This is good - really, really good! I felt the need to say that first thing before you clicked away, I know what the word cabbage does to some people! But...this is the one cabbage recipe that will convert you into a cabbage lover. I hear your doubts - you're probably thinking the odds of you eating cabbage, let alone liking it are as about as good as winning the lottery...true...but as my daddy always says, "You can't win if you don't enter" and you won't fall in love with this strudel until you take your first bite.
Last week I made Hungarian Cabbage Strudel...I had just finished reading Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck, which I highly recommend, and this is what Nora Ephron (screenwriter, director, author and most important, foodie) wrote about this recipe: "It has a buttery, flaky, crispy strudel crust made of phyllo...with a moist filling of sauteed cabbage that's simultaneously sweet, savory, and completely unexpected, like all good things." I couldn't agree more!
It's a simple recipe and truthfully I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. Cabbage is roasted, in butter, with only salt and pepper for seasoning, then it's rolled up into 10 sheets of phyllo...butter on every sheet and then more on top...buttah...and then it's baked until it's golden...truly a delight for the senses. Nora (I'm now on a first name basis with her and even though she passed away last year, I feel since we have the love of this strudel in common she would insist on me calling her Nora) loved this strudel and was devastated when the shop that sold it closed it's door. She tried for years to find a recipe that would taste as good as the one she bought in Mrs. Herbst's Deli and she never did. Years went by and one day a friend told her that Cabbage Strudel, just like Mrs. Herbst's made, was being sold at Andre's Bakery in Manhattan on Second Avenue and Eighty-fifth Street...and this is what she had to say when she tasted her beloved strudel at Andre's: "Tasting it again was like being able to turn back the clock, like having the consequences of a mistake erased; it was better than getting a blouse back that the dry cleaners had lost, or a cell phone returned that had been left in a taxi, it was a validation of never-giving-up and of hope-springing-eternal; it was many things, it was all things, it was nothing at all; but mostly, it was cabbage strudel."
Cabbage and buttered pastry...what could be more simple and taste so good? Nothing. It's everything Nora said it would be and then some. But wait...there's more! I not only made this strudel last week, I made it again last night and this time I decided to add in a few more veggies...not that it needed it, but I wanted to see if maybe I could get the mister and the boy to eat it if I called it Vegetable Strudel (I took the Cabbage Strudel to my book club meeting and there wasn't one crumb left to bring home but even so, I'm not sure the mister would have eaten it - he's a cabbage hater) so I added in some chopped carrot, potato, mushroom, onion and roasted it all with the cabbage. It was heavenly...heavenly I tell you! And the mister ate it and loved it! So I will give you both versions, they both excellent and would be great served with a cup of soup...file this one in Comfort Foods, that's what they are!
Hungarian Cabbage Strudel - Adapted From Food.Com via Andre Heimann via Mrs. Herbsts
8 oz. butter (2 sticks)
1 lb. cabbage, cored and shredded, about 1/2 head
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
10 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, enough to pull up and over cabbage to completely seal. Spread shredded cabbage over foil. Cut up 1 stick of butter into small pieces and sprinkle over cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil, wrapping up and over and crimping the edges to seal. Roast in oven for 45 to 50 minutes, occasionally lifting foil and mixing cabbage, then resealing.
Remove from heat, uncover and allow to cool to room temperature. Turn oven to 400 degrees. Melt remaining stick of butter in microwave. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet and top with 1 sheet of phyllo dough. Brush sheet of phyllo with melted butter, up and down, spreading evenly. Top with another sheet of phyllo and brush again with butter. Repeat until all 10 sheets are buttered and stacked.
Arrange cabbage on dough, starting at the long end, roll phyllo, with the help of the parchment paper to get started, enclosing cabbage, without the paper, until it is all rolled up. Turn so the seam is down on top of the parchment. Brush top with butter and bake in oven for 35 minutes. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Vegetable Strudel Variation: Follow recipe above, but to the cabbage add:
10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, finely sliced
I liked this so much - the potato adds a creaminess and the carrots bring a nice sweetness to the party...try this one - it's perfect on a cold January day! And don't be scared off if you've never used phyllo dough before...it comes frozen, you just let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator, unwrap and it's ready to go!
Nora Ephron was a fascinating woman - for all the things she accomplished and those she didn't (she didn't win an Oscar! She was nominated three times, for Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally and Silkwood). I wrote about her here after learning of her passing (you have to scroll down past the recipe) and I loved reading her words. Along with I Feel Bad About My Neck I also just read I Remember Nothing...another great, quick and hysterically funny read - treat yourself and read them soon!