Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls
I've already had so much rich holiday food and it isn't Christmas yet, that I was honing for something a little less festive.  Not that these aren't festive, I guess I should say a little less "rich".  The Barefoot Contessa's recipe for these stuffed cabbage rolls struck just the right chord.

I believe that many of my friends in Nova Scotia actually have cabbage rolls as part of their Christmas dishes.  And I think that is a good tradition to follow.

Ingredients *

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice (I used two 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes.)  
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large head Savoy or green cabbage, including outer leaves (I used the green cabbage.)

For the filling:

2 1/2 pounds ground chuck (I used just a pound.)
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten (I used two large eggs.)
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, raisins, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Remove the entire core of the cabbage with a paring knife. Immerse the head of cabbage in the boiling water for a few minutes, peeling off each leaf with tongs as soon as it s flexible. Set the leaves aside. Depending on the size of each leaf, you will need at least 14 leaves.
For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, eggs, onion, breadcrumbs, rice, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add 1 cup of the sauce to the meat mixture and mix lightly with a fork.

Remove core.

Boil, and remove leaves as they become flexible, remove central rib. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To assemble, place 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Remove the hard triangular rib from the base of each cabbage leaf with a small paring knife. Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling in an oval shape near the rib edge of each leaf and roll up toward the outer edge, tucking the sides in as you roll. Place half the cabbage rolls, seam sides down, over the sauce. Add more sauce and more cabbage rolls alternately until you’ve placed all the cabbage rolls in the pot. Pour the remaining sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cover the dish tightly with the lid and bake for 1 hour or until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender. Serve hot.

Sauce in bottom of pan. 


Layer of stuffed cabbage rolls. 

Top with remaining sauce. Ready to cook in oven. 

Ready to eat. 

* Since I was making a serving for 4 instead of 6, I modified the amounts of some of the ingredients.

The "Children's" Table This Christmas

Since there will be ten for Christmas Eve Dinner, I will have to set up the card table in the den for the "Children's Table".  Actually the children are now grown, 15 to 22 years of age, so some of them will sit at the main dining table.  I may sit at the "Children's Table"---it's for the young at heart.  I did a trial run of decorating it today.  I had a red table cloth and will use my white dishes, but I did have to buy a few things.

I found a gold colored jewelry tree that I thought would be perfect as a centerpiece when adorned with small ornaments.  Using a Santa theme, I found these tiny little Santa ornaments at Pier One---they fit perfectly on the little tree.

I needed napkins to match the red tablecloth so these were just the thing---again at Pier One.

Carrying out the Santa theme, I found these little reindeer antler napkin rings.

I think it all went together nicely with a touch of whimsy for the young at heart. Maybe there will be jockeying as to who sits at this table.

Planning the Dining Table for Christmas

Table planned for Christmas Eve Dinner.
I've not yet cooked anything special for Christmas this year, but I have planned the dining table for our Christmas Eve Dinner.

My friend Boguska was here and she reminded me of the Christmas Dishes we bought last year. She and I were at a thrift store not long after Christmas last year and there was a 12 place setting of Christmas dishes with several serving pieces on sale for $60.00.  These dishes were made in Poland and Boguska came here from Poland many years ago. She wanted the dishes but didn't want to sink that much money into them.  I offered to buy half of them and then she and I would each have a six place setting and if we ever needed more we could borrow from each other.  I never thought it practical to invest in dishes that could only be used at Christmas, but for $30.00 I thought what the heck.

I decided the dishes were "fancy" enough to be the focal point of the table so I tried to keep other things simple.  For the centerpiece the grands had given me three small poinsettias that fit in the center of the table perfectly.  Those with a couple of silver candlesticks and green candles both of which I had and a string of silver beads was enough.

My white napkins I use only on special occasions so I washed and ironed them.  I looked around at several places for napkin rings with holly to match the holly on the dishes, but in the end I decided to use some silver ones that I already had.

The dishes are trimmed in gold, and I usually use silver rather than gold decorations, but if I can find a strand of gold beads I will add them to the center piece. Actually I think mixing gold and silver is rather nice.  I used my rattan chargers to not detract from the dishes and to keep things simple. The champagne glasses with the green stems will add a little color and will be perfect for the bubbly wine that I will serve.
Champagne glasses with green stems.

A place setting with dessert dish to the right. 
I like the simple holly design shown on the dessert plate here.  
The finished table. 

I can only comfortably seat six at the dining room table, and I'm expecting ten this year, so I will still have to decide on the decoration for the small table that I'll set up in the den.  Decorating the tables is one of my favorite things to do at Christmas.