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Stuffed cabbage


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#1 Malawry

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 03:33 PM

I'm hankering for some stuffed cabbage. I have in mind the sort you get from the counter at a Kosher deli--filled with ground beef and rice, in a thin sauce with tomato and raisin. I picked up some sour salt at the Kosher market yesterday in preparation for making this dish, and today I started looking through my cookbooks to get an idea of how to make this.

Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America presents a version made with cranberries, and suggests a more simple ketchup-brown sugar-sour salt version for those not into nouvelle New England Jewish cookery. But neither of these sounds like what I'm looking for. Also, I've not worked with sour salt before and don't know how much to add "to taste" to a batch.

Alternative versions of this classic dish are of course welcome in this topic as well. I'm looking for stricter guidance on the one I have in mind if possible.

#2 Pam R

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 03:58 PM

Alternative versions of this classic dish are of course welcome in this topic as well. I'm looking for stricter guidance on the one I have in mind if possible.

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My baba always used some canned manishewitz tomato soup in hers. I don't know why, but damn was it good. She would also add some chunks of meat to the 'sauce'. :wub:

I use sour salt in borscht - but I jsut sprinkle it in, stir and taste. If it's not sour enough I add more. :biggrin: A pot of borscht probably gets 1/2-1 tsp of salt.

Now I want some too.

#3 mizducky

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 04:37 PM

Here's the recipe for Holishkes from the venerable Jewish cookbook I inherited from my mother:

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1 egg
1 onion, grated
1 carrot, grated
1/4 tsp. salt
10 or 12 cabbage leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice or vinegar, OR 1/8 tsp. citric acid crystals A.K.A. sour salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned tomato sauce
Water to cover

Combine ground beef, rice, egg, onion, carrot, and salt. Blanch and drain cabbage leaves. Stuff leaves with the ground beef mixture, place in a deep ovenproof skillet with a lid, one just big enough to hold all the rolls in a single layer. Combine your souring agent of choice, the brown sugar, and the tomato sauce; pour over cabbage rolls; add just enough water so that the rolls are covered. Simmer tightly covered over moderate heat for 40-50 minutes, then bake uncovered in moderate oven 20 minutes to brown. [Note: my mother never finished her holishkes in the oven--she cooked them on the stovetop start to finish.]

#4 Malawry

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 04:50 PM

I shoulda known you two would swim in and comment on this one. :wub:

It seems like recipes for stuffed cabbage are full of shortcuts--calling for canned tomato soup, ketchup, or other tomato products especially. I think it's that making anything stuffed is automatically extra work--and anything that gets this dish in the oven quickly before Shabbat has to be a bonus.

#5 mizducky

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 05:38 PM

I shoulda known you two would swim in and comment on this one. :wub:

It seems like recipes for stuffed cabbage are full of shortcuts--calling for canned tomato soup, ketchup, or other tomato products especially. I think it's that making anything stuffed is automatically extra work--and anything that gets this dish in the oven quickly before Shabbat has to be a bonus.

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Heh. Yeah, I think part of the secret also is, while my mother and grandmother knew from good cooking, they didn't know from "gourmet". :biggrin:

I can't think of any holishkes I've ever eaten that didn't include tomato products of one sort or another. I can't even find a recipe on the Web that doesn't include tomato products. Now that you point it out, I dunno how tomatoes snuck their way into an Eastern European dish, but there they are. :hmmm: I suppose one could fresh things up a bit by using a good from-scratch tomato sauce, or fresh chopped tomatoes along with some water or broth.

Edited by mizducky, 21 September 2005 - 05:38 PM.


#6 Pam R

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 05:46 PM

[Heh. Yeah, I think part of the secret also is, while my mother and grandmother knew from good cooking, they didn't know from "gourmet".  :biggrin:

Ditto on the grandmother. My mother definately has her 'gourmet' moments... but then, I don't remember her making halopchy :wink:

Years ago I made some with crushed tomatoes... but I can't really remember what else I put in it. The end result though, tasted very much like we all remembered my grandmothers tasting. So the next time I made it I used canned tomato soup :biggrin: .

#7 Jaymes

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 08:50 PM

Here's the recipe I've been making for some 30 years. I think it's just darn near perfect. That's not to say that there aren't better recipes out there. There probably are. But, at least in my family, we've never found anything we like any better.

We've had several other threads on this topic, but my recipe is in Recipe Gullet:

Russian Stuffed Cabbage

Edited by Jaymes, 21 September 2005 - 08:52 PM.


#8 Luckylies

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 09:11 PM

hmm from memory as the yid gma taught me

sauce:
ketchup or tomato paste
brown sugar
vinegar or lemon juice
rasins
onion powder or toms of sweated onions/ garlic powder or sliced garlic
salt pep

stuffing:

ground chuck (I like to make it with braised short ribs or old pot roast)
uncle bens rice

blanch the cabbage leaves, wrap like a spring roll, stuff them tightly into the brasier or pyrex and cook for a few hours until the cabbage is tender (2 hrs?) if the sauce is too thin reduce it at the end.

good luck.

ps I like mine with extra cabbage shredded into the sauce, you might too... :smile:
does this come in pork?

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#9 Pam R

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 09:13 PM

am I the only one that thinks raisins are a terrible idea? :smile:

#10 Gifted Gourmet

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 09:17 PM

am I the only one that thinks raisins are a terrible idea?  :smile:

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An awful lot of people like the raisins added to the sauce to highlight the sweet-sour overall picture of stuffed cabbage. I sometimes use them in my sauce for this dish which includes lemon juice, brown sugar, and sweet (Kiddush) wine ... I have seen apricots used as well for the same reason.
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#11 mizducky

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 11:33 PM

am I the only one that thinks raisins are a terrible idea?  :smile:

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Nope. :biggrin:

I'm not even all that thrilled with the presence of brown sugar in the recipe I quoted above. If I were making it myself, I'd probably cut the sweetener way back to the bare minimum needed to counteract the tomatoes' acidity, and then add just enough vinegar/sourness to make things tangy. But then I do like sour and savory rather more than sweet.

For that matter, I'd probably get a lot more inventive with the seasonings altogether. There's *no* garlic in my mom's cookbook's recipe! I'd fix that, just for starters.

I could get into the ginger snaps thing as mentioned in some recipes ... but only if they were really strongly gingery, not-overly-sweet ginger snaps.

#12 Pan

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 11:34 PM

Here's the recipe I've been making for some 30 years.  I think it's just darn near perfect.  That's not to say that there aren't better recipes out there.  There probably are.  But, at least in my family, we've never found anything we like any better.

We've had several other threads on this topic, but my recipe is in Recipe Gullet:

Russian Stuffed Cabbage

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Whoa! That has ginger snaps in it! I thought that was my grandma's special trick! Her recipe was similar to yours, except that in addition to raisins, it also included prunes and fresh carrots, it was made with brown sugar instead of white sugar plus corn syrup, and no-one used sour cream with it (no doubt a residual influence of kashrut).

Pam, the raisins aren't a terrible idea, nor are the prunes, but it's best to use good quality stuff with no preservatives, of course. But then, to each his/her own.

I used to love my grandma's stuffed cabbage, but somehow, when my mother or I have made it, it's never been as good as I remember from my childhood. I think that the love of a grandma was an essential ingredient. :wub: :sad:

#13 NancyH

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 06:16 AM

am I the only one that thinks raisins are a terrible idea?  :smile:

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Pam - what a great question! Growing up in my house, my mother was descended from Galicians , and my dad from Hungarians. Mom liked hers sweet and with raisens, and dad liked it "salt and pepper" with paprika and no sugar or raisens. Dad's way won, and to this day, zaltz und pfeffer is the only way I ever make it. Raisens - ick!
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#14 Pam R

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 06:50 AM

How odd... that there would be more than one way to make a dish in the Jewish kitchen :wink: .

Nancy, my grandmother was from Poland as well... maybe that's the cause of my sweet-free rolls. I like them more on the sour side... but MizDucky, there was very little coming out of baba's kitchen that didn't have garlic in it. Cabbage rolls definately did have garlic.

Having said that - next time I make a batch of them, I think I'll cook up two pans ... one sweet one not. I'm almost sure it wouldn't kill me!


Does anybody else ever make the lazyman-cabbage roll? Forget the rolling, just layer everything and call it a day?

As well, one of the best tips baba taught me was to line the bottom of the baking dish with extra cabbage leaves - this way there was no chance of the rolls themselves burning.

#15 Marco_Polo

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 06:57 AM

Reading this thread brings back memories of my mother's stuffed cabbage. What is amazing is how similar her version is to those described above. Why would my mother, a second-generation Korean-American born and raised in Honolulu, make stuffed cabbage with raisins and, yes, Cambell's tomato soup for the sauce? Surely proof that this dish transcends national origins and has become wholly and utterly American. Or is it American of a certain time and place? I've tried to recreate my mother's version many times, but, well, it just ain't never quite the same.

After my mother died, I wrote a little essay about food and memory. Stuffed cabbage is certainly one of those iconic food memories that links me to my past.

"...If mom had reason to deny her Korean roots (as a child she was sent to Korea to live, unhappily, with relatives while her mother — my grandmother — pursued a career and active social life in Honolulu), her antipathy did not extend to food. As naturally as other children enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs, we feasted regularly on such favourites as Korean barbecue, marinaded in soy sauce, garlic, ginger and sesame then flame broiled (only later did I learn that this is bulgogi, one of the great mainstays of Korean cuisine), mountains of steamed white rice, crunchy cucumber salad spiked liberally with red chillies, and spinach dressed in soy sauce and vinegar. This is still probably my all-time favourite meal, one which we’ve now passed down to our children, who have grown to love it too, eating the foods on the whole ignorant of the country from which they come, yet somehow absorbing through their tastebuds something of the culture and heritage that is undoubtedly part of their genetic makeup.

"I think back on family meals and family favourites. Mom’s stuffed cabbage was legendary. I can so vividly picture her mixing the ground pork, raisins, bread soaked in milk, and seasonings; blanching the cabbage until limp; stuffing the meat into the wilted cabbage leaves with her hands; folding the bundles up neatly and securing them with wooden toothpicks. I remember, too, that the ‘sauce’ this was cooked in was always a can of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup. Today, we could hardly bring ourselves to cook with Campbell’s condensed tomato soup, yet how delicious, how utterly delicious mom’s result always was! It is a taste that will live forever in my mind, yet one that is most probably impossible to recreate (shall I try?)."


I was tickled to see that Jaymes' recipe (and I would swear by any recipe that Jaymes gives) includes gingersnaps. My mother's gingersnap cookies were another iconic food of childhood, always soft and chewy, sprinkled with crunchy plain white sugar. Oh we can make ginger cookies all right, crunchy and hard. But it's the elusive consistency of my mother's that is impossible to recreate. I've tried and tried to make these and they never quite work, always too hard, or sweet or not gingery enough. Now Jaymes has challenged me: first to recreate my mother's gingersnaps, then to add them to Russian stuffed cabbage!

Jaymes, any tips on making gingersnaps?!

#16 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 07:39 AM

. . . Does anybody else ever make the lazyman-cabbage roll?  Forget the rolling, just layer everything and call it a day? . . .

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In his book Casseroles, Jim Fobel has a recipe that calls for doing exactly that. Works like a charm. :wink: :smile:

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#17 JEL

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 07:55 AM

my mothers crowd were straight off the boat, slovaks/byzantine catholics, so not all of this applies to the jewish kitchen, obviously,,,,,,,

a few tips i've gotten from my ancestors concerning "halupki" were........

never use lean meat, a 20-30% fat content in your ground beef, (or ground pork, like uncle andy kopchak used), was a must.......

never use minute rice......

never use a crock pot, or the stove top, halupki need to be done in an oven......

don't overstuff the cabbage leaves, it makes the filling rubbery after cooking......

lay the large outside leaves from the cabbage on the bottom of your roasting pan, only use the tenderest cabbage leaves for the rolls....

you can chop up any extra cabbage leaves and use them in the sauce...

some of the ancients made a brown sauce instead of the tomato, and they often stuffed them with barley rather than rice. an interesting thought, if you wanted to add mushrooms and sour cream to the mix, a stuffed cabbage/ stroganoff type thingy.......

they also touted the 2-3 day halupki which somehow took on mystical powers in terms of their depth of flavor. i don't particularly like them that old because they get too mushy. like baby food.....

i guess it's all what you like, just so you take fifty minutes to eat it, and throw 2/3 of it away.........

#18 rooftop1000

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 08:56 AM

My former MIL polish/italian...used ground beef and rice for the stuffing and canned tomato sauce and sauerkraut for the sauce. I once thought if I threw some of the "pickling spice" from my set that wouyld take care of the sauerkraut part...nope. See I dont like sauerkraut :blink:
Umm I guess I like sauerkraut in her stuffed cabbage.

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#19 Pam R

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:02 AM

my mothers crowd were straight off the boat, slovaks/byzantine catholics, so not all of this applies to the jewish kitchen, obviously,,,,,,,

After I made the comment about more than one way to do something in a kosher kitchen I meant to add another comment about the fact that this is no way a jewish specific dish. It's just that the first few posts centered in the jewish kitchen.

Carry on. :wink:

#20 Jaymes

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:16 AM

Here's the recipe I've been making for some 30 years.  I think it's just darn near perfect.  That's not to say that there aren't better recipes out there.  There probably are.  But, at least in my family, we've never found anything we like any better.

We've had several other threads on this topic, but my recipe is in Recipe Gullet:

Russian Stuffed Cabbage

no-one used sour cream with it (no doubt a residual influence of kashrut).


Well, it does say, "sour cream to garnish," so it's easy to leave out. And, MP, thanks for the compliment :wub: but I don't make gingersnaps. I've never been much of a baker. I've tried it with more expensive, upscale gingersnaps, but it doesn't seem to work as well as with the cheaper, garden variety types. They break down better, and the flour in the cookies helps to thicken the sauce.

I've made that recipe subbing various fruits -- prunes, apricots, dried currants, etc. -- but my family liked the plain ol' raisins just as well, and no matter where we were -- Alaska, Philippines, Panama, you name it -- they were always easy to find.

Oh, and reading the recipe over, I notice that I didn't mention lining the pot with cabbage leaves. I do actually do that, and should have said so. I'll go back and edit it to add that.

But I've never added carrots. Sounds good. Great, actually. I think I'll do that next time for sure.

Edited by Jaymes, 22 September 2005 - 10:21 AM.


#21 mrbigjas

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 10:21 AM

my mothers crowd were straight off the boat, slovaks/byzantine catholics, so not all of this applies to the jewish kitchen, obviously,,,,,,,

After I made the comment about more than one way to do something in a kosher kitchen I meant to add another comment about the fact that this is no way a jewish specific dish. It's just that the first few posts centered in the jewish kitchen.

Carry on. :wink:

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i made this recipe from mario batali's show a couple years ago and loved it. and now because of this discussion i think i'm gonna have to make it again...

there's also a great greek (i think; i don't have the book here with me) stuffed cabbage recipe in the cookbook "the complete middle east cookbook" in which you stuff the cabbages with meat and whatnot and finish them off with an avgolemono type of sauce. good stuff...

#22 Gifted Gourmet

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 10:43 AM

I once saw a recipe in which halved heads of Savoy cabbage were stuffed with a meat-rice mixture, tied back together with kitchen string, and baked in a tomato sauce ...

this would accomplish much the same result as rolling individual leaves, I imagine ... or layering shredded cabbage with meat-rice mixture and topping with a tomato sauce ...

As long as the taste is the same, I guess they might be considered merely 'variations upon a common theme'. :wink:
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#23 Adam Balic

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:02 AM

Croatians also stuff cabbage leaves (thank you Austro-Hungarian Empire I guess). Pickled cabbage leaves were used and according to my Grandmother, the meat filling must contain a proportion of pork, otherwise it is too dry. Obviously, this will not work for everybody...

#24 monavano

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:02 AM

I do I love stuffed cabbage!! I grew up in a Polish household, and we call them golabki. It sounds like "ga- WOOM-key.
I make it with beef, or beef and pork, and sometime mix in veal too, like a "meatloaf" mix. The sauce is just Campbell's tomato soup and ketchup. A couple slices of bacon is placed on top to flavor the sauce and you know, get that "fat" mouthfeel.
The sour cream which mixes in with the golabki comes from a cucumber salad dressed with sour cream, vinegar and sugar. Mashed potatoes rounds out the dish.
The best part of all is when all three things mix together. Mmmm, Mmmmm good.
And I never, ever break up the trinity as it were. If I don't have cukes, or potatoes then no go!!!!
I'd never heard of adding a sweet to the mixture until I saw Martha Stewart make her mom's recipe, which called for apples as well as tomatoes and sour cream ,and is made stove top. I don't have a direct link, but it's Googleable. :wub:

#25 Gifted Gourmet

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:06 AM

I don't have a direct link, but it's Googleable. :wub:

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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from Martha Stewart with those apples ... :biggrin:
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#26 Swisskaese

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:17 AM

I think my grandmother makes the best cabbage rolls I have ever had. I will call her tonight for the recipe.

I have never tried to make them, maybe it is time to give it a whirl.

#27 slkinsey

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:23 AM

One of my favorite stuffed cabbage stories is the time I was in the middle of cooking and realized that I had made enough for around 15 people instead of 3-4. What do to? I called Fat Guy for advice:

"Dude, what am I going to do? I've made way too much stuffed cabbage. I don't think I'll be able to fit this in the refrigerator!"

"Hold on a second." <Short pause with talking vaguely audible in the background> "We'll be over in ten minutes."
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#28 monavano

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:26 AM

I think my grandmother makes the best cabbage rolls I have ever had. I will call her tonight for the recipe.

I have never tried to make them, maybe it is time to give it a whirl.

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My Polish Nana made great ones, but i was so young at the time I picked away all the cabbage. Now, I can't get enough of it and my tummy sometimes wishes I'd cool it :wink:

Making the stuffed cabbage is easy. There is a bit of a technique to getting the leaves off intact so if I may, I'd like to offer mine. After years of blanching the leaves ala my Mom's method (take core out, place bottom side down in water and boil away, guessing when it's done. Then burning hands removing leaves) I have my own which I observed on a cooking show.
After taking the core out, place top side down into gently boiling water which just covers cabbage. Use tongs to test leaves for readiness to remove and take away each layer as they are done. Place in collander to cool and drain. Cut out vein and stuff.
My $.02 :wink:

#29 Pam R

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:34 AM

After taking the core out, place top side down into gently boiling water which just covers cabbage. Use tongs to test leaves for readiness to remove and take away each layer as they are done. Place in collander to cool and drain. Cut out vein and stuff.
My $.02 :wink:

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I use the same technique - though we used to have some staff who placed the cabbage in the freezer which softened up the leaves.

#30 monavano

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:43 AM

I don't have a direct link, but it's Googleable. :wub:

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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from Martha Stewart with those apples ... :biggrin:

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Thankyou!! The recipe used to be on the Food Network website, until they decided to dump ALL of her recipies as a result of the legal action taken against her. FN lost points in my book for doing that, but I digress.
The pic looks awesome. If I weren't going away this weekend, I'd be making golobki on a lazy Sunday!!