My mother always claimed she didn’t like to cook. However, she managed to save a few recipes that are family favorites. One is her Russian Stuffed Cabbage. It’s a wonderful dish to eat on a cold winter’s day. (Not that we have those days often in Los Angeles)
This recipe is from my mother’s Russian roots. It’s sweetened with honey and raisins.
- 1 large cabbage
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 medium onions sliced
- 3 cups tomatoes canned (approx 1 28 oz can + a little more)
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- beef bones
- 1 lb ground beef
- 3 Tbsp rice uncooked
- 4 Tbsp onion grated
- 1 egg
- 3 Tbsp cold water
- 3 Tbsp honey
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup seedless raisins
- In a large pot, pour boiling water over the cabbage. cover and let soak for 15 minutes.
- Remove 12 leaves carefully. If leaves are small use 18. (After I removed the leaves I steamed the leaves slightly to further soften them - this is optional)
- Melt the butter in a deep, heavy saucepan. Lightly brown the onions in it.
- Add the tomatoes (I pulverized them in a food processor first) half the salt and pepper, and all the bones. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
- Mix together the ground beef, rice, grated onions, egg, the remainder of the salt and pepper and water.
- Place a dollop of meat mixture on each cabbage leaf. Tuck the soft part of the leaves around the mixture and roll carefully.
- Add the rolled cabbage leaves to the sauce. Cover and cook over low heat for 1½ hrs.
- Add the honey, lemon juice, raisins and cook for 30 minutes longer.
- This meal will serve 6 for a main dish and 12 as a 1st course.
A little family history
My mother’s father, Alexander Melinsky, immigrated from Buda, Russia in 1906, before the Russian Revolution and worked in the coal mines in Pennsylvania and Superior, Colorado. My grandmother’s family came from Slovakia.
In 1936, my grandfather was lured back to Russia after reading Soviet propaganda in Pravda. He wanted my grandmother and their 4 daughters to come with him but they refused. He headed to the Donbas coal mines in Ukraine to see what it was like. My mother received a few letters from him but then he disappeared and was never heard from again. Many ex-patriots were deliberately encouraged to come back to Russian and were murdered by Stalin during the Purge. It’s sad because we’ve never been able to find out what happened to him.
Where do your ancestors come from and what’s your favorite recipe from that region? Please leave a comment below.