Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Loaf and Gluten Free

Today I was helping out my sister in law. She needed some cookies and maybe a loaf or bar dessert for a bake-sale, and just didn't have the time to get them made.  She asked if I could help; maybe some cookies?  Maybe a pumpkin loaf?  Her Mom had some fantastic dessert loaf recipes, and I have been giving the recipes a workout.  I've made her Date Loaf, Date Nut Loaf, Zucchini Bread, Banana Bread, and Pumpkin Bread.  I made the Zucchini Bread once with regular flour, and once gluten-free.  Either way it was great.  The fact of the matter is that I am finding using gluten-free flours seem to make these loaves much more moist and delicate in texture.  Not quite to the point of being like a cake, but borderline.
Pumpkin Loaf, made with dates

Pumpkin Loaf

Makes one 4 x 8-inch loaf
Easily doubles to make 2 loaves

1 1/3 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter
1 cup pumpkin
1½ cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
1/3 cup water, warm
1/3 cup nuts
1/3 cup raisins or dates

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Cream the butter and sugar and beat in the eggs and pumpkin. Sift or whisk together the dry ingredients and add in with the water until combined. Stir in the nuts and raisins. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.

This recipe is easily doubled. If using canned pumpkin, just use the whole can, then double all the other ingredients.

NOTES: These dessert loaves seem to lend themselves well to using gluten-free flours.
Substitute your favorite gluten-free flour mixture and add 1 teaspoon xanthan-gum if desired. All other ingredients and directions are the same.
I had already made the Pumpkin Loaf once before, last year around this time.  'Tis the season, you know!  I am not overfond of using raisins in recipes, as I don't like the cooked texture of them, so I substituted dates last year.  It was terrific, without a doubt.  So, now when my sister-in-law suggested Pumpkin Loaf, I couldn't even recall if I had tried that recipe yet, or not.  I checked through my photos, and sure enough, I had.  Since I am trying to test recipes using gluten-free flours, post the photos and recipes in my website, and let everyone know what I did differently, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Loaf, made with raisins
I got out one of the gluten-free flour mixtures in my cupboard, and set to work.  The recipe calls for 1 cup of pumpkin.  Now, I mean, seriously - one cup of pumpkin?  Who has one cup of pumpkin?  One can of pumpkin is nearly 2 cups.  If I am going to open a can to make this loaf, then I may as well make two, right?  That's what I did.  I made two nice loaves, plus I took just a little batter to put in a tiny loaf pan, so I could take photos, and taste it.  The larger two loaves will be for the bake sale.  Again, this Pumpkin Loaf is just divine, made gluten-free. 

There was a huge difference in the color.  I have no clue why this would be.  I used no coloring aside from the pumpkin itself.  The regular loaf was what one would expect. Denser and coarser than a cake, but moist and delicious.  The gluten-free version is just softer, more moist and tender of crumb.  I may just have to switch to GF flours routinely, for these types of loaves!    


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.   

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What a Turkey!

I taught a class today, called "Creative Ways with Veggies".   The ideas I used were mainly other peoples' ideas, but too cute not to show, and since 'tis the season, even more imperative. 

Some of my class members are not on the internet. Gasp!  Therefore, their likelihood of having seen these ideas is slim.  I was attempting to open their eyes to new and simple recipes they'd missed.  This particular idea is so adorable, and with Thanksgiving fast approaching, what better time to try it?

Veggie Tray Turkey
The ingredients, so to speak, are just a few vegetables: one red, one yellow and two green peppers, a baggie of baby carrots, one cucumber, one olive (black or Greek), two scallions, and some lettuce to line the plate (I used Romaine leaves).

Use a round platter and line it with the lettuce leaves.  Slice one of each color of bell pepper in half from top to bottom, clean out seeds and membranes.  Slice across the halved peppers, making generous 1/4 inch thick slices, which will be the scalloped border of "feathers".  Slice the cucumber in scant 1/4 inch slices.  Cut the bottom half off of the remaining green pepper, for the head and face.  Take the two scallions, trim the ends, then slice the bottom 1 1/2 inch lengthwise a few times and place these into ice water in the fridge, allowing the ends to curl, for the feet.

Line the baby carrots along the top half border of the platter, making about two rows.  At about low center, place the cucumber slices into a pile, for the body.  Make rows of the green pepper slices against the carrots, then the yellow, then the red.  Place the green pepper bottom half on top of the cucumber slices.  With the trimmings from the yellow and red bell peppers, make a  yellow beak and red wattle. Two slices of olive make eyes.  Wedge the curled scallion feet under the cucumbers and there you have it. 

Any party wanting a vegetable platter over the holidays, should have this.  Too simple and too cute to miss.  Set nearby whatever dressing you would prefer and start the party!

I also believe this could be done with some meats and cheeses.  Take sliced meats like ham or turkey and roll them, using these rolls in place of the carrots.  Triangular slices of cheese could be layered next, and then maybe round salami slices against that.  I haven't tried this out yet, but am planning to, so whenever that happens, it will appear here.  


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.   

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tea or Tisane?


Everyone knows what tea is, right?  Tea, technically, comes from the leaves of one plant: camellia sinensis.  Anything other than the leaves from this plant is not actually tea, although “tea” is often used as a catchall word to include all the different herbal beverages used these days. 

Legend has it that tea was discovered long ago in China quite by accident.  Some leaves from a nearby plant blew into a cup of hot water; a nice brown colored beverage resulted, was found to have a refreshing taste, and tea was born.  However it was discovered, tea is very refreshing, whether it is black, green, oolong or white.  Tea has been proven in more recent times to have wonderful health benefits.  We have all heard of antioxidants in tea, helping to fight free radicals that can cause harm to the body.  Tea is far lower in caffeine than coffee.  It is refreshing, whether used hot or cold. 
Golden Tippy Black Tea, brewed
There are various types of tea, all beginning with the same leaves.  Black tea is created by bruising or crushing the green leaves to expose them to oxidation and allowing them to ferment, then rolling the leaves and drying.  This produces a beautifully colored beverage and has the strongest flavor of all the varieties of tea.  Oolong tea (pronounced ‘OH-long’) is oxidized and fermented the same as black tea, but only for about half the amount of time and the resulting product is a lighter, more reddish beverage with a flavor all its own, somewhere in strength between black tea and green tea.  For green tea, the leaves are heated immediately, stopping the fermentation process entirely, then dried and rolled.  It produces a lovely light colored beverage, and is said to have the most health benefits.  The processing of white tea is similar to that of green tea, but only the unopened buds of the leaves are used.  It has the same health properties as green tea, but the flavor is the lightest and most delicate.

Golden Tippy Black Tea Leaves
Good quality tea is a wonderful beverage.  Whole rolled or twisted leaves are the best quality; the smaller the leaf, the higher the quality of the tea.  The top grades are called Flowery, Golden Flowery or Tippy.  Seconds, termed “Choppy,” are the leaves that have broken into smaller pieces.  They brew a great tea, and are usually less expensive.  The smallest particles leftover from the tea process, called “Fannings”, are what is used in tea bags.  It brews tea of course, but once tasting a tea brewed from a wonderful full leaf Darjeeling Black Tea, for example, it is hard to return to a tea bag for optimal flavor. 

“Orange Pekoe” (rhymes with “gecko”) is a western terminology applied to a grade of black tea; the word orange in the name has nothing to do with flavor, but could be a reference to the Dutch House of Orange using the name Orange as an implied “seal” of some sort.  Pekoe may be a westernized interpretation for a Chinese word meaning “white hairs”, referring to the fine white down on the tea leaves.

So, what are herbal beverages called?  Herbal beverages are called tisanes, and may be prepared by different methods; usually infusion or decoction.  It is incorrect to apply the term “tea” to anything infused or decocted, although tea is actually infused.  Infusion is the preparation method of choice for leaves, flowers or buds; plant matter that will release its properties easily into a drinkable beverage.  Placed into heated or boiled water and allowed to steep, the herbs release their goodness into the water, and then are strained out.  Decoction is the method used for harder or denser plant materials, such as roots or barks that take longer to release their flavors or health benefits.  With a decoction, the plant materials are brought to a boil, simmered gently for 15 minutes or more allowing the liquid to reduce, and then straining.

No matter which you prefer, tea or tisane, for pure enjoyment or for health benefits, look for the best quality.  Discover your favorites among the different types of loose teas.  Taste the different herbal tisanes and discover new flavors.  Above all, enjoy! 


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.   

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Easy Cookie Making: My Busy-Mom-Method

Simple Vanilla Cookies Sliced, using Busy Mom Method
Back when I was raising my 4 children, I really had to use my time wisely.  One day, I wanted to make cookies, but was in a rush, so I got this bright idea.  Why not just roll out the cookie dough onto the entire cookie sheet and bake it in one piece?  Would that work?

I tried this out with a recipe for Simple Vanilla Cookies and it worked great!  Since the part I like least about making cookies is all the little individual scoops, then baking on separate sheets, waiting for one batch to be done, baking the next, and so on, not to mention all the counter space taken up with cooling cookies, this bright idea seemed exceptionally useful.  I greased the cookie sheet and patted the dough out into a rough rectangle.  The dough needs to be floured lightly, in order to be able to use the rolling pin.  I rolled carefully, coaxing the dough to the edges and the corners.  The dough is forgiving, and can be pushed around quite a bit.  The sheet was popped into the oven to bake.

Simple Vanilla Cookies in cookie form
I quickly made up a small batch of simple icing by mixing up some confectioners' sugar with a pinch of salt, some vanilla and water enough to make a thick paste that fell very slowly from the spoon.  When the giant "cookie" came out of the oven, I quickly poured the icing onto the hot cookie. The icing melts onto the hot cookie, making it easy to spread carefully to all the edges, and in minutes the top had set. I used a large chef's knife and cut the giant cookie into small squares - and voila!  I had cookies in half the time and almost no work!

I have used this method for a few types of cookies and it works well.  It may not work for all cookies, and I have tried with only a few, but since these were some of the easiest to make, these recipes were the ones I made most often.  These Simple Vanilla Cookies were top of the list, but I also would make others like Hermits, redolent with warm spices, and ice them the same way.  Just that thin layer of icing, and what a difference.

Try this out sometime when in a rush, and see if it doesn't come out easily.  Just see what you think!

Simple Vanilla Cookies

Makes about 7 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2¾ cups all-purpose flour

Cream butter, shortening and sugar. Add vanilla and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in flour, mixing well. Drop from a teaspoon 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove immediately from pan.

If you like an iced cookie: make a glaze icing by mixing 1½ cups of confectioners' sugar, with ½ teaspoon vanilla and enough water (or milk) to make a paste, like very soft peanut butter. Add water by tiny amounts, starting with a tablespoon and adding in small bits thereafter. It gets runny very easily. Stir well each time before adding more water. Take each cookie and dip the top into the glaze and set aside to dry.

NOTES: Just for anecdotal trivia...

When I was in Guatemala, one morning I made a batch of these cookies. I popped the last pan in the oven, and set the timer. Itching to get outside for a bit, I stepped out to see what the children were doing. . . and got distracted. By the time I remembered the cookies they had baked and shrunken down to tiny little black hockey pucks - not even the dogs had any interest in them! It pays not to get distracted when baking. 


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.   

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cinnamon in the Cupboard – Real or Imposter?


I have a bone to pick about cinnamon.  How many of you really know what spice you have in your cupboards?  Are you sure it is really cinnamon? 

True cinnamon, left.                |                 Cassia cinnamon, right.
We in the U.S. have had the wool pulled over our eyes about cinnamon.  What we commonly know in the U.S. as “cinnamon” is actually Cassia (cinnamomum aromaticum).  It is a relative of true cinnamon, but not the real thing.  The rest of the world uses true cinnamon (cinnamomum verum), in their cooking or baking, yet here we are sold something completely different.

As background, I first found out how much difference there was between these two spices when I lived in Guatemala.  The cinnamon there tasted very different from what I knew growing up in Ohio; making recipes like an apple pie or apple crisp just tasted different.  They were very good, but didn’t taste like what had known.  I chalked it up to differences in quality of product, or maybe my baking skill was inadequate.  Any typical Guatemalan foods I ate or made with cinnamon tasted just fine of course, with nothing to compare. 

That was back in the 1970s, and it wasn’t until much later, when once again living in the U.S., I tried cooking a Guatemalan dish, Platanos en Mole (Plantains in Mole Sauce), using the cassia available to me in the U.S.  The dish just tasted wrong.  I couldn’t understand it.  I had made this dish many times in Guatemala.  I had a lot more cooking and baking skill by this time.  What was wrong?  I started checking into spices in general, with an eye to those things I knew were different, and discovered that we in the U.S. are being marketed a completely different product.

Cassia cinnamon is a very good spice, of course.  I do not for a second propose we do away with it!  What would our apple pies taste like without it?  It is what we know best. It is a wonderful spice, worthy of the space in our cupboards.  However, I propose that true cinnamon have an equal place. 

Cinnamon of either kind is the bark of the tree.  The bark is peeled off and dried, curling into what are known as “quills” or ground into powder.  This is where the similarity ends. Cassia quills are very thick curls, strong and sometimes even hard to break.  It has a stronger taste, warmer and more potent.  There is some very good quality cassia to be found these days, such as “Korintje AA”; a lovely spice to perk up anything you commonly make with “cassia cinnamon” here.

For my cooking classes I always take both types of cinnamon: a high quality cassia quill and ground Korintje AA cassia, alongside true cinnamon quills and ground cinnamon.  True cinnamon quills are curled and layered together in a tight roll, are very thin and easily crushed.  The flavor is lighter and more delicate, with a somewhat lemony quality.  I set the quills side by side and demonstrate the differences, first breaking a cassia quill, with the ensuing loud “snap” when it breaks.  Then I show the cinnamon quill, layered together, and how very easily it breaks and crumbles.  With the ground version of each side by side, I ask the class members to smell the two; first the cassia that is the most familiar, and then the cinnamon.  When they realize exactly how big a difference exists between these two spices, the startled reactions are quite rewarding. 

I would liken this situation to before the U.S woke up and smelled really good Arabica coffee!  Once we found out about good coffee, the tide turned.  I believe this country is in the process of bringing true cinnamon into the light.  It is found in most any Mexican grocery section these days.  Good quality spice shops carry excellent quality cinnamon and also excellent quality cassia.  If you want to make any ethnic recipes from anywhere else in the world, or just become familiar with a new flavor – go for true cinnamon.  It’s worth the effort.




My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life is Short - Eat Dessert First

Maybe we shouldn't eat dessert first.  Maybe that would just eliminate the desire for more nutritional vegetables and fruits.  But boy, dessert is good!

I think desserts are my favorite part of any meal, and I am one of those people who do not feel a meal is over until something sweet is eaten.  Desserts have always been a very large part of my life, and while I am a good cook, baking is my real passion.

Simple Shortbread
Last evening, I made a repeat of the Cabbage Rolls, because I guess was craving them when my daughter and I made them and I just didn't get my fill. I made plenty of the Cabbage Rolls to freeze for another day.  I may not have mentioned that in the recipe, but they do freeze well. I had my sister-in-law come over to share, and we feasted.

As it neared the dinner hour, I thought, "I should make something for dessert!"  What popped into my mind was my Simple Shortbread recipe, because as the name implies, it is a really simple recipe!  Simple, however, does not mean "mediocre!" This shortbread is so deliciously yummy, it's hard to stop eating. It takes minutes to prepare, and 40 minutes in a slow oven, for a delicate, crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth treat. This is one place my tip about cold butter came in handy. just use a large-holed grater and shred the cold butter. Pour the sugar over and cream or do whatever the recipe calls for.

Simple Shortbread


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, cornstarch and salt into a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioner's sugar with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.   With a wooden spoon gradually work in dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed (a pastry cutter works great, here!); it will be all crumbly textured.  Gently press dough into an ungreased, shallow 11 x 7" or 9" square pan. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden. Cut into about 12 squares or bars.  Enjoy!


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.   

Friday, October 19, 2012

An Old Slovak Recipe

I am currently dedicating myself to making all the foods I grew up with and getting photos of them.  It is incredible to think how I have taken for granted all these foods.  The family knows what they are, what they look like, and what they taste like.  Why take a photo?  All that is changing for me now.

Last night I dedicated to making Chicken Paprikas (or Paprikash, if you will), a recipe that came down from my Slovakian Grandmother.  I cannot begin to count how many times I have eaten this dish in my lifetime.  A hundred, for sure.  There was no actual written recipe that I ever knew of, so while I had the "recipe" in a family cookbook I made, the ingredients were a broad range of possibilities.  "Lots of paprika" is probably too vague for most!

Chicken Paprikas
First I decided to cut up a whole chicken and have my husband take photos of how it is done.  I don't know if I will ever need this sequence, but now I have it!  I am sure there are plenty of new cooks out there who haven't had the opportunity to cut up a chicken.  When I started out cooking 40 years ago, I really appreciated how-to photos. 

The recipe needs to be made with a whole chicken, or whole pieces of chicken, because the bones and skin really give all the flavor to the broth.  (I tried it once with just boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  It was not very good that way.)  I took the time to measure exactly how much of everything I used and write it down for the very first time.  I took photos every step of the way, too.  It turned out perfect, and perfectly seasoned, as I remember it.  I hope my Grandma would be proud!  Here is the photo of my dinner last night.

Chicken Paprikas


Makes at least 6 - 8 servings

1 whole chicken, cut up
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 - 4 cloves garlic, sliced or smashed

4  tablespoons sweet Hungarian Paprika
2½ cups water
1½ teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste
½ cup flour for thickening
1 cups milk


Chicken Paprikas over Rice
Chicken Paprikas served over rice, above
Making Paprikas, below

Making Paprikas
Making Paprikas



Cut up the chicken into the usual pieces; wing, breast, thigh, leg. Slice the onion thinly, and then cut the slices into quarter rounds.

Melt butter in a large pot or Dutch Oven; add the onions and saute till softened. Add chicken pieces and brown slightly on one side. Turn chicken pieces over and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the paprika onto the browned side of the chicken. Make sure that all the exposed surface of the chicken is fairly well covered. Once the second side of the chicken is browned, turn over once again and repeat with 1 more tablespoon paprika till this surface is also fairly well covered. Push these chicken pieces to one side, piling to keep out of the way and add in the rest of the chicken, repeating the browning process, and sprinkling with another tablespoon of paprika per side.

Add water to the pot till the chicken is nearly covered. Add salt and some pepper, if desired; bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is done and will easily be pulled off the bones, about 1 to 1½ hours. Remove chicken pieces from the pot and set aside to cool slightly, reserving the broth in the pot. If there is too much fat floating on the top of the soup, use paper towels to skim off some of it. Whisk together the milk with the flour till fairly lump free. Place a strainer over the remaining pot of simmering broth, and pour the milk/flour slurry into the strainer, at the same time whisking the simmering liquid briskly, to thicken without lumps forming. This may take a little juggling if your strainer isn't long enough to hang across the pot! If so, pour some of the milk/ flour mixture into the strainer, whisk until incorporated, and pour in a little more and whisk some more. The goal is to have thickened the "soup" in the pot to a gravy. Mix until the milk/flour has been cooked in. Taste. Add salt if needed. t this point the mixture should be a lovely pinkish color from all the paprika. If not, add more paprika! Maintain a low simmer. Remove all the skin and bones from the chicken pieces. Tear the chicken into medium shreds. Add the chicken back into the pot and reheat. Serve over mashed potatoes or white rice.

NOTES: This dish must be made with whole chicken, on the bone. This is what makes the dish so flavorful. In the interest of a healthier outcome, I have tried using just boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The final product had no flavor at all. As a thought, possibly using chicken stock rather than water to cook it might help, but I strongly recommend using a whole cut up chicken.

In every other recipe for "Chicken Paprikash" I have ever seen, the step with the milk and flour added to thicken is conspicuously missing, yet there is always the addition of heavy cream or sour cream to the dish at the end. I have to wonder if Grandma, having made this through Depression times, had no cream or sour cream at hand, and substituted thickening it with the milk and flour? No way to be sure at this point in time. Out of curiosity though, I have added some sour cream at the end of making the dish Mom and Grandma's way, and Yum, it is good!

Mom always, always served this with cranberry sauce. The flavors are so ingrained in my mind together.

Mom also, very occasionally, would substitute veal stew meat for the chicken in this recipe, and then it was called "Veal Paprikas."

Mom never cooked with fresh garlic, but I learned to use and love it. I add in a couple of cloves of garlic, minced just before adding the water to the browned chicken to cook.



My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.   

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Food Fun in Michigan

I just got back from a trip to Michigan.  I was visiting with 2 of my daughters and their families, one of whom just had a new baby.  It is always fun to visit with my kids.  They are all foodies of one kind or other.  We all have certain interests and directions, but we all love food and new recipes!  Sitting and talking with one of my daughters, who is married to a Polish man, we came to discussing ethnic foods as a matter of course.  If any of you see my Welcome page (or even the first post here), you will note that I come from a Slavic background and lived in Guatemala and had my children there.  Indian food came into my ethnic horizon a little later, but no less strongly for all that! 


Three Holupki, or Cabbage Rolls
My children, all having been born in Guatemala, love some of the foods we ate there, and continued to eat in the US, as I continued cooking those recipes.  Things like Picado de Rabano (Chopped Radish Salad), Hilachas (also known as Ropa Vieja, and meaning "rags" or "old clothes"), a stew made with brisket, Horchata, a rice drink, or Tamales and many other dishes.  My daughter's Polish husband was longing for Holupki (or Golumki, Golubki, Halupki, Sarma and so on throughout those eastern European countries), which set us talking about that particular recipe.  She had eaten it before of course, both growing up with me and later at her husband's parents' house.  She had never yet made this dish herself!  I suggested we try it out together!  In doing so, I finally got a photo of these Cabbage Rolls that are known by so many names!

It is strange, when creating a blog or a website dedicated to food, to realize how many recipes I have taken for granted over the years.  I have never thought to take photos of those homey foods like Holupki, or Chicken Paprikas, in all my 42 years of cooking.  That day with my daughter, I got photos of Holupki for the first time.  A milestone!  I also never had a real "recipe" for them, having been given the recips by word of mouth from my Mom, who got it from her Mom, and so on.

My Mom always made these cabbage rolls with ground beef and rice.  I actually didn't like them, when I was small.  The appreciation for this dish came later, when I had no access to them.  Isn't that just the way?  Absence makes the heart grow fonder - even with food.  My daughter noted that her mother-in-law makes them with some ground pork added in.  I said that sounded good, so we got some ground pork.  She had a giant bag of ground hamburger in her freezer, so we made about 5 pounds of meat in total.  We mixed in nearly 2 cups of raw rice!  Here I pared down the recipe from what we did.  This will make about 10 - completely depending on the size of the rolls.

Holupki, ready to eat

Holupki, or Cabbage Rolls


1 large cabbage
2 pounds hamburger meat
(or substitute ½ pound of the meat with ground pork)
1 medium onion, chopped and lightly sauteed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 cup rice, uncooked
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 or more sprigs fresh thyme
water, as needed to cook


Directions: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove some of the outer cabbage leaves, as whole as possible. Place into the boiling water until they are soft, then remove and set aside. When the leaves on the remaining cabbage become too entangled to separate, place the rest of the whole head into the pot and allow the leaves to soften. Remove from the boiling water periodically, to trim off leaves at the core end. You will need at least 10 or so viable cabbage leaves for rolling the meat. Take the remaining cabbage and chop roughly. Place half the chopped cabbage into the bottom on a large pot or Dutch oven. Set aside the remaining chopped cabbage.

In a large bowl, mix together the meat(s), onion, garlic, egg, salt, pepper, paprika and rice. Do not over mix. Trim off the thickest parts of one cabbage leaf, then take one portion of meat mixture (approximately 2/3 to 3/4 cup worth) and set on one end of the leaf. Roll, burrito-style, folding in ends and tucking as necessary, but not too tightly - remember, the rice needs room to expand as it cooks. Repeat, until all the meat is rolled into cabbage leaves. Place the rolls into the pot, on top of the chopped cabbage. Top with the remaining chopped cabbage. Tuck the bay leaves down between the rolls, and place the thyme sprig(s) on top.

Combine together the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Add in a little more salt and pepper (plus a pinch or two of sugar if the tomato mixture is too acidic), to taste. Pour the tomato mixture over the cabbage rolls. The rolls should not be submerged, but nearly covered. If the tomato mixture is not quite high enough, add water until just the tops of the rolls are visible.

Set over high heat to bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer, covered, for about 1½ - 2 hours. Best served with mashed potatoes.


For additional recipes and information visit my web site.

Chris


My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.   






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