The Big Nosh 2018: Stuffed Cabbage

Submitted by Debbie Cohn

To nosh is to have a snack. You can also call a meal a nosh, especially if it’s just a snack. Nosh comes from the Yiddish word– nashn, “nibble,” and its earliest use in English, around 1917, was as a shortened form of nosh-house or “restaurant”.

 Debbie and Rick Cohn

Debbie and Rick Cohn

I have a long history with this word for many reasons especially coming from a family that often spoke in Yiddish around me. So, I ended up using it to create the Tree of Life Congregation’s Jewish Food and Cultural Festival- The Big Nosh, now in its ninth year since creation. For many years the TOL would hold a simple food event featuring baked goods and traditional Jewish treats prepared by the congregants as an annual fund raiser. When I joined the fund-raising committee, I was asked to help market this event and take it to the next level. So, ‘The Big Nosh’ was born (and trademarked) to provide a platform as a signature event that everyone in the Midlands community could relate to by bringing people together to celebrate being Jewish and getting a taste of the Nosh. It was through the universal love of food and trying new dishes from the Jewish culture that everyone could access a new and heightened awareness of what it meant to be Jewish. Every year now at TOL, nearly 2,000 people attend The Big Nosh coming from all over the Midlands and beyond.

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From an early age, I became cognizant of my own Jewish roots through the sharing of traditional meals that were celebrated by my family and friends alongside Jewish festivals and rituals. Growing up in West Palm Beach, Florida in the late 1950s, I was acutely aware of how ‘different’ I was viewed as we did not celebrate the same festivals as everyone else. I always had a desire to share my enthusiasm in educating others in the ways of my Jewish culture so that being ‘different’ could be less ‘foreign’ and more familiar and approachable.

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So, being involved with The Big Nosh provides a fun and educational way to access Jewish culture. The most exciting part of the Big Nosh is people usually come for the food but end up going inside a Jewish sanctuary and meeting a Rabbi for the first time, learning how to make a matzo ball, participating in a mock Passover Seder, watching a Bar/Bat Mitzvah or Jewish wedding ceremony or dancing the Hora, a traditional Israeli dance. It’s the smell of those sizzling latkes that brings people in, but it’s the sense of having experienced something unfamiliar that they leave with, providing a better understanding of ‘everything Jewish’.

The Big Nosh offers an astonishing array of mouth-watering Jewish delicacies to eat in or take out from Bubbe’s Kitchen, The New York Deli (sponsored by Groucho’s Deli), an Israeli Tent and our famous Bakers’ Bakery! Everyone can enjoy delicious Jewish favorites ranging from fresh hot latkes, bagels, chicken soup (Jewish penicillin), chopped liver, stuffed cabbage, New York kosher style brisket, kugel, pastrami, hot dogs, vegetarian falafel in pita bread, and baked goods like challah bread, strudel, rugelach, cheesecake and more. Everything is lovingly and generously prepared by the members of the TOL congregation.

Admission to the Big Nosh is FREE and there is plenty of on-site parking. The event is open to everyone and will take place this year on Sunday, May 6th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tree of Life Congregation, 6719 North Trenholm Road. Come get your Nosh On and support Columbia’s cultural diversity! To find out more visit www.bignosh.org

Stuffed Cabbage

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Ingredients:   

Two large aluminum pans (doubled up to be sturdy) or similar size baking dishes or pans (smaller sizes may require more than one) 

  • 5 lbs. ground beef (80/20 approx.--ground chuck good)
  • 3 large cabbage heads
  • 3 cups medium or long grain white rice
  • 2  large onions chopped/diced/minced
  • 5  large eggs
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 2  cans (28 oz.) sauerkraut
  • 4  (6 oz.) cans of tomato paste
  • 4  (14 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup mustard (brown or Dijon in jars)
  • 2 quarts V-8 juice (low sodium, if available) 
  • 1/4 cup of Kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup of black pepper (dry ground) 
  • 1/8 cup of dried Italian herbs

Preparation:

Mix thoroughly:    

  • Five pounds of ground meat
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 large minced/chopped/diced onions
  • 3 cups of raw white rice
  • 1/4 cup of Kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup of black pepper
  • 1/8 cup of  Italian herbs
  • 1/3 cup of mustard  

Par Boil the cabbages, core and remove the larger leaves for the cabbage rolls. Shape and place approx. 1/4 pound or so of the above meat mixture in the cabbage leaf and roll and tuck. The meat has to fit inside the leaf to roll and tuck; cabbage leaf sizes will vary and the end product/batch may produce more rolls than 24 or 30 or so. 

Take the left over cabbage and chop it up to use as a base to go below the cabbage rolls in the pan. Make sure that the chopped cabbage covers the entire bottom of the pan (at least 1/2 inch deep, up to one inch deep).

Place the stuffed cabbage rolls on top of the chopped cabbage, next to one another. One layer of cabbage rolls is best for even cooking results.

Spread over the cabbage rolls evenly as follows: tomato paste, diced tomatoes, brown sugar, dark raisins, and sauerkraut (pour in the kraut juice too).  

You can add any additional chopped cabbage on top of everything if you have it and choose to do so, but it is not necessary. Make sure you leave at least one inch free space at the top of the pan to avoid any boiling over of liquid.

Pour the V-8 juice over everything, again making sure to leave AT LEAST an inch or so room at the top. Save any V-8 juice not needed initially, in case you need to add liquid later to keep the cabbage rolls moist.

Make sure you double up the disposable aluminum pans to have sturdy trays. Cook at 325 degrees for 3 1/2 to 4 hours and keep adding liquid (V-8 juice or water) as needed, because you don't want them to dry out. You may not need additional liquid.