetable above, but actually, eggplant is a fruit. Unlike most fruits that we eat, eggplant is not sweet or tangy, but bitter; therefore, people don’t eat it raw and must be creative when preparing eggplant recipes. If you want to have eggplant, but don’t know how to get rid of the dreaded bitter taste, then here are a few tricks to help you with that. Salt the Eggplant You might not believe it, but rubbing salt on eggplant can reduce bitterness. Rub salt on the eggplant 30 minutes prior to cooking. Just take a couple of pinches of salt and thoroughly rub it on the fruit. You will find drops of brownish water on the surface of the fruit, which is actually the bitter liquid seeping out. Simply blot these drops with the help of a paper towel and proceed with your recipe. Season the Eggplant Properly Eggplant has a spongy texture just like potatoes or tofu. The texture helps it absorb all the oils, spices and herbs that you use while cooking this fruit. To get the most from your eggplant experience, take some inspiration from the people who love eating eggplant. Add this fruit to a buffet of strong-tasting dishes. Do not be afraid to flavor your eggplant with a variety of robust seasonings! There is a very famous variety of eggplant, the Thai Green Eggplant, which is prepared with a variety of curries that contain coconut milk. When cooked in the curry, the fruit softens and soaks up the taste of the curry to create a burst of flavor. Thai curries range from green to red to yellow and more, each providing a unique blend of spicy heat and sweetness. You can transform small white eggplant into a popular Indian recipe known as ‘Baingan Bharta’. Indians have multiple eggplant recipes such as ‘Baingan Aloo’ in which small eggplants are cut vertically along with potatoes and then fried with a variety of spices. There is a ‘bharva baingan’ dish in which small eggplants are cut vertically and stuffed with a filling of onions, spices, and salt. Then, the eggplant is deep friend in a pan.
Pair Eggplant with TomatoesBoth eggplant and tomatoes are fruits. Both belong to the same family, and they both take the same amount of time to ripen. They seem to be made for each other. In fact, many eggplant recipes include tomatoes in large quantities. When both of these fruits are cooked at the same time, the jammy flavor of the tomatoes brings down the harshness of the eggplant. ‘Parmigiana,’ a famous Italian recipe, is all about eggplant and tomatoes. If you would like to try the dish, here is a variation on the classic recipe—Deconstructed Eggplant Parmigiana Pasta. People from all over the world also enjoy Ratatouille, a French dish that includes zucchini and onions along with the eggplant and tomatoes. Combine grilled eggplant slices with cherry tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella, to create a heavenly dish. You must try this dish at least once in your life, and I’m sure that once you try it, you will have it again and again. So, eggplant is not that bad, is it? You might change your perspective after you try this amazing fruit. Because once you start eating it, you will definitely add it to your list of favorite food items. Author Bio: Monica Henin, the author of this post is a food expert. She has written a countless number of recipes on different websites as guest authors and on her own website www.addonkitchen.com. She has helped thousands of readers regarding healthy food recipes, and still continues to do so. [ ... ]
- Fiber improves digestive health and aids with weight loss.
- Folate strengthens brain function, especially when paired with B12, and positively enhances your mood.
- Asparagus boosts your immune system with a high Vitamin C content.
- Vitamin E helps strengthen your immune system.
- To assist with blood coagulation and bone health and contribute to the body's absorption of calcium, asparagus contains a decent amount of Vitamin K.
- Glutathione breaks down carcinogens & free radicals.
- Iron works to avoid anemia.
- Folic acid, a necessary dietary supplement for pregnant women, helps prevent premature births and birth defects.
- Vitamin A
How to Make Pork Bone Broth for Healthy Skin, Hair, and NailsIf you’re anything like me, you’re always on the search for the next best health food. That’s because I believe high-quality food is one of the best medicines out there. With that in mind, I’d like to offer an introduction to pork bone broth, including its many benefits for your skin, hair, and nails. These outward signs of health are an indicator of your inner wellness, and I believe bone broth helps to promote both. The Many Benefits of Bone Broth Broth has been consumed for centuries, revered for its versatility in recipes and its variety of health benefits. But where exactly do these health benefits come from? It’s nutrients, of course! Collagen for Skin and Hair Collagen keeps your skin firm and your hair strong. Luckily, collagen is also one of the main nutrients found in bone broth. Did you know that collagen is also useful for stimulating new hair growth and reducing fibrosis in the scalp? There’s a lot to love about this versatile protein! Protein for Strong Hair and Nails The hair and nails main component – keratinocytes – are a special type of protein. This protein, and others, are found in bone broth and, when consumed, can keep your hair and nails strong and healthy. Glucosamine for Moisturized Skin Glucosamine is an amino sugar (a cross between glucose and glutamine) and is popularly used in the treatment of joint-related conditions, such as arthritis. Interestingly, though, this ingredient has also been shown to hydrate the skin (effectively ridding you of wrinkles!). Magnesium for Anti-Aging Magnesium deficiency has been shown to increase signs of aging, including wrinkles, fine lines, and grey hair. That’s why bone broth – a rich source of Magnesium – is a great addition to any diet. Another sign of aging that magnesium supplementation can combat? Hair loss! How to Prepare Pork Bone Broth There are various methods of preparation available. Feel free to experiment with different vegetables and herbs, but be sure to keep the base ingredients (high-quality pork bones, apple cider vinegar, and water). Ingredients:
- 3 to 4 pounds of Circle B Ranch neck pork bones
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium carrots
- 3 stalks celery
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- Optional: fresh ginger, fresh or dried mushrooms, chutney or tomato sauce, garlic, fresh or dried herbs
- Place the bones in a large stock pot, adding enough cold water to cover the bones. Add the apple cider vinegar, and allow to sit (without heat) for about 30 minutes.
- Chop the vegetables, placing them in the stock pot with the bones. Add more water if needed to completely cover all ingredients, and bring the pot to a boil.
- Turn the heat to low, keeping the broth at a low simmer for 12 - 24 hours. Check the pot every few hours, skimming the foam from the top and discarding. Add more water when necessary.
- The broth is done when it’s dark and flavorful. Remove large bones, and then strain the broth with a fine mesh strainer to ensure small bones and vegetables are completely removed.
- Store in your fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Let’s begin with food safety.Food safety is always a priority. The USDA gives us some simple common-sense guidelines to follow:
- Use separate cutting boards, cooking utensils, and platters for raw and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.
- Refrigerate while marinating to prevent bacteria, and never baste or sauce with the used marinating liquid.
- Cook meats to the proper temperatures. Temperatures will vary depending upon the type of meat and the cut. For example, pork cuts are to be cooked to a temperature range of 130°F to 160°F. If you are grilling a fully cooked ham, the internal temperature should reach 130°F-140°F, while pork chops and pork tenderloins require 145°F, and ground pork should always be cooked to 160°F. Check your meat’s internal temperature by using a digital, instant-read thermometer.
Next, it’s always good to start out with a clean and properly heated grill.Begin preheating your grill at least 15-25 minutes prior to cooking, so you can give the grill time to reach the desired temperature. After you preheat the grill, simply scrape off the grate with a grill brush. It’s always easiest to remove the remains of a past meal while the grill is hot. Once the grill is clean, bring it to the necessary temperature. For high heat, aim for 400-450°F, medium-high at 350-400°F, 300-350°F for medium, and 250-300°F for low heat.
This next tip encompasses food safety, personal safety, and grill maintenance.Avoid flare-ups and put them out properly! Flare-ups occur when fat drips down onto the coals (or whichever heat source you are using) and catches on fire. These fires can cause the formation and accumulation of carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), and the flames can also affect food taste or cause charring. By selecting leaner cuts of meat and trimming excess fat, you can reduce your chance of having a flare-up. If a flare-up does happen, make sure you put it out in a safe way. Some grillers keep a squirt water bottle handy, but grilling pro and author Elizabeth Karmel suggests that extinguishing the flames by putting the lid over the grill is simpler, safer, and more maintenance effective. Using this method eliminates water splatter that can cause burns or crack the finish of your grill.
Now that I’ve covered food and personal safety, I’ll share some quick grilling tips with you:
- Properly preheating the grill aids in searing the meat and helps with caramelization.
- Foods can still stick to a clean grill, so you can reduce sticking by oiling your grill rack with vegetable oil. While some grillers suggest applying the oil to a hot grill rack by using a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel, it’s much safer to just apply the oil before heating the grill, especially if your grill is already clean.
- Choosing your grilling method can be tricky, but the problem is easily overcome. Direct heat (or cooking directly over the heat source) is best for quick cooking cuts. Indirect heat is mostly and appropriately used for meats that take longer to cook. Elizabeth Karmel’s rule of thumb: Anything that takes less than 20 minutes to cook should be grilled with direct heat, and anything over 20 minutes requires indirect heat to cook properly. Using indirect heat is much like slow cooking—the process is slower, allowing the inside of the meat to thoroughly cook without burning the outside.
- If you have marinated your meat, pat off most of the excess moisture. The idea is to give the meat flavor yet get it to sear instead of steam.
- If you are basting, do so during the last 30 minutes of cooking to reduce the chance of burning your meat.
- Do not use sharp utensils to turn the meat. Use spatulas or tongs that will not pierce the meat and release juices. You do not want to lose moistness and flavor. The only exception is if you do not have a digital thermometer and are checking for doneness. If you pierce the meat and the juices are clear, the meat is done.
- Letting the cooked meat rest before serving allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat and mete out flavor. Yummy!
- Grill tools can come in handy. If you like grilling vegetables or foods that can fall through the rack, try using a grill basket.
- Don’t be afraid to improvise. Don’t have a grill brush to clean the grate? Karmel has used a wadded-up piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (to act as a brush) and a set of tongs (as a handle). But this tip doesn’t only extend to grilling tools. Improvise on flavor, techniques, and experience. Don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities!
Now that I’ve went over safety and cooking tips are you ready for some recipes to try out? I know I am!
- Grilled Asian Pork Chop with Peanut Sauce: My family and I love Asian food, and this recipe is definitely a winner in my book!
- Chocolate Coffee Pork Tenderloin: Who doesn’t like chocolate or coffee? And together in a rub, they are scrumptious! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!
- Pork Chops with Blueberry Mango Salad: Tender pork chops with a bit of sweetness and spice! Yummy!
- Teriyaki Grilled Pork Chops: This recipe incorporates a delicious yet simple glaze composed of soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, and ginger. Thinking about it is making me want to fire up the grill right now!
Grilling season is upon us, and grilling and marinating go hand in hand, much like pork roast and potatoes or bacon and eggs. Some of the best grill recipes I’ve ever used incorporate marinade. And there are four big reasons for that:
- Marinating enhances the flavor of your meat. You can maximize taste by giving your meat, or even vegetables, a soak in even the most basic of ingredients.
- Keep your meat moist and juicy by marinating. Since the surface tissue of your meat soaks up and holds the marinade, the added moisture keeps the meat from drying out as it cooks.
- Marinating creates a beautiful crust. Not only do you want your food to taste delicious, but you want it to look yummy. Presentation is an important part of any meal. Obtain that beautiful crust on grilled meat by adding a bit of sugar or oil to your marinade.
- Last, but not least, marinating is healthy for you! Grilling poultry, red meat, and fish can create HCAs (heterocyclic amines) that are potentially carcinogenic. According to expert research, you can be reduce HCA by as much as 99 percent through marinating.
- Acids (wines, vinegars, and citrus juices) help soften the meat’s surface, allowing for absorption; you use the smallest amount of these to achieve the desired results.
- Fats, such as oils or coconut milk or yogurt, help build up the moisture; it’s fairly standard to use a 1:3 acid/fat ratio.
- Seasonings are the main and dominant part of the marinade. They carry the majority of your flavor and can help with caramelization (the creation of that beautiful crust).
- Use a lot of flavoring or spices. You want the flavor to soak in and still pop after grilling.
- Score the meat. Scoring the meat before marinating will help the marinade penetrate deeper into the meat, once again helping out with moistness and flavor.
- Thoroughly coat the meat. A Ziploc bag can help with this as you can turn it over or shake it to make sure every inch of the meat is covered.
- Use appropriate marinating times. Veggies are more porous and can absorb the marinade in as little as 30 minutes, while meat takes a little longer. A couple of hours is good for chops or steaks. Other meats can be soaked for up to 24 hours.
- Refrigerate while marinating. Refrigeration helps keep the meat from developing harmful bacteria.
- Throw away used marinade. Again, this has to do with food safety. If you want to use marinade as a sauce, simply make extra and set it aside for use after grilling. Do not use marinade that has been contaminated by raw meat.
Marina's Pork Marinade with Marina's Cranberry Chutney. One night as I was getting ready to make dinner, I decided to try something different. We were going to grill chops that night, and I thought "Why not make my own marinade?" So I opened the refrigerator and began to go through it. I chose ingredients that would complement each other as well as our Circle B Ranch pasture-fed Berkshire pork.. The resulting recipe turned out to be absolutely delicious. I was truly honored when the recipe published in Missouri's Midwest Living Magazine!
If you enjoyed this blog, be sure to look for “Get it on the Grill” Circle B Ranch’s comprehensive article on grilling basics, tips, and tasty grilling recipes.Additional Resources: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/guide-marinating-tips-tricks-and-myths https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/5564-marinating-tips-for-success http://www.dartagnan.com/marinating-basics-and-techniques.html http://www.rachaelraymag.com/food/how-to-marinate http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101_basics_techniques/kitchen_tips_techniques/13_best_grilling_tips [ ... ]
Have you ever run across a recipe that requires you to braise the meat? Does it sound like a foreign word to you? Are you just beginning to find your place in the kitchen, and have no clue about the terms or techniques?While braising sounds like a scary term, it is actually a very simple technique. Once you learn how to do it, it won’t be long before you’re a pro. First, you begin with the meat:
- Choose your meat. You can decide on beef, chicken, fish, lamb, or pork. Of course, I am going to focus on pork—my favorite! You don’t have to start with a high-dollar cut either; the liquid you use in braising will make the meat succulent and tender.
- Brown the meat. Using a little bit of oil in a skillet, sear the meat on all sides, and give it a bit of color. A golden hue is perfect. This will help seal in juices, and the crust will make your dish more visually appealing. Searing the meat also leaves you little bits in the pan which will play a part in a future step—“deglazing.”
- Set the meat aside. It’s time to think about your veggies. If you are including tougher vegetables like carrots or celery or onion, you will now add them to the oil in the pan and “caramelize” them. Sauté them until they are softer and light brown in color, but be careful not to burn them.
- Deglaze the pan. Add just a little bit of liquid to the pan (wine, beer, chicken stock, vinegar, water, cider, or juice), and scrape up any caramelized bits from the skillet with a wooden spoon. But don’t get rid of them. Stir them into your liquid! These tasty bits are going to add immense flavor to the braise.
- Choose your liquid. Most braises are created from stock or wine, but little additions can enhance flavor and add a little flair. Your decision can be based on what you have on hand, or make a selection according to your cooking goals or tastes. For example, you can braise with water, but the result won’t be very flavorful. Some chefs prefer beer, specifically lighter lagers (an acquired taste), to complement pork. Cider, as well as apple or citrus based juices, can be used to sweeten poultry or pork. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous—some cooks have even tried milk or coconut milk!
- Add your meat back in. Put your meat in a coverable pan or Dutch oven, along with your veggies, and pour in your liquid until it sets about one-half the way up the side of your meat. Don’t completely cover the meat; the liquid will seep in and flavor it.
- Add a little spice. It’s customary to use bay leaves, and salt and pepper is usually a given, but don’t limit yourself!
- Cover and cook. The hardest part of your work is over. Slide the meat into the oven and cook on low heat, usually 325° but no more than 350°. The meat should cook for about 2-3 hours depending on the cut, but you will know when it is done because the meat will be tender and literally sliding off the bone, or easily cut with a knife.
- Broth or Sauce. At this point, you can serve the meat as is or you can choose to create a sauce, which will enhance the dish. Take out the meat and the vegetables. Skim off the fat, and simmer the liquid until it thickens enough to coat a spoon. Then add your meat and veggies back in to heat them back through.
- Give it a little zing. If you want to add texture or give the dish your own personal touch, you can top it off with a handful of chopped herbs, grated citrus zest, or crème fraiche.