Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

However you roll it, cabbage comes up winner

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Minnie Moldowan, and several readers after her, had requested different cabbage roll fillings.

The various recipes that came in would all be good and I wish I had room to share all of them. Three of them are featured today, each with a different taste and hints from the contributor.

Thanks to Terri Kushner for the hamburger and rice version, to Edna Mroz of Beausejour for the buckwheat recipe, and to Irene Ellis of Toronto for the meatless rice version. Thanks also to Val Metselaar, Rosemary Chapman, Eleanor Brunette, Therese Dumesnil, Kathy Blight, Emily Lucko, Florence Bouchard, Lil Charney, and Linda Snider of Glenboro, most of whom sent multiple recipes.

New requests from readers: Natalie Lenkewich would like to track down an old recipe for Danish chocolate cake that her mother used to make.

Florence Bouchard asks for recommended recipes for Chinese sweet and sour chicken balls and honey garlic ribs.

Lastly, Genevieve Jones would like to be able to duplicate DeLuca's ragu sauce that they sell in jars.

If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Darlene Henderson, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.

Hamburger and rice cabbage rolls


900 g (2 lbs) extra lean hamburger

1 medium onion - very finely minced in processor

Heaping 10 ml (2 heaping tsp) minced garlic

5 ml (1 tsp) salt (at least)

Several grindings of black pepper

1 ml (1/4 tsp) Old Bay seasoning (or something similar and tangy)

80 ml (1/3 cup) rice

Partially parboil rice by placing in 500 ml (2 cups) of water and boil for 7 minutes; drain. Combine all filling ingredients. (The beef, onion and garlic are used raw.) Fill leaves, roll and place in large roaster. This is enough filling for one cabbage.


I keep a cabbage in the freezer all the time so that whenever the mood strikes I can make cabbage rolls. Freeze a cabbage, as it comes from the store, in a large plastic bag. Remove the cabbage from the freezer the night before you want to use it and put it in the sink to thaw. Remove the core (easier to do after it has been frozen) and gently peel back the leaves. If necessary, remove more core as more leaves are removed. If some leaves are too large, cut in half.


2 - 398 ml tins of tomato sauce

15 ml (3 tsp) lemon juice

125 ml (1/2 cup plus) brown sugar, to taste

1 ml (1/4 tsp) garlic powder

1 ml (1/4 tsp) onion powder

Combine all ingredients and add more sugar and play with seasonings for desired sweet and sour taste. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls in pan. Cover with foil and bake at 160 C (325 F) for about 75 minutes. Then check to see how much liquid is in pan. If you use a frozen cabbage it can get quite watery. Remove foil, increase heat to 175 C (350 F) and bake for at least another 45 minutes until done.

Taste Tester Notes: These are very meaty with a tangy sauce that you can adjust to your taste. If part of your cabbage is still icy when ready to use, remove the thawed leaves and place remainder in scalding water briefly as needed. When preparing your leaves, cut out thick ribs. You can trim the leaves depending on the size of rolls you prefer. As the meat is not pre-cooked and drained, it is important to use extra lean beef. I baked these in an extra deep, over-sized lasagna pan that I lined with foil and most fit on a single layer and some on a second layer. I kept these covered for almost the entire baking time at the lower temperature, until the cabbage was fork tender. If your sauce is too watery, then uncovering the rolls will help to rid of excess moisture. Check to make sure the top rolls are not drying out, and baste with sauce as needed.


Buckwheat cabbage rolls

500 ml (2 cups) buckwheat

250 ml (1 cup) rice

875 ml (3 1/2 cups) water

10 ml (2 tsp) salt

Large head of cabbage or 2 medium

250 ml (1 cup) chopped bacon, fried until brown

125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped onions, fried until light brown

Salt and pepper to taste

60 ml (4 tbsp) shortening

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) water

Place first amount of water and salt in pot. Add rice and boil hard for 2 minutes. Add buckwheat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat before all the water is gone. Stir and let sit until all water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, core cabbage and put in a large kettle to steam. Watch closely and remove leaves as soon as they loosen from head. Remove any remaining core and remove large veins from each leaf so they will fold easily.

Add fried onions and bacon to the buckwheat/rice mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roll in cabbage leaves and place in roaster. Season each layer with salt and pepper. Mix shortening into second amount of water and pour over. Cover roaster tightly and bake at 160 C (325 F) for 2 to 3 hours. Cabbage rolls are done when fork will go through roll easily.

Taste Tester Notes: Toast buckwheat before using by spreading on a baking sheet in a 175 C (350 F) oven for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until golden brown and fragrant. Watch carefully near the end so it does not burn. If you prefer not to use bacon, these would also be good without it, but you might want to add some oil or melted butter to the filling, or additional fried onions. I lined the roaster with unused cabbage leaves and also put a layer on top to keep the rolls from scorching. Some recipes suggested topping with tomato juice or soup when baking. When serving, you can drizzle with sautéed onions and butter, or serve with sour cream on the side and chopped green onions.


Meatless rice cabbage rolls


Core head, put into large kettle of simmering water and steam about 10 minutes for one head at a time. Drain and let cool before taking apart the entire heads into piles of leaves. Trim off the ribs with a paring knife.

Use the largest and smallest leaves to line the bottom and sides of the casserole or roaster. This will prevent the rolls from getting too brown on the bottom.


500 ml (2 cups) long grain rice

875 ml (3 1/2 cups) water

5 ml (1 tsp) salt

1 large or 2 medium onions

45 ml (3 tbsp) oil, margarine or butter

796 ml (28 oz) can diced tomatoes

250 ml (1 cup) tomato juice (in addition to the above juice)

Pepper to taste

Optional: 1 green pepper and/or 3 stalks celery 

Bring rice, water, salt to a simmer; cover and steam 20 minutes. Rice will be dry.

Finely chop onion (and additional vegetables if using). Cook in oil over low heat until soft, but not brown.

Drain juice from tomatoes and set each aside. Put warm rice into a large mixing bowl, add onion, both tomato juices, and ground pepper to taste. It's very important to slightly overseason the filling as cabbage soaks up the excess. Add enough salt and pepper to give a real bite.

Place rolls in cabbage-lined casserole or roaster and spread the drained tomatoes over the top. Tightly cover. (Can refrigerate overnight before baking if you like.) Bake at 150 C (300 F) for about 2 hours or until done.

Taste Tester Notes: These are good meatless rolls, but if you'd like to include meat, similar recipes had the addition of fried hamburger and/or bacon, and amounts can be according to your taste. Other recipes called for using cooked brown rice and adding dill to the filling. When steaming leaves, be careful not to over do them, or they will start to turn mushy (you just want them pliable).


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 17, 2010 D4

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