I’ve had great success in the garden this season with a bounty of beautiful, round firm cabbages that I nurtured from seed. Normally they’d be ravaged by various insects, but I planted them earlier this year to get ahead of the aphids and caterpillars, which don’t arrive until the warmer weather.
I find it a wonder that such a beautiful thing can grow from a tiny seed.
I’ve been eating sautéed cabbage, coleslaw and experimenting with making sauerkraut. Now I have turned to cabbage rolls.
Normally cabbage rolls would be a winter dish for me, made using bought cabbages. But with an abundance of home grown late spring cabbages, a spate of strange cold weather and a potluck birthday dinner to cater for, they seemed just destined to be made.
They are stuffed with small french lentils and rice cooked with lots of onions, porcini mushrooms and stock and then baked in a tomato sauce. I like the small french green puy type lentils because they retain their shape when cooked and the filling ends up with good texture rather than just mush.
The rolls were good on the day they were made, and even more flavourful on the next day.
I love cooking from the garden and this dish used both the cabbages and some tomatoes I bottled from last season.
Simple food, but good.
recipe type: main
cuisine: vegan, eastern european
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 3 medium onions
- 1 cup long grain brown rice
- 1 cup small french puy style green lentils
- 1 tsp dried porcini mushroom pieces
- 2 cups of stock
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 12 cabbage leaves
- salt to taste
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 400g cans tomatoes
- salt and sugar to taste
- Heat the oil in a large deep pan
- Fry the sliced onions in oil until they soften and begin to brown
- Add the raw rice and lentils to the pan, crumble the porcini mushrooms, stir and add enough stock to cover by 1 cm.
- Bring to the boil, turn the heat down to the lowest setting, cover and cook until the rice and lentils are just tender and the liquid is absorbed. You may need to add more stock or water. Don't overcook, they will cook a bit more in the tomato sauce later.
- Stir through the lemon zest and parsley.
- Heat the oil in a pan and briefly fry the garlic
- Add the tomatoes, crush and cook until reduced slightly.
- Season with salt to taste, and if needed add a small amount of sugar if the tomatoes are a bit too acidic.
- Take the leaves and submerge them in boiling water until they are limp.
- Remove them and drain.
- Remove the hard stems.
- Lay the leaves flat and add filling to the leaf closer to the stem end.
- Roll the leaf tightly, folding in the sides as you go and folding over again.
- Place the rolls seam side down into a baking dish.
- Don't worry if the are a bit messy or the filling is spilling out.
- When they are packed together and baked they will stay intact.
- Pour the tomato sauce over the rolls, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 180 dec C.
- Check them once or twice during cooking and if they look dry pour in a little stock to keep moist.
Mangoes are so cheap at the moment.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with mangoes. I love them green in a salad, I like them when they are a bit softer, not too ripe, sweet but still with a tang. But when they get really ripe I loathe them, they have a volatile smell that just makes me feel ill.
But this week I bought six perfectly ripe ones to make some mango with coconut sticky rice for dessert at my Mum’s birthday. This dish has become a family favourite after my sister spent a couple of years in Thailand. We all ate it when visiting and have all fallen in love with it.
It is easy to make and is so delicious, a combination of soft, sticky, sweet, tart and salty.
Every time I eat it, I can imagine I am Thailand. Tonight is even humid and hot with a thunderstorm to add to the illusion…
coconut sticky rice with mango
recipe type: dessert
- 1 cup sticky rice (also called glutinous rice)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 tbs brown sugar or palm sugar
- a big pinch of salt
- 1 or 2 mangoes
- Soak the rice in warm water for at least 10 minutes.
- Line a steamer with a piece of baking paper that is cut to be smaller than the steamer and punch a few holes in it.
- Add the rice onto the paper.
- Steam the rice for 20 minutes or until done.
- Soak the rice in warm water for at least 10 minutes with the water covering the rice by about ½ cm.
- Put a plate on top of the bowl to cover it and microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir and microwave for another 3 minutes. If it needs any further cooking, do this in bursts of 1 minute. It is easy to overcook and you want the grains still identifiable, not a bowl of mush.
- Once the rice is done by whichever method you choose, put the cooked rice into a bowl.
- Mix the coconut milk, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Remove from the heat and pour ⅔ of it over the rice and gently fold in. Don't worry too much about mixing it, the warm rice will absorb the coconut milk.
- Place a portion of the rice into a serving bowl, top with sliced ripe mango and pour over some of the reserved coconut milk mix.
Forget slow cookers, I love fast cookers.
Slow cookers are all very well if you have your act together in the morning, but I’m not that organised. That’s why I love my pressure cooker.
Modern pressure cookers are not scary like the old school ones. I remember soup exploding out of the pressure valve of my Mum’s old pressure cooker and spraying the ceiling. But the new ones have all sorts of safety features that make them foolproof. They are a bit of an investment up front at $100+, but I think they are worth it.
Here is a recipe for a risotto that turns out perfectly every time, with no stirring. I made it for a family dinner recently and my sister said she’d seriously think about buying a pressure cooker just to make it.
Pressure cookers save time and energy. Dhal, soup and risotto can all be made in under ten minutes on a low heat, so they are perfect for when you get home and need something quickly.
I cook the onion, garlic and any firmer veggies like mushrooms or pumpkin in the pressure cooker with the rice, and then add quick cooking vegetables like spinach and peas at the end once I open the lid.
I’ve tried lots of different vegetables to flavour the risotto: preserved artichokes, mushrooms, peas, spinach, tomato and diced pumpkin. All of them have been great.
The recipe below is for a basic risotto with no extras. The rule of thumb is one cup of rice to 2 cups of liquid.
Anything else is up to you.
pressure cooker risotto
recipe type: savoury
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 2 cups stock (I used Massel)
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- ½ tbs olive oil
- Any other vegetables you'd like (artichokes, peas, spinach, mushrooms, pumpkin, tomato)
- Heat the oil in a pressure cooker and fry the diced onion until it softens.
- Add any other firm veggies you'd like such as mushrooms or pumpkin, and fry to caramelise slightly.
- Add the garlic and fry briefly.
- Add the rice and fry until the rice starts to look translucent and a few grains start to colour slightly.
- Add the liquid and stir.
- Close the pressure cooker and bring to high pressure, lower the heat and time for 7 minutes.
- When the time is up, run cold water over the top of the pressure cooker to cool it rapidly until the lock releases.
- Open the lid and stir in any extra veggies that don't need much cooking like peas or spinach.
- Serve with some vegan parmesan, like Vegusto piquant.