Monday Morning Cooking Club: Recipes from the old world

My food inspiration stems from my Bubba (grandmother) Shendel but it is one of her daughters who inspires me the most. Aunty Myrna, my father’s older sister who passed away in 2004, was a horserace-loving, cigarette smoking, platinum blonde with a heart bigger than any. Polish-born, she immigrated to Melbourne as a young child in the 30s with my father and their family. She had a wonderful broad Australian ‘Carlton’ accent with just a hint of eastern Europe.

After Myrna married, she and husband Sol ran a tiny shop – part newsagent and part delicatessen – where truck drivers lined up for her superb homemade European delicacies. Sitting at her vinyl-clothed kitchen table with the ‘wireless’ on and the form guide open, she would force-feed me rugelach, tiny sultana strudels, butter chiffon.

I regret that my serious interest in her recipes came too late. Many of them are now lost and will never be made again. I miss her greatly but it is through the few recipes I did write down that she now stands beside me in my kitchen, beaming. And when I make her amazing cabbage rolls for my family, Aunty Myrna joins us at the table.

This is a pic (from L to R) of me, my sister in law Jo and Aunty Myrna from 2003.

 

Aunty Myrna

This recipe has recently been published in The Feast Goes On.

AUNTY MYRNA'S CABBAGE ROLLS
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This is home cooking at its most heartwarming. I imagine the addition of tomato soup was introduced in Australia, when she tried to replicate the flavours of her own childhood. The flavours do improve if allowed to sit in the fridge for a couple of days.
Servings
8serves
Servings
8serves
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Start this recipe at least one day before serving, as the flavours develop overnight.
  2. Core the cabbage and place in a large pot of cold water so that the cabbage is fully submerged. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the stovetop and allow to cool in the water. Remove when cool, separate the leaves and cut out the thick stalks with a knife.
  3. To make the sauce, you will need a large saucepan. Fry the onion in the oil over low heat until soft, around 20 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Set aside until needed.
  4. To make the filling, put the beef in a medium sized bowl. On a chopping board, using the back of a knife, press the garlic with the salt to form a paste. Add to the beef, along with the rice, onion and pepper. Season generously. Add the eggs and combine.
  5. To make the parcels, lay 1/4 cup of the filling in an oblong shape in the centre of a cabbage leaf. Fold in the ends and then roll up like a parcel. Place into the sauce, seam side down. Continue with all the filling and cabbage leaves, placing the rolls snugly side by side in the sauce. Any unused or torn leaves can be rolled up and stuffed into the gaps in the pan. Make sure all the rolls are covered with sauce.
  6. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 hours, basting from time to time. If the cabbage rolls start to dry out, add more water to cover.
  7. Place in the refrigerator when cool and reheat to serve the next day.
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[box]Once every month, I post a recipe as part of the virtual lunch table known as #LetsLunch.

Anyone interested can join this monthly ‘lunch date’ at any time. I adore all the posts from the U.S but would really love to see more Aussies be a part of it!

A topic is posted at the beginning of the month (everyone now takes it in turns) and all posts are made on the same day by this random but lovely group of food bloggers, writers and people who just love cooking from all around the world. Anyone can join at any time – just join us on twitter by searching and adding the hashtag #LetsLunch. At the end of the post I will add all the posts on this topic, once posted!

The topic this month is favourite childhood summer memories . . . but since we are in the middle of winter here in Sydney, it’s hard to channel summer. So I’m going to share my favourite childhood food memory, but it’s one that’s probably best enjoyed in the winter months.

Check out these amazing posts from the #LetsLunch folk. Who wants to join in next month?

Summer Memories: Salt Water Taffy from Karen

Check out an original; Mung Bean Popcicles from Grace

Or this Malaysian treat: Char Kuey Teow from Eleanor

From the land down under: Aunty Myrna’s Cabbage Rolls from Lisa

A Filipino delight: Suam na Mais from Betty Ann

Aunty Number one’s dish (love the title):Fresh Peach Ice Cream from Linda

Poolside noodles in Singapore: Char Bee Hoon from Cheryl

A clever “sammy” of ham & eggs from Vivian[/box]

Did you love this post? Don’t miss out on our original collection in “Monday Morning Cooking Club

or our latest collection in “The Feast Goes On

Want to keep up with the Monday Morning Cooking Club girls? Click here!

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6 Comments

  1. HapaMama

    Aunty Myrna sounds like a gem! And I love cabbage rolls.

  2. A Tiger in the Kitchen

    I LOVE cabbage rolls — and that picture! I have this bursting folder of your awesome recipes to try. Still hoping we’ll get to cook together someday…! xx

  3. Ruth

    Very traditional dish served on Succot.
    Great recipe – thank you

  4. Portia Asher

    My mother only made one good meal..Prakas or cabbage rolls…I learned from her and her recipe was very similar, but…no soup or lemon juice, but tomato paste and sour salt for the taste of Russia.. She learned from her mother, and I’m 84, so this is an old recipe.

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