Thursday, July 30, 2009

Marianne's Cabbage Rolls--Galompki

With the garden overflowing with veggies just needing to be picked, in addition to beans beans beans and squash squash squash, I have abundant cabbages that were planted so I could make my winter cabbage soup. But as all the rains we have been having these past weeks have slowed down tomato production I needed to use these huge heads up. I have a good gardening friend who’s always raving about his wife’s stuffed cabbage dish. So one day I asked him if she would share it with me and she graciously did! Thanks so much Marianne for the recipe.. they turned out super and were just delicious!

Marianne’s Cabbage Rolls -- Galombki

1.5 pounds ground meats – beef-pork-veal if you like
1 cup cooked long grain white rice—I didn’t cook my rice
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 TBLS parsley, chopped
¾ cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
sea salt and pepper to taste

Cabbage and sauce:
1 large head of cabbage
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cans tomato soup

For the cabbage:

”Cook cabbage until it’s semi-soft. When cooked-peel the leaves.” Instead of boiling the cabbage, I rinsed the cabbage off in cold water, put in a dish with just a bit of water, covered with plastic wrap and popped it into the microwave for about 10 minutes. The leaves peeled off perfectly.

For the stuffing:

Brown meat with onions , drain off oils and allow to cool. Add rice, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper. Mix together and then add 2 eggs and mix very well. You will be making small oval meatballs to wrap in the cooked cabbage leaves.

For the sauce:
Combine the crushed tomatoes and soup together and ladle out enough to cover the bottom of casserole dish


Separate the cabbage leaves and set aside. Take any leftover leaves, and coarsely chop and place at the bottom of the pan. Take a leaf and lay on a surface with the rib end facing you. Place about 2 TBLS rolled into oval meatballs of filling within the little cup that the leaf forms (amount will differ based on size of leaf). Fold the left and right sides over the filling and roll the remainder up over itself, placing in the pot seam-side down. Repeat until all filling and or cabbage is used up. Put all the cabbage rolls in baking dish and cover with remaining sauce mix. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. I was so busy sampling and readying dinner I forgot to take a photo of the finished dish! But trust me, they were just yummy!

I hadn’t made stuffed cabbage in many years and recall cooking mine on stove top for hours on end. I much preferred baking these in the oven. Next time I make them I will add a bit of water to the sauce, as I think mine was a bit thick. These cabbage rolls were fantastic and so flavorful! I froze half of them, but know they won’t last long around here :-) Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer Memories.. Stuffed clams

Recapturing a childhood memory is nearly impossible for some. My summer memory: Heading to the clam flats with my Dad to dig clams . I use to go clamming everyday with my Dad when the clam flats were approaching low tide. Bare feet and legs, a hat, a clam rake and a couple of buckets were all the gear we needed to take along. In those days we dug by the bushel or peck for fresh clams, unlike today where you buy clams by the pound and pay a tons for the shells! The clam flats were always plentiful and in under an hour we could easily have our bushel bucket filled to the brim. Back in those days soft shell, littlenecks or cherrystones, quahogs and razors were everywhere in the channels and I just loved digging alongside Dad. When searching for littlenecks, you’d feel for the clams with your feet and dig them out with your fork. If you get clams that are close to three inches, these are littlenecks and just plain scrumptious! They are the smallest and most flavorful hardshell clam.. a little salty, but what do you expect coming right out of the ocean, and slightly chewy and are the clam of choice for most clam recipes. You could use them for stuffed and clams casino too. Any bigger than that, and the clams are called quahogs. Grind them up or chop finely and they make a great clam chowder.

But mostly I remember how much fun, though tiring work it was , we had digging and horsing around… and besides, there is something thrilling about eating clams this fresh from the ocean just an hour ago :-) Some days my Nonna would have us kids pull for periwinkles that she would transform into a luscious spaghetti sauce. Other days, we steamed the clams, or baked them or stuffed them with delicious fillings. My Dad just loved stuffed clams and his were the best I’ve ever eaten and so everytime I make my seafood chowder and stuffed clams warm remembrances and the fondest of memories swirl around in my head. If you don’t live near the ocean as we do, you can buy fresh in your market. Normally you would just steam the clams in water after rinsing them off well, but Dad always like to steam them with a bit of wine and fresh herbs instead.

Dad’s Stuffed Clams Recipe

2 dozen littleneck clams
4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons butter
3 TBLS olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 slices of prosciutto, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon dry white wine
ground black pepper
lemon wedges

Place the clams and two inches water or wine in a pan, cover and steam until clams open. Remember to discard any clams that didn’t open. Reserve the liquid, remove the clams from the shells and chop finely. Set aside. Wash the shells and place in shallow baking pan. Melt butter and olive oil in a skillet and saute the shallots and garlic until just tender. Add the bread crumbs, prosciutto, celery, parsley, basil, oregano, cheese, wine and pepper. Mix well. Stir in enough of reserved liquid to moisten crumbs but do not make mix soggy. Distribute chopped clams among the shells, top with bread crumb mixture . Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and then broil until browned. Serve alone or with a good squeeze of fresh lemon wedge and a piping hot bowl of seafood chowder. Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer squash..Cousa

Can you tell it's finally stopped raining? Now that the sun has decided to shine for a change we have an abundance of squash! We gardeners' are just never happy :)
As if we didn't have enough of an explosive crop of of summer, zucchini, and pattypan
squash.. now we have a plethora of cousa!

Cousa is one of my favorite squashes of summer. It's a Lebanese zucchini that's traditionally stuffed with seasoned meat and rice. You can easily use the same preparation guideline for any summer squash, but it's even better with the real deal-- a gorgeous squash, light green in color with a slight nutty flavor to it and a bit chubbier in shape than typically zucchini. Try some in your garden..they are prolific growers! I'm afraid I got carried away this year and planted a dozen plants! We'll have enough cousa until Thanksgiving :) I usually stuff my cousa, but you can use it in any squash dish you like to prepare.


To make stuffed cousa:

1 lb ground lamb or ground hamburg (or combine the two)
4 medium sized cousa- pulp & seeds removed and chopped into bite sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 shallots, minced
olive oil to sautee
1 cup long grained rice,uncooked
3 fresh tomatoes, chopped fine & briefly pulsed in processor
1 handful of freshly chopped mint about 1/2 cup, chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
sea salt, white pepper, sumac pepper to taste
3/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out pulp and seed with a spoon and chop into bite size pieces, then set aside. Saute in olive oil ground meat, shallots, garlic and squash pulp until squash is just tender and meat just about browned. Once cooked, add rice along with a little bit of the tomato to hold all it together and give it some texture. Add seasoning and mint and mix all together well. Line a baking pan with the emptied cousa squash shells and begin to stuff them with the meat/rice/tomato mixture. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and a drizzle of more tomato sauce. Pour vegetable stock around each stuffed squash to come up to about half way up the squash in baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Grilled shrimp with mango

Mad about mangos? I am nuts about mangos. They are one of my favorites right up there with pineapples and most fruits for that matter. Such an exceptional fruit and so versatile--both for its fragrance, taste and visual appeal. It's no surprise with over 100 varieties to choose from, mango is one of the most popular fruits in the world.

Just to tell you how my mind works, whenever I see a recipe that calls for nectarines or peaches my mind is already in overdrive thinking of substituting mango instead! Why even the name, mango makes me just want to eat them.

Mango just pairs so well with seafood, poultry --a marvelous salsa addition and even added to a delicious summer fruit smoothie! DO try experimenting with this luscious fruit. This weekend I am trying a strawberry mango cheesecake to bring along to a cookout. See what I mean? They are addicting. :)

We finally got a short break in the weather this week and I decided to make my shrimp with mango on the grill. I'll usually have a bag of shrimp in the freezer and love the ease of this recipe and that if I have pop-in company, it's one that can be put together quickly and just turns out great everytime.

1 lb shrimp (2 for serious shrimp lovers like us) peeled and deveined
4 TBLS olive oil
3 tsp fresh ginger, minced well
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
zest of two limes
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
juice of one orange
1/4 tsp tobasco sauce
white pepper & just a pinch of salt
3 TBLS minced cilantro
3 TBLS fresh parsley, minced
2 mangos, peeled and cubed
1 pckg wood skewers

Before you assemble the marinade, soak the wooden skewers in warm water for 15 minutes, to prevent burning. Prepare the marinade by combining all ingredients in a medium bowl. Rinse and peel and devein shrimp and place in the marinade for 20 minutes. Slice the mangos into 1 inch pieces. Now begin skewering the shrimp alternating with mango pieces. Reserve any marinade liquid for basting. Depending on the size shrimp you will use will determine how many filled skewers you'll end up with. On a heated grill or broiler, grill the shrimp for 3-4 minutes each side, basting with reserved marinade liquid on each turn. That's all there is to it!
I served this with jasmine rice and my favorite avocado mango salsa with plenty of cilantro.

Oh! And if you haven't already had enough mango, for a light dessert, serve your guests some luscious strawberry mango smoothies! After all you should have a few more leftover mangos sitting out on your counter :-)

Toss in a blender: 1 peeled and cubed mango, 10-12 hulled strawberries, 1 peeled nectarine, 1/2 cup soy milk, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 3 tsp wildflower honey, 6-8 ice cubes. Give it a whirl for 20 seconds and top with sprinkled homemade granola. Yum!

Enjoy! Let the fireworks displays begin. I hope everyone has a great 4th of July celebration.