Every Spring, Charlottesville hosts the Virginia Festival of the Book. Authors of every genre gather for a few days at the end of March to share and sign recent works. I have been reviewing some of the cookbooks that will be on display this year when the authors present cooking demonstrations to hungry audiences at The Charlottesville Cooking School. One book in particular caught my eye: Ken Haedrich’s The Harvest Baker.
Cabbages are particularly prolific this year in my brother’s winter garden, and Haedrich offers some intriguing ways to use those cabbages, including one very surprising way: tucked inside a variety of pastry doughs. Having never ventured beyond the ubiquitous cole slaw and my mother’s corned beef and cabbage, served annually on Saint Patrick’s Day, I decided to play around with some of Headrich’s suggestions. The resulting recipe borrows ingredients and techniques from his cabbage and sausage stuffed buns, a double-crust cabbage pie, and a vegetable turnover. As these yummy treats are a bit labor-intensive to make, I have eliminated taking the extra step of making my own dough. Store-bought puff pastry works beautifully in half the time.
I served these with a bowl of soup for a deliciously simple, and rather filling, supper. They also make delicious snacks, easily picked up and eaten on the run. And–perhaps, best of all–the recipe makes about 18 turnovers that, once assembled, may be frozen and pulled out as needed.
Puff Pastry Sheets (2 boxes)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter (or olive oil)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
6-8 cups Savoy or regular cabbage (1 small head), cored and sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup Ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
3 ounces smoked ham or sausage, diced (optional)
2-3 Tablespoons parsley or thyme, chopped
2 cups Fontina cheese, grated (may substitute Gruyere, cheddar, Parmesan, or combination)
Poppy or sesame seeds
- Follow instructions on the box for thawing and rolling out the puff pastry. One sheet, cut into 5″x6″ oblongs, should make six turnovers. This dough is very easy to work with as long as it is cold.
- Heat the butter (or oil) in a large skilled over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cabbage, one handful at a time, waiting for each addition to wilt slightly before adding more. Season with salt and pepper and add half the chicken stock. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and braise the cabbage for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook, adding more seasonings and broth as needed, until the cabbage is very tender and slightly caramelized. When all of the liquid has evaporated, stir in the vinegar and mustard, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cool completely.
- While the cabbage is cooking, prepare the dough, line large baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Once the cabbage has cooled, add the Ricotta cheese and about half of the egg (the rest will be used to glaze the pastry). Stir in chopped herbs and meat, if using.
- The pastry dough should be cut into rectangles, roughly 5″x6″, ready to assemble. For each turnover: Mound a scanty 1/4 cup of the cabbage mixture just shy of the center of the dough. Top with 1 Tablespoon of cheese. Dab edges of the dough with water, then fold the uncovered half of the dough over the filling and press to seal. Trim with a pastry wheel to make a rounded edge, then crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Repeat.
- Place the turnovers onto the baking sheets and brush each one with some of the egg wash. Make steam vents in the top of the crust and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, if desired.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
TO MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZE: Prepare as directed but do not add the glaze. Freeze on baking sheets for a few hours, then transfer to freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months. To bake, place on baking sheets, apply the glaze, and bake as directed for 45-50 minutes.
If you are interested in sampling more dishes from Ken Haedrich’s cookbook, consider attending his Book Festival cooking demo on Thursday, March 22 at 10:00 a.m. Details are in this link: www.vabook.org/program/cooking-demo-with-ken-haedrich
The Harvest Baker (Ken Haedrich, 2017)