My sister became a terrific cook long before I even learned to turn on an oven. True, she made some batches of grainy fudge in the kitchen of our Cleveland home when we were kids, but that didn't deter her from continually trying new recipes and then perfecting them to suit her taste.
Bobbie married, and while raising a family, also owned and operated a delicatessen on Cleveland's west side for 25 years. I don't know how she could even look at more food after eight hours a day in the deli, but every night dinner was on the table--homemade meals, not convenience foods.
Many of her recipes came originally from family and friends. Often, like this one for stuffed cabbage rolls, they were passed along just by word of mouth. While making the recipe recently, she took time to measure and write down the ingredients.
It's easier and more versatile than most recipes I've seen in cookbooks--the stuffing doesn't require any pre-cooking, the sauce is diluted tomato soup, and it can be either baked in the oven or simmered on top of the range. One recipe makes more than two dozen cabbage rolls, but they freeze well for future meals.
After combining the ingredients for the stuffing, prepare the cabbage by slicing off the stem end deeply enough that the outer leaves begin separating from the core (Step 1).
Submerge the cabbage in a large pot of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, then lift it out and drain it in a colander under cold running water until it is cool enough to handle. Carefully remove the cabbage leaves (Step 2), leaving each one whole.
It may be necessary to cut around the core with a paring knife (Step 3) to loosen the inner leaves. If they are still difficult to remove, submerge the cabbage in the boiling water for a couple more minutes.
The large white core and vein at the base of each leaf tends to be tough and should be trimmed away (Step 4) and discarded. If you cut the largest leaves in half, one good-size head of cabbage provides the 26 leaves needed to use all the stuffing mixture.
Fill the leaves by spreading each one flat on a work surface. Place a spoonful of stuffing near the bottom of each leaf and roll burrito fashion (Step 5), folding the sides in over the filling and rolling up from the bottom. The stuffed cabbage leaves may be cooked immediately or packaged in freezer-weight plastic food bags and frozen.
To finish preparing four servings, scatter a half cup of sauerkraut over the bottom of a lightly greased 8-inch-square baking dish. Place eight rolls in a single layer, seam-side down (Step 6), over the sauerkraut.
Drizzle the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls (Step 7), then scatter more sauerkraut over the top (Step 8). Cover and bake, or simmer on top of the range.
The cabbage rolls are ready to spoon onto plates (Step 9) when piping hot and the filling is cooked through. Serve with sour cream, if desired.
BOBBIE'S STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS 2 pounds ground beef 1 pound ground pork 3 eggs, beaten 1 tablespoon salt 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper 1 tablespoon chopped parsley 3/4 cup raw converted rice 1 large head green cabbage 1 cup sauerkraut 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato soup Sour cream, optional
Combine beef, pork, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley and rice in large bowl. Set mixture aside for use as stuffing.
Cut stem end from cabbage deeply enough to start separation of outer leaves from core. Submerge cabbage in large pot of boiling water 3 to 4 minutes. Remove cabbage and drain in colander under cold running water until cool enough to handle.
Carefully remove cabbage leaves, leaving whole. If necessary, use paring knife to cut around core to loosen inner leaves.
Cut away large white vein from base of each leaf and discard. Cut largest leaves in half.
Spread each leaf out on flat surface. Spoon 1/4 cup reserved stuffing near bottom and roll burrito fashion, folding in sides over filling and rolling up from bottom.
Cabbage rolls may be cooked immediately or frozen. Makes 26 cabbage rolls.
To prepare 4 servings, scatter 1/2 cup sauerkraut over bottom of lightly greased 8-inch-square baking dish. Place 8 cabbage rolls in single layer, seam-side down, over sauerkraut.
Combine soup with equal amount of water. Drizzle over cabbage rolls, then scatter remaining 1/2 cup sauerkraut over top. Cover and bake at 325 degrees 1 1/2 hours, until piping hot and filling is cooked through. Serve with sour cream. Makes 4 servings.
\o7 Note:\f7 Cabbage rolls may also be placed in Dutch oven and simmered, covered, on top of range.
Each serving contains about: 135 calories; 456 mg sodium; 53 mg cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 0.44 gram fiber.