Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Baby it's cold outside!

So it started snowing in London! We pretty much spent the whole weekend outside in the snow and then inside a nice and warm pub eating! I love snow! Winter without snow is not a winter for me. Being Lithuanian I spent my childhood winters sledging, ice skating and rolling around in the snow. It used to get much much colder than here. -15 is a normal winter temperature in Lithuania. We actually just got back from there. Relaxed, happy and a little bit heavier:) Basically, every time we visit my family everyone tries to feed us. And it's great! Both my hubby and I enjoy food and now our Little Miss S has been introduced to a wonders of Lithuanian cuisine:) Each country adapts its food to its climate. As winters are very cold in Lithuania the food tends to be very heart-warming. When you eat it after a long walk in the snow it's like having someone big and cuddly wrapping their arms around you! Or even better (because I don't think I ever had someone big and cuddly hugging me!!haha) it is like sinking into a very warm bath after a long day (with a glass of red wine;)) Anyway, here is one of my favourite Lithuanian dishes for the whole family to enjoy (have been tested on my hubby and my Little Miss S - love it, although I try to cook this separately for my daughter with no added salt, paprika and peppercorns as she is still small after all).

'Balandeliai' translates as Little Doves... Don't ask why (cabbage parcels stuffed with meat and rice). 
You will need:
Cabbage. Try using Savoy Cabbage as it nutritionally (my favourite word these day) better for you  and it does tend to taste better than 'normal cabbage'
500g of minced pork mixed with minced beef
Half a glass of rice
Some dried or fresh thyme (or any other herbs that rock your boat) 
1 egg
Some dried sweet paprika 
250ml of tomato puree
2 apples (make sure they are sour and not sweet)
2-3 carrots
Couple of bay leaves
Freshly grounded peppercorns 
Red pepper

Place cabbage in a boiling water and let it boil for a few minutes so it is easier to separate the leaves. Cut off any chunky bits of the leaves. 
Put egg, peppercorns, paprika, salt, thyme and unboiled rice into the mince. Squeeze some garlic. Mix everything and put two table spoons of this mixture into a cabbage leaves (make parcels). 
In the pan where you will be cooking your parcels, place some cabbage leaves at the bottom and then layer them with some finely chopped carrots and pepper. 
Put your parcels in the pan, add bay leaves, peppercorns, salt. Add water. Lay some chopped apples on top. Cover and leave to stew on a low heat for about 30mins. 
Once cooked, majority of water will evaporate. Add some tomato puree - it will make a tasty sauce! Done:) 
I love serving this dish with boiled potatoes and sour cream (sprinkle some fresh dill over potatoes!).
Enjoy with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (if you are over 18 of course).