Thursday, February 27, 2014

BACK below the borscht belt

I realize that Sophia's great recipe does give ALOT of options - perhaps more than a Neophyte would be comfortable with. So I'm giving a streamlined version. Pros should roll withe original and newbies - can master this, then upgrade.

Making the Broth [perfect as is]
"I toss every scrap into a container that lives in my freezer. (Skip stuff in the cabbage/broccoli family though). Onion skins, ginger peel, potato peelings, carrot ends, bell pepper stems and cores, bones and animal organs (obviously omit the animal bits if yr a vegetarian) until you collect about a quart (or one full sized plastic freezer bag),
dump the collected bits into big soup pop and add water to cover and then have about 2 inches of water on top

I also add cumin/fennel seeds, a few peppercorns, dried mushrooms and dried lemongrass.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer about 2 hours and strain all that, retaining the liquid, composting the rest

Making the Borscht
Suggested Music: I'm sure my sainted mother would be appalled but the only stuff I've got in my CD collection of Polish derivation would be Frankie Yankovic's The All Time Great Polkas and Greatest Hits -- which is cool enough in a certain sense; a more high brow selection could be The Music of Armenia: Volume 2; Sharakan, Mediaeval Music.
Now this dish is coming from someone of Ukranian descent and ain't Polish or Armenian. Within folks of Eastern European descent the cultural differences are pronounced enough and guarded jealously. But realistically, we do realize to you honkies we all look the same and eat the same shiz (boiled cabbage, root vegetables and flesh) -- so don't sweat playing Pollack music while ya make Ukranian-oriented chowzers.

2 cups cubed raw peeled beats
2 cups cubed raw carrots (leave the peels on)
2 cups peeled raw potatoes or yams
1 stalk celery
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb cubed mammal flesh
1 Tablespon paprika,
2 teaspoons cayenne,
2 teaspoons cumin,
1 Tablespoon salt,
2 teapspoons thyme
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 Tablespoon tomato paste 3 Tablespoons vinegar

To start the borscht saute veggies + flesh in a big soup pot in 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil (olive would be nice)
Then add the broth you made, (you'll want to have enough to fill yr soup pot up 75%)
add all your spices
Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer until meat is tender (say, 2 hours).
Add a tablespoon tomato paste or some tomato sauce (in a pinch you CAN use ketchup - actually there are Indian restaurants that make just this substitution),
a few tablespoons vinegar (I suggest red wine or apple cider,

throw 1 cup of flour into a bowl
add 1 tsp salt, 1 egg and some water (I'd start with a quarter cup and add drizzles till you get the consistency you favor)
and mix up thoroughly (I use a big wood or steel spoon but if wanna use some fancy mechanical shiz, feel free - more clean up tho!)
basically you want this to be the consistency of cookie dough, all though it's fine to make it a bit wetter which just give you a different final product
then you drop this by the spoonful into the borsht; when it floats to the top, it's done
[if yr dough was the consistency of cookie dough, the dumplings will be firm and dry-ish - sorta like baked potatoes; if you made the dough wetter it'll come out more like thick pasta i.e fettucini or shells]

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