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Easiest Apple ‘Pie’

5 Aug

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You know those nights where you think… oh mannnnnnnn.. I wish I had apple pie? (Especially after being tormented by DELICIOUS CAKE RECIPES. Thanks, B!)

Well, here you go, this is the world’s EASIEST substitute. We often have puff pastry sheets languishing in the freezer after some savoury pie, like the leek and chicken pie we made last week. Usually there are offcut pieces that you know will be difficult to use up.

All you need is an apple, a little butter, sugar, alongside some puff pastry offcuts, and you can make this pie like deliciousness.

ingredients

I pre-heated the oven, and then started by peeling, quartering, coring and slicing an apple. I went for a Granny Smith this time, but I am pretty sure I have used every type of apple over the years. Slice them a few milimetres thick… no idea what that is in inches, but thin-ish.
peelslice

I then started to assemble them. Lay your puff rectangles on some baking paper on a baking tray. Mine were around 2 inches by 5 inches, but you can have any offcut size and adapt your topping to suit.

Fan out the apple, this is half an apple on each piece of pastry. Then sprinkle with a scant teaspoon of sugar, and dot with a teaspoon and a half (or so) of butter.

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Then into the oven…. I baked these for 30 minutes, then while they were still warm, served with ice cream. Cream would work well also.

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Voila… so simple. Also kind of impressive for so little work!

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Easiest Apple ‘Pie’
ingredients (for two)

Two pieces of prepared puff pastry (around 2 inches by 5 inches)
1 apple, peeled, quartered, cored and sliced thinly
2 scant teaspoons of white sugar
3 teaspoons of butter

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.

Line a baking tray with baking paper and assemble the ‘pies’. Fan half an apple the length of each pastry base. Sprinkle the sugar over the apple, and then dot the butter the length of the apple.

Bake until pastry edges are golden, around thirty minutes.

Serve with cream or ice cream.

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Rich Lemon Syrup Cake

8 Jul

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B posted her favourite go-to salmon meal. And I am not sure I have a go-to salmon recipe at all. I will have to try hers. It looked great.

I was reminded of this old go-to recipe by my friend Beth last week. I found it in our newspaper about fifteen years ago, when they re-printed the three most requested recipes (oh, remember the days before the internet?). I made it for my dad’s birthday and doubled the quantities, and mixed up my numbers, and managed to double double the butter. And IT WAS FANTASTIC. It is super rich, and seriously good, almost pudding like. I even made it for my brother’s 21st birthday cake, on a massive scale. I could barely lift it, and people loved it.

You will need…

ingredientsCakeingredients_syrup
For the cake: plain flour, baking powder, butter, caster sugar, milk, butter, lemon and eggs. And for the syrup, more lemon and sugar.

It is a simple method so I will list it in the recipe below, and the hardest part is creaming the butter, so if you have a KitchenAid you will be set.

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Rich Lemon Syrup Cake
ingredients

cake:
250g (8oz) butter
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
grated rind of one lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup of milk

syrup:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
grated rind 1 lemon
1/4 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 185 (365F) degrees, and grease a 20cm baking tin, and line the base with non-stick baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the lemon rind and juice, and mix through. Slowly add in the beaten eggs. Whisk together the flour and baking powder, and stir in to the mix, alternately with the milk.

Pour into the tin and bake in the 185 degree oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 170 (338F) degrees and cook for a further 45 minutes. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Put the syrup ingredients in to a saucepan and warm until the sugar has melted. Poke a few holes over the top of the cake with a skewer, and then spoon the syrup over the top.

Leave to cool… supervised.

ronnie

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Lamb, roasted vegetable and couscous salad

27 May

Well B, your infamous carrot cake has been giving me cake cravings. All baked goods really. Yummo.

Whilst consuming said baked goods with a cup of tea on the verandah with the wonderful Beth, she started talking about her plans for dinner. Roasted carrots and parsnips, lamb from ‘the boys’ at the local kebab shop, couscous and an amazing dressing. Now, she HAD ME at the dressing. I promptly invited myself over, in the name of the blog of course. ALL FOR YOU, the things I do huh? It’s an iPhone photo filled post. Hope that’s OK.

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Here is the finished product in all it’s glory. It is one of those, pretty easy to whip up if you have it all there, meals. Beth calls it a cheat meal, because she gets a foil container of delicious sliced lamb our much-loved Turkish Kebab House. But I call that resourceful.

I arrived to this array…

ingredients

… good A to B of Cooking reader, our Beth. She knows the drill.

To make this, you’ll need: parsnips, carrots, olive oil, onion, lemon, coriander, cumin, full cream yoghurt, honey, pistachios, couscous, and some lamb, cooked and sliced up – kebab style if you can get it. Beef would work too I reckon, but us Aussies, we love our lamb.

We peeled the parsnips and chopped them up in to a tail and a few halved sections. And the carrots in to about four pieces. A drizzle of olive oil and then a sprinkle of cumin seeds, a good pinch of salt and a grind of fresh pepper, and they were in to the oven. Toward the end we added pieces of onion, as they take less time to roast.

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While that was roasting, we made the dressing. Or Beth made the dressing and I watched on.

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She whisked together yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice, ground cumin, and honey. We then tasted and added more of things to get it ‘right’. If it is too lemony, add more honey. Make sure you get a good taste of cumin too.

We prepared the couscous, which was a matter of following the pack and boiling the same volume of water as couscous, and then mixing it through and letting it sit a couple of minutes, then fluffing it with a fork.

When the veggies were nice and roasted, it was time to assemble. First the couscous, then the veggies, then some pistachios, the lamb, a generous handful of coriander, and then a smattering of the dressing.

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Put the platter in the middle of the table and serve yourself. Honestly… delicious.

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Thanks Beth!

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Beth’s awesome dressing

ingredients
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons honey

Whisk the ingredients together until thoroughly combined, and taste for balance.
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Roasted Veggies

ingredients
5 carrots, peeled and sliced in to four, lengthways and then across once
5 parsnips, peeled and chopped roughly to a similar size as the carrots
1 red onion, peeled and sliced in to quarters. Separate the layers

1 tablespoon (ish) oil
a good pinch of cumin seed
pinch of salt
grind of pepper

Put the carrots and parsnips in a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the cumin, salt and pepper and bake in a 200C/390f oven until they are roasted through and just starting to brown. Add in the onion pieces and cook  for another 10 minutes or so.

Other elements —

Cook a cup of couscous
Wash a big handful of coriander
A pre-prepared serve of lamb kebab meat 

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To assemble
Start with cooked couscous, then pile on the roasted vegetables, sprinkle over the pistachios, then add the kebab meat and a good handful of washed coriander. Pour over the dressing.

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Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Rocket Cakes

19 Mar

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Well, well, well… B has had her annual trip down to Melbourne, and it was great to see her.

We ate many meals at restaurants… and in fact I think I am STILL full from going to The Abyssinian, but we did cook ourselves a few healthy meals. After seeing B’s quinoa stuffed squash, I was inspired to try some more quinoa recipes.

This recipe is a ripper if you want a healthy go-to meal for the week, to take as lunches, and to fill in busy night dinners. As it makes loads. It would also work well as a vegetarian option for a BBQ.

What you will need…

ingredients

Sweet potato, quinoa, celery, carrot, onion, garlic, olive oil, rocket (arugula), egg, breadcrumbs, paprika, and lots of salt and pepper for seasoning.

sweet_potatomash

We started by chopping up the sweet potato, you want the equivalent of two medium sized potatoes. They were steamed them until they were soft and then mashed in a large bowl, mixing in some chopped rocket at the end.

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Then we chopped put the onions, celery, carrot and garlic and sautéed them until softened. We added in the garlic, quinoa, paprika and some water, and cooked it down. It reminded me of making a risotto, I may even try this recipe using stock instead of water next time. We cooked it until the quinoa was tender and the liquid was absorbed.

egg

We whisked up egg with some salt and pepper… don’t hold back… it was great with a few good pinches of sea salt.

breadcrumbsmix

We mixed it all together along with the bread crumbs we made by roughly blitzing a couple of slices of rye bread in the blender.

patty

After letting the the mix cool down a little and forming some patties, they went in to a hot oven and let them bake for around 35 minutes. They were a little crisped on the outside, and still soft on the inside.

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Served on a bed of rocket, with some plain yoghurt and mint atop, delicious!

Our ingredients made about 18 patties, perfect for left overs.

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QUINOA, SWEET POTATO AND ROCKET CAKES

ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion or equivalent, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups quinoa
2 1/2 cups of water
2 Tbs sweet paprika
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, diced and steamed
1 1/2 cups rocket (arugula), chopped roughly
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup rye or wholemeal bread crumbs (around two slices)
generous sea salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Sauté the onions with the carrot and celery until soft, then add the garlic, quinoa, water and paprika and cook until quinoa is tender, and the liquid is well absorbed.Mash the steamed sweet potato with the rocket, and then add the quinoa mixture and all remaining ingredients.When cool enough to handle, make patties around the size of the palm of your hand, and place on a baking paper lined baking tray.Bake until the outside of the patty is a little crisped or browned, around 35-40 minutes.Serve with a dollop of plain yoghurt, a little mint, and a salad made of rocket.

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Spiced Zucchini Chips with Tahini Dipping Sauce

13 Feb

B’s roasted chickpeas are a hard act to follow. Healthy and delicious snacking.

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I think zucchini chips, alongside a tangy and healthy sauce fits the bill. The kind of thing you could whip up when the zucchinis are taking over the back yard, or on a summers day when people are coming over for a drink. They are tasty, in a way you don’t think zucchini will be.

The tahini sauce I served them with, is something I love and a reminds me of a dressing I once had on a celery heart salad that I will never ever forget, from Rumi in Brunswick, Melbourne.

This is how I made them…

Ingredients

with zucchini, some spray oil, salt, pepper, sweet paprika and chili powder.

I used the food processor to slice the zucchini, but you could slice by hand. I then prepared all of the trays I have (two baking trays) with baking paper and a very brief spray of oil. I would use cookie sheets if you have them. One zucchini filled one tray.

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I sprinkled sea salt sparingly over the slices, gave a grind of pepper, and then sieved the other spices over the top with a tea strainer. Be careful not to over spice, as they shrink so dramatically, the flavour is intensified.

Then I placed them in a very slow oven for one and a half hours. I turned the oven up a little after an hour to ensure they got crisp and browned nicely. Your oven may vary the times. I kept a close eye on them for the last 10 or so minutes, and pulled out those that cooked before others. They are perhaps a little time consuming to be an every day thing, but I enjoyed them so much I made another batch the next day. I only have the two trays, but I would make more if I had more trays!

The tahini sauce was just…

Ingredients_sauce

tahini, lemon, garlic, salt, pepper and a little warm water. I mashed the garlic to a paste with a little salt, using the back of a knife.
garlic

Then I mixed all of the ingredients together in a bowl. I sprinkled with a little sumac to serve, but you could also use paprika.

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Yummo. Crispy.

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ZUCCHINI CHIPS

ingredients to suit two trays 

2 medium sized zucchini, sliced to the thickness of a quarter, or 20 cent piece here in Australia. A food processor slicer works well, as would a mandolin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 140C/285F

Cover two baking sheets or trays with baking paper and spray very lightly with the oil. Placed the sliced zucchini on the trays, with no overlaps, and spray very lightly with oil again. Season with the salt and pepper. Season also with the chili powder and sweet paprika. Using a tea strainer to apply lightly and evenly works well.

Bake in slow oven for around 1.5 hours, keeping an eye on them. I found I needed to turn the oven up toward the end, to around 155C get them crisp. They shrink dramatically, so please don’t get a shock at the final product. My suggestion is to make as many trays as you can fit in your oven/have on hand.

These chips soften up after a few hours, so make them just before devouring.

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SIMPLE TAHINI SAUCE

ingredients

1 Tbsp tahini
2 tsp garlic – mashed with a good pinch of salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Generous grind of black pepper
2 Tbsp warm water

Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, and taste. Add more seasoning if needed. If the consistency is too thick, add a little more water.

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Spiced Chickpea Hash with Soft Boiled Eggs

25 Jan

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You know those mornings after the night before? The ones where you wake up feeling a bit worse for wear, and knowing a good hearty breakfast is pretty much the only way forward?

On New Year’s Day, we sat around, bleary eyed and nursing cups of tea, hoping that our favourite café would be open, and describing the perfect breakfast food they make in Trinidad.

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It is called Doubles, and is a chickpea curry, indelicately slopped on to two pieces of eggy roti. Getting it in to your mouth and not down your front has a high degree of difficulty, but they are quite delicious. I have spared Jason the indignity of the photos showing him attempting to eat this little package. Let’s just say… action shots.

Back to New Year’s morning, the café was closed, and wonderful Karen volunteered to make a chickpea breakfast of her own styling, which was of course spectacular. And then she was generous enough to write it down for us all to keep. Here is my re-make.

So following on from B’s comfort food, here is a wonderful, spiced, comfort food for breakfast.

In addition to olive oil and salt…

ingredients

Chickpeas, eggs, tomato, potatoes, red onion, cumin and sweet paprika and chilli powder.

It goes a little like this…

boiled_eggs

To get boiled eggs, with yolks not set hard, I put the eggs in a pot with cold water and brought it to the boil. Then turned off the heat and left to sit for four minutes. Then I ran them under cold water to stop them cooking further, and peeled.

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For the chickpea hash, I started  with a generous amount of oil, and sautéed some chopped garlic and onion until translucent. I then added in the cumin and cooked a further 5 minutes until it was aromatic. Then I added potato, which I diced into chickpea size, and continued to cook over a medium heat until they were almost cooked through. This took around 15 minutes. I then added the chickpeas and the salt and sweet paprika. I let it cook for another 15 minutes or so. And tasted it for spice. I added a little chilli powder for some more kick. In the last couple of minutes I stirred through a diced tomato. I placed the quartered eggs over the plated servings, Karen was more daring and mixed them through.

You can serve this with a slice of toast if you like. Karen suggested ‘a bread without too much flavour’. It was perfect with a slice of white sourdough on New Year’s Day.

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SPICED CHICKPEA HASH WITH SOFT BOILED EGGS
for three

ingredients
1.5 Tbs olive oil
Half onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
1.5 tsp ground cumin
2 medium potatoes, diced to ‘chickpea’ size
1 tin chickpeas (garbanzo beans) well rinsed
1.5 tsp sweet paprika
.5 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1 medium tomato, diced
4 boiled eggs, cut in quarters
good pinch of salt

To cook the eggs, put in cold water in a pot and bring to the boil, turn off the heat and let sit for 4 minutes. Then run under cold water and peel.

Over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, until onion is translucent. Add cumin and cook a further 3-5 minutes until aromatic. Add potato and sauté until almost cooked through – lost raw firmness. Add chickpeas and season with salt and sweet paprika. Continue cooking further 15 minutes or so until all cooked through. Just before serving mix though the diced tomato, and pile the egg pieces on as you serve it up.

Serve with toast. I garnished it with a little mint, but Karen also suggests a little fresh thyme or oregano.

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Lahanadolmades – Greek Cabbage Rolls

6 Jan

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Rice paper rolls are one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, they looked great B.

I was given Tessa Kiros’ new Greek cookbook for Christmas, and began looking for a ‘wrap’ recipe to follow on with. I normally love Tessa’s recipes without any changes. One of the reasons it has taken me a while to respond to B’s last post, is that I wasn’t happy with my first attempt, and decided to make them again, and re-worked the filling. It may now be less traditional now, but hot damn, it is tasty. I found the savoy cabbage the best of the cabbages I tried, quite a hardy leaf to work with, and looks so pretty too.

cabbage

I carefully cut leaves from the cabbage, and even kept the largest outer leaves, as I used them to line the base of the pot when it came to cooking. I gave them a good rinse. This amount of filling filled around 12 leaves, but I’d prepare a few extras just in case. I filled a large pot with water, added in a large pinch of salt and then boiled batches of around four leaves at a time. They took about 7 or so minutes before they softened. I then took them out and let them cool a little in a tea towel lined bowl. While they were cooking, I prepared the filling. I mixed together some mince beef, uncooked rice, grated onion, tomato passata, chopped parsley, minced garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, paprika and chili powder. I dotted some butter in to the base of a wide heavy based pan, and added a drizzle of olive oil. On to this I laid the largest leaves, as a protective base. To prepare the leaves I sliced across the thick rib of the leaf so that the leaves rolled easily.

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I put a generous wooden spoonful of the mixture on to the centre of the thin part of the leaf, and then rolled it over, then tucked in the sides before rolling it again. I then laid them snugly in to the pot. Don’t do as I did and have the liner leaves coming up over the edge of the pan, best if they fit inside the pan too.

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I dotted some more butter over the top and then put in some stock, filling to around 3/4 of the height of the cabbage parcels. I used liquid stock, but you could use the water from the cabbage leaves if you want to mix up a powdered stock. I then put the lid on, and brought to a simmer, for around 45 minutes. To check if they are cooked, I took out a roll and unrolled it to see if the rice was tender, then rolled it back up. As my pot was not very high sided, I found it easiest to remove the rolls to make the sauce. I whisked up some egg and lemon juice, and then added in a ladleful of the hot stock, and continued whisking. Then I poured this mix in to the pot over a very low heat. I stirred constantly in an attempt to keep the sauce lump free (cough, not entirely successfully). The odd lump is forgivable, I hear.

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I then placed the rolls back in to the sauce and on to the table to serve.

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Over to you B!
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LAHANODOLMADES – GREEK CABBAGE ROLLS

makes around a dozen
ingredients
1 Savoy cabbage, leaves carefully sliced from the stem
250g (1/2 pound) beef mince
1/2 cup medium-grain rice
1 large red onion, grated with a large holed grater
3/4 cup tomato passata. (Passata is a cooked and pureed Italian tomato sauce in a bottle, Hunt’s tomato sauce is runnier, but can be a substitute if you cook it down to around half its volume in advance)
4 generous tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
around 1 litre (4 cups) warm chicken, or beef stock.
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
4 garlic cloves minced
zest of half a lemon
Juice of 4 lemons (3 are for the sauce)
20g (2/3oz) butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper and salt
4 eggs
The size of the cabbage will dictate a little as to how many rolls this makes.
Carefully remove the leaves from the cabbage head with a sharp knife, and wash well. Keep even the largest leaves, as you can use those for lining the pan. Small leaves you may use to patch holes in leaves should you find them. Cook the leaves in batches in a large a pot of salted boiling water for about 7 minutes or until soft. Set aside on to a dish lined with clean tea towels to cool a little. If you will be making stock using a powder, you can retain this water for it. To prepare the leaves for rolling, slice off the wide part of the rib at the base of the leaf.

In a bowl, prepare the filling. Mix together the mince meat, rice, onion, passata, parsley, paprika, chili, garlic, lemon zest, and the juice of one lemon. Season well with salt and pepper. Spoon a good sized wooden spoonful of the mixture in to the centre of the top of the leaf (the most flexible part) and roll up according to the images above, a full roll over the mix, then bring in the sides and roll it over again. It does not need to be super tight, as the rice will expand a little.

Dot half the butter, and all of the oil in the base of a large and wide pot with a lid. Place the reserved outer leaves on the base of the pan to protect the rolls as they cook. Place the cabbage rolls snuggly in to the pan in a circular pattern. If you need to go more than one layer up, that is fine.

Dot the rest of the butter over the rolls, and fill the pan with warmed stock, to around 3/4 of the height of the rolls. Should one litre not be enough, top up with a little more water. If it looks like the rolls will move around, invert a plate over the top, to hold them in place. Mine did not move at all. So I just put the lid on, brought it to a simmer, and cooked it for 45 minutes.

You can check if they are ready by unwrapping one roll, and making sure the rice is cooked.

To make the sauce, whisk up the eggs and the juice of three lemons. Add in a ladleful of the stock and continue to whisk. I found it easier to remove the cabbage rolls from the pot at this stage in to a tray, giving me good access to the remaining stock. I also discarded the large leaves that lined the base of the pot. Pour the egg and lemon mix in to the pot containing the stock. Continue to mix with a wooden spoon, over a very low heat. The sauce will thicken a little, but you want to avoid any lumps forming. If you need to add water to thin the consistency of sauce, go ahead, or you may want it even thicker, so mix a teaspoon of cornflour in to a ladleful of the sauce and then return it to the pot. The consistency is personal, as some people like it almost like soup.

Serve the cabbage rolls hot or warm, with a generous ladle of the sauce over the top.
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