Spinner was a kid, Paddlefoot was a dog. It was a strange cartoon that ran in very short segments on the children's show Garfield Goose and Friends when I was growing up.
Headhunters played a role in the many of the cartoons, and as the often said something that sounded like "Yum-yum gah-woom-key."
I'm sure that most little kids thought the word was pure nonsense, but to me they were saying "galumbki" which was a common dish in our house. No, I didn't grow up with a tribe of headhunters. Galumbki are stuffed cabbage rolls.
My mother's galumbki recipe has fallen by the wayside, bit by bit, as some of the products she used have become unavailable or better products have emerged. The idea is the same, though.
Mom always served her galumbki with peeled, boiled white potatoes. I still like the idea of the potatoes - it is, after all, a homey peasant dish - but instead of plain white potatoes, I used fingerlings. Skin-on, they've got a bit more fiber, so they're a slightly healthier option than plain white boiled spuds.
The most annoying thing about making galumbki is prepping the cabbage. Peeling leaves off of a tight head of regular green cabbage is a chore. Mom always did it by boiling the whole head and peeling the leaves off as they got soft. Then boiling again and taking off more leaves. I've also heard that freezing the cabbage will soften it, but I've never tried that.
The answer to the cabbage problem was to simply choose a different type of cabbage - napa cabbage. Those weren't readily available when mom was making her galumbki, but they're just about perfect. Easy to separate the leaves, and the leaves are a good size and shape.
One of mom's secret ingredients was canned tomato soup. I up-scaled this by using The Kitchen's tomato soup. The soup is available in 16-ounce containers at my local Whole Foods, or you could make your own from the recipe on the restaurant's website.
As usual, I cooked the rice in my rice cooker. If you prefer making it on the stovetop, feel free.I used Jasmine, because it's my favorite all-around rice, but use any rice you like. In rice cookers, the "1-cup" measure is actually 3/4 cup. I have no idea why, but I've measured several, and they're all about the same size.
1/2 large onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
16ounces The Kitchen's tomato soup
2 pounds ground beef
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large head napa cabbage
Olive oil (optional)
Put the rice, onion, bell pepper, and 1/2 cup of the tomatoes in your rice cooker. Add water to the appropriate line for 1 cup of rice and add a teaspoon of salt. If your cooker has a setting for "firm" use that - the rice will be cooking longer in the meat.
Combine the remaining crushed tomatoes with the soup and set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the cabbage. Fill a large pot about 1/2 full of water, add salt (as you would for pasta) and put it on high heat. Separate the cabbage leaves. Trim them to no more than about 8 inches long, trimming from the bottom. Reserve the trimmings. It's fine if you have leaves that are a bit shorter, as long as they're big enough to wrap around the meat.
Place the prepared leaves in the boiling water and cook just long enough to soften them so they're flexible rather than brittle. Drain the leaves and set aside.
Chop the reserved ends of cabbage and any leaves that are too small. Place them in the bottom of a Dutch oven or baking dish. Top with a drizzle of the tomato mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lay a cabbage leaf in front of you with the thicker end towards you. Place about 1/2 cup of meat on the bottom of the leaf. Roll the meat up in the leaf, tucking in the sides as you would for a burrito. Place the cabbage roll in the Dutch oven. Continue with the rest of the meat and the cabbage leaves.
Chances are that the meat and the cabbage won't be used up evenly - it depends on the size of the cabbage and how much meat you put in each roll. If you have just a little meat left when you're done, mix it in with the tomatoes. If you have enough meat left for a serving or two, you can use it for stuffed peppers. If you have cabbage leaves left over, chop them up and put them on top of the cabbage rolls.
Pour the tomato mixture on top the cabbage rolls, cover the Dutch oven (or if you're using a baking dish without a cover, use foil over the top) and bake at 350 degrees until the tomato mixture is bubbling and the meat inside the rolls reaches a minimum of 160 degrees - about an hour.
While the galumbki are in the oven, place the fingerling potatoes in a pot of cold water and add salt. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are cooked through. If you like, place the cooked potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake along with the galumbki to crisp them a bit.
And now, for the rest of the story ...
I usually like to present these posts as a multi-course meal, or with several different "theme" recipes. But galumbki is such a home-style meal, it doesn't lend itself well to a lot of pomp and circumstance. It's a comforting meal to fill your belly on a cold day, and it doesn't need much more embellishment.
The short version is that you should have a theme to your plate rather than random cheeses with no reason to be together. So, choose cheeses from the same country, cheeses of the same style from different countries, cheeses from the same type of animal (which probably makes more sense when you're talking about sheep or goats than when we're talking about cows...), or even the same cheese, but in different stages of aging.
While I don't know if that suggestion makes a difference in the taste combinations, it does make a lot of sense when it comes to the conversation. When everyone's loading up crackers or spearing cubes of cheese, you can say something smart about why these cheeses are on the plate. Then, people have some framework to compare the cheeses.
This time around, I picked three mold-injected cheeses, a Gorgonzola Dolce, which was very soft and mild, a Maytag Blue, which was the most pungent of my trio, and the surprising orange Shropshire Blue. Those three, a bowl of mixed crackers, and we had something to nibble on while dinner bubbled away in the oven.
After a hearty dinner, dessert isn't a priority in our house, but ending the meal with a little sweet something made sense. In this case, I decided on a dessert wine instead of something more solid. I'd had a moscato at a recent event, so I decided to go with that rather than a port or sherry.
The moscato was sweet, but still lighter than a port. A second run at the Gorgonzola Dolce and some sliced apples to go with the wine would have made a nice finish, as well.
And now, just for you, a little Clutch Cargo:
So, do you remember Clutch?