as you would have it, it all starts with cabbage, recipe is very simple and adjustable:
1 kg cabbage, shredded
400 gr minced beef browned (or go vegetarian and use tofu in some form)
1 liter veal stock, or any stock you have around (i made some from knorr fond)
2 dl barley pearls (quick cooking rice is fine, or precook brown rice for half the cooking time before adding to this recipe, if you omitted the beef and didn't use tofu of any kind, you could add more grains, if so, add more stock as well)
1 dl dark syrup
cooked in 200C oven for 1 hour, first half hour covered.
here, although the in season young cabbage cooks relatively fast, i wanted to save some time and sauteed it for about 10 mins on medium high heat, just to wilt it and get the cooking going. (if time isn't an issue, skip this part and mix with other ingredients raw. cook in the oven for 2 hrs, first hr covered with foil, for the second hr make sure the dish doesn't dry out and have some more stock around to add if needed.)
browned ground beef is one of my sins, i could eat all this...but didn't!
there are several types of fonds (basically it's an industrial variety of concentrated pan-juices) around. they are very convenient, but some contain too much salt, and of course, additives of all sorts. this particular "taste" from knorr is ok, but there is the fine line after which, if you add too much, the food has an "industrial" taste.
pearl barley, quick cooking kind. as the package says "domestic option to rice".
the dark syrup i used, to me syrup is the secret to this dish. if you think it's going to make it too sweet...start with a smaller amount.
i had one medium size sweet potato around, grated it roughly and added half to this dish (sweet potato is good for you, don't have any, don't worry, not essential). placed the cabbage, browned meat and barley in a big bowl, mixed well, placed the mixture into an oven dish, poured the stock and syrup on. on hindsight, some butter on top would have made everything taste even better...
...but for someone who used to hate everything with cabbage (=me), this was oh-so-good. when taking off the foil at half-time, check if you need to add some more stock. if it looks wet, you're good, if it looks dry at half-time add a good 3 dl more stock.
the second dish was mac and beef casserole. in finland it is traditionally made with white elbow macaroni, ground beef, milk and egg mixture to set it. i'm not a fan of white pasta, so i used full-grain spelt pasta.
400 gr pasta, cooked
400 gr ground beef, browned
150 gr grated cheese (i used swiss type polar)
3 dl cream (used the fattier version, there are some lighter ones around)
(and that half of a roughly grated medium size sweet potato, totally optional, but it'll be good for you...)
you can certainly use more cheese if you like, i thought that with the full fat cream, i should go easy on the cheese (the cheese is only 15% fat).
again, mixed 2/3 of the cheese, pasta, ground beef and sweet potato in a big bowl, placed the mixture into an oven dish, poured the cream on top and covered with foil and placed next to the cabbage dish into the 200C oven for a half hr.
after the half hour took the dish out, added rest of the cheese and returned the dish to the oven for another 15 mins for the cheese to melt.
the spelt pasta might be an acquired taste as it is very "healthy" (but nothing a good squirt of ketchup can't cure). this was perfect to have right out of the oven, but if re-heated it could use a bit more liquid, whether in the form of cream or stock of any kind.
tomorrow you'll see what we had for dessert...