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portland's fickle weather and happy hour
Last week, the temperature was over 90 degrees and sunny. Yesterday, we didn’t reach 70 degrees and it was cloudy and rainy. This is summer in Portland.
This week’s basket contained more cabbage, fava beans, lettuce, pea pods and blueberries. Because of the cool weather, I thought I’d make Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, which is an old, personal favorite.
With the weather cool and grey, it seemed like a Happy Hour party would be just the thing to brighten our mood. So I invited eight friends to come around 4:30 p.m. for drinks and appetizers.
Since the cabbage is on the small side, I made the rolls bite-sized. And since I’ve never used fava beans in anything, I’m making a spread for garlic crostini. I’ve included the recipes in this article.
Friends contributed a baked salmon and some cheese square dotted with quince jelly. Throw in some martinis, shake well and we had a party. The sun came out and the temperature started to climb. It was a very happy hour, indeed.
Fava Bean Spread
I love this spread. It tastes great and is good for you! Preparing the beans was a bit of a chore, but not too bad.
1 -2 pounds fava beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Crostini (recipe follows)
Open the bean pods and remove the bean. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the beans for 10 to 15 seconds. Remove the beans and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. When cool enough to handle, remove the outer shielding from the bean.
Warm the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the pepper flakes, the beans and a cup of water. Cook over medium heat until the water has evaporated. Remove from heat.
Serve with crostini.
Garlic clove, sliced horizontally (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
Slice baguette crosswise on the diagonal. Place slices on baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until lightly brown. Swipe each slice with the cut-side of the garlic clove.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
I’ve made this recipe for over 30 years and still love it. I usually use a large head of cabbage, but there was a small one in my market basket that made the rolls just the right size for bite-sized happy hour eating.
1 head of cabbage
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
½ cup of brown sugar
3 cans (8 oz.) of tomato sauce
For the filling:
2 lbs ground meat
1/3 cup 7-Up (not diet)
1 small onion (to be grated into meat)
¼ cup tomato sauce from above
½ lemon (use from above)
sprinkling of brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in large skillet. Add onions and sauté until lightly browned. Add the tomato sauce, putting ¼ cup aside for the filling. Squeeze one or two lemons into the sauce; add a sprinkling of brown sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover pot and simmer for about 1 hour. You’ll need to keep tasting to get the right balance between sweet and sour. This is a matter of taste. I taste all through the cooking process.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Turn off heat; add cabbage, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove cabbage from pot, let cool and remove the core. Boil water again, turn off heat, add cabbage and again let sit for 15 minutes. You should be able to peel the leaves fairly easily. Line a large pot or Dutch oven with the large outside leaves and tough inner leaves.
To prepare the filling, grate the onion into the meat. Add the soda, lemon, tomato sauce, brown sugar, salt and pepper.
Take a cabbage leaf and place a small mound of the meat mixture in the center of the leaf. (The amount of meat mixture to use depends on the size of the cabbage leaf. Be careful not to overfill.) Starting at what was the stem-end, fold the sides in and roll up the leaf to enclose the filling. Place the rolls seam-side down in the pot lined with cabbage leaves. Continue with the rest of the rolls.
After all the cabbage rolls are in the sauce, you can add any leftover leaves or meat to the sauce.
Cook over low heat, covered, for about 1 ½ hours.
This keeps in the refrigerator for several days and frozen for several months. Defrost before reheating.