Polish Stuffed Cabbage (Gołąbki)

I grew up in a Polish family and one dish my mom always made was gołąbki (pronounced like goWUMPkee), or stuffed cabbages. They are a huge comfort food for me, but they are both labor and time intensive. (At least 2-3 hours to prepare and cook) My mom would surprisingly make them for weekday dinners! However, I save them for the weekend and make a big batch. (Plus, they reheat great as leftovers)

My mom made them with minced meat and rice filling and a tomato sauce on top, but there are other variations. For example, for Wigilia (Polish Christmas Eve), my aunt makes a vegetarian variation with mushroom and rice filling. However, I much prefer the tomato and meat version!

See the recipe below. My recipe is mostly from my mother, but I’ve also taken inspiration from other Polish recipes I’ve found. You can also cook these in a deep pan if you want but I find it comes out best in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1/2 lb ground beef & pork mix (like meatball mix or just ground beef)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups cooked white rice (from 1 cup dry rice)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Boil the cabbage in a large pot of water until it is soft, about 5-10 minutes. Take out and allow it to cool.
  3. In a frying pan, heat up a small drizzle of oil or a small pat of butter. Fry the ground meat and onion until browned.
  4. In a bowl, mix the cooked rice, ground meat, onion, egg and salt and pepper. Feel free to add more seasoning if you want to taste.
  5. After the cabbage has cooled, peel off the cabbage leaves.
  6. Grease a baking dish and cover the bottom with the outermost leaves.
  7. Put a small amount of meat and rice mixture into the center of each cabbage leaf. Fold two opposite sides toward the center and roll up from the bottom to create a small cabbage roll.
  8. Put each cabbage roll into the baking dish, creating tight rows of side-by-side rolls.
  9. Pour the tomato sauce over the rolls. You want the liquid to fill about halfway up the dish. Add some vegetable broth or water if you need more liquid
  10. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for about 1 hour 30 minutes.
  11. Serve each roll with a bit of tomato sauce on top.
Advertisements

Maple Glazed Pork Chops with Apples, Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts

I love watching the Domestic Geek on YouTube and recently she posted a video outlining 3 easy recipes that only use one sheet pan. I thought all of them looked delicious, but I especially wanted to try the pork chop one. I’m happy to say it was incredibly easy to make and super tasty! It was so good, my husband literally licked some off his plate. I think the combination of ingredients is perfect; you can’t go wrong with some squash, Brussel sprouts and apples. A nice and satisfying (and easy!) dish to make.

This recipe (and the other two) can be found on this blog post. I’ve pasted it below for convenience.

Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops, center loin cut
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp grainy or Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced (I used a little extra)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 apple, diced (I used honeycrisp)
  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced
  • 1 cup Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, mustard, thyme, garlic, oil and some salt and pepper.
  2. Put pork chops into a large plastic zipper bag. Pour glaze into the bag and evenly spread it all over all the pork.
  3. Put the bag into the refrigerator to marinate for at least 10 minutes. A few hours or overnight would be better.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the apple, squash and Brussel sprouts.
  5. Season the mix with salt, pepper and a drizzle of oil. Toss to combine.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the squash mix onto it.
  8. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven. Push the squash mix to one half of the pan and place the pork chops on the other half of the pan.
  10. Pour the remaining glaze over the squash mix and toss to evenly coat it.
  11. Return the baking sheet to the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until pork is cooked through.

Japanese Curry Rice

When I traveled to Japan, one of the foods I came back loving was Japanese curry rice and curry katsu. This curry is a bit sweeter and thicker than other types of curry (like Indian or Thai) and it’s considered a Japanese comfort food. It reminds me of a hearty meat stew. It’s pretty easy to make at home, if you have access to the curry roux (which you can buy at a Japanese grocery store or maybe the Asian section of a supermarket).

I bought Vermont Curry, which is a popular brand of curry roux with a hint of honey and apple. (I don’t know why it’s named “Vermont”, though, haha) Most curry rice recipes are the same with small variations, but I decided to follow Ochikeron’s recipe, who is a great Japanese YouTube chef. You can also choose the level of spiciness you’re comfortable with, but my favorite is medium-hot.

Here is her video:

I’ve also posted the recipe below for convenience.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 large box or 1 small box of Vermont Curry
  • 1 lb meat of your choice, sliced thin (I used pork loin)
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 medium carrot, cubed
  • 850 ml (or 3.6 cups) water
  • White rice

Instructions

  1. Prepare your rice according to package instructions. (I use a rice cooker)
  2. Heat cooking oil in a large, heavy pan over medium-high heat. (I used a dutch oven)
  3. Add onion, potatoes and carrots to the pan and stir fry for 1-2 minutes until everything is coated with oil.
  4. Add meat and cook, stirring frequently, until meat is no longer pink.
  5. Add water and bring to a boil. Remove the foam that forms at the top.
  6. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.
  7. Turn off the heat completely. Add curry roux and stir until completely dissolved.
  8. Turn back on the heat and simmer until thick, about 10 minutes.
  9. Serve over the white rice.

Penne Vodka with Peas and Bacon

Pasta is such a versatile and usually easy thing to put together. You can also make it in huge quantities and reheat it easily. This recipe involves my favorite sauce: vodka sauce. The bacon is optional if you’re vegetarian; the dish will still taste delicious without it. I personally love to top it with some grilled chicken covered with Italian seasoning or some delicious bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 box of penne pasta
  • 1 cup frozen peas, slightly thawed
  • 1 jar of vodka sauce (I recommend Bertolli)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4-6 strips of thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. Prepare penne pasta according to box instructions, until about 2 minutes are left for cooking.
  2. Add frozen peas directly to boiling pasta. Wait until the water boils again.
  3. Cook the pasta and peas for another 2-4 minutes, until pasta and peas are both done. Drain and set aside.
  4. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan.
  5. Add chopped onion, bacon and garlic  to heated oil. Cook until bacon is browned and onions are translucent (about 5-6 minutes).
  6. Add vodka sauce and cooked pasta and peas to the pan with the onion, bacon and garlic. Combine and heat thoroughly, until sauce is bubbling.

Japanese-style Steamed Pork Buns (AKA Nikuman)

I’m subscribed to a really great Japanese cooking channel on YouTube called ochikeron. I like her recipes because they’re usually simple and easy to follow, plus she has a whole bunch of recipes that are no diary, no gluten, etc.

She had this really easy recipe for steamed pork buns that I just had to try because they seemed so similar to the steamed pork buns that I’d get at Chinese dim sum.

Since my local grocery store doesn’t really have ground pork in packages less than a pound, I usually make double the recipe (using 1/2 pound of ground pork) and freeze the other half. The doubled recipe I use is below. I also converted all the metric units to good old cups/pounds/etc, haha.

Ingredients

For dough:

  • 3 1/8 cups (or 3 cups and 3 tbsp) all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 0.85 (a little more than 4/5) cups milk
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil

For filling:

  • 1/2 lb pork
  • 1 long onion (or green onion or scallion, about 8 inch long)
  • 1 tsp grated or ground ginger
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 8 Chinese chives, chopped (or normal chives)
  • Salt and pepper

For cooking:

  • Cooking oil (like vegetable oil)
  • 3/4 cups water
  • A little extra sesame oil
  • Soy sauce and/or Japanese mustard, as dipping sauce

Instructions

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and granulated sugar together in a bowl.
  2. Add milk and sesame oil, then knead with hands until combined and it feels like dough.
  3. Form a ball of dough, wrap in plastic wrap and let it set for 20 minutes.
  4. Combine all ingredients for the filling in a bowl until smooth.
  5. Divide the filling into 16 equal balls. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.
  6. Use a rolling pin to flatten each piece of dough. Place a ball of filling in the center.
  7. Use your fingers to pull and pinch the sides of the dough together, forming a seal at the top. (Watch the video for a good demonstration)
  8. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan.
  9. Place half of the buns in the heated pan for about a minute, until the bottoms are slightly browned.
  10. Add 3/4 cups water and cover the buns. Turn heat to medium-low and steam for about 8-9 minutes until cooked.
  11. Uncovered, add a little extra sesame oil and fry on high heat until water is gone and the bun bottoms are crisp.
  12. Repeat steps 8-11 for the other half of the buns.

Some notes after I tried to do this a few times:

I had a really hard time getting the buns to not stick to the frying pan after they’re done steaming. I find that you need to make sure that the bottom of the buns are fried enough and not sticking to the pan before adding the water. Also, the bottoms burn easily, so you really have to watch them. This was the most challenging part for me.

I tried to cook about 10-12 at a time the first time, but the buns expanded way too much and stuck together. Cooking about 8 at a time, as recommended,  is definitely much better.

I didn’t have Japanese mustard, so I used a combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, a little bit of chile paste and a little bit of ground ginger as a sauce. The more soy sauce you use, the saltier it will be! Fresh ginger would also be great.