Hhere’s a fun meal for you: stuffed cabbage followed by stuffed pancakes. Double rollers! Cabbage rolls are popular across mainland Europe, so god knows why the UK hasn’t adopted them in the same way – after all, we love a bit of chopped and boiled cabbage. These are close to the Poles stuffed cabbage (which translates to “little pigeons”) which was taught to me by my late mother-in-law Wiera. Then, for afters, stuffed pancakes passing through the late Gay Hussar restaurant in London: we still cook them in the same kitchen, at what is now Noble Rot Soho, but we lightly garnish them with a morello cherry suzette.
Stuffed cabbage rolls (photo above)
This is a non-traditional recipe in that I have included pheasant meat in the stuffing, but it also works with (leftover) turkey or any other game, and is just as delicious based on pork. I often make a vegan version at home with a mushroom and sauerkraut garnish.
Preperation 15 minutes
to cook 1 hour
1 Savoy cabbage
50g butter, plus an additional 2 tablespoons for frying
1 tablespoon of neutral oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 sprig of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped
75g risotto rice
400 g of minced fatty pork
2 boneless pheasant breasts (about 150g), peeled and chopped small (or 150g leftover roast turkey)
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
2 tablespoons of powdered vegetable broth
6 slices dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in a little hot water
150 ml tomato puree
Boiled potatoes (peeled), to serve
Sour cream, to serve
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Hollow out the cabbage, then sauté it in the water and cut each leaf one by one as it lifts and separates from the head. Transfer to a dish lined with a kitchen towel to drain and cool, then cut the center ribs so the leaves are a bit flatter, making them easier to roll up later.
Melt two tablespoons of butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then sauté the onion, garlic and thyme for about 15 minutes, until tender but not colored. . Add the rice and 100 ml of water and cook, stirring (as with risotto) for about 15 minutes, adding more water as it is absorbed, until the rice is almost cooked. Let cool, then stir in all the meat and parsley and season.
Now stuff the cabbage. Put a big sausage of stuffing along one side of each leaf, then roll it up tight and fold the sides up, just like you would a burrito: they should be fat and full, but not overly stuffed or they will split apart. the cooking. You should end up with 12-16 rolls, or enough for three or four per person. Place the stuffed leaves folded down in a saucepan where they will fit together perfectly in two layers: make sure they are firmly packed so that they do not move during cooking.
Mix the broth powder with 300 ml of boiled water, then stir in the drained porcini mushrooms, their soaking liquid and the passata, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Pour the broth over the cabbage rolls – it should almost cover them, with just the top of the top layer sticking out.
Cut the 50 g of butter, spread on top of the buns to cover, then open the lid and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Let cook gently for 15 to 20 minutes, until the rolls are tender through and through.
Season to taste again, then serve with the pan juices, boiled potatoes and sour cream.
Pancakes stuffed in the oven with sour cherry sauce
This dish is adapted from a dish that was on the menu at Gay Hussar, the Hungarian restaurant that once lived in the premises where I now cook. Túrós palacsinta is a sweet pancake stuffed with cottage cheese that is rolled up, brushed with butter, dusted with sugar and baked until crisp; my version has ricotta and cream cheese, and I like to serve it with a suzette-style sour cherry sauce. It’s not particularly traditional (sorry, Hungary), but the ricotta and sour cherries are a classic combination, and the crimson sauce looks wonderfully festive. Thanks to Simon Hopkinson for pointing me in the right direction.
Preperation 15 minutes
Rest 1 hour
to cook 30 minutes
For the dough
140g of flour
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of powdered sugar, plus a little extra to finish
140 ml of milk
140 ml of sparkling water
1 tablespoon of oil
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, for cooking pancakes
1-2 tablespoons of salted butter, softened, for brushing pancakes
90g of cream cheese, or cottage cheese
15g of raisins, soaked in a little rum
1 teaspoon of mixed lemon and orange peels
Fresh orange and lemon juice, to taste
40g caster sugar
Icing sugar, to serve
For the sauce
250g frozen sour cherries
125g caster sugar
100 g cold unsalted butter, diced, plus an additional 1 tbsp to finish
2 tablespoons of rum
Whisk all the dough ingredients in a bowl until smooth and well combined, then rest for an hour.
Meanwhile, combine all the filling ingredients in a second bowl, then taste and add more sugar or lemon juice if needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Mix the sour cherries in a blender with 25 g of sugar, then pass through a fine sieve. Put the remaining 100g of sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, let melt into a light caramel, then whisk first the cherry juice, then the butter cut into cubes and finally the rum. Keep the sauce in the saucepan for reheating later.
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan) / 425F / gas 7. While the oven is heating up, make eight pancakes. Heat up your favorite pancake pan and add a small knob of unsalted butter. Pour a small ladle of batter into the mold, stir and cook for about a minute, until the mixture is set underneath. Flip, cook on the other side for another minute, then let cool. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Put two or three tablespoons of the filling on one edge of each cooled pancake, then roll it into a thin cylinder. Place the pancakes on a lightly buttered baking sheet, brush with salted butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake for four or five minutes, until the edges are crisp and colored.
While the pancakes cook, gently heat the sauce. Pour a little sauce on each plate, put two pancakes on top and serve sprinkled with icing sugar.