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Braised cabbage with lamb – Kapuska

Braised cabbage with lamb – Kapuska

Winter cabbages are so sweet and tasty, especially when braising gives the such a silky taste. Stuffed cabbage leaves may very well be my winter favorite, but we’ll leave those for another day. In this recipe we are looking a a very easy, fast, midweek, one pan dinner, that is so delicious in its simplicity.

Traditional cuisines have many such little diamonds of recipes to offer, great for both their flavor and their nutritional value through wise combinations. I really feel it is important to bringing them to life in our homes for them to continue to offer comfort and nourishment. As they are not all suitable for commercial kitchen, the only way is to continue handing them down from mouth to mouth or through everyday meals. Traditional recipes might seem simple but that’s only because they have been reproduced and adjusted through generations in times of need and times of plenty, with respect to the ingredients, human labor and nature’s seasonality.

Even though the name Kapuska is Russian for cabbage, the dish is widely enjoyed around the Greek and Turkish parts of Thrace. The Turkish name for the dish, when prepared with meat is Etli Kapuska. It is delicious without it though too and makes for a great vegetarian main or even a side.

If you’re worried if the kids will eat it, ask them to help you out when you’re preparing it. If they’re still wary of new tastes, serve the Kapuska along something they already like. That way they can try as much as they want, without you feeling like you need to pressure them into clearing their plate, or them worrying about displeasing you.

 Recipe

  • 1 medium head of cabbage
  • 2 tbsp ghee or olive oil
  • 500 gr. yearling lamb, minced
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tpsp red pepper paste
  • 500 ml homemade stock
  • 500 ml water, hot
  • salt and pepper 

Heat a large, deep skillet. Heat the butter to heat and brown the meat along with the onions. Add the red pepper paste and stir through. Pour in the stock and season. Allow to simmer for 7-8′. Quarter and cote the cabbage, removing any really thick stems. Roughly chop and add to the pan along with the hot water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer until the cabbage is soft and the liquids reduced. Serve as soon as the liquids have boiled down to a light sauce.

 You can serve it with sumak or hot red pepper and yogurt or sour cream.

  For the vegetarian option simply omit the minced meat and use vegetable stock. For the Lenten option also omit the above and use olive oil instead of butter.

 Skillet chicken with creamed beat leaves

 Skillet chicken with creamed beat leaves

If you’re looking to add more greens to your plates, this is a great start. Beet leaves are delicious, sweeter than spinach which will score points with the kids and so pretty. Combined with ever popular chicken and cream that makes everything taste better, its…

Whole braised cauliflower kapama

Whole braised cauliflower kapama

Kapama is a traditional way of braising in Greece, by placing a pot on top of a baking tray. I first tasted cauliflower kapama made the traditional way at my Aunt Sophia’s. This is an everyday, simple dish, usually served during the period of Lent…

Greek Sofigado stew with quince

Greek Sofigado stew with quince

Sofigado is a traditional recipe from the Ioanian island of Lefkada made with yearling goat or lamb. Modern versions include beef, but the strong deep-flavored sweet and sour sauce really complements darker red meats.

As potatoes used to be scarce towards the end of autumn, the islanders would use the plentiful quince that was in season and would offset its tart taste with pekmez, a thick and sweet syrup made of grapes.

Many recipes pair it with rosemary, though the version below includes cinnamon and cloves as per the recipe was handed down to me by my grandmother. This is one of those dishes that improves if prepared the night before. You can heat it up and add the quince on the day of serving.

 Recipe

  • 1 kg goat or lamb in portions
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or ghee
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 70 ml vinegar
  • 1 cinamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 500 ml stock or water, hot
  • 100 ml pekmez
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-5 quinces

Dry the meat well, while heating the pot. Add the oil and brown the meat on all sides in batches. Keep aside and add the onions to the pot. Cook for 7′ and add the garlic. Return the meat to the pot and add the cinnamon and cloves. Add the vinegar and allow to evaporate for 2-3′. Add just enough stock to cover the meat. Bring to the boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 1,5 hours. Check and add hot stock or water if needed.

As soon as the meat is done, add the pekmez, season and stir well. Peel and cut the quinces into wedges, removing the core. Add them to the pot one by one as you go along, so that they don’t turn brown. Cover and allow to cook in the steam of the simmering sauce for about 20′. Once they are soft but hold their shape, remove the spices and serve.

Olive Bread with herbs

Olive Bread with herbs

When I first wrote about the wonderful no-knead bread dough that waits patiently in the fridge for whenever you need it, I promised you variations like this delicious olive-bread with herbs. It can be a quick snack on its own. If you have 3 minutes…

Baked eggs in two ways

Baked eggs in two ways

I was very lucky to see a recipe of Jamie Oliver’s for baked eggs on Sunday morning. I happened to have all the ingredients for the Mexican version and decided to try it. I admire him incredibly for his quality, well-designed recipes. His simple presentation…

How to always have nutritious pulses handy

How to always have nutritious pulses handy

When preparing beans I usually soak and sprout twice the amount needed for my recipe. Leftover pulses are stored in the freezer for immediate use in another recipe.

Sprouted chickpeas: 24 hours soaking, 2 days sprouting

What does “sprouting” mean?

First, I wash the pulses well. Then, I soak them in plenty of water, preferably with a little yogurt or kefir serum for 12-24 hours, depending on their type.

The next day, I spread them out in a colander, where I rinse them thoroughly and let them drain. To keep the sink area clear, I rest the colander on a shallow baking tray of the same size. The pan should be shallow enough for the air to circulate freely.

I leave them to sprout for 1-3 days, just covered with a muslin. I make sure to “water” them by rinsing them every 6 hours. I also mix them well, to redistribute them in the colander, as there is more moisture towards the bottom compared to the top.

Once they’ve sprouted, I rinse them well before cooking or storing them in the freezer. On really hot days, I soak & sprout in the fridge.

Sprouted cannellini beans: 24 hours soaking, 24 hours sprouting

Why do I put myself (and my beans) through this process?

Mainly because legumes contain nutritional inhibitors that hinder the absorption of nutrients. By soaking, sprouting and cooking or serving with small amounts of meat or fish, you can enrich the meals of young children. They usually eat very small amounts, so every spoonful should be packed with nutrients.

According to the Ministry of Development:

“Sprouting reduces anti-nutrients such as vegetable salts, tannins and polyphenols. Proteins, carbohydrates and lipids begin to degrade from enzymes so that the germ becomes more digestible …. The absorption of iron is reduced by the presence of anti-nutrients when the meal consists only of legumes. But it is improved by cooking and by combining with meat, fish or poultry, or in the presence of ascorbic acid in the meal. ”

Georgios Argyrakos Gepaini, M. Phil. (Bioengineering), “THE LEGUMES IN IATROFI AND Health”

You can find more information in this brochure of the World Food and Agriculture Organization:

The soaking of pulses saves cooking time, makes the beans more digestible and their nutrients more readily available… Sprouting also increases the contents of vitamins and the availability of metals and trace elements.

FAO 2016

Let’s rewarded ourselves for our patience with “Fasolatha” a traditional white bean soup with “apaki” Cretan cured pork.

“Fasolatha” Soup

  • 0,5 kg white small beans
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 leeks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper in 3-4 large pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 liters broth
  • 200 gr. Apaki or pancetta sliced
  • Juice from half a lemon

Soak the beans in plenty of water for 24 hours. Rinse and sprout as described above. It will take 24-48 hours to see the first sprouts.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry all the vegetables for 5 ‘ to soften along with the bay leaf. Add the cold broth and beans, then bring to the boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 30 ‘ to 40 ‘. Check often because with soaking beans cook and soften much faster.

When the beans are done, take out the pepper and some of the bean soup with a ladle. Pour it into the blender and liquidize. Strain back into the bean soup, stir well and bring back to the boil for 5′. Meanwhile, quickly fry the Apaki in a frying pan for 5′ and add the lemon juice at the end. Serve the “fasolatha” soup with a little apaki on every plate.

How to have fresh bread every day

How to have fresh bread every day

There must be a Dutch oven or no-knead bread recipe on almost every self-respecting food blog or site. When Mark Bittman first mentioned Jim Lahey’s recipe, in 2006, in the NY Times, it became one of their most popular articles. The use of the Dutch…