14 January 2013

Pigs in a Blanket... No Pancakes or Sausage here... It's all about the Cabbage.

   Growing up in North Western Pennsylvania, before the days of cool electronic gadgets, we entertained ourselves around the dinner table. Meals with my family gathered around an enormous Amish crafted pine table was our version of " Social Media " in the 1970's-80's.  Friends and family would gather for laughter and the chatter of multiple conversations, glasses and flatware clinking and, dishes being passed around. To me there is no better place to be. No better place to learn your family history than sharing a meal and quietly listening to the tales told. Where else could my Aunt be entertained by a friend of mine playing tunes with his arm-pit ( I believe it was Happy Birthday ) as we shared an inviting meal.

   Stuffed cabbage rolls for me are truly... a comfort food, especially during long cold winter days. You need something to really warm you up after playing or working outside. My mother had mentioned the other day that there really wasn't much of a story behind this dish... "It's just always been there." Cabbage rolls are quite simple to prepare and no doubt, there are many variations. In its simplest explanation, it's meat loaf rolled in a cabbage leaf, at least that's what I told my Mother-in-Law when she asked what they were, I couldn't believe she had never had them.

Here's a simple filling recipe, change it up as you wish:

2 1/2 pounds ground round or ground beef
chopped celery....about 1 1/2 cups
chopped onion....same
salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs
Italian Bread Crumbs
mix all together
head of cabbage....put in boiling water cook just until you can pull leaves off, wrap your meat mixture in each section, after all done bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours, putting small amount of water in pan, you can use tomato juice to just about cover...bake at 350.

I like to mix a little veal or pork in so as not to be too dry. This time I made them with red cabbage. Usually red cabbage is smaller, but around here we have access to some huge red cabbage.

   I have also been looking for a way to make something for my Father-in-Law that was familiar to him as a boy. Growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin to German parents I'm sure I could find something to spark a memory or two. According to him, his mother baked every day and once a week she took all of the left over bread ends and formed them into balls soaked in milk then served them with a sauce or something. He wasn't too keen on the details so, I filled in the recipe as best I could. I figured his mother was making a version of a traditional German Semmelknoedel, or dumpling.

So, I concocted a simple recipe and served it with a creamy tangy mushroom sauce similar to a stroganoff sauce with sour cream added.

 I used some stale leftover dinner rolls I had baked. Here is what I came up with:

12 dinner rolls dried out or any other bread you have about 8-10 cups worth
2 cups milk
8 eggs
fresh parsley
2 onions
salt and pepper to taste

After cooking before being sauteed in butter

Heat milk, being careful not to scorch it, pour over rolls or bread,
saute onions and parsley in butter, mix together in large bowl with bread,
add eggs, and salt and pepper,
form bread into balls squeeze out any excess liquid if they are too wet or add some bread crumbs,
heat a large pot of salted water to a boil then reduce heat to a hard simmer, place balls in water and steep for a good 20 minutes, Do Not Boil, the balls will fall apart.
Remove with a slotted spoon.

Afterwards I sauteed them to get some color and a bit of a crust on them and served them with mushroom sauce over top.

I hope this inspires you to get your family and kids in the kitchen or around the dinner table for some of your own "Social Media" time. You'll be fascinated with what you will find out about your own Family History.

As always, much thanks and love to my family for providing me with the passion for food and family. Thanks Mom and Dad... I Love You. 

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