On our first occasion cooking together after Thanksgiving, Jola put me right to work. On this particular day we were making Kraut Wickel and in between we were working on a batch of Christstollen, a delicious, German Christmas specialty that is a mix between fruit cake and raisin bread with powdered sugar.
To make the main course Heinz readied huge, fresh cabbage leaves. He cleaned them, rinsed them and then cut the ribs out. Not pulling the leaves apart, he just shaved them down, making it easier to roll them. He soaked them in boiling water to soften them more. We layed them out two by two sometimes three depending, and made 10-12 nice beds for the filling.
Jola used stale bread instead of bread crumbs. She put it in warm water to soften it up and then squeezed the water out.
Meanwhile we mixed up the filling. As we put things together she asked me if I wanted to peel the onion and handed me the knife. Then she she asked how finely I could chop onions. Not really knowing I said, “I don’t know, how finely can you chop them?” She showed me. Wow, she can chop them really fine. I have to steal her technique…or maybe just practice more. Even her method of pealing onions is fast and with a dull knife too!
The filling was made with the finely chopped onions, garlic, ground beef, eggs, salt, pepper, and a lot of dried marjoram. We mixed it and rolled them into small potato shapes, laying each one into the center of the prepared cabbage leaf beds. Jola showed me how to roll them and tied a piece of thread around them. Then she let me do the rest of the rolling, saying she thinks it’s too much work. Next we placed them together on a heavily buttered (actually margarined, and when I say heavily I mean approximately 1/3 cup) rimmed baking sheet.
With the oven preheated 225 Celsius, Jola made a quick sauce and poured it over the cabbage rolls. She let them cook for close to 1.5 hours and then they were finished. That evening we ate them with rice. I’m still mezmerized by Jola’s rice method and use it now every time I make rice.
The Stollen had only finished its first rise by the time we finished dinner. So we are planning another date when I’ll be at their house to put it in the oven and then powder it with sugar when it comes out. I’ll dedicate another blog to Stollen and other Christmas delights.
Just a shout out to my mom. She makes a similar stuffed cabbage but she uses a sweeter tomato sauce. I really like combination of the savory cabbage pockets with the sweet tomatoes. If I ever cook it for Jola, I’ll probably make it with my mom’s sauce.
Later that night I told Thorsten about how much more I was allowed to do in the kitchen this week. He said, “that’s probably because after you cooked Thanksgiving, Jola told me that she doesn’t really think you need cooking lessons anymore.”
Luckily, she still asks me each week which day I can come over for cooking. Win!