Comfort Food is Food that warms the body and the soul. It makes you feel good and satisfied after eating it. I think Comfort Food is different for different cultures and different people but there are variations within the dishes that we call ‘Comfort Food’. The differences are not so much in the main ingredients but in the preparation techniques and the seasonings used.
There are also variations in Winter Weather throughout the world and there are not many days that we can call Winter Weather in Sunny Southern California but this year , January is definitely Winter and Cold it is! Wet and Cold that is! Not complaining as we need the rain and cold can be fun for a little while, but all that aside, what do you eat when it is cold. Our normal Salads and Vegies and light meals don’t work when the weather is cold. We have to resort to old ‘Standbys from Childhood and our Mother’s favorites. One of these in our family is Stuffed Cabbage. Put together Green Cabbage, Seasoned Ground Beef and Tomatoes in a Sweet and Sour Sauce and serve with rice or pasta and you have a delicious bone warming meal.
So this is what I did the other night. I made Stuffed Cabbage but cheated a little bit as I had preformed Meatballs in the freezer. Having raised five sons I have a difficult time cooking small quantities of food for the 2 of us who make up our household now, so I usually make large quantities and freeze what we don’t eat for future use. The Meatballs were frozen in a single layer so as to make it easy to remove them and use them as needed. If I didn’t have the Meatballs I would have made the complete recipe from scratch as per the directions in the recipe itself. http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/stuffed-cabbage/ Here are the step by step directions and photos for preparing this delicious and ‘heart warming’ dish.
First of all make sure you have all the ingredients. If you have to shop for some of them, check your staples and seasonings before going to the market.
In addition to Ground Beef (or Chicken or Turkey) you will also need Tomato Sauce, Lemons, Brown Sugar and Salt and Pepper. Instead of Tomato Sauce as per the recipe, I used ground Tomatoes which have much more flavor and body. Shown below is one of my favorite tomato products.
If you don’t use the whole can place the leftovers in a covered container and refrigerate until needed. They should keep up until a week depending on how cold your refrigerator is.
In order to roll the meat in the Cabbage Leaves you will have to soften them. The best way to do this is to:
1 – Core the Cabbage and remove any bad outer leaves.
2 – Bring a large pot of water (shown belown) to the boiling. Add the whole head of Cabbage, turn the heat down to simmer and leave the cabbage in the simmering water for about 5 minutes or until the outer leaves soften enough to be able to roll them.
3 – Remove the Cabbage from the hot water (I use a colander for this) and remove as many leaves as have softened or as many as you will need if the whole head has softened.
4 – If need be, return the head to the simmering water and remove as needed.
5 – Place the leaves on a cutting board and cut out the hard part that was closest to the core.
6 – Place a scoop of meat on each leaf and wrap the leaf around the meat mixture. Use clean Kitchen String to tie the rolls so they don’t fall apart in the cooking process.
Coarsely slice some of the remaining cabbage and place in the bottom of the vessel you are going to cook the Cabbage Rolls in. This will serve as a bed for the rolls. Next place the rolls on top of the sliced cabbage and then pour the sauce over all.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then turn the heat down to medium. Cook for about 45 minutes or longer, depending on the size of the rolls. Use Kitchen Shears to cut and remove the string before the next step.
I like to add an additional Vegetable and in this case I added sliced Carrots. They only need to cook for about 5 minutes or until they are barely fork tender. The residual heat will continue to cook them once the vessel is removed from the heat. If you use peas or corn, the cooking time will be shorter.
Serve with Rice, Pasta or Couscous. This is a delicious heart-warming and body warming dish that is perfect for winter weather. Vegans can also make by using a Barley or Rice in place of meat in the filling.
There is nothing like really good Italian Meatballs, bursting with the flavor of garlic, onions and herbs and made light and fluffy with the use of eggs.
To make your own Meatballs you will need just a few ingredients. First of all you need the meat (ground beef is my favorite – lean – but some people prefer turkey or chicken or a combination of beef, veal and pork.) For every pound of beef you will need:
- 3 Eggs
- 1/2 cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1/2 Onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground Black Pepper
- 3 Tbsps. Romano Cheese
- 1 Tbsp. minced Parsley
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well by squeezing the ingredients together with your hands. (You may wear plastic gloves if you so desire) Be sure that all the ingredients are evenly combined and well mixed.
Shape the meat mixture into golf ball size portions (using a #20 or 30 food scoop works really well) If you are using the scoop, scoop each portion first and place on an oiled tray. Then moisten your hands with cold water and finish shaping the meat into round balls.
There are two methods of cooking:
I – Place the Meatballs on a foil lined jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 20 minutes. Finish cooking them in the sauce of your choice.
II – Heat about 1/4 cup of Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium high heat; add the meatballs to the hot oil and cook until brown on the cooked side. Gently turn over and cook on the other side. Remove from the skillet and blot on paper towels, then add to the sauce of your choice.
To see the meatballs sizzling please check out Youtube.
You can make the meatballs early in the day and refrigerate until you are ready to add them to the sauce.
The quantities above will yield approximately 12 – 15 meatballs.
For our Spaghetti and Meatball dinner I made a mushroom sauce with onions, garlic and crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes. I used plenty of fresh Basil and about 1-2 tsps. dried Oregano. You can use any kind of pasta that you like but tonight I went traditional and used De Cecco Spaghetti. A mixed green salad and garlic/cheese bread finished off the meal along with mango iced tea.