Christmas always brings me at least one new cookbook and this year was no exception! My traditional first recipe from most of the cook books I get is a soup recipe. This is, perhaps, the result of looking to use leftovers from the Christmas food shopping fest or maybe just a rustic reaction to all the rich food we consume during the holidays. Soup seems simpler, less caloric, and less stressful to create.
Sprout Kate gave me wonderful cookbooks this year ... Mamushka is a collection of recipes inspired by author Olia Hercules's food memories and cultural background. The food of the Ukraine and other Eastern European countries are well-represented in her gorgeously presented cook book. I chose to make a Beet Borshch and dinner rolls that are bathed in a buttery parsley and garlic wash for the first time cooking from the book. Dinner by candlelight last evening was cozy and aromatic, to say the least!
This borshch is a beef based broth that has a ton of vegetables added. It has the potato and beet element that the more traditional Russian borscht recipe, but is loaded up with grated tomato, slivered cabbage, diced carrots and onions, sweet red pepper slivers, short-rib beef that has been pulled to soft chunks, and red kidney beans. The broth has the sweetness of the beets and also the tang of tomatoes. It's a really complex soup and perfect for sopping the garlic rolls.
These Ukrainian pampushky are made over the course of a day ... a sponge is made and sits in a cool place for several hours. Then the balance of the flour measure and salt are added and kneaded to make a smooth plump dough. The dough balls are given a second rise and then the rolls are baked and drizzled with a soft saute of garlic, sunflower oil and butter. Fresh green parsley is added to the oils and garlic and the mixture is left to cure while the rolls bake. When drizzled on the hot rolls, the garlic aroma becomes intense!
Yup ... cozy supper and candle light ... perfect for post Christmas knoshing ...
Ukrainian Beet Borshch
1 lb. fatty beef short ribs or oxtail
1 onion, peeled
1 bay leaf
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 quarts water
4 tsp. Better than Bouillion beef broth fortifier (optional)
1/2 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1/2 lb. beets, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
2 tbsp. sunflower (or light olive) oil
1 large carrot, peeled and diced small
1 onion, peeled and diced small
1 sweet red pepper, seeded, de-veined, and sliced into thin slivers
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 large tomato, de-seeded and coarsely grated
1/2 small green cabbage, cored and sliced into thin slivers
dollops of sour cream
chopped fresh dill
Making the Borshch:
1. Place the ribs, bay leaf, onion, and water in a deep heavy soup pot. Bring to a simmer, skimming the foam off the broth a few time. Cook for an hour, then remove the bay leave and onion. Add the beef broth fortifier, if you choose.
2. Add the prepared beets and potatoes and simmer for half an hour.
3. Place the sunflower oil in a frypan and add the onions and carrots. Cook over medium heat until the onions are softened and the carrots are beginning to caramelize.
4. Add the tomato paste and sweet red peppers and continue to cook until the sweet peppers are aromatic and the tomato paste is distributed well. Add the grated tomato and reduce the juices a bit. Turn all this vegetable mix into the soup pot with the broth, beef, and potatoes and beets.
5. Stir in the cabbage and red kidney beans.
6. Simmer until the cabbage is done.
7. Remove the short ribs and strip the meat from the bones. Shred in chunks and return the meat to the soup, stirring it in well.
8. Serve the soup with warm Pampushky, dollops of sour cream, and sprinkles of chopped dill fronds.
Ukrainian Garlic Rolls - Pampushky
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. warm (109 degrees F) water
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/2 c. bread flour ( divided in half)
1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
3 tbsp. sunflower oil ( I used 1 tbsp. sunflower oil and 2 tbsp. butter)
1 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 large handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten for brushing the rolls prior to baking
Making the Rolls:
1. mix the yeast sugar and warm water and set aside for ten minutes to proof.
2. When the yeast mixture has foamed up, ad it to half the flour and mix to make a sloppy, wet sponge. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a cool place for several hours (overnight, maybe?).
3. About an hour before you want to eat, add the rest of the flour measure and the sea salt to the sponge. Stir to combine and knead on a cool surface until the dough is plump and smooth.
4. Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Rub the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan or circular baking dish with oil.
5. Divide the dough clump into 8 equal clumps and shape into balls. Place them in the pan, cover, with a damp towel, and let them rise for about5 minutes.
6. While the rolls rise, melt the butter in the oil in a small frypan. Add the minced garlic and cook just long enough to soften the garlic and let it release its oils. Remove from the heat, add the chopped parsley and let the flavours infuse the fats.
7. Brush the risen dough balls with egg wash. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 -25 minutes.
8. Remove the rolls from the oven and immediately drizzle the tops with the garlic and parsley butter.
9. Serve hot from the oven with soup or stews.