Cabbage Bundles

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This recipe for a lovely and tasty side dish is less about the cabbage, and way more about the filling. Over the years, I’ve made the bundles so many different ways, but today I’m using a creamy mixture of bacon, onions and mushrooms. I’ve also included leeks and peas before.

So try this out as an easy and pretty side dish, varying the filling ingredients to your liking. You can even make these a day ahead and reheat. That’s a handy thing to do when it’s holiday season.

Cabbage Bundles
inspired by this recipe on Epicurious here

1 large green cabbage
6 thick slices of bacon, diced
2 onions, thinly sliced
12 ounces sliced mushrooms
Garlic pepper
Dried thyme
Salt
White sauce, approximately 1 1/2 cups

Core the cabbage, then place the whole cabbage in a large pot.


Add enough water to cover. Add a little salt, then bring the water to a boil. Cook the cabbage in the water for at least 7 minutes. Remove the cabbage to a colander and let it drain upside down.
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If you feel you’ve overcooked the cabbage, place it in ice water immediately for a minute, then let it drain.

When the cabbage has cooled off, peel off the outer leaves and let them dry; set aside.

Cook the bacon over medium heat until fully cooked, but not crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.


Pour off some of the bacon grease if there’s too much in the skillet. But save it, of course.

Reduce the heat slightly, then add the onions and sauté them for about 5 minutes. You want them soft and only slightly caramelized.

Remove the onions to a bowl, then add a little more bacon grease or olive oil as needed, and sauté the mushrooms. Towards the end when they’re almost fully sautéed, add salt and seasoning like garlic pepper.

Just for fun, I added a little cognac to the mushrooms and flamed them for a minute. This step adds a little flavor, but it not necessary.
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Drain the mushrooms to get that wonderful mushroom jus, then combine the mushrooms and onions in a large bowl. Add the thyme. Save the jus for when you make the white sauce, if you like.

Add the white sauce and bacon to the cooled-off onions and mushrooms, then stir to combine gently. There’s your filling. It can be refrigerated overnight, if necessary.

To make the bundles, begin by lightly greasing a baking dish. Lay one cabbage leaf flat on your work surface, and top with filling. Don’t go overboard with the filling, or else it will all ooze out. Just a nice amount, that still allows you to comfortably roll and tuck the cabbage leaf around the filling. Also first trim off any really tough leaf ends before rolling.


Place the bundles smooth side up in the baking dish. Repeat.

Just before you want to serve, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush a little olive oil over the top of the bundles, and bake just until there’s a little color on the cabbage, or about 20 minutes. If you want more color, you can always slide the baking dish under the broiler for a minute.


Serve immediately.
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Alternatively, these can be baked one day, refrigerated, and then reheated on another day. They stay intact pretty well if you haven’t overfilled them!
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If you want a pretty decadent side dish, toss a little grated Parmesan on the bundles before the browning and heating step.
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These were delicious with pork loin, but would be equally wonderful with grilled white fish or roasted chicken.

Pesto Pinwheels

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This post is less about a recipe, and more about an idea. And if you love pesto, you’ve probably had many ideas about how to use it – beyond adding it to pasta or minestrone soup.

So the other day I came across a recipe for cinnamon rolls, which are wonderful, but I typically don’t make sweet baked goods for breakfast unless it’s a holiday. But then I thought… rolls filled with pesto. Brilliant!!!

So that’s exactly what I did. And they came out magnificently. They’re pretty powerful in flavor, so should be paired with grilled chicken, fish, or a nice creamy soup. The protein can’t be anything with a strong flavor or the basil and garlic with fight and conquer.

I’m not going to do a tutorial on bread, because I’ve done one quite detailed on making this bread and that bread. But I encourage you to make the bread dough from scratch. It just makes a wonderful difference.

In today’s pinwheel recipe, I used sour cream as the only dairy source within the bread. And it worked out wonderfully!

Pesto Pinwheels

1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Approximately 1 more cup of white flour
Home-made pesto, without cheese
Grated Parmesan
Chopped walnuts, optional

Heat the water in a large bowl until you can hold your finger in it. It shouldn’t be any hotter or cooler. Add the yeast and sprinkle it with the sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Give the mixture a stir, then place the bowl in a warm place for another five minutes. The mixture will have doubled in volume, at least. If it doesn’t, you might have some issues, see note, at bottom.

Meanwhile, place the sour cream in a small bowl and add the water. Gently whisk the mixture together. Then microwave it slowly just until it’s warm.

When the yeast mixture has doubled, add the sour cream mixture, the olive oil, and salt.

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Then add 1 1/2 cups of flour.

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Whisk up the mixture. It will be like thick pancake batter.

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Place the bowl in a warm place. I use a warming oven that actually has a “proof” setting. After about one hour it will look like this:

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Whisk the mixture and then add 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour. The mixture will be slightly thicker than before. Place the bowl in the same warm place for at least one more hour. If your warm place is not a moist area, then cover your bowl with a damp towel first.

It will look like this after the second rising.

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Using the last cup of flour, turn out the dough onto your work space, and knead away until the dough is nice and smooth. Form the dough into a ball and let it sit for at least five minutes. This will insure that you can roll it out.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. And also grease a cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan.

Using a rolling pin, first flatten the ball of dough, then gently work it into a rectangle just like you would if you were making cinnamon rolls. Mine was approximately 16″ by 9″.

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Then slather the dough with pesto. Then sprinkle on the finely grated Parmesan. You could also add chopped walnuts if you’d like.

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Roll up the dough lengthwise.

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Remove the ends, about an inch on each side, because they never look good. Then make approximately 1 1/2″ crosswise slices and place them cut side down on the cookie sheet. Continue with the remaining dough. I made ten pinwheels.

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Pinch the end of the dough together with another piece of dough to close up the pinwheel. They’re prettier if they don’t open up.

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Bake them for 20 minutes.

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They should be golden brown and smell really good!

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note: If you’re sure you have good yeast, then there was most likely something wrong with the water temperature. To play it safe, I always rinse the bowl I’m going to use with hot water, because a cold bowl will cool off the water detrimentally, no matter how perfect its temperature is. Alternatively, water too hot will also kill the yeast. Yeast isn’t very expensive, especially if you buy it in bulk. I have always kept mine in the freezer and it continues to work. So throw out the yeasty water and start over. If it’s your only package of yeast, warm the mixture ever so slightly and see if you can get it to grow. If not, sorry.