G uess what came today? My cable cord! Muahaha! You honestly don’t know how thrilled I am. I think I took twenty pictures of tonight’s dinner then uploaded them all and posted them on here. I uploaded some others as well but when I get around to it, I’ll add them. Right now this week has gone from lackluster to busy as heck. My grandmother’s doctor appointment is now on Wednesday, with mine on Friday, which means I have to run around like a chicken to get chores done. Ahh! Oh well. Sometimes I make a mountain out of a molehill but then again everything turns out to be hassles and such. I was, however, quite progressive today and got some goodies from the market to satisfy myself. I bought some cilantro - ha, ha - so that FRESH cilantro will go into my latkes. I know Natalie on her blog stated that she somewhat envies my “busy” cooking week, but it’s not really busy. I do a lot of prep work when I get the time and what may seem cumbersome, isn’t really at all. My only problem is finding besan without spending a fortune at Whole Foods. Apparently the Asian markets don’t have it neither fenugreek (methi). Gr. I must have those items for my Indian pantry!
In spite of all my Indian/Asian talk, I made a Hungarian dish tonight. My roots (I’m half Scandinavian, half Italian) often influence my food cravings from time to time and usually that means eat something with copious amounts of potatoes or rice - or die. Not so much pasta but rice is biggie even though sometimes I get sick from eating so much of it - no, never mind. I am, however, fond of millet for some reason. I enjoy its nutty autumn-y flavor more so than quinoa even though that’s nice on occasion, too. I have a few basic grains in my pantry to serve with whatever may compliment the main course. Quinoa isn’t usually used unless the main dish doesn’t hold enough protein or I feel I need a protein kick.
I modified the heck out of this dish but it still shares the elements to its origins. In fact, this is the second time I made this. There are only a few things that I’ll make twice especially if its effortless. The worst part of this casserole is waiting for it to finish baking! Rakott Kaposzta is a Transylvanian/Hungarian casserole comprised of few ingredients: rice, pork, sauerkraut, paprika, and sour cream. Gee, aren’t those ingredients popular in Slavic cuisine? Well I used the rice - brown to be specific - paprika and sour cream parts but I changed the sauerkraut and pork. Now, you can use sauerkraut but I just happened to have cabbage on hand and I love cabbage. Didn’t I mention that before? Oh yeah, I did. In the place of the brine/vinegary taste of which the typical sauerkraut would have, I added apple cider vinegar (rice would be too sweet and red wine would be too subtle) and just extra salt. Now, for the pork, I found this at the Asian market.
What is it? Dried soy into little itty bitty round chunks. It’s like TVP but wait - look at the label. Could it be? It says GLUTEN FREE. So when I saw that, this item dropped into my bag instantaneously. Unfortunately, I’m unable to read Chinese so I followed my former method of reconstitution by soaking the soy chunks in hot water. The result?Success. They plumped, became soft, and apparently edible. The verdict? Well, you look and see for yourself. It tastes a lot like TVP so I have a TVP substitute now - yippe! It’s chewier than TVP actually and I enjoy it very much. Imagine soy chunk meatballs, soy chunk sloppy Joes..Oh the endless possibilities. Another positive note, it’s cheap. A dollar something for a bag that serves me four times; I’d say that’s quite a bargain. Well, I’m content anyway.
I had to switch my menu around a bit for the week but everything will get made, just in a different order than intended. I’m going to try and order bulk for the besan and possibly the fenugreek as well since there aren’t any Indian/Middle Eastern stores around here, ironically. At least I can count on finding tortillas at the fifty or so Mexican stores; Philadelphia does have its perks sometimes.
Rakott Kaposzta - My way
1.5 oz soy chunks
1/3 cup boiling water
¼ cup rice (any but brown is nutrient worthy)
¼ cup onions, chopped or sliced
1 hand size cabbage head, cut into slivers
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
2-3 tbsp of sour cream (..or more. I can’t take a lot of dairy so this was sufficient for me)
Seasonings to taste:
Paprika - lots of paprika but not the sweet kind.
Salt - and a little more
Cook the rice accordingly but have it just a little under done otherwise it might overcook in the oven. Once the rice is finished set it aside and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, Pour the boiling over the soy chunks to reconstitute (may use other meat replacement or meat if non-vegetarian. If you do, skip this step and just cook the meat.)
In a nonstick skillet or pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, saute the onions until just soft. Add the cabbage and cook until soft and tender. Add the salt, a good glug of apple cider vinegar, pepper, and paprika. After the flavors merge and most of the liquid becomes evaporated, turn off the heat.
Prep a casserole dish or small loaf pan.
When the soy chunks are finished, shred and add into the pan. Stir in the rice and adjust seasonings if necessary. Stir in the sour cream then pour the mixture into the pan.