January 20, 2010

Cabbage: 1, Kisha: 0

Posted in Food, Life tagged , , , , , at 2:13 am by Kisha

About two weeks ago, Andy (the bf) and I, a created a menu to last us two weeks. In retrospect, this wasn’t a bad idea, but we certainly learned our lesson about letting mushrooms sit for too long (once they start to smell fishy and then go slimy it’s over for the ‘shrooms). One of our menu items was stuffed cabbage with a couscous and lentil stuffing. However, unlike typical stuffed cabbage where the cabbage is blanched and the leaves are used as a wrap for the filling, this recipe asked that the cabbage be gutted, blanched (so it looks like a bowl) and THEN stuffed. At first, this didn’t sound that difficult, but after making my first cut into the middle of the cabbage, I knew I was in for a long night.

I started with a large knife: the one we usually use to chop our veggies, but there was no finesse (keep in mind this was not MY fault, but the knife’s fault). The tip of the knife slammed against the chopping board with an agonizing thunk. My first real cut and I’d all ready screwed the pooch on the whole “bowl” concept. I cursed, shrugged, switched knives and kept moving. Cabbage went everywhere: it layered the counter, some of it was in my hair, but most of it was on the floor; floating down into fluffy cabbage drifts. Evel (one of our two ginger kitties) meandered into the kitchen to see what all of the screaming was about. He sniffed at the cabbage piles and decided his services would be better put to leaving tufts of fur on the couch.

Eventually, I succeeded in creating a hollowed center in the cabbage. The water in my giant pot was boiling furiously and the ice water was chilling beside the burners. The worst was over. Except that it wasn’t. I placed the cabbage into the water (bowl side down) and let it boil for about 5 minutes, before reaching in with a wooden spoon and potato masher to dunk it into the ice water. The floating pieces of cabbage leaves in the pot should have been my hint to stop and order pizza. Once the cabbage hit the ice water, the top layer of leaves pealed themselves away from the cabbage in a graceful swirl. They hovered over the chilling cabbage, having what I can only assume to be an out of body experience. With a sigh, I lifted the cabbage bowl by its root. It was droopy at best. Post-mortem at worst. I laid it to rest inside of a buttered (yes, buttered) piece of aluminum foil and got to work on the filling.

Do you have any idea how delicious couscous is and how EASY it is to make? Boil water, add butter, add couscous, take it off the heat, let it sit for five minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork and viola! Dinner. Amazing. I’d never had couscous outside of my college dining hall and let me say that was pretty terrible. Couscous is sooo good. Ok, enough about the couscous, back to the cabbage. So, after the couscous is finished (and I stopped nibbling at it) I finished the rest of the filling. Sauteing, I get. Adding lentils and spices, sure! How to get all of that into my sad excuse for a cabbage? That was not so clear.

By this point, Andy was at home and he was watching me with an enduring, amused smirk on his face. Maybe he didn’t know someone shaking a spoon and ranting could be so sexy? At any rate, once the filling was ready, it was time to stuff the cabbage. Using the aluminum foil as support walls, I began to spoon the filling into the “bowl” of cabbage. About half way through the filling, the cabbage was indeed stuffed, but I was not going to let this damn veggie get the better of me. With Andy’s help, I spooned the rest of the filling on top of the cabbage. We used about another five sheets of foil to entomb our Frankenstein and sat it on top of the pot to steam for an hour. During that time, Andy and I debated which pizza place to order from. Domino’s is tried and true, but L&B is much more authentic.

So, yes, an hour later, we took the foil disco ball out off of the steamer and stared/prayed/wished/hoped it into submission. Andy began the unveiling. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t crawling, leaking or hissing at us. Andy flipped it onto a plate and then into a bowl, only letting a minor amount of juice free itself from its prison. We cut slices for ourselves, sat at the table and hoped not to get food poisoning.

It was actually really good! It wasn’t pretty, but it was tasty as all hell. It was even good the next day for lunch, although the cabbage continued its vengeance on me through my digestive track (keep in mind, I am a vegetarian, so gas generally comes with the territory…sorry for those who didn’t care to know that). So, in the end, I suppose the cabbage and I were tied.

Cabbage: 1, Kisha: 1