Cabbage Rolls

This is what you call Wingin' It. In a big way. I went totally free-hand on this one. I would say that it was almost a complete success but I am changing my recipe just a little bit and I'll write out the changes instead of giving you what I actually did (hmmm, I'm not sure if that sentence made any sense at all).
Who doesn't love Cabbage Rolls? I remember my Mom making them a couple of times. I remember eating them at a church supper here and there. Other than that, I really can't remember having them BUT I can still tell you that I like them and they are great!

I decided that I could pretty much figure this thing out so I didn't consult a recipe book here. I changed things up a little bit (I was going to go complete herbivore but I thought that just in case these things sucked completely that without some meat in them they would never get eaten - so in went some meat). I was going to go with a wet, cheesy kind of filling but then changed my mind about that too. I went with some nuts and seeds instead. AND I added my beloved smoked paprika just for fun - which I gotta tell ya, changed things completely! My big mistakes (and trust me there were many mistakes) were, 1) The cabbage itself (I ordered Savoy Cabbage instead of Napa - I should have looked it up, I know!), 2) The short time that I boiled the Cabbage (I did about 6 minutes and I should have done a little more - about 10) and 3) I should have seasoned the tomato sauce a little more. You, my Peeps, will get the new and improved (although not completely tested ;-) version.

In any case, the Cabbage looks really pretty once it's boiled. The filling turned out well AND everybody ate it (thank God!).

Cabbage Rolls
serves about 6

16 Cabbage leaves

3 cups of cooked rice
1 lb. minced meat (whatever you choose)
1 onion, diced small
1 rib of celery, diced
1 pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire
1 tbsp Marjoram
1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
2 tsp salt
dash of pepper sauce

700 ml (or so) of Passata (any tomato sauce will do)
dash of Worcestershire
dash of salt and sugar

In a large pot of boiling water, add some salt and the cabbage leaves (I cut the big root bottom off of the cabbage and the leaves pried off really easily after that). Boil for about 10 minutes and then drain.

In a large, heated dutch oven, add a little oil or butter and then add the diced veggies. Saute for about 5 minutes, until onions are clear. Add the minced meat and the garlic and saute until the meat is cooked through. Add the nuts and seeds and cook together for about 3 minutes. Season with the Worcestershire Sauce and add in the spices - marjoram, smoked paprika and salt (pepper sauce too if you are so inclined). Do a taste check and season accordingly.

In a bowl mix together the tomato sauce and the seasonings and set aside.

Preheat oven to about 375 degrees F. Get a large baking dish ready.

Taking a cabbage leaf open it with the edges lifting up. Fill with about 3/4 of a cup of filling and fold in the direction that the leaf is already going in. Do make sure to fold in the sides. Bottom up first, then the sides and then roll the whole thing over again. Place it in the baking sheets, crease down. Nestle each one in the baking dish until all the leaves are used up.
Pour the tomato sauce over the whole thing (I also sprinkled a little parmesan over the lot of it) and bake for about 35 minutes or until bubbly and 'done' looking.

Snicker, Snicker... doodles.

Yes! I have finally found the easiest cookie recipe. It's about five ingredients. Mix, roll and bake. Bliss.

I suppose that you could dress these up with something or other... grated orange zest, a chocolate chip, some kind of nut. But, somehow that would seem sacrilegious. These simple beauties are glorious. Life's already complicated enough (and over-complicated crap) as it is. Sometimes, simple is the best road.

AND... life has been a little complicated of late. Lots of work, too little play (although my recent beginnings with Hot Yoga do count as 'play' for me), juggling different schedules, synching schedules ahead of time and searching for less stress. Even my kids have been stressed of late and I think that they are getting it from me!! I thought, at the beginning of this school year, that I was scaling back. The kids wouldn't be involved in much, I would scale back a part of my job and everything would feel better. However, now that we are at this point in the year I wonder what happened. Something must be out of balance with out society to get us all into such a frenzy. I must work on 'un-plugging' (from the SYSTEM that is - think Matrix) as well as de-crapping!

Back to the cookies though. Such a simple thought and such a big pay-off. It's so satisfying to see something so simple turn out so beautifully... these must be enjoyed with milk or a nice, steaming mug of tea. AND when I am eating them... I try not to multi-task!

Martha Stewart 'Cookies'

2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp.
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 lg eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bow and set aside.
Beat or whisk butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs until fully incorporated and fluffy. Add in flour mixture and mix well.

Stir together cinnamon and 2 tbsp of sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into small balls. Roll each ball in the cinnamon mixture and place on baking sheets (leave some room in between b/c these babies spread out) lined with parchment.

Bake cookies for 12 - 15 min. (Martha says to rotate the sheets halfway through baking but I didn't and it seems like a good way for your oven to lose heat and work inefficiently - unless you have an awesome oven). Cool on wire racks and EAT.

Ok... so I thought that I didn't like Fennel!

Hmmm. Fennel.

I am not a licorice fan (please don't start in on me about my licorice aversion - it's not rational!) so as soon as a heard that fennel had an anise flavour I really just erased it from my mind. However, just a couple of years ago I saw a show on the food network by Giada de Laurentiis that got me slightly interested. It involved fennel with some cheese and some crunch. More recently Saveur's april issue featured food from Rome and a lovely fennel recipe was in it. Simple, tasty, cheesy, crunchy. It actually sounded appealing to me. Almost appealing enough to buy fennel. Then over at Lottie and Doof, they featured that exact recipe and it looked great (the photos on this site are so amazing!!!). The thing that pushed more over the edge was getting fennel in my first organic food box. I could have chosen to refuse it for another veg. but at this point I was kind of curious... I had this recipe in my head. They just sent one fennel bulb so it was a perfect trial...

Well, the trial was successful. So successful that I've ordered 3 fennel bulbs in this weeks food box! The anise flavour is there, for sure, but it really does take on a mellow butteriness (just like they all said it did - duh!) and I LOOOOOOVED the crunch. I was the only one who ate it in my house (which pisses me off but then it tastes good so I don't care anymore). I would love this along side something (well, now I'm trying to think about what wouldn't work!)... that tastes good! (there that pretty much covers it. Leave me some ideas for a nice mate for this dish howzabouts). Plus, I think that Fennel sound really cool in Italian - Finocchio (and, NO, I'm not going to make any reference to how much that word sounds like the name of the famous puppet).

Finocchio con Latte al Forno (Fennel with Milk, Baked)
(adapted from Sauveur and Lottie and Doof)

3 Fennel bulbs (fronds cut off)
Enough milk to cover the bulbs
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely sliced
a few dashes of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 - 1/3 cup of parmesan
Sprinkling of herbed bread crumbs (optional)

Cut the fennel bulbs into halves or quaters. Place in a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan. Cover the bulbs with milk (or just to the top of the bulbs). Add the garlic and nutmeg to the pan. Simmer the fennel at low heat for 30 - 45 minutes (until the fennel feels tender).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Laddle into a baking dish. Put just enough of the milk in the dish to cover the bottom plus a little (about an inch or two up the dish). Sprinkle the fennel with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs if you choose.
Bake for about 20 min or until nicely browned on the top.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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