Mediterranean Couscous Cabbage Rolls

Other, Vegetarian

Meditterranean Couscous Cabbage Rolls

Adapted from eatingwell.com

I have never really like cabbage. When I was little I actually hated the spring rolls my mom made because she used cabbage. However, in my university they sometimes make really good cabbage rolls stuffed with brown rice and beans so I’ve learned to eat it. Here is a more Mediterranean-inspired recipe with couscous, feta and a sweet, cinnamon-y tomato sauce.

Yields 4 servings (2 rolls each)

Ingredients:

  • 4¼ cups + water, divided
  • 8 large green cabbage leaves
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 ½ cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the cabbage leaves, cover, reduce heat to medium high and simmer until softened, about 5 minutes. If the leaves are not completely covered by water or you need to weight them down to cover the skillet, pour more water over them.
  2. Bring 1½ cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand fro at least 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer the cabbage leaves to a clean work surface to cool. Discard the water and dry the pot.
  4. Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon and remaining ¼ cup of water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are mostly broken down, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile stir feta into the couscous. Mound about ½ cup of the couscous mixture at the stem end of each cabbage leaf. Roll into a bundle, tucking in the sides.
  6. When the tomato sauce is ready, add the cabbage rolls seam-side down. Cover and cook until the rolls are hot all the way through and the cabbage is very tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve the cabbage rolls topped with the sauce.

 

Comments: The blend of flavors in this recipe with the sweetness of the sauce and the tanginess of the cheese is really excellent. I think it might also be good with some chopped olives in the filling but unfortunately I didn’t have any. I think the trickiest thing about this recipe is removing the cabbage leaves, as they will tear. The first couple of leaves are usually easy but as you work your way in, they become more compact. What I ended up doing was cutting the vein at the very bottom of the leaves and gently sliding my fingers to remove the leaves from the plant. If they tear a little, it’s not a big deal since you will roll them up later.

Mediterranean Couscous Cabbage Rolls

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Magdalenas de dulce de leche

5 O'Clock Tea, Cupcakes and Muffins

(Dulce de Leche Muffins)

Magdalenas de dulce de leche

Adapted and translated from directoalpaladar.com

Here we arrive at another sticky spot. What’s the difference between a magdalena and a muffin? Both have a similar shape and essentially the same ingredients though in different proportions. Muffins, in general, have more butter and less baking powder; the batter for the magdalenas is beaten more so the magdalenas tend to be more spongy and fluffy. I don’t know if I prefer one over the other as I like both and they each bring back their own memories in my mind. Background aside, as a good Argentinean, I love dulce de leche and one day I thought “I wonder if there are any recipes for magdalenas de dulce de leche.” I searched online and found this recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Yields 8 magdalenas

Ingredients:

  • 85 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 40 grams brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 60 grams dulce de leche + extra for topping
  • 100 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Magdalenas de dulce de leche II

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a muffin tin with muffin cups.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until well combined.
  3. Beat in the egg and later add the milk and dulce de leche while continuing to beat.
  4. Add the sifted flour and baking powder. Fold in using a spatula until well combined.
  5. Fill the prepared muffin cups with the batter. Top with a teaspoonful of dulce de leche.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes. They will have risen and will be slightly golden; a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean or with a few crumbs attached.

 

Comments: This is an incredibly simple recipe that you can easily whip up in under a half hour for a good after school or weekend snack. They are great warm, straight out of the oven. They are not exceedingly sweet, which was something I feared since my mom tends to not like overly sweet things. Because of this, I did not fill them with more dulce de leche but you can when you are filling the muffin cups with the batter and before topping them with dulce de leche. You can always spread some more dulce de leche right before eating them. They are VERY spongy and soft. I have some suggestions for dulce de leche brands. My favorite (La Salamandra) no longer exists, unfortunately. I think my second favorite would be Havanna. My mom’s favorite is San Ignacio but there’s also La Serenísima and Sancor. If you’re in the U.S., World Market also sells one that’s called Gaucho Ranch from Miami, which is decent. Trader Joe’s also sells one imported from Spain that I haven’t tried. Keep in mind that the latter two are not Argentinean. Whatever you do, DON’T buy cajeta, which is from Mexico and made with goat’s milk; it tastes completely different.

Magdalenas de dulce de leche, uno

Deep-Dish Chicago-Style Pizza

Pizza, Vegetarian

Deep-Dish Chicago-Style Pizza

Adapted from Cooking Light May 2010

I remember the first time I went to Chicago. One of my dad’s friends took us to Gino’s East Pizzeria. We ordered what seemed like a normal amount of pizza for the amount of people we were. We all gaped at the waiter as they brought out these monstrous pizzas. I could barely even finish one slice. Nonetheless, it was delicious. For a while I wanted to make a Chicago-style pizza. Finally, I was given this magazine and I immediately decided to make this pizza. Great stuff!

Yields 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water, divided
  • 12 ounces bread flour
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups (5 ounces) mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1½ cups Basic Pizza Sauce (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Deep-Dish Chicago-Syle Pizza II

Directions:

  1. Pour ¾ cup of the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer with it dough hook attached. Weigh the flour and add it to the ¾ cup of water; mix until combined. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.
  2. Combine the remaining ¼ cup of water and the yeast in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly.
  3. Add the yeast mixture, oil and salt to the flour mixture; mix for 5 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover the surface of the dough with plastic wrap lightly coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate for 6 hours.
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand, covered for 1 hour or until the dough comes to room temperature. Punch the dough down and turn it out into a 13×9-inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Press the dough into the bottom and partially up the sides of the pan. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap.
  5. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450F (232C).
  6. Arrange ¾ cup of the mozzarella evenly over the dough. Top with the Basic Pizza Sauce, Parmesan and remaining ½ cup of mozzarella.
  7. Place the pan on the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is golden. Cut the pizza into 12 rectangles and serve hot!

Deep-Dish Chicago-Style Pizza, plato

Basic Pizza Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Remove the tomatoes from the can using a slotted spoon and reserve the juices. Crush the tomatoes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, juices, salt and oregano to the saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

Comments: I made the great mistake of not reading the recipe fully before actually doing it. It came as a surprise when I saw that I had to refrigerate the dough for 24 hours! This amount of time really shocked me but I just went with the time that I had (6 hours). The crust came out perfectly. Next time I make this pizza I’ll test the 24-hour refrigeration to see if it really makes that big of a difference. We all really liked the sauce. Even though it was really simple, it had a lot of flavor. San Marzano tomatoes are traditionally used in Neapolitan pizza sauce and they have a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. (I later spread leftovers on sliced bread and made AMAZING grilled cheese sandwiches!) The bread flour contributes to the bready, chewy consistency of the crust. If you want to add toppings like pepperoni or vegetables, place them on the first layer of mozzarella and then add the tomato sauce. Though this definitely may take longer than other pizza recipes, it is definitely worth it!

Revision March 6, 2016: I made this pizza again yesterday, but this time I refrigerated the dough for 24 hours (and added some olives!). The increased refrigeration time really made a difference. The crust came out bubbly, slightly chewy but crisp. If you have the time, I recommend you refrigerate the dough 24 hours; it can be helpful with a mid-week meal. If you can’t, you can always wait less like I did the first time; it will still be good!

Deep-Dish Chicago-Style Pizza, plato II

Herb Crêpes with Goat Cheese Filling

Other, Vegetarian

Herb Crêpes with Goat Cheese Filling

Adapted from cooking.nytimes.com

The French have a wonderful celebration called La Chandeleur. It technically falls on the second of February, but it is observed so that it falls on the first Tuesday of February. The reason this celebration is so wonderful, far from its true Catholic origins, is because it is the jour des crêpes, or the day of crêpes. Yes, they eat crêpes. Who would ever pass on a crêpe, right? So now, exactly a month later (sorry about the delay), I share this delicious recipe with you. Anything with goat cheese is delicious, as are these crêpes.

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 2 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • ¾ cup cottage cheese
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • Pepper, to taste

Herb Crêpes with Goat Cheese Filling, plato

Directions:

  1. Place the milk, water, eggs, vegetable oil and slat in a blender. Cover the blender and turn on at low speed. Add the flours and increase the speed to high. Blend for one minute. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for one to two hours. When ready to cook, stir in the herbs.
  2. Place a greased 6- to 8-inch crêpe pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot and just before it begins to smoke, remove from the heat and ladle in ¼ cup of batter. Tilt or swirl the pan to distribute the batter evenly. Return to heat. Cook for about one minute or until you can easily loosen the edges with a spatula. Turn and cook on the other side for 30 seconds. Turn onto a plate. Continue until all the batter is used. Place a piece of parchment paper between each crêpe so they don’t stick.
  3. Combine the cottage cheese and goat cheese in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend until smooth. Add the yogurt and pepper. Blend together. Transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the herbed goat cheese on the less cooked side of each crêpe. Fold in half, then in half again. Arrange on a platter. To serve warm, heat for about 30 seconds in a microwave or for 10 minutes in a low oven.

 

Comments: These crêpes were wonderful, and I loved the parsley in the batter; it gave the crêpes a nice touch. I actually wanted to substitute the cottage cheese for ricotta because I do not like the former. However, when I went to buy some, the supermarket did not have any. I used cottage cheese, and thankfully the goat cheese covered up the taste and the food processor broke up the curds. Any leftover filling is great for a grilled cheese and probably good, though I have not tried it, with some pesto. You can make the crêpes a couple of days ahead and store them in the refrigerator or freezer, separated with parchment paper so they don’t stick.

Herb Crêoes with Goat Cheese Filling, plato, bocado