Borscht: all of the vegetables, but mostly beets, crammed into possibly the most vibrant soup in western cooking. In central Alberta borscht is second only to perogy’s as the culinary torch of Ukrainian heritage.
I distinctly remember the first time I saw borscht. It was many, many years before I came to Alberta, living as a young boy in Ontario. I family friend made it and I can’t describe how strange it was to me. The only purple items I’d seen for human consumption was grape juice. It now seems not just acceptable but strikingly beautiful and such a special ode to the root cellar.
I think your borscht should be tailored to the exact veggies you have on … Continue reading.
This post was originally published on September 17, 2013. I’m re-posting it todayfor those that attended my session at Eat Alberta 2017.
Kraut is German for “herb”. It was also a derogatory term for Germans during the Second World War. Sauerkraut means “sour herb”, or possibly “German curmudgeon”. Why this preparation would be called sour herb I have no idea.
Ukrainian, Russian and several other eastern European languages use the word kapusta to refer to fresh cabbage, cured cabbage, and various dishes made with one or both of those.
Sauerkraut is a miracle preparation. Cabbage and salt. That’s it. Somehow liquid appears from thin air and submerges the cabbage. Over a few weeks, though neither cabbage nor salt are acidic, … Continue reading.
This post was originally published on January 6 (Orthodox Christmas Eve!), 2013. Re-published today for those that took my session at Eat Alberta 2017. The only difference between what we did at Eat Alberta and the recipe below is that we used Sylvan Star medium gouda instead of orange Cheddar.
There are as many recipes for perogies as there are babas in the world. Some pillowy perogies have potato in the dough, as well as the filling. Others are made with a simple dough of flour, sour cream, butter, and eggs. This is what I prefer…
This afternoon I made perogies, then ate four dozen of them, giving me ample opportunity to contemplate their mysteries.
The Dough. … Continue reading.
This happy fellow at left is a sour cabbage head, sauerkraut in whole-cabbage form.
You can make sour cabbage heads simply by burying little cabbages throughout your sauerkraut crock after you have liberally salted and mixed your shredded cabbage. The mass ferments together, and at the appointed time you can prod through the conventional sauerkraut til you find the whole heads of cured cabbage. It’s rather like an Easter egg hunt only with more lactobacillus.
It didn’t cross my mind to make sour cabbage heads this season until about a month after I had started my large crock of kraut. Lisa had bought some pretty little savoy cabbages. I stole one. Then I dug a deep well into the centre … Continue reading.
I’m not even remotely Ukrainian, but (as I’ve written many times before this) I am fascinated by the food that Ukrainians have brought here to central Alberta.
Yes, perogies. And yes, sauerkraut, kielbasa, and cabbage rolls. But the more I read into this cuisine, the more I respect it. There are so many interesting preserves, and countless recipes of ingenious frugality.
It also seems that every ingredient, dish, and meal comes with superstition and ritual.
Take the traditional Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner, or Sviata Vechera (literally “Holy Supper”), perhaps the most beloved of all Ukrainian feasts. Orthodox churches use the Julian calendar, so their Christmas Eve falls on January 6. There are more traditions associated with this dinner than … Continue reading.
This is exactly the kind of delicious, hearty, ingenious, frugal dish I love. While finely chopped condiments like relish, piccalilli, and jam can be canned on their own, larger slices of vegetables like cucumbers, beets, and carrots require an acidic liquid in which to be preserved. The liquid prevents the growth of aerobic pathogens by keeping air away from the vegetables and filling the space with acid, salt, and sugar. Once the vegetables are gone, this delicious liquid can be used in a number of applications.
If this sounds at all gross to you, think about what is in dill pickle juice: water, garlic, black pepper, mustard seed, coriander, bay, cider vinegar, salt, and sugar. The liquid has been cooked … Continue reading.
I don’t cook rice very often, but I used to work at a restaurant that let me take home large amounts of leftover rice, and over the years I have developed a taste for rice pudding. My favourite version is made with a blend of brown and wild rice (which adds a satisfying chew to the dish), and dried saskatoons.
Lately I’ve been wondering if I could make a similar dish with a starch that is more common in my kitchen. Take that fifty pound bag of wheat berries in my closet, for instance. The one that I keep threatening to grind into flour if it doesn’t make itself more useful.
I was wary of trying to adapt wheat to … Continue reading.