Kitchen Wit and Wisdom: Celebrating a life well-lived

Cathi Litzenberger shares some favourite family recipes in honour of her much-loved mother-in-law

It’s been a tough last 10 days preparing for the inevitable good-byes to a wonderful mom, grandma, great-grandma and friend and I haven’t had time to think about much else, save feeding the hungry mobs of wonderful relatives and family arriving to share in our celebration of a life well-lived. And so with that in mind, I offer a couple of recipes Mom would enjoy.

Apple Strudel

6 cups sliced apples, tart

3/4 cup raisins

Rind of one lemon, grated

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 cup almonds, ground

8 ounces phyllo pastry, 1/2 box, thawed (also called Filo Pastry)

1 3/4 cups butter, melted (no margarine)

1 cup breadcrumbs, finely crushed

Mix apples with raisins, lemon rind, sugar, cinnamon, and almonds; set aside.

Place 1 phyllo leaf on a kitchen towel and brush with melted butter.  Place a second leaf on top and brush with butter again. Repeat until 5 leaves have been used, using about 1/2 cup of butter.

Cook and stir bread crumbs with 1/4 cup of butter until lightly browned. Sprinkle 3/4 cup crumbs on the layered phyllo leaves.Mound 1/2 of the filling in a 3-inch strip along the narrow end of the phyllo, leaving a 2-inch border. Lift towel, using it to roll leaves over apples, jelly roll fashion.

Brush top of the strudel with butter and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. crumbs. Repeat the entire procedure for the second strudel. Bake the strudels at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned.  NOTE: Frozen phyllo leaves for strudel can be found at most supermarkets in the frozen foods sections.

Red Cabbage

3/4 – 1 kg / 1.6 – 2.2 lbs. red cabbage

40 g /1.4 oz. butter or olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 medium onion

2 – 3 tart apples, peeled and cut into small cubes

4 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Salt

1 cup red wine

3 – 4 cloves

2 – 3 bay leaves

1 tbsp. flour

2 tbsp. blueberry or red currant jam (optional)

Wash the red cabbage, remove trunk and cut into fine strips.

Brown the sugar in the butter until light brown in colour. Add the finely chopped onion and apples. Sauté for a few minutes. Add the red cabbage and mix everything to combine. Immediately pour a little of the red wine vinegar on the cabbage so it retains the red colour. Season with salt, add a little red wine, bay leaves, cloves and steam, covered, on medium heat until cabbage is tender,  about 45 – 60 minutes. At the end, dust cabbage with some flour, season to taste and add more red wine and/or vinegar if necessary. Add some jam if desired for enhanced taste, stir.

Tip: Do not cook cabbage in a cracked enamel pot because the taste may be compromised and the food may get discoloured!

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.