I was sixteen when Pierre Trudeau swept back into power in 1980. Months before the election, as a “Young Liberal,” I attended a fundraising dinner dressed in a shiny blue kimono-styled dress at the Ukrainian Hall in Sydney, Nova Scotia, the keynote speaker—Trudeau himself. On his way to the podium he stopped at my table and touched my arm. “I like your dress, ” he said, flashing that same devilish smile that had repatriated a constitution. I gazed up, my mouth full of Ukrainian food and smiled the way you do when you’ve been eating cabbage. He winked and went on his way. I’ve loved shiny dresses, cabbage rolls and Trudeaus’ ever since.
A spicier, meatier version of the Ukrainian favourite, John Dan’s (well, actually his wife’s) Scottish version of cabbage rolls is the perfect combination of sweetness and fire, not unlike a Trudeau. Although there are a thousand different recipes for cabbage rolls (many of them meatless) John Dan’s recipe is the only one you’ll ever need. A long-time holiday family favourite it’s one of the few recipes I’ve never altered.
So to celebrate the return of a Liberal government in Canada, let’s throw on a shiny dress and bring in the new year Scottish-Ukrainian style a` la Trudeau! Justin’s gonna love it!
John Dan’s Cabbage Rolls
2 large cabbage–Steam/boil cabbages, removing leaves gradually
2 tsp dried basil
2.5 lbs of ground beef
1 tsp red pepper (or an extra 1/2 tsp if you like it spicy)
1 cup long grain rice-raw
4 large onions—chopped
1/2 c.lemon juice
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp dried parsley
Mix together, form into rolls and wrap with cabbage leaves
Sauce (So simple and sooo delicious)
13oz. can Tomato paste
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp red pepper (cayenne)
2 cans water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Lemon juice
2 tsp. basil
Simmer sauce ingredients for a half hour. Pour sauce all over the cabbage rolls (reserving some, or even doubling recipe if you want extra sauce for reheating.)
Bake covered at 300 degrees for three hours.