Russian Friday – Stuffed Cabbage

Funny, my last post got record number of views since I started this blog.  I am guessing that half of the Internet is jealous about The Awesomest Neighbor!  Ladies don’t get your hopes up, Milton is happily married and not planning to move to the East Coast! The good news: he did like the healthy dessert!


Today’s recipe has gained only my husband’s seal of approval so far.  He is my severest critic (“If I’m going to eat this for the rest of my life, I better be straightforward”).  This guy learned to be brutally honest the hard way.  The very hard way…  When we just started dating, we went to see Madame Butterfly together.  I believe his initial review contained the words “beautiful” and “the most romantic story”…  He endured three more such outings until he couldn’t tolerate it anymore and confessed that he hated opera.

So, no “Madame Butterfly” in our kitchen. 

Traditionally these Russian “golubtsy” are made with minced beef or pork stuffing, but I experimented with a healthier alternative that has a lighter, earthier feeling to it.

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  • 1 large cabbage
  • 1 cup of brown rice, cooked
  • 1 cup of sprouted garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup of sprouted sweet peas
  • 1 cup of sprouted wheat berries
  • 1,5 cup walnuts, shelled
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 30 oz diced tomatoes
  • 2 sticks of celery , chopped
  • ¼ cup of olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 bunch of basil, chopped,  divided
  • Olive oil for sautéing


In a large pot boil enough water to cover the cabbage.

Prepare the filling: process beans, peas, wheat berries, walnuts, and garlic through a meat grinder or in a food processor.  Sauté onion and carrot till the onion is golden and soft; add them to the grounded mixture.  Add the egg, rice, salt, and pepper and mix the filling until consistent.

Prepare the wrapper: cook the cabbage in the boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Remove it from the pot.  Carefully peel the soft leaves from the cabbage.  Once you reach the leaves that are still pretty firm, put the cabbage back into the boiling water, and repeat the process until all large leaves are removed.  Gently trim off the thick parts located on the bottom center of the leaves.

Make golubtsy by placing a generous helping of the filling on the leaves and gently folding it inside like in an envelope.

Lightly sauté golubtsy seam down to seal the joints for about 2 mintues.

Gently place them on a bottom of a pot.  Chop the remaining cabbage and cover the golubtsy with it.  Top with the tomatoes, celery, and olives. Layer half of basil.

Mix water with spices and salt and pepper and pour the mixture over the vegetables, add bay leaves.

Cover the pot, turn the heat to medium, and bring the dish to boil.  On low heat boil for about 10 minutes, covered.

Garnish with remaining basil. Traditionally this dish is served with sour cream.  My opera fan likes to add hot sauce as well.

On the scale from “Madame Butterfly” to “Before Sunrise” this recipe is a definite “True Romance” (♥)

Oh, and if you are about to enjoy golubtsy,  I encourage you to check out this post from my fellow blogger Breakfast In Moscow… you know, just to add a pinch of Russian soul to your dish…

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:

Apricot Dessert

When we moved to our house 3 years ago, we were very happy to meet the new neighbors.  But little did we know that the AWESOMEST neighbor of not just our block, but easily the city, possibly the world, and the galaxies far-far away, is actually right across the street from us.

If he borrows your car keys – it’s only to give your car a “quick rinse”; if his ladder is out – no doubt he’ll offer to wash your windows; if your father-in-law is bored – The Awesomest Neighbor will take him for sightseeing.  And the list goes on and on!

Moreover, he is the most grateful recipient of all the things I bake.   Not only does he find the best words to praise them, he can also chow down 2-3…-4 helpings of my desserts in one sitting; which is probably 2-3…-4 times more than what your daily calorie intake should be.

So, since we are in this healthy eating craze, our dear friend, The Awesomest Neighbor, will have to go on a diet too (at least when stopping by this household)…  Milton, I hope you keep visiting us [keep asking for our car keys/call us when Costco offers “killer deals”/volunteer to babysit …]  after you try these no-sugar-no-butter-no-flour desserts.

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  • 350 g organic dried apricots
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes


Process apricots through a meat grinder.  Place ground apricots on a cutting board lined with parchment paper.  Cover with a plastic wrap and roll into a flat sheet about 5 mm thick.  Cut into domino-sized rectangles with a pizza cutter.

Dip each slice in coconut flakes.

Store in an air-tight container.


Russian Friday – Kulebyaka

I have been trying to reproduce my childhood guilty pleasure – cake Boucher.  The recipe calls for 10 eggs and lots of skill that, apparently, I don’t possess.  Needless to say, if my success rate doesn’t go up, a ticket to Russia may end up being the cheapest way to get to enjoy this pastry.   

So, today’s recipe is a less sophisticated kulebyaka.  This savory pie-like dish can be a meal on its own.  We served them hot with a side of green salad.  Who needs the vile pastries anyways!?

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For the dough:

  • 500 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbs milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 14 g active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 700 g fresh cabbage
  • 70 g sauerkraut
  • 100 g fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion,  peeled, and finely chopped
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Start the dough: dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk, let stand for about 10 minutes.  Mix all the ingredients but butter, cover, and let rise in a warm place (may take 2-3 hours).

Prepare the filling: cut the cabbage into a few large chunks, discarding the center.  Cover with water, and bring to boil. Drain.

Boil sauerkraut for 3 minutes, drain.

Saute onion until soft and golden, add mushrooms, and cook till done.

Process all the ingredients of the filling through a meat grinder, mix well.  Don’t worry if the mixture seem too moist, it should be.

Preheat the oven to 475° F/250º C.

Assemble the kulebyaka: roll the dough to a 1 cm-thick sheet and brush it with melted butter.  Fold the sheet like an envelop, and roll and brush again.  Repeat 3 times.

Place the dough on parchment paper and roll again into a rectangle.  Spread the filling over it, and roll, pinch the seems together.  Transfer the roll with the paper to a baking sheet.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, till kulebyaka is golden brown.  Cut into large chunks with a sharp knife.

Serve warm.

Make ahead: you can freeze the left-overs.  Wrap in a foil and store in zip-lock bags.  They will keep for up to 3 months.

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:



Sourdough Rye

Ladies, happy International Women’s Day!  I know it’s not much here, but back in Russia you get showered with flowers, presents, dinners, songs, poems, romantic movies, and whatever else you can possibly imagine.  The rules are simple: every female gets to be admired on this one day, and every male gets to participate in accomplishing the task.

Early in the relationship I managed to train my husband to deliver on this holiday.  It started beautifully with a home-made cake (from a box) broken in half by an accident and drowned in chocolate pudding (also from a box) – the most romantic dessert I’ve ever had! It continued with shampooed carpets in our apartment in Houston.  It migrated to dates at our favorite restaurants.  And it finally arrived to “I’ll be home early for the holiday dinner”.

Ah, the honeymoon stage, where art thou?

Well, to remind myself of home, and the good times everyone is having there, I’m simply baking bread.  It doesn’t quite look as the black bricks we used to buy, but it surely smells and tastes like them. 

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  • 200 g leaven
  • 760 g water (75⁰ F/ 25⁰ C)
  • 40 g dark molasses
  • 170 g whole-rye flour
  • 830 g unbleached bread flour
  • 20 g salt

Yields 2 loafs


Day 1: make leaven – combine 200 g water, 1 tbs of sourdough starter and 200 g unbleached all-purpose flour.  Mix well, loosely cover the tope of the container with a plastic wrap, and let ferment overnight.  Discard the rest of the starter.

Day 2: Test the leaven: it’s ready if a tsp of it dropped in the water floats.

Once the leaven passes the floating test, combine all ingredients but salt and mix very well.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic and let rest for 25-30 minutes.

Save leftover leaven – it’s now your starter.

After the first rest, add the salt, and mix it well into the dough.  Let rest for about 3 hours, turning the dough upside down with wet hands twice during the first two hours.

After about 3 hours, when the dough has increased in size, dump it onto a floured surface and separate into two balls.

Working with one half at a time: with a bread scraper fold the dough edges in to form a ball.  Let rest on a floured surface for about 25-30 minutes, covered by plastic or a floured towel.

Next, working with one half at a time, place it face down on a floured surface.  Fold the edges with your hands slightly pressing them into the remaining dough: starting by carefully stretching the bottom edge and folding it to meet the opposite end; repeating with left, right, and finishing with the top edge. Form a loaf.  Place a loaf in a proofing basket, lightly sprinkled with rice flour, lined with a floured tile, face down, seam up.

Put the baskets in plastic bags and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.

To bake: place an iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 500⁰ F/ 260⁰ C.  Dump the loaf into the preheated pot, seam side down.Cover the iron pot, and bake the bread in it for 20 minutes at 475 ⁰ F/ 245 ⁰ C.

After 20 minutes remove the lid and let bake for 25 more minutes.

Let chill on a wire rack or eat while it’s hot.

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:

Vegetarian Burritos

It’s rich, it’s velvety, and it pairs marvelously with dry cheese.  It comes from Napa but it’s not wine.  It’s Borlotti.

This week we decided to try the famous Rancho Gordo heirloom beans.  I got a trial bag at the Ferry Building farmers market just to find out that Amazon’s price is the same (I’m including the shipping costs)…  I guess the advantage of shopping locally is in not having your food delivered by your local UPS guy?

Today I made a burrito.  This recipe is meant to use whatever vegetables are left in the fridge along with the main ingredients (Borlotti,brown rice, and guacamole).  Check out what I had to work with.

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For rice:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cubed
  • ¼ cup frozen sweet peas
  • ¼ cup frozen sweet corn
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt

For beans:

  • 1 cup of beans, soaked overnight
  • Salt to taste
  • Water

For burrito:

  • Fresh guacamole
  • Fresh salsa
  • Fresh kale, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 3 radishes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, seed removed, peeled, and sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Garden spinach herb wraps


Make rice: on a frying pan heat up the olive oil.  Place rice on it, and steer, until it starts getting darker (about 5 minutes).  Transfer the rice into a rice maker.  Add water, tomato sauce, sweet peas, corn, cumin, and salt.  Cook, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Make beans: boil on low heat the soaked beans for about 30 minutes.  Add salt to taste.  Once the beans are soft, drain the water.

Preheat a grill.

Assemble the burrito: soften up the wrap over steam.  We usually boil about ¼ cup of water in a frying pan, covered by a splatter screen.  Place the wrap on the screen for a little less than a minute.Spread some guacamole over the wrap, and place the burrito ingredients on the end, closest to you.  Start rolling the burrito, tucking the filling into the wrap.  Once the filling is covered, fold the sides, and continue to roll the burrito.We like it crispy, so I let the roll cook on the grillfor about 1 mintue.We paired these babies with Napa (but of course!)  Zinfandel , and enjoyed it tremendously! 

Broccoli Goat Cheese Pizza

For the longest time this Russian mom’s dictionary listed “healthy pizza” as an example of the word “oxymoron”. Well, the assumption flopped  when I found Christina at De La Casa, who redirected me to The Healthy Foodie, who shared this amazing whole wheat pizza dough recipe. 

The bad news – this crust is pretty time-consuming.  The great news – it could be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen for future use!

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  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 bunches of broccoli, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 onion, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 4 tbs goat cheese
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano flakes


Preheat the oven (with a pizza stone inside) to 500° F/260° C.Roll the pizza dough, place the dough on the pizza slide or on the pizza pan. Drizzle it with olive oil.  Top the pizza with broccoli, onion, and goat cheese. Press the garlic over the broccoli.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with oregano.

Bake for about 10 min.

Healthy pizza!

I was busy with this pizza when my son called: “Mama, pitcher, pitcher”.  When I grabbed my camera and walked into the living room, where the duo was playing, they were already striking a pose… for the pitcher… pitcher…

Hence, along with the pizza photos, you got to bear my little but very chic models as well…  


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