22 November 2011

There's No Place Like Home ... and Nothing Like Kasha Varnishkes!

I'm back! For someone who usually posts every couple days, being away from The Spice Garden has felt like going through withdrawal! I do love cooking and blogging, but life has just been crazy of late!

I feel like I've been away from the blog world for so long! It's been a busy couple weeks for the grey cottage. You see, I have been doing my Holiday Fair organizing for our little church and Silent Bob has been doing his hunting thing. We both have been very productive  ... I finished my little baby quilt for the fair's Silent Auction and SB came home from the hunt with over sixty pounds of venison for our freezer. Plus, we stopped at a friend's farm and picked up our Thanksgiving turkey, hauled wood out of the woodlot and closer to the house for this winter's fires, and put the vegetable gardens to bed for the season ... the parsnips, beets, and Brussels sprouts are all that's left of the veg ... my herbs are covered with leaves so that  I can go poke them aside and collect fresh parsley, chives, thyme, and oregano when I need them (that is, until a really hard frost or a foot of snow does them in for the season).

With SB home from the hunt and the Fair a past event, we have come home to crash ... both proud and happy, but exhausted. I have been hunkered down with the dogs and a good book the past couple days ... and venison. SB says we must have venison every week throughout the winter in order to do justice to the young buck that he tagged, so I have started out with a bang!

The past two evenings I have worked with the most tender of tenderloins and the leanest and most tender steaks. No posting on the venison recipes, as we fell on them like wolves ... like wolves, I tell you! FYI, the tenderloins were sliced into thick medallions, pounded thin, dusted with flour, salt, pepper, and thyme and grilled to a perfect rare juiciness and then given a red wine and blueberry reduction sauce. I promise to post this recipe later on this winter ... it is truly wonderful. The steaks were simply grilled and served with a green veg (those Brussels sprouts) and this gorgeous Kashi and pasta side dish that I found in my Jewish cookbook.

Called Kasha Varnishkes, this recipe is so perfect for a roast of beef or a game dish! The nuttiness of the buckwheat Kashi, combined with crispy onions and sauteed mushrooms, is a perfect complement to the heavier flavours of game and beef. I used dried Chanterelles and white mushrooms to add to the recipe, used a bit of butter in the saute, and beef broth as the stock that cooks the Kashi. It was wonderful! I have made this a gluten-free and vegetarian offering in the past by using a GF pasta, vegetable stock, and replacing the butter with olive oil ... just sayin' it can be adapted for special diets. In all cases, though, be free with the black pepper and freshly chopped parsley.

It's really a heavenly dish ... and is being re-warmed for my lunch a bit later! Enjoy!

Kasha Varnishkes

Serves 4 to 6


25g /1 oz. dried well-flavoured mushrooms
500ml/ 2 ¼ c. boiling stock
45 ml/ 3 tbsp. rendered chicken fat, olive oil, or butter
3 to 4 medium onions, thinly sliced
250g/ 9 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
300g/ 11 oz./1 ½ c. medium grind buckwheat (Kashi)
1 egg white
200 g/ 7 oz. Pasta bows (Farfalle)
5 tbsp. Fresh chopped parsley
Kosher salt and black pepper
Making the Dish:
1. Bring the stock to a boil and divide it in half.

2. Place the dried mushrooms in a small deep bowl and pour half the hot stock over them. Set them aside for 30 minutes.

3. Heat a fry pan and add whichever fat you choose to use.

4. Add the onions and sauté them until they begin to brown and become crispy.

5. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the hot pan to a warm platter and set them aside.

6. Return the pan to the stove, add just a bit more fat and all the fresh mushrooms. Sauté them until they begin to brown at the edges. Return the onions to the pan, add the reconstituted mushrooms (reserve the liquid that they soaked in!). Turn the heat off and set the pan aside.

7. Measure the buckwheat into a bowl and toss it together with the egg white until all the kashi is coated and shiny.

8. Heat a clean fry pan over high heat and add the kashi to the hot pan. Use two spoons to toss the kashi over the heat to brown it and release its nutty essence. Break up any clumps of kashi and continue tossing it until it begins to brown and crisp up.

9. Turn the kashi into the fry pan that contains the mushrooms and onions. Add the stock, cover the pan closely, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes.

10. Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the Farfalle bowtie pasta.

11. Strain the reserved stock from the reconstituted mushrooms and add it to the buckwheat as it absorbs the other stock. Recover and cook for another 5 minutes or so. When all the liquid has been absorbed, taste the buckwheat … if it is too firm, add a bit of water or more stock, if you have it. Continue to steam the buckwheat until it has a tender bite. Turn the heat off, but keep it covered and warm.

12. Drain the cooked pasta, toss it into the buckwheat and mushroom mix, add the fresh parsley and plenty of salt and black pepper, to taste.

13. Serve this as a bed for steaks or meat medallions, or place it in a warmed dish as a side.


  1. This looks so hearty and warming. I'd love to eat this for lunch!

  2. Hi Susan! It's game season here too, and I've been looking for some new recipes. I'm looking forward to your red wine and blueberry reduction--it sounds perfect to go with our game.

    Any ideas for wild boar?

    I love this Kashi as well. I've bookmarked this recipe--thanks for sharing it!

  3. Real life does have a way of getting in the way of blogging:D Glad to see all is well with plenty to cekebrate.

  4. I agree!I love this dish and your recipe for it is aces. I'm glad things are fine. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. This looks and sounds so good; I have to admit I have never heard about this before. Blogging is part of my learning process.

  6. sounds like you've been living life to the full... is there any better excuse not to blog than having a good time... what I love about this post is that you really express the turning of the seasons so well, game season here too and i love all this meaty meat... that recipe looks heavenly, can't wait to give it a go!


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