Of Cabbages, Kings and the Kåldolmar

“The time has come…to talk of many things” – The walrus and the carpenter

And how about some stuffed cabbage for a conversation starter? As a rule, I am resolutely indifferent to coleslaw and a limp meh floats up to the surface at the idea of sauerkraut. Also, I am pretty sure I have some repressed memories of a very ugly incident involving cabbage soup diet. So at best, cabbage and I have a tentative but mostly peaceful relationship with each other. After years of lukewarm flirtation with the vegetable, it was time…time to take it to the next level. And so, on the menu tonight chez nous, were the Swedish stuffed cabbage rolls Kåldolmar.

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Meera and I had a brief, but admittedly uninspiring tryst, with the Russian version of stuffed cabbage, the Golubtsy. And really, you have to admit, Golubtsy…Halubtsy…Golabki…or Watchmacalli-ski, a stuffed cabbage is a stuffed cabbage is a stuffed cabbage. I mean, we were certainly not expecting the angels in Asgard to sing in chorus and the heavens to rain down in appreciation of our Swedish cabbage rolls. And while it is true that the Norse Gods have not yet officially spoken to us (at least the last time we checked,) it is also true that this stuffed cabbage business has well…knocked our socks off. Personal favorite alert!

Our cabbage was in full bloom. She was a thing of beauty and I might have fallen a little in love I think. Sigh…

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The first task at hand was to remove the lush green leaves from the cabbage that would go on to make the wrapping for our filling. The best technique for this is to immerse the cabbage in a big pot of boiling hot water for about 2-3 mins and when the leaves have cooked barely, carefully pry the outer leaves loose from the head, and dunk them into cold water. This act of blanching preserves the vibrant color of the cabbage leaves and avoids overcooking the cabbage. Remember, be gentle when you disrobe the cabbage (Okay, so I am a little smitten with a vegetable, sue me!)

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Remove the leaves, cut out the hard portion of the stem and place a small amount of filling (recipe for the filling below) in the middle of the leaf and gently roll the leaf and tuck the ends, to make a tightly wrapped roll.

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The Swedish twist to your cabbage roll du jour is the syrup-sauce. Spoon some of this on the Kåldolmar and yeah baby, I am in for the long haul!

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For the Filling

Ground pork – 1/2 lb

Ground beef – 1/2 lb

Onion -1, chopped

Fresh thyme

Fresh parsley

Egg – 1

Whipping cream – 3 tbsp

Bread crumbs – 1/2 cup

Cooked rice (any variety will do) – 1/2 cup

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients, except for the rice, and then give a quick grind in a food processor. To this mix, fold in the cooked rice. Keep the filling aside.

Prepare the cabbage leaves (about 8-10) and create the rolls, as mentioned earlier.

For the Sauce

Butter – 3 tbsp

Swedish dark syrup (or molasses) – 2 tbsp

White wine – 1/4 cup

Whipping cream- 1/2 cup

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 deg C. Heat the butter and the syrup together in a saucepan over med-high heat. Place the cabbage rolls in the pan (seam side down) and once it gets cooked to a golden color, turn it over to the other side. Arrange the cabbage rolls in a casserole. To the saucepan, which has the left-over butter and syrup mix, add the white wine and turn the heat on high, for deglazing. After about 3 minutes, spoon this sauce over the arranged cabbage rolls. Bake the cabbage rolls for about 45 minutes. Remove them from the oven and strain the juices in the casserole, onto a saucepan. Add the whipping cream and heat for about a minute. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon this delicious sauce over the cabbage rolls. Serve with lingonberries.

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