13 March 2013


This inexpensive, yummy dish comes from The Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook (1966) - or rather, it comes from the Ukraine. The word (hull-oop-tcheh) means "little pigeons"; with a meatless filling, these cabbage rolls are traditionally served at the Christmas Eve supper. They take about half an hour to make, and need about an hour and a half in the oven. The various steps make it seem (in our instant world) rather complicated, but there are just a few, common ingredients, and the method proceeds step by step.
First make the rice for the filling - combine 2 cups boiling water, 2 teaspoons salt (or less), and 2 cups (white) rice in a saucepan - bring to the boil, then cover and take off the heat. Let it sit to absorb the water.

Then prepare the cabbage. Use a "loose" cabbage - this one is called green cabbage and the leaves peel off easily. The supermarket had a "2 for 1" on (small, green) cabbage, and I used the outer leaves of both to make 16 cabbage rolls, but had some rice left over. The original recipe says "Makes about 30". The original recipe also assumes you are using a dense "white" cabbage, and gets complicated about cutting out the core ... do not use a solid white cabbage: getting the leaves off is fiddly. Use a green cabbage. 

To prepare the cabbage, separate the leaves, then cut off the thick part of the rib, trying to leave a thin layer of rib right down to the bottom of the leaf - this will help with the rolling. Put the leaves in a big pan, and pour boiling water over them - this softens the leaves so that they can be rolled around the filling. Take them out of the water in a few minutes, when they are bright green and limp. 

Meanwhile you can be chopping a medium (white) onion and melting 1/4 cup (50g) butter in a pan over medium heat, then adding the onions and letting them go golden. By now the rice will be ready - mix the onion into it, adding salt and pepper as desired.

Preheat the oven to 350F, 180C, gas4, fan 160C - ie, medium.

My rolls went straight into the casserole, but the recipe advocates greasing the casserole and putting extra leaves on the bottom.

Now make the rolls. Take a (drained) leaf, put a big spoonful of rice on it, fold the bottom (rib end) up, then the sides in, and the top over - and place in the casserole. Layer the rolls in the casserole till all are done.

Make the tomato sauce by liquidising a tin of tomatoes, adding 2 tablespoons melted butter, a teaspoon of salt (or less), and some pepper. Pour over the holubtse: "the liquid should barely show between the rolls."
"To protect the top from scorching, place a large leaf of cabbage over the top before covering tightly."

Oops, I didn't notice the next instruction in the recipe:  "cover tightly" - so the sauce evaporated rather, and the leaf went rather crispy!

Bake (temps above) for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. "Serve hot, with crisp bacon, sour cream, or any favourite sauce" - tomato sauce or mushroom sauce would be good. We had it with plain greek yogurt.

1 comment:

Olga said...

Ah - a Canadian/Ukrainian version of cooked Dolmathes that my Greek grandmother used to make! They could either be fasting ones - with rice, like yours, or with cooked mince, when they were a meal in themselves. The fasting ones were usually eaten with another vegetable and chickpea dish, but I sometimes have them with grilled trout.