Making the foods of Eastern Europe a little more healthy


Claire Fiala has performed a delicate balancing act. The Czech emigre, who grew up on robust and fat-laden Eastern European cooking, has now adapted her home cuisines in the interest of health.

"I still like to cook the old soups," she says, "lentil soup, pea soup, also bean soups -- but I take off all the fat. For company, I make a nice gulyas and paprikas, but with non-fat yogurt instead of sour cream. Or stuffed cabbage rolls."

Chicken paprikas

Serves 4

1 3-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika

1/2 cup defatted chicken stock

1 1/2 cups non-fat plain yogurt

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden. Turn the chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more, or until the second side is golden.

Sprinkle onions and garlic around the chicken and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until the onions are softened. Turn chicken over, sprinkle with paprika and cook 1 minute longer. Reduce heat. Add stock and cover. Simmer, turning the chicken occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it's no longer pink inside. Transfer to a serving platter and keep warm.

In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup yogurt and cornstarch; add to the skillet. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture boils and thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over chicken and serve hot with a spoonful of yogurt.

Stuffed cabbage rolls

Serves 8

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large head green cabbage (3-3 1/2 pounds)

1 large egg white

1 pound ground turkey

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 onion, finely chopped

1 46-ounce can tomato juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds sauerkraut, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil and add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cut out and discard the core and cabbage's outer leaves. Place cabbage in boiling water; cover partially and boil gently about 20 minutes. Drain cabbage, refresh under cold water and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat egg white lightly with a fork. Add ground turkey, cooked rice, onions, 1/2 cup of the tomato juice, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and pepper; mix with a wooden spoon or your hands.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Carefully peel 12 to 16 of the larger cabbage leaves. Pat dry and trim any thick rib or core. Place

about 3 tablespoons of the filling across the center of 1 leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over filling, then, starting at the base of the leaf, roll around filling, forming a neat package. Set aside, seam-side down; fill rest of cabbage leaves. Thinly slice remaining cabbage.

Spread half the sauerkraut in a roasting pan. Scatter sliced cabbage over the sauerkraut, then arrange stuffed cabbage leaves in a single layer. Top with remaining sauerkraut and sprinkle with brown sugar or honey.

Pour remaining tomato juice over cabbage rolls. Cover and bring to a simmer. Transfer to the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the cabbage is very tender. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

( United Feature Syndicate

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