Going green

Cynthia Stone
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Consumers seeking new tastes will be inspired by ‘Leafy Greens Cookbook’

I had to go to the mall last week — first time I’d been there in at least six months.

Susan Sampson’s new book, “The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook.” — Photo by The Canadian Press

I arrived one minute after the garage door opened and there were about five parking stalls left. Assuming you’re all holiday shopping already, you need some kitchen help to free up time, and that’s what today is all about.

Cabbage Unrolls

For me, cabbage rolls are a dead-of-winter dish … lots of steps and time in between them to enjoy a leisurely day in the kitchen. We’re not quite ready for that yet, but those comforting flavours are always welcome.

This quicker, easier version makes a fantastic supper meal but is even better leftover for workday lunches. As an added bonus, it freezes perfectly for a quick, but satisfying, bite on the run.

This casserole makes eight generous servings, and you won’t need any extra pots, pans or bowls.

1 large onion, diced

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 lb. each lean ground beef and ground lamb (or all ground beef)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium head cabbage, chopped into 1-inch square pieces

1/2 cup uncooked long-grain rice

1 tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

3 cups chicken broth

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 fresh or 6 dried bay leaves

2 tbsp. cold butter or margarine

Fry onion in oil in a Dutch oven until golden brown. Add beef and lamb and cook until almost all the pink is gone. Add garlic and continue to cook until fragrant. Discard any fat in the pot.

Add cabbage, rice, brown sugar, tomatoes, broth, vinegar, salt, pepper, nutmeg and bay leaves and stir to combine thoroughly. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat; simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender. If you don’t want to hover over the stove, cover and bake at 325 F for about 1-1/2 hours.

Depending on how crisp the cabbage is, it might be tender earlier, so start checking halfway through. The mixture may also absorb more liquid, so if it appears too dry — you want some juiciness, after all — add a little water.

African Chicken and Nut Stew

I don’t know how traditional this recipe is and where it might still be served, but I got it from a friend years ago and it’s one of those comforting dishes that burbles away on the stove until I’m ready to set the table — no matter when that might happen. As a bonus, everything cooks together in the one pot with the only preparation on the side some idle chopping.

Again, this is plenty for eight, and all you need with it is a crusty roll, although plain jasmine rice would also be lovely.

You can make this with breasts or drumsticks or wings, or no meat at all, if you prefer, but thighs hold up best to the method.

3 lb. skinless, bone-in chicken thighs

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 generous thumb-sized piece fresh gingerroot, minced or grated

1 bulb garlic, separated into cloves, peeled and sliced

1 tbsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)

2 to 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

2 cups canned diced tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Dry chicken pieces with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown in oil on both sides in a Dutch oven.

Add onion and stir it all around until it starts to colour. Add gingerroot, garlic, coriander, cumin and red pepper flakes and cook another minute or two, just until fragrant and spices are coating everything. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in peanut butter and peanuts. Cover and simmer on top of the stove for an hour or until everything is tender, or bake at 325 F about 1-1/2 hours. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed — spice is nice so feel free to pile on the pepper. Stir in cilantro just before serving.

One-Bowl Gingerbread

It’s not one pot, but one bowl counts, doesn’t it? This is an easy but extraordinarily tasty gingerbread. I’m saying the gingerroot is optional, but I don’t really believe it.

1/2 cup butter or margarine

3/4 cup molasses

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 tbsp. ground ginger

1 tbsp. grated fresh gingerroot

1/2 tsp. each ground cinnamon, allspice and cloves

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup boiling water

If butter is extremely soft then you can skip this microwave step, but it will never be soft enough this time of year.

Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and microwave on high for 10 seconds. Repeat in five-second intervals just until the centre starts to collapse, with a small puddle of melted butter forming at the bottom. The cake will not be as good if you completely melt the butter, so if you want to be extra cautious, start with half the amount and if you go too far, stir in the second half and you can rescue it.

Add molasses, brown sugar, egg, ground ginger, gingerroot, cinnamon, allspice and cloves and whisk vigorously until mixture is smooth.

Add flour and baking soda and stir until well combined. Add boiling water, stirring until it is incorporated into the batter, then whisk again for about 2 minutes until mixture is light.

Pour into a well-greased 8-inch square pan and bake at 350 F for 50 minutes or until a tester in the middle comes out clean. If your pan is dark then reduce the temperature to 325 — this is particularly important with such a dark cake. If you leave it at 350, it will be done in 35 to 40 minutes.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s,

NL, A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

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