Yep, my 100th post! Well, at least that’s what wordpress tells me. And although I didn’t mention it at the time, I hit my 1 year mark at the end of February! This meal will commemorate both milestones. It’s a suitable dinner for the occasion since #62 stars a lot of the usual suspects: ground beef, Jell-O, Mandarin oranges, pudding, slivered almonds, canned apricots–all of those items that apparently a 1970s kitchen couldn’t do without.
So yay to me! And yay to all of you who continue to follow my blog. I raise a bottle (yes, a bottle) of Pinot Grigio to you. Now, without further ado: #62 Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Hungarian Style).
Looking at the recipe I figure that what makes these cabbage rolls Hungarian (and not like all of the other cabbage rolls in the world) is the inclusion of paprika. So the first thing I did was up that from 1 measly teaspoon to 2 heaping tablespoons.
Oh, I take that back. The first thing I did was make the Jellied Citrus Salad, which is the shiny, orange glob in the lower right hand corner of the card. But although I made the Jell-O first, I’ll talk about it last.
So. Cabbage Rolls. Or, as Cleve calls them, Hunky Hand Grenades. Here’s the breakdown:
3:10pm: cored the cabbage, boiled the water, boiled the cabbage. As this was all going on I put together the meat filling, which, of course, I doctored a bit. I didn’t use the ground pork, just 1 lb of ground beef; I subbed garlic salt for plain salt, and doubled it; like I mentioned before to make this “Hungarian” I used 2 heaping tbsp of paprika. Also, I nixed the canned soup. It was superfluous.
At about 3:30pm: assembled the cabbage rolls. While doing so I decided that this would be a great time to use my crock pot. So I got that out. My cabbage leaves seemed rather small so instead of just a few big rolls I ended up with a plethora of tiny ones. I had to do 2 layers: sauerkraut/rolls/sauerkraut/rolls/sauerkraut and the 2 cups of tomato puree. Since I was utilizing the crock pot I just used 1/2 cup of boiling water since a lot of water would be produced during slow cooking.
4:00pm: Crock pot locked and loaded on HIGH.
Thanks to the wonder and beauty of slow cooking I had a little time on my hands. Hm. What to do? What to do? Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I watched one of my most favoriteist movies of all time starring one of my most favoriteist people on the planet, Mr. Nicolas Cage.
Since the new Ghost Rider came out (which I am sad to say we missed during its brief theatrical run), Cleve and I decided to add every single Nic Cage movie available on Netflix Instant Stream to our queue. This was our Nic Cage Day. We’ve also recently watched Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Peggy Sue Got Married. Well this day the Lord smiled down on us and said “Yo. For just 2 more days, thanks to some sort of contract with Starz, Vampire’s Kiss will be available for you to watch.” And watch it we did. I mean, we watched the fuck out of this movie. And you should, too. It’s amazing. If you only know Mr. Cage from his recent schlock (which, is still pretty awesome), then you need to check this one out. This movie is outrageous. It’s like American Psycho meets Once Bitten. Here’s the trailer:
God, this movie is epic. I can’t believe that I don’t have it on DVD. I need it on DVD!
Also, on the day of #62, I happened upon this gem of a video. Which, I admit, I have watched again and again and again and again. I’m not going to describe it because there is no way to capture, in mere words, the next two and a half minutes:
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
7:00pm: I made the Toasted Almond Pudding, which was just instant vanilla pudding (instant pudding is da bomb!), some canned (drained) apricots and topped with slivered almonds. I didn’t toast the almonds because I am lazy. At this time I thought about mixing up the contents of the crock pot but decided against it.
7:54pm: I returned to the crock pot. Almost 4 hours in I thought it would be a good time to check the doneness of the rolls. And all looked well. Plating commenced. Which brings me to the Jellied Citrus Salad…
I admit that I was glad to see that gelatin made yet another DiS! appearance. Lately I seem to be on a Jell-O roll. I took a cue from #62’s photo and chose a recipe from my copy of The Joys of Jello: Citrus Surprise! I don’t know what the surprise is–is it because it’s 2 layered? Because there really isn’t anything terribly surprising about orange Jell-O with mandarin oranges and grapefruit in it. Or is it just because in the photo from The Joys of Jello the top layer is inexplicably white?
Anyhoo, I believe that this was my first foray into layered gelatin molds. I have done mousses, Bavarians, aspics, hell I even suspended fruit cocktail in lime Jell-O and stuffed it into a cantaloupe; but I still had never done layers. However, I thought that this one looked easy enough.
The Joys of Jell-O offers a handy time-chart which outlines the chilling times for the many stages of Jell-O. However, either refrigerators in 1962 were warmer or my little fridge is just super-cold because my gelatin was setting in record time–much quicker than I had anticipated. The gelatin reserved for the ‘fluffy’ layer had gotten way past the consistency of egg whites when I checked it well before the 1 hour 15 minutes that The Joys of Jell-O indicated. I had to whip the living daylights out of it with my immersion blender to get anything resembling foam. In the end it did happen–and for that I was grateful. And amazed. I made fluffy Jell-O, guys!
The fruit-filled layer over-chilled as well (an hour and a half, my ass!). The Mandarin oranges didn’t quite suspend the way that I wanted. When it was serving time I had Cleve dislodge the gelatin from the mold. He has done this before and has been successful. However, this time not so much. It was a hot mess. There was Jell-O all over the place. I could very easily blame Cleve and say that he is inept when it comes to the art of gelatin, but I won’t. Instead I will blame my own user-error. I think that the fluffy Jell-O chilled for too long (it was firm and not set but not firm) so it lost its adhesiveness. Therefore, when I poured in the Mandarin orange-filled Jell-O on top of it, they didn’t stick together.
So maybe the surprise in Citrus Surprise was this is going to totally fail and you’ll look like a giant loser! Surprise!
8:00pm: Dinner is Served!
I am happy to report that the crock pot did its job. The rice may have been a little undercooked, but oh well. This tasted just as good as the stuffed cabbage that my mum would make. So I consider this one a win. Plus, it featured Jell-O AND pudding. Awesome.
A good dinner and a good day. And damn, I am so glad that Nic Cage Day just happened to coincide with my 100th post. I have a feeling that the greatest actor of our time would be all about some Toasted Almond Pudding.