Friday, January 18, 2013

Hi Bye

Just a video of Pippa.

Friday, January 4, 2013


It should come as no surprise to any person reading this blog, that I have a passionate love for food. Basically when I am not eating I am practicing an enormous amount of restraint.
This Christmas I made everyone in my family one of my very favorite Ukrainian (let’s be honest, probably all of eastern Europe makes some version of this) GOLUBTSY, or stuffed cabbage rolls!
(This is not my picture. It looks pretty though.)
The recipe that best suits my taste is Tyler Florence’s version – he calls them “Galumpkis”. They are indescribably delicious. I wish I could make it for you all, but like all my other recipes I have to trust that you will try it out yourself (or bookmark it for another day :-)
Taken from the Food Network website.


Sweet and Sour Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 1/2 quarts crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cabbage Rolls:
  • 11/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Splash dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 pound ground beef (I actually like to use Hot Italian sausage. YUM)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups steamed white rice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large heads green cabbage, about 3 pounds each


For the sauce:
Coat a 3-quart saucepan with the oil and place over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar; simmer, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
For the filling:
Place a skillet over medium heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the tomato paste, a splash of wine (Or not if you are a Mormon), parsley, and 1/2 cup of the prepared sweet and sour tomato sauce, mix to incorporate and then take it off the heat.
Combine the ground meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, the cooked rice, and the sauteed onion mixture. Toss the filling together with your hands to combine, season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Making the rolls:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove the large, damaged outer leaves from the cabbages and set aside. Cut out the cores of the cabbages with a sharp knife and carefully pull off all the rest of the leaves, keeping them whole and as undamaged as possible, (get rid of all the small leaves and use them for coleslaw or whatever.) Blanch the cabbage leaves in the pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until pliable. Run the leaves under cool water then lay them out so you can assess just how many blankets you have to wrap up the filling. Next, carefully cut out the center vein from the leaves so they will be easier to roll up. Take the reserved big outer leaves and lay them on the bottom of a casserole pan, let part of the leaves hang out the sides of the pan. This insulation will prevent the cabbage rolls from burning on the bottom when baked. Use all the good looking leaves to make the cabbage rolls. Put about 1/2 cup of the meat filling in the center of the cabbage and starting at what was the stem-end, fold the sides in and roll up the cabbage to enclose the filling. Place the cabbage rolls side by side in rows, seam-side down, in a casserole pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pour the remaining sweet and sour tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls. Fold the hanging leaves over the top to enclose and keep the moisture in. Drizzle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 1 hour until the meat is cooked.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Borsch 2.0

So, I talk a lot about borsch here on my blog. I think it’s pretty sad how most Americans are unfamiliar with this amazing dish, (at least I was before my mission) but those who do know about it and love it might be interested in using my recipe. Good Ukrainian recipes are hard to come by, even on the internet, so I have made it my life goal to search out what I can find, test them, and post my results in order for me to keep a record, and for these dishes to gain a little but more representation on the blogosphere.
Any Ukrainian will tell you that there are many different ways to prepare borsch, and each recipe is as individual as it’s creator. I was once making this at a friend’s house in Chicago where we planned to eat with our old MTC teacher, who was visiting. I was very shocked to hear her tell me, as I was slaving away cooking, that “[the borsch] is not the way it’s supposed to look”. I’ve resented it ever since. She was 100% wrong, plus, I had lived in Ukraine more recently than her. Micah at least was able to understand a bit better what my MTC experience was like. Simply put, it was crazy.
Anyways, I hope my readers take some time to make this very special soup, and even let me know how it turns out. I know there is an issue with posting comments (I guess it’s tricky after some of you “follow” my blog and choose the “private” option…I have no idea how to fix this) but if there is any other way you can get a hold of me, do it. MAKE THIS SOUP!! It’s GREAT for when you are sick, cold or depressed! It is CHOCK FULL of vitamins and fills you up in a good way! And when you make it without meat and using vegetable stock, it’s totally vegan (for all you hippies!).

UPDATE: Recently I tried getting a beef bone to throw in with chicken stock. This is my new favorite way to get a meaty, hearty flavor in this soup! Sometimes the bone even comes with a little meat that you can put in the soup too! Great, cheap alternative.

So let’s do it! Here is what you need (I bolded the ingredients to make it easier to make your shopping list :-)

3 quarts chicken or beef stock 
2 cups stew meat or chicken (optional: beef bone!)
Vegetable oil
Beets – if you are at a market with HUGE loose beets, get just 2. Most of the time my grocery store sells them in bunches of 4 or 5. If you get these, save the chard (if you like) and use all of them. You want to end up with about 3 cups of grated beet.
2-3 Carrots. You will need about 1 cup grated.
1 Onion, minced. About one cup.
2 medium potatoes. Cut into chunks or fingers.
1/4 head of Cabbage. See pictures for detailed amount.
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
Fresh Parsley
Citric Acid
Bay Leaf
Garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon
Onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon
Dried Basil, 1 teaspoon
Fresh or dried dill weed, 2 teaspoons
Salt and pepper
Sour Cream, for serving

Here is how you do it!

Put broth in a big soup pot. Add the Bay leaf. This batch was made with beef stock, and I used 2 1/2 quarts. I chose to make it without meat. If you do make it with meat, brown the beef or chicken cubes in a separate pan, and then add them to the soup with all the vegetables. Some recipes that don’t use stock just make it with water and the stew meat. I am not that fancy.
When you grate all your beets, the carrots, and mince the onion, you put it in a large frying pan with some vegetable oil, on medium heat. As they are frying, you want to keep stirring it, too keep the beets form burning. Sometimes people add water to prevent this.
Here is my citric acid. I don’t think I have used it in anything else besides this, but I wonder why that is. It’s like lemon flavor concentrate. They use it in Kool-Aid. It’s good stuff.
I sprinkle in about a 1/2 teaspoon. Too much makes it too sour.
As my beets fry, and my stock gets to a boil, I start to prep and potatoes and cabbage. I like to cut the potatoes in fingers (Apparently this is the “Russian” way, but there is no way I can verify that).
Into the pot. These cook for about 10 minutes.
To prep the cabbage, I peel of the first layer,
And cut off a section.
Then I shred it as thinly as possible.
Pile of cabbage! (should be the name of a band)
I put it in the pot about 5 minutes after the potatoes have been cooking.
Once the potatoes and cabbage are cooked I add the beet mixture.
The spoon is like my tongue, getting every last derlishus bit.
Then a big ol’ spoonful of tomato paste. I am too lazy for measuring.
Take out the bay leaf…
I like to make my own dill for jarring. More on that later.
Add a nice sprinkle, along with the other seasonings. Make sure you add enough salt. Taste it to see where it’s at.
This is the way a family used to serve it to me in Ukraine.  Heart shaped sour cream, fresh parsley, and Darnitsky bread.
This soup is like eating love!!!©
(I’m copywriting that for when I write my first cookbook, and/or star in my own cooking show)
Common questions I have about this soup:
Can I make this with my own seasonings?
YES absolutely. Be adventurous. If you ruin the whole pot of soup, then it won’t be that much money wasted. Cabbage is so cheap, you know?
Why is my borsch orange?
Not enough beet.
Is sour cream necessary?
No. But actually, YES.
Who taught you how to make borsch?
My native Russian companion, Sister Yashenkova. We cooked together in our apartment in Kiev, and she let me take notes. She was so gentle and mild that I never truly believed she was Russian.
Where do you get citric acid?
They have it in bulk at Fred Meyer, and little packets are available at international food markets. If you don’t want to get any, I suppose you could try lemon juice.

Again, please let me know if you try this, or if you have any questions. Успіху!