Category Archives: The Chef’s Corner

MAY CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: CHOCOLATE POKE CAKE

CHOCOLATE POKE CAKE

by John Rudy

Soon after we got married, I started making an Angel Food Cake.  After it cooked and partially cooled, I made Orange Jello, poked holes into the cake and poured it in.  After some experimentation, I found that a similar strategy worked well with chocolate pudding, and I varied the type of cake.  Sometimes I baked the cakes from scratch, and sometimes I used the stuff from boxes.  Back in the ‘70s, the boxed cakes weren’t very good, but they tend to be quite good today.  Frequently, these cakes call for frosting, but with the pudding, that seems too sweet to me.

This recipe calls for a very thick frosting.  I halved the original as it is perfectly adequate.  Feel free to double the frosting recipe if you like it thick and calorific.

1 chocolate fudge cake, prepared and baked in a 9×13 inch pan.

CHOCOLATE FILLING

1 can sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup heavy cream

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

¾ cups butter, softened to room temperature

¼ cup cocoa

1½ cups powdered sugar

½ cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bake cake as directed on box.
  2. While the cake is baking, add sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, and chocolate chips to a medium sauce pan and cook, stirring, on medium heat until the chips are melted and the filling is smooth.
  3. When the cake comes out from the oven, using the end of a wooden spoon, poke holes into the cake to create deep pockets for the filling to go into.
  4. Pour filling evenly over warm cake.
  5. Cool cake completely before frosting.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, cocoa, powdered sugar and beat on low until combined.
  2. Add heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Beat until creamy and smooth.
  3. Frost cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

BOLLI Matters Feature Writer, John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

APRIL CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: COOKING FOR ONE

COOKING FOR ONE

When the kids went off to college, we went from cooking for 4 to 3 and then to 2.  (Our son ate a ton, so it was more like going from 5 to 2.)  At 2, not only did we find ourselves with a lot of leftovers, but things like half-gallons of milk would go bad before we could finish them.  That was 25 years ago.  Now, I’m cooking for one and going through that process again.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • There are a number of web sites dedicated to cooking for one. Allrecipes https://www.allrecipes.com/recipes/15050/everyday-cooking/cooking-for-one/ has 490 recipes you can browse.  You might hate many of them, but there are a lot to choose from.  What is neat about their site is that you can search for recipes by explicitly stating items you want in the recipe (like chicken) and things that you want excluded (like mustard).  You can also provide keywords like “saute”.
  • PBS also has a cooking-for-one website http://www.pbs.org/food/theme/cooking-for-one/ with browsing capability.
  • When you go to the supermarket you see almost every kind of dinner in a frozen package. Obviously you can but them, and some are surprisingly good.  But this should also prove to you that almost everything you cook can be frozen.  You might want to experiment, but things like stews work well, as does corned beef, as do a lot of vegetables as long as there is enough liquid to keep them from getting freezer burn.  Cookies, of course, freeze very well.  As does a half-gallon container of your favorite ice cream.
  • Be careful of over-shopping. Don’t buy a bag of potatoes or 6 grapefruit, or a pound of whole swiss cheese.  This is most important for produce which spoils.
  • Almost any recipe can be scaled down with just a little math. Just remember that there are 8 ounces in a cup, 16 ounces in a pound, 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon, etc.
  • HOWEVER: scaling cooking time is another kettle of fish. Microwave times are roughly proportional to weight. So two potatoes take twice as long as one potato.  In the regular oven, two potatoes take the same time as one.  A 10” pie takes more time to cook than an 8” pie except if your only concern is that the top crust bakes properly.  In that case they are about the same.
  • You can even go to Amazon and look for Cooking-for-one Cookbooks https://www.amazon.com/Cooking-One-Cookbook-Beginners-Breakfast-ebook/dp/B00LH2YIX0 This is just one of the books, but there are many
  • And lastly you can have the same meal multiple nights in a row, maybe with some modification. So buy the whole chicken, but not one that is 6#, and after a couple of days of roasted chicken, there is chicken ala king, chicken salad, etc.
Our BOLLI Matters Chef  John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

MARCH CHEF’S CORNER: SOME FOOD MUSING…

SOME FOOD MUSING…

By John Rudy

Don’t you hate it when you find a recipe that calls for ¼ teaspoon of a spice you don’t have or have never heard of?  About 40 years ago, we were in a Newcomer Club that had a monthly dinner.  I needed about a tablespoon of raspberry liquor, and the smallest bottle I could find was a pint.   I recently cleaned the closet and threw out that since unused bottle.  I prefer orange liquor, my replacement product when a flavored liquor is called for.  Click here for a very useful site  with  information about substitutions.

Ever wonder what you do when you don’t have, say, baking powder?  Or buttermilk?

Baking powder 1 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 cup buttermilk (decrease liquid in recipe by 1/2 cup)
Baking soda 1 teaspoon 4 teaspoons baking powder OR 1 teaspoon potassium bicarbonate and 1/3 teaspoon salt. NOTE: If the recipe calls for an acidic liquid such as sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk, vinegar, molasses, or citrus juice, you should replace it with the same amount of whole milk
Buttermilk 1 cup 1 cup yogurt OR 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup

Mr. Google can almost always find what you want

Click here for a list of  spice substitutions

Here is an article on Chinese food substitutions .

I found an amazing site that has tons of food information and a lot of interesting household information.  Ever wonder what you can clean in your dishwasher other than dishes? How about what you should NOT put into the dishwasher?  (Copper or non-stick pans.)  You can find it all at:  thespruce.com

For years, I have been reading about truffles, and I occasionally see them for sale; or I see oils infused with truffles.  And they are REALLY EXPENSIVE. Thought that you’d like to know why.  This is an informative and humorous 4-minute video.  According to my research, there is no “adequate” replacement for truffle oil, so just use extra virgin olive oil.

Click Here for Truffle Video

BOLLI Matters Chef John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

JANUARY’S “CHEF’S CORNER” WITH JOHN RUDY: EGG-LEMON LAMB WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS

EGG-LEMON LAMB WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS

from John Rudy

In Greek, it’s: αρνί με αγκινάρες, pronounced ar-NEE meh ahg-kee-NAH-res

A Greek classic but made differently by every family.  Be sure to include bones since they are a traditional part of this dish. The tangy egg-lemon sauce (AVGOLEMONO) is the crowning touch,  added just before serving.

Many years ago, we went to a restaurant in Cambridge called The Acropolis and had this dish, or something like it, maybe 3-4 times a year for 25 years.  Then they went out of business.  Years later, the chef resurfaced in a restaurant in Arlington, and I tried to get the recipe from him.  He kept putting me off, and then, that restaurant went out of business too.  I scoured the cookbooks, and then we went to Greece.  We ordered this dish a few times but it wasn’t right, but eventually, we found it, and the chef gave me a “sketch” of the recipe.  After a lot of tuning,  this is the result.

It is hard to find decent artichoke hearts.  I get them from the salad bar at Whole Foods.  Lamb shanks are really best but not easy to find.

Yield: serves 6

Ingredients

2¼  lbs      artichoke hearts

4 Tbs         lemon juice (2 lemons)

2 tsp          salt

⅔ cup        olive oil

2 small       spring onions, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

4½  lbs      leg and shank of lamb, bone in, chopped into large chunks OR 3 pounds of lamb, cut into large chunks and 1 pound of lamb bones

3½ cups     water

 

Egg-lemon sauce

2                eggs, separated

6 tbs       lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

 Instructions

  1. Rinse artichoke hearts with cold water, put in a bowl, and cover with juice of 2 lemons.  Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  2. Put the oil, chopped onion, and meat (and bones, if separate) in a pressure cooker over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover (don’t seal) and brown for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil.  Seal, bring to full pressure, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Use fast-release of pressure and open the pressure cooker. Drain the artichokes and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, seal, and bring back to full pressure. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, use fast-release of pressure, and unseal the cover, leaving it on top of the pot.

  1. Make avgolemono sauce:In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites to the soft peak stage. Still using the high setting, beat in the egg yolks until frothy, then beat in the juice of 3 lemons, 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure it’s well melded after each addition.  The mixture will be rich and foamy.  Reduce mixer speed to medium and add 5 soup ladles of the meat broth, one at a time, making sure each mixes in well before adding the next.  Slowly pour the egg-lemon mixture into the pot, and shake to distribute evenly (do not stir).
“Chef’s Corner” writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

DECEMBER “CHEF’S CORNER” WITH JOHN RUDY: CHICKEN FRICASSEE

CHICKEN  FRICASSEE

This recipe, before changes, came from the McCall’s Cooking School.  It serves 6-8.  The dumplings are a nice touch and differentiate this recipe from others you might know.  Because of the dumplings, this is not served over noodles or rice.  The original recipe, in my opinion, had insufficient chicken, and I also switched from white to dark meat as the dark meat is more forgiving and can survive over-cooking (who would do that?).

This recipe has a lot of vegetables, and I have put in what I like.  You can certainly change them.  Some Chicken Fricassee recipes call for wine.  You can replace some of the water with red wine if you wish.  I also make it a bit spicy, and this, too, can be adjusted.

Many will toss the chicken in flour.  I prefer to use pancake mix which contains some other ingredients.  I use the same strategy when pan-frying fish.

Ingredients

4 lbs       chicken legs and thighs with skin on

4 Tbs      butter (add more if necessary)

1 tsp       salt

1/3 cup   Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix

1/8 tsp    red pepper powder  (adjust to your taste)

1 cup    chicken stock

1 cup   water

2      medium onions cut ¼ inch thick

25+   baby carrots or cut up larger carrots

1 can   artichoke hearts

6   whole cloves

15   whole peppers, crushed

8   stalks   Celery, cut thick

10  Mushrooms (large), halved

1½  cup  Bisquick

1       egg

¼ cup     milk

remaining flour

½ cup   light cream

Instructions

  • Toss the chicken in the flour, salt, pepper mixture. Dry the chicken first, and don’t put it all in the bag at the same time.  If you are very calorie conscious, you can remove the chicken skin.
  • Brown the chicken, skin side down first, in the butter in a dutch oven.  You will not be able to fit all the pieces in the pot at the same time.  Make sure that the skin is quite brown.  Remove the pieces to a side dish with paper towel to drip.
  • Put the cloves, peppers, onions, and baby carrots into the butter, and sauté about 5 mins. Stir occasionally, and deglaze the bottom of the pot with some of the water.
  • Add the soup and the remaining water; bring to a boil; and add the chicken back. Cook, covered, on low about 30 minutes.
  • Add the celery and mushrooms, and cook an additional 5 minutes. (If they are added early, they will become soggy.)
  • Mix the Bisquick, egg, and milk, and put tablespoons full (there will be about 6) onto the chicken above the liquid. Cook uncovered 10 minutes.
  • Cover, and cook an additional 10 minutes.
  • Gently remove the dumplings, and thicken with the remaining flour which has been mixed with the light cream. Remember–flour can only be mixed with cold liquid.
  • Return the dumplings to the pot for serving.
  • If this recipe is done with boneless chicken breasts, reduce cooking by ~10 minutes.
“Chef’s Corner” writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

NOVEMBER CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: THE TURKEY!

ROAST TURKEY

by John Rudy

This recipe, with some adjustments, came from Sally and Jimmy Weiner ~1985.  I believe it came to them from  WBZ daytime personality Dave Maynard.  The teaching lesson here is that, if any meat is cooked at too high a temperature, all the juices evaporate and the meat dries out.  (The same is true, by the way, for Prime Rib which I cook at 250° until the last 20 minutes.)

Use an 18-20# Turkey for ~ 12 hungry people which, depending on the amount of appetizers, may end up about half eaten.  I have very successfully used frozen turkey, and the closer to the holiday, the lower the price.  It takes about 5 days to thaw and might be more of the refrigerator is particularly cold.  They can be kept a few days in the refrigerator in the vacuum wrapping, so leaving more days for thawing is best.  I prefer to cook the stuffing outside the turkey though others like the turkey juice to infiltrate the stuffing.  The decision affects the cooking time.

  1. Season the turkey, inside and out, 24 hours in advance, and keep it in the refrigerator. I use salt, pepper and Lawry’s Season Salt.  Put 8-10 stalks of celery into the turkey cavity to provide extra moisture.  These will be discarded at the end of the cooking.
  2. Take out the neck, gizzard, liver and heart (and anything else they stuff in) and add another 2# package of gizzards. Boil them with salt and a chicken cube or two for at least 2 hours to make chicken stock. Remove the meat and boil it down by 50%.  This will be added to the pan stickings to make the gravy.  It is even better if you have left-over (frozen) gravy from a previous chicken or two. Put aside the liver for making paté. Pull the meat from the neck and cut the grizzle from the gizzard.  Chop everything finely and it can be added both to the stuffing and the gravy.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°. Turn to 325° when you put the bird into the oven.  If you have a new oven it will cool down too slowly so you might have to help by opening the oven door for a minute.
  4. Put cold butter slices inside the skin of the breast, if you can. Don’t cut the skin.  VERY IMPORTANT: cook breast side down for about 1.5 hours.  This is best done on a small cooking rack to keep the breast skin off of the bottom of the tray.
  5. Turn the turkey over. The easiest way to do this is by wearing rubber gloves.  Put aluminum foil over wings and drumsticks so that they don’t dry.
  6. Baste regularly (every ~20 mins) by ladling pan drippings onto the cheesecloth. It takes ~15 minutes /per pound to cook.  Remove the cheesecloth for the last 30 minutes to crisp the skin.
  7. Turkey is best if left to its final cooking with the oven turned off. Can be put back in for 20 minutes just before slicing, if it has been removed from the oven to bake other things.
  8. These times below are based on placing the whole turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 325 degree
 Weight of Bird  Roasting Time (Unstuffed)  Roasting Time (Stuffed)
10 to 18 pounds 3 to 3-1/2 hours 3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours
18 to 22 pounds 3-1/2 to 4 hours 4-1/2 to 5 hours
22 to 24 pounds 4 to 4-1/2 hours 5 to 5-1/2 hours
24 to 29 pounds  4-1/2 to 5 hours 5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours

Stuffing

  • I prefer a combination of regular and cornbread stuffing. I use 1 bag (Pepperidge Farm) of each.  It requires about 30% more water than called for.  Make at very last minute so that it doesn’t have to be heated.  If absolutely necessary to heat, use the microwave so that the pan doesn’t burn!
  • Add pan-fried onions, pieces of celery (10-15 stalks chopped), and fresh mushrooms. The pieces of giblet (grizzle removed) and neck meat can be put through the grinder or can be chopped up and added to the stuffing.
  • I sometimes make oyster stuffing with about 1/3rd of the stuffing, by cutting up 4 to 8 oz of oysters and gently, VERY quickly pan-frying them in butter before adding them to the stuffing.

Gravy

  • Thicken the soup that was made with the giblets with roué. Roué: Take ¾ stick of butter and melt it and add ½ cup of flour while whisking.  Continue whisking for 2-3 minutes until the mixture starts turning a light brown.  Then whisk the gravy into the roue.  Whisk continuously and bring to a boil.
  • Add the pan droppings after removing all of the fat. Add water to the pan, if necessary, to remove any pan stickings that are burned into the pan.
  • Bring mixture to a boil to thicken the gravy. Adjust the flour to the quantity of gravy.  I sometimes supplement the gravy with gravy from Boston Market or Neillios (Lexington), the only decent commercial gravies I have found.  I also save gravy from roast chickens (and freeze) for a month.

If all this is too much effort, and if you are the only one for Thanksgiving, an alternative is to make an origami turkey.  Here, thanks to MIT, is the method:

https://slice.mit.edu/2016/11/23/turkey/

Chef’s Corner feature writer John Rudy

 

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

OCTOBER CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: CHEESECAKE!

CHEESECAKE —  RICH AND CREAMY

(Serves 8 or more)

This recipe, originally from p. 466 of The Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, gives a detailed explanation of the cream cheese/sugar/egg/cream/sour-cream ratios and discusses the effect of changing each.  The texture of the cake changes considerably as one adjusts the amounts, and these are the amounts I like.  Make it a half dozen times in slightly different ways to see what you like.  It also describes the difference between the various cooking processes.  We first made it in 2005.  All agreed that this was the best cheesecake ever.  The water bath really makes a difference.  50 minutes for prep and clean-up.

“Crust” (more like a dusting)  OR use a full crust

2 tsp          Butter, melted

2 Tbs         Vanilla Wafer or Graham Cracker crumbs  —  very fine.  ~7 vanilla wafers.

Cheese Filling

32 oz         Cream cheese at room temperature  (“lite” cheese is NOT                         acceptable).  4 pkgs.

1¼ cup      Sugar

¼ cup        Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream  (I use whipping cream)

¼ cup        Sour Cream

2 tsp          Vanilla extract

4                Eggs at room temperature

9″              Springform pan

2 sheets     Aluminum foil (one extra wide and extra heavy).

Use an outer pan large enough to easily seat the 9” pan, like a Lobster Pot bottom or the pan you roast your turkey in.

Optional: strawberries, cherries or chocolate fudge sauce for the topping.

  1. A Springform is made of two pieces: the side (with the spring) and the round bottom. Line the bottom of the pan with foil and put the base back with the foil hanging outside the pan and coming UP the side of the pan.  This is the second line of protection if the outer foil layer fails.  Bring the 2nd heavy, wide foil up the side of the pan, and put on tightly so water doesn’t enter. See the picture.  Set oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Brush the bottom and the sides with butter, and sprinkle the crumbs over the bottom. Tilt the pan in all directions to have the crumbs go up the sides.  Pour out excess.  Alternatively,  you can also make a bread crust for the bottom.  I prefer the dusting.
  3. Boil enough water for the water bath. About 4 cups should be sufficient, but check during cooking that it hasn’t boiled off.
  4. Beat the room temperature cream cheese until smooth, and then beat in the sugar for about 3 minutes on medium until fully incorporated.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the side of the bowl after each one. Do not over beat.  Add vanilla and beat until just incorporated.  Add the cream and sour cream, and beat in at very low speed, until smooth.
  6. Pour mixture into the pan, and set into the larger pan. THEN pour in enough boiling water to go halfway up the side of the pan.  DON’T go above the aluminum foil protection.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for about 55-60 minutes until the perimeter of the cake is just slightly set and the center jiggles like jello.
  8. Turn off the heat and open the oven door slightly.  Leave for 1 hour longer.  Very carefully remove the cheesecake from the water bath and set on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature.  This takes another hour.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.  If covered when warm, water will form on the cover and drip into the cheesecake!!
  9. Sometimes, I top this with sliced fresh strawberries, or a combination of strawberries and blueberries.
“Chef’s Corner” (and “Tech Talk”) feature writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

SEPTEMBER CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: THUMBPRINT COOKIES

THUMBPRINT COOKIES

(One and a Half Recipes Makes about 45 Small Ones)

I was given this recipe in the 4th grade (1954) and have been using it, with no changes, ever since.  I have tried to fill the thumbprint with Nestles chocolate or with M&Ms but it never seems just right.  The best chocolate is the Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chips which, when warm (after baking), can be flattened with a spoon.  My favorite filing is apricot preserves.  The preserves must be thick, not runny.

See this before you cook to get into the mood.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye8mB6VsUHw&feature=youtu.be

I usually make 1½ recipes.

2 sticks   Butter (at room temperature)

3            Egg yolks

¾ cup     Sugar, granulated

¼ tsp     Salt

2¾ cup   Flour   (sift after measuring)

1 tsp      Vanilla

Preserves (strawberry, raspberry or apricot).  Don’t use anything too “liquidy.”

You could use a chocolate that re-hardens.  Or M&Ms.

*

Cream butter. NOTE: I use my normal, salted butter.  If you choose to use unsalted butter, add another ¼ tsp of salt.

  1. Beat in the sugar until it is totally absorbed by the butter.
  2. Beat in the yolks, salt and vanilla (find something useful for the whites).
  3. Slowly beat in the flour. The last flour may be hard to add, as the mixture gets crumbly. If you beat the flour too quickly there will be flour all over the kitchen.
  4. Roll the batter into balls, about 1″ in diameter, flatten slightly, and place on un-greased cookie pan, separated by about 2″. They will enlarge when baked.  The easiest way to do this is to take a spoonful and roll it in your hands.  24 will fit in a pan (4×6).  There is a lot of butter in the recipe so you do not need to grease the pan
  5. Flatten each cookie a bit and put a thumbprint in the middle. The thumbprint must be deep enough to hold the preserve.  The sides of the cookie may crack a bit as you push down but you can hold them together with your left hand when making the thumbprint with the right.
  6. Fill the thumbprint with preserve. An alternative to the preserve is a chocolate Candy Kiss or other chocolate.
  7. Cook at 375ofor 12 to 15 minutes.  DON’T overcook.  Undercook slightly as they continue to cook when removed from the pan.  DO NOT USE A DARK COLORED PAN, they cook too fast and burn on the bottom.  Under-cooking is fine.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven when the tops of the cookies are just beginning to get brown. It may look too early but it is not.  They will harden as they cool; otherwise they are overcooked and hard.  You can also check the underside for browning.  Note that when cooking two pans simultaneously, they bake at different rates even if they are on the same level.  When you have one pan on top of the other the air flow in the oven is disrupted
  9. Remove cookies immediately to wire racks to cool, and they then can be stored in a tin. If they are at all warm when they are put in the tin the steam will turn to water and you will be unhappy.
  10. Cookies can be made in advance and frozen (and I like them when they are frozen).
  11. As I said earlier I started making these cookies in the 4th grade.This is the perfect first cookie recipe to teach the grandkids.
Chef John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.) John also provides our monthly “BOLLI Matters Tech Talk” feature.  

 

 

AUGUST’S CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: STUFFED CABBAGE

STUFFED CABBAGE – GERMAN STYLE

There are many recipes for stuffed cabbage.  This is the Rudy-version.  This recipe came from my mother-in-law, Lillian Weil, and probably came from a previous generation.  The details of the recipe were never written down and so what is here is “best recollection” plus the result of some experimentation.  Since everyone likes it, apparently the experimentation worked!  It makes enough for at least 10 servings and I usually split it up into ½ gallon plastic containers and freeze the ones that will not be immediately eaten.

No quantity in this recipe is exact; all should be played with to get the taste that you like.  More rice?  More meat?  More sauce? Go for it!

1               Cabbage (medium size)

1½ lbs    85% Hamburger.  Don’t use too lean, it loses taste

1             Large onion, diced

¾ cup     Spaghetti sauce (has more flavor than plain tomato  sauce)

¾ cup     Rice.  Not Minute Rice. Measure after cooking.

¾ cup     Spaghetti sauce (this is not an error)

24 oz      Stewed tomatoes, diced (could use more; like 2 large cans)

2 cans     Sauerkraut, large cans or 4 medium cans.  DO NOT DRAIN.

1 cup      Spaghetti sauce  (this is not an error either)

1½ Tbs   Brown sugar

1½ Tbs   Granulated sugar

Cut the center out of the cabbage and pull off some of the outer leaves if they are not crisp. Boil the cabbage at least 60 minutes (longer if really large) until the leaves pull off fairly easily.  But don’t cook so long that it is mushy.  Let it cool by soaking in cold water. Note:  if it is not cooked enough, the leaves break when you try to wrap the meat.

  1. Cook the rice.
  2. Sauté the onions. Slightly under-cook.
  3. Mix the raw hamburger, rice, onions and ¾ cup of the sauce. This will become the filling of the cabbage
  4. Gently remove the leaves from the cabbage. It will not be easy to do, and some of the leaves are very large.  You may have to recut the hole in the cabbage.
  5. Combine the sauerkraut, another ¾ cup of the sauce, sugars, and stewed tomatoes in the bottom of a large pot. Mix together.  This will provide the base to the stuffed leaves.
  6. Put the meat mix into the leaves, fold over, and place on top of the sauerkraut mixture, open side down. The amount you use depends on the size of the leaf.  As you make them, lay them on top of the sauerkraut base.
  7. Pour the last cup of sauce on top of the filled leaves, along with leftover cabbage.
  8. Here is where you have two options, and my preference is to use the oven. (1) Bring the pot SLOWLY to a boil (be careful; you may have to add some water so that it doesn’t burn), and then let it simmer for 45 minutes.  (2) Alternatively, it can be put in the oven, covered, at 350o to 375o for about an hour.  The problem with the first option is that it is really easy to burn the bottom of the pan.
  9. This makes a lot. It can be separated and frozen, even in plastic bags.
  10. OPTIONAL: cook up another pound of hamburger and add sauce. This can be added to the top of the cabbage mixture to give it even more protein.
  11. NOTE: everything is cooked before being put in the oven, so the baking period is really for everything to mix together.

Enjoy!

“Chef’s Corner” feature writer, John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

JULY CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: CREAMY ORANGE CHICKEN

CREAMY ORANGE CHICKEN

I love Mandarin Oranges and had recently had an Orange Chicken dish at a Chinese restaurant that was overcooked and not to my standards.  So I made this.  Like all entrée dishes,  a wide variability in the amounts of any ingredient is possible, and you should doctor things to your taste.  More sauce, less sauce, etc.  Make sure that you use Chinese rice, and not something like Uncle Ben’s, or you can use noodles or potatoes.

Some notes about the chicken: Dark meat is more forgiving and tends not to overcook.  I have used chicken breasts but make sure that they are not cut too thin, or they can dry out.  I prefer boneless/skinless thighs.  (If you choose bone-in, you’ll need 2 lbs.)

A note on the onion: I like them ¼ inch thick, but others like them as thin as possible.  Do what you wish.

A note on thickening: the standard approach is to add flour to cold liquid and then mix it in.  I like my cold liquid to be orange liqueur or, alternatively, orange juice

1  1/2 lb     Chicken, thighs1/4 cup                                                                       1/4 cup      Cornstarch (or flour) to coat                                                                                          Flour for thickening                                                                                                              Peanut Oil plus butter (50/50)                                                        1/2 cup      Whipping cream (or save calories with regular cream)            1                  Onion, large, sliced                                                                                         1 lb             Mushrooms, fresh, sliced                                                                            1-2 cans   Mandarin oranges (save the sugary liquid)                                                            Broccoli or thin-sliced carrots                                                                                      Sticky rice or noodles                                                                                                          Salt and pepper to taste                                                                                   1tbs       Hot cayenne pepper (optional).  I like it spicy.

 

  1. Coat the chicken with cornstarch/salt/pepper (shake in a bag).
  2. Heat the oil/butter very hot in a wok or fry pan, and fry the chicken.  This will take about 5 minutes and chicken should be turned.  If there is a lot of chicken do it by turns.  Don’t overcook the chicken.  Don’t make the pieces too large or too small.
  3. Remove chicken to a side dish.
  4. Remove all but a few tbs. of the oil, and cook the onion. You may need to add some water to keep it from burning.  Optionally, sprinkle the onion with the hot Cayenne pepper (flakes or powder)
  5. Cut the carrots very thin or use a peeler and add in sliced mushrooms.  Mushrooms can add a lot of liquid.  Add at the very end, and it will take maybe 1-2 minutes to cook.  Add in the orange slices (without their syrup).
  6. Add 1 tbs flour to the ¼ cup cold Mandarin-juice (or orange juice or orange liquor) and stir well.
  7. Add the cream and quickly bring to a boil so that you can add the flour to thicken
  8. Return the chicken to the wok or pan briefly.
  9. Serve over sticky rice (about ¾ cup per person) or noodles.

Enjoy!

BOLLI MATTERS food and tech feature writer John Rudy

 

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)