Slavic Cabbage Rolls (My First Attempt) and The Huffington Post

>> Friday, April 8, 2011

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I hope everyone is starting off their weekend well. I just found out that I'm on the Huffington Post (again), and that's a pretty neat way to start off the weekend. The feature this time is for "Ten Recipes To Jazz Up Your Weekend Breakfast." and mine is the Strawberry Banana Soy Breakfast Shake. Their selection (made by Honest Cooking) is a great collection of recipes so do make sure you check it out. Congrats to all the other featured bloggers too!! Now on to my recipe, hope you enjoy it.

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Cabbage rolls, or stuffed cabbage, are one of those dishes that span many countries all with unique variations. To many of you cabbage rolls (stuffed cabbage) are a very common dish, perhaps even one you grew up with. To me it is still a fairly new one. I don't have any childhood memories of my mother making cabbage rolls for us. Now that I think about it I've never seen cabbage rolls on any authentic Mexican menus. Perhaps they do exist but I've never had the pleasure of eating one. The first time I ate one was about 5 years ago in Berlin, Germany. The first time I saw them on the menu I knew immediately what I was having for lunch. The waitress set down a cabbage roll the size of my head with a light and creamy white sauce over it, I wish I would have taken a photo. With huge anticipation and a big smile on my face I took my first bite, I loved it! My husband having grown up with cabbage rolls also agreed that they were fantastic. From that day forward every trip we made to Berlin we went to Joe´s Wirtshaus Restaurant right down the street from the Zoologischer train station. On several trips we even had both our lunch and dinner there, much to the amusement of the staff. Sadly I just learned that after 15 years they have closed down. I will greatly miss Joe's and all of their fantastic German cuisine. Auf Wiedersehen und danke Joe's.

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The only times I have eaten cabbage rolls have been on our trips to Berlin, maybe because I felt no others could compare. Czechs also eat cabbage rolls but so far I've only found them in the frozen food section and I rather have them fresh. A couple of weeks ago while reminiscing about Joe's cabbage rolls I made it my mission to learn to make them. I searched high and low for a recipe that sounded or looked similar to Joe's. I wasn't able to find one so instead I settled for a standard regional version. In Czech they are called Holubky, in Russian Golubtsy, and in Polish Golabki. Both the names and ingredients are quite similar. Over the days I decided to wing it and experiment with my own take of a slavic variation. I used a local variety of white cabbage, typical Czech spices, the meat is a commonly found mix of ground pork and ground beef mixture. I didn't really follow a specific recipe, instead I read through many to get the idea of the standard ingredients used. So you could call these a Mexican girl's take on Slavic cabbage rolls, sounds kinda funny.

Makes 12 rolls or 3-4 servings

1 head of white cabbage (700 grams)
1.75 lb. (or 800 g) ground pork and ground beef mix, or use just beef
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup raw long grain rice, or 2 cups/400 grams cooked
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. sweet paprika
handful finely chopped fresh parsley

Tomato sauce to pour over the rolls before baking

1. Boil the rice and set aside to cool down. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove any damaged or bruised outer leaves from the cabbage and discard. The first thing to be done is to soften the cabbage leaves in order to make them soft and bendable enough to roll up. Peel away the cabbage leaves from the cabbage and place in boiling water for upto 10 minutes or until soft and bendable. Remove each leaf from pot with a pair of thongs then set aside to drain.

Slavic Cabbage Rolls; spicie foodie; Spicie Foodie blog; Cabbage Rolls; recipe; rice; pork; beef; tomato sauce; borscht; beet soup; ukrainian beet soup
2. Preheat the oven to 200C or 392F. In a large mixing bowl combine the meat, rice and all of the spices. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated and spices are well distributed. Grab a softened cabbage leave and spread some meat mixture towards one end of the leaf. Tuck, fold and roll the cabbage then set the roll aside. Repeat until all of the meat filling is used up, this recipe made 12 medium rolls. Place the rolls inside a deep baking dish. There will be extra leftover cabbage that can either be placed on the bottom of the baking dish to form a bed on which the cabbage rolls are placed over to bake. In addition I also used some of the remaining cabbage to add to the tomato sauce. Finely chopped the extra or remaining cabbage and mix with the tomato sauce.

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3. Pour the tomato sauce over the cabbage roll. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, place the baking dish in the center of the of oven. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove aluminum. Look at the cabbage and use a fork to test the softness of the cabbage leaves, making sure they are soft and wilted. Once cabbage rolls are soft bake uncovered a further 10 minutes to allow the tomato sauce to thicken.

Czech Cabbage Rolls; cabbage roll filling; Cabbage Rolls; spicie foodie; spicie foodie; Spicie Foodie blog; recipe; rice; pork; beef; beet soup; borscht; Polish Cabbage Rolls; Easy cabbage rolls; Polish; Czech; Ukrainian; Russian
In honor of Joe's I served with them with mash potatoes. To add to the whole slavic theme I also served a small bowl of Ukrainian Borscht,beet soup, as an appetizer. These may not be Joe's cabbage rolls but if I do say so myself, not bad for a first attempt.
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Do you guys have any tips or recipes for cabbage rolls similar to the ones served at Joe's?


Pegasuslegend April 8, 2011 at 7:06 PM  

Well you aced this one the first try these are gorgeous and filled to perfection!

Paaka Shaale April 8, 2011 at 7:20 PM  

What a wonderful recipe. I would love to make a veggie version of this. I really loved that doll. It's too cute :)

Michelle Chin April 8, 2011 at 7:24 PM  

Wow, you're such a problogger!

Spicie Foodie April 8, 2011 at 7:39 PM  

@Claudia, Thank you!

@Paaka Shaale, Oooh I would love to see your veggie version. My mouth is watering thinking about that. Thanks, she's from Ukraine and a gift from my husband.

@Michelle, :)

vdaiana April 8, 2011 at 7:39 PM  

This is a traditional dish in Romania, but made with sour cabbage. They are called 'sarmale'. Your cabbage rolls are great! You rolled them perfectly! They look very tasty too!

MsByn April 8, 2011 at 7:43 PM  

I have no tips or advice because I've never made these before, but I think my husband would LOVE LOVE LOVE these. They look gorgeous, too!

She's Cookin' April 8, 2011 at 8:14 PM  

That's so great, Nancy! Congrats on the Huff Post and I think your cabbage rolls look fantastic! I've had haloupki's (Polish) made by a good friends mother every year when she visits them - sooo delicious! I just made some cabbage-wrapped halibut that I'm posting next week :) Have a great weekend!

Heather Lynne April 8, 2011 at 8:33 PM  

I am totally making these! My grandparents are Slovak and my grandma used to make this dish for us. She has since passed but my granddad and father would LOVE it if I recreated this favorite of theirs! Thanks for sharing!

Kankana April 8, 2011 at 8:44 PM  

My husband introduced me to cabbage rolls, of course his version had different kinda filling. It taste awsm, except it was deep fried and after having like 2 or 3 you can't .. because it's too oily. I like your version of baking it. I will show this to Arvind tonight. he is gonna love it! :)

Alina---Explora Cuisine April 8, 2011 at 8:58 PM  

In Romania we make cabbage rolls a little bit different, with sour cabbage, I will post them soon so you can see our version :) either way, I think that your cabbage rolls look really beautiful, and I bet they have an amazing taste!

Magic of Spice April 8, 2011 at 8:59 PM  

They look perfect Nancy! I have had cabbage rolls (veggie versions) and made meat versions for other many times. I did indeed grow up around them, but I agree they must be fresh :)
The photos are gorgeous as well...
Congrats again on the second feature :)

Magic of Spice April 8, 2011 at 9:00 PM  

P.S. did I every tell you I am afraid of dolls? LOL

Megan April 8, 2011 at 9:05 PM  

I LOVE cabbage and this looks delicious!

Claudia April 8, 2011 at 9:20 PM  

I've never mastered these - but when I go to our local Ukranian restaurant I always need to have at least one. Your first attempt is luscious. Mine was ... not. That's why I come here! Congrats on the Huff-Post article - it's all such fun!

Sarah April 8, 2011 at 9:43 PM  

Wow-just as I was about to ride off cabbage for the season you sucked me right back in. Great photos! I'm definitely bookmarking this recipe!

Sandra April 8, 2011 at 9:49 PM  

You made it beautifully like a pro..
You know that I grow up on those, a lot of those..I tried them like this and with sour cabbage such as pickled cabbage and cooked in the pot on the stove:))Great job, and your photos are outstanding!

Healthy Mamma April 8, 2011 at 10:08 PM  

These look and sound wonderful. Cabbage rolls are one of my husbands fav's and yet I've not attempted to make them. The ones I had growing up were slow cooked in heavy tomato soup, blah. I happen to loooove veggies, not smothering them to death ;)
I will try your recipe next week. My husband thanks you. ;)

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table April 8, 2011 at 10:14 PM  

Look at you! So cool to be on the Huff - congrats! :)

Belinda @zomppa April 9, 2011 at 12:09 AM  

These rolls look amazing! Loving the sauce.

Julia @ DimpleArts April 9, 2011 at 3:05 AM  

I grew up with golubtsi, and these are beautiful!

muppy April 9, 2011 at 6:44 AM  

They look really good, so neat. i have never tried cabbage rolls but i'm not a big fan of cabbage.

Hester Casey - Alchemy April 9, 2011 at 6:56 AM  

Oooh I haven't had cabbage rolls for years. My mam used to make them and I just loved them. Going to have to make them this weekend, thanks for the recipe and the reminder that they are so fantastic.

Victor April 9, 2011 at 9:31 AM  

I haven't made cabbage rolls for a while, I should think of making it soon.

I read the Huffington post daily, I can't believe I miss that. Congratz!

Lizzy April 9, 2011 at 10:19 AM  

How beautiful are these? YUM. Simple but delicious...I!

spcookiequeen April 9, 2011 at 12:30 PM  

I love it, I can say, I knew her when. Congrats. My husbands Aunt makes these every year for New Years Day. I love your rolling technique, you look like a professional. I shouldn't wait to New Years for these and try your recipes.

Sandra April 9, 2011 at 9:24 PM  

You did a great job and Congrats again on making it into the Huffington post. Years ago when I was catering, we made over 300 cabbage rolls for a wedding reception. That was tiring!

Kate@Diethood April 9, 2011 at 11:47 PM  

Congrats on making Huffington Post, again!!

I am one of those that grew up on stuffed cabbage rolls... we make them with brined cabbage, mixture of minced beef and pork, rice, and some local spices. Delicious meal, indeed.

Indonesian In Turkey April 10, 2011 at 4:20 AM  

it looks wonderful recipe and yummy good looking meal... ^_^

Tamar1973 April 10, 2011 at 6:00 AM  

My Czech grandmother in law makes a beef and a vegetarian version that are out of this world. One of her secrets is Sacramento tomato juice. :)

Spicie Foodie April 10, 2011 at 9:02 AM  

Thank you guys and I can see that everyone loves cabbage rolls.

To the Romanians that commented, Thanks for all of the information. Your versions sound really good too. I will be looking for those 'sarmale' recipes.

Conor @ Hold the Beef April 10, 2011 at 9:13 AM  

Firstly, big congrats!!

Secondly, these are a bit difficult to look at.. I only recently discovered some delicious cabbage rolls at my local Vietnamese restaurant, and then I started my elimination diet with includes NO CABBAGE! Ack! Still, I am allowed to look, at least :)

Spicie Foodie April 10, 2011 at 10:29 AM  

Hi Conor, Thank you so much :) I'm sorry that you can't eat cabbage either :( That sucks! I hope your elimination diet will end soon and you are feeling better.

Betty @ scrambled hen fruit April 10, 2011 at 11:55 AM  

We ate cabbage all the time growing up, but never cabbage rolls. Your version here looks delicious. Congratulations on making it into the Post again!

Anne April 10, 2011 at 4:14 PM  

I like to add some currants to the meat mixture.

Nina April 10, 2011 at 6:58 PM  

my grandma makes such cabbage rolls - I like them! we eat with tomato sauce

yours rolls seem to be perfect :)

Pacheco Patty April 10, 2011 at 7:10 PM  

You make these cabbage rolls look easy;-)
I have a head of cabbage, it came in my veggie box and I hadn't decided what to do with it yet, like I said you make it look easy maybe a little bit of your expertise will rub off on me, lol;-)
Congratulations on your articles making it to the Huffington Post again, that's very cool and a nice accomplishment;-)

briarrose April 11, 2011 at 8:19 AM  

These have to be the prettiest cabbage rolls I have every seen. Beautiful job.

penny aka jeroxie April 11, 2011 at 9:16 AM  

That is super awesome! Congras babe :)

Anonymous,  April 11, 2011 at 2:50 PM  

awesome. bookmarking this for later!

Nikki @ The Tolerant Vegan April 11, 2011 at 4:17 PM  

These rolls are gorgeous! So much thicker and more presentable than the ones I grew up eating, which had very thin leaves and just fell apart into a mess the moment you stabbed them with a fork. These are a masterpiece!

Anonymous,  April 11, 2011 at 5:02 PM  

Sarma baby.... wonderful job they look so good:)

Stella April 11, 2011 at 6:04 PM  

Whoa, those rolls look perfect, Nancy! I love a good cabbage roll. I can't say that I've had Slavic (just Lebanese), but I know a cabbage roll with structural integrity when I see one. You know?! The kind that doesn't fall apart easily. Plus, yours look like they taste good too;-)
p.s. Congrats on being in the Huffington Post-that's so neat!

Anonymous,  April 11, 2011 at 8:15 PM  

These rolls are gorgeous. I made them once but it was so time consuming and it didn't turn out as beautiful as yours.:-) Thanks for sharing your story.

Dina April 13, 2011 at 11:21 AM  

i am hungry now! i love stuffed cabbage. looks great.

OliveOil April 17, 2011 at 10:43 PM  

Now I am seeing cabbages in a different way.Nice recipe you have here!

Kirsten April 29, 2011 at 9:06 PM  

I tried out this recipe, and it turned out great!

Thanks so much! :)

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