Category Archives: Sides

Ukrainian Borscht with Potatoes

Thank You so much to Potatoes USA for sponsoring this post!  As always, all opinions are my own.

 

As kids, my sister and I spent many weekends staying with my Polish/Ukrainian Grandparents.  At one point in time, we lived right down the street from them, but to us visiting their house still somehow felt like venturing into another world.

My Grandma being big on tradition and my Grandpa being very much a creature of habit meant that on both counts, our visits rarely deviated from a routine.  On Friday night, we ate dinner at the Polish Home.  There we shared fried fish and large platters of potato and cheese pierogi.  If I was lucky, I got to have a 7-Up too (It was the only time I was allowed to drink soda!).

Saturdays were spent lounging around, reading “The Funnies” (comics) in the paper, and watching my Grandma cook, before heading to church later in the evening.  The dishes that she made were the typical Ukrainian fare, which she grew up with, including golumpki (stuffed cabbage) and borscht (beet soup).  This is her recipe for borscht.

If you have ever searched for a borscht recipe before, then you might know that there are hundreds of variations.  My Grandma thought it necessary to use a sparerib for the flavor that the fat imparts.  If you prefer, you can omit the meat altogether and make a Vegetarian version of this soup as I often do.  You must include the potatoes, however, as they not only thicken the broth, but soak up all of that gorgeous red beet color too!

 

 

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Creamy Sunchoke Soup

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Just as summer turned to a fall, a few of my ladies and I got together for a girls’ night in.

Originally it was intended to be a last hurrah at the lake; a final chance to sit outside and watch the sunset.  We would have a bite to eat here and there, likely with a cocktail in hand.  Over time that plan evolved, and eventually it was decided that each of us would bring an appetizer and a drink to our little soiree.  It would be a potluck sampling of sorts.  At one point, there was talk of a possible contest and judging and a winner for the best pairing – and the accompanying bragging rights of course.  So naturally we all took this very seriously.

What actually ended up happening is that the night we chose to meet was cold and rainy and our beloved sun was nowhere to be found.  So much for that part.  Undeterred we all still showed and passed our contributions around in the coziness of the kitchen, which everyone knows is the best place to end up at a party anyway.

We realized rather quickly that we should have agreed on a theme – for the drinks at least – because our “cocktails” ran the gamut from Jello shots to ginormous Moscow Mules to homemade Irish Cream.  Basically, we created a recipe for a hangover.  If you want to try this at home (…and I definitely think you should; it was a super fun time!), have everyone bring a drink using the same kind of alcohol, and dole the drinks out in small-ish standard cups.

Lesson learned.

We had a lot of variety in the food department too.  I must say, it was pretty neat to see how creative everyone got.  For my part, I brought a batch of Stormy Mornings and shooters of this creamy sunchoke soup.  If you’ve never tried a sunchoke (also known as a Jerusalem artichoke) before, it tastes like a cross between an artichoke and an especially rich potato.  In this soup, the flavor takes on a mushroom-like quality; very earthy.  To balance that earthiness, I added a secret ingredient.  Spoiler alert: it’s Prosecco!  I liked the way that it paired with my cocktail, which also included some bubbles.

If you are looking for an excuse to pop a bottle this weekend, or are in need of a little something extra for your Thanksgiving table, either (or both!) of these recipes would be excellent choices!

 

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Farro Salad with Strawberries, Peas and Brown Butter Vinaigrette

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“It’s been a bad year for strawberries”, the man behind the counter sullenly says to me.

I nod my head in agreement.  Early as we are into the Summer, it’s been hard to find them big and ripe and juicy, if I can find them at all.  Even my favorite farmstand – the one [where the man works] that never lets me down – is severely lacking in the strawberry department.  A late frost in April seems to have stunted most of the berry crops in our area.  Growers are only allowing picking for a couple of weeks, as opposed to the usual month-ish long season, and prices for the most part are at a premium.  This is our debt to Mother Nature, I suppose.

The two plants in my garden didn’t fare well either.  I became prematurely excited when they started producing, tiny as the berries were, they were maturing – until a few nighttime critters (chipmunks, I believe) had at them.  Next year, you can rest assured that I’ll be putting more plants in, and some preventative fencing around them too!

The moral of this story then is that when I have been fortunate enough to come across strawberries (my most favorite of all of my favorite fruits), I’ve been snatching them up and putting them in everything.  The berries that are less sweet have been roasted and pulsed into smoothies like this one.  Or mixed with rhubarb and baked into a crumble, eventually drowned in a puddle of Jones Family Farm gelato.  The squished, wrinkled, etc. are seeped in hot water until they turn white are made into tea, drank hot or iced.  As for the few that are just right, they’re popped down plain or mixed into this warm salad.

 

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