Tonight we spent the holiday at home just the three of us. I wanted my son to experience flavors from my childhood with grandparents long gone. My family comes from the regions of Austria, Hungary and Russia along the Polish border or Poland along the Russian border. It all depends on era era. Suffice it to say, we are looking at classic Eastern European Jewish cooking. In the fall that always meant sweet and sour dishes. Both grandmothers were from the Russian Polish border region. They both made perfect yet slightly different versions of sweet and sour cabbage soup with flanken (short rib meat) and raisins. I could eat this stuff forever. It was just that good.
You would ask for the recipe while they cooked and both would give similar answers. “A little of this, a pinch of that, not too much or you ruin it”. But what about amounts? The response was also very similar. “What do you mean Jonathan, I just told you. A little of this, a pinch of that…” And there go the lost recipes of my family’s cooking. Except for this one dish.
Sweet and sour cabbage soup with flanken
For Grandma Ceil and Grandma Alice. Shana Tova.
Recipe given Grandma fashion with amounts added for your sake.
This big batch of stew will feed a full house with more for left overs.
In pot, cover 4 pounds large cubed flanken (boneless short rib meat) 0r 4 lbs cubed chuck steak with cold water and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove meat and clean out pot of dirty water. Put meat back into pot and cover with 1 large onion slivered, 2 large carrots sliced thin, 6 clove whole garlic, 1 Savoy cabbage shredded, 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice or white vinegar, Salt and pepper. Two 28oz cans crushed tomatoes and enough water to almost cover everything in the pot. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer with lid ajar and cook 3 hours. Cut up meat and serve with soup. It all tastes even better over the next few days. Play with the ingredients, I always do. The ketchup amount seems to vary the most for me depending on mood.
Traditional desserts are always something sweet and often with apples and walnuts. I found a very simple recipe for apple cake. My wife prepared it with our son and they had lots of fun together.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 3 1/2 cups chopped apples
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
- In a large bowl, Sift together flour, sugar, salt and soda. Make a well in the center and add oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix well (batter will be thick). Fold in chopped apples and nuts. Spread into a 9×13 inch pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Glaze while still hot.
- To make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, milk and butter. Bring to a boil and continue cooking for 2 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over cake while still hot.