Traditional Ukrainian Easter Bread Podil’ia Style (Podil’ska Paska)

Happy Belated Easter! We were very lucky to enjoy beautiful weather yesterday. 🙂

I like to bake new Easter breads to serve for our holiday breakfast. This year, I looked through my Ukrainian cookbook collection for a paska (Ukrainian Easter bread) recipe.

My mother-in-law has given me several Ukrainian cookbooks and there were many variations of paska to choose from- all quite different from one another depending upon the region of their origin. Traditionally, a paska or babka is an essential part of an Easter breakfast. Many are beautifully decorated with a cross, braid, or birds. This version is more of a cake, with batter, and did not have dough that could be used to decorate the top.

The recipe was adapted from Festive Ukrainian Cooking by Marta Pisetska Farley. According to the book, this paska recipe, from the northwest province of Podil’ia, is at least a hundred years old! It is a golden paska, reminiscent of the sun, and is similar to a sponge cake.  It was very rich and indulgent.

Yield: One 9 or 10-inch cake

  • 1 cup dry white bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 10 large or extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 T powdered sugar
  1. Line the bottom and sides or a 9, 10 or 12-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (Because I used a 9-inch pan (smaller than the original recipe suggests), I cut 7-inch tall pieces of parchment paper to line the sides of the pan, buttered on the portion lining the walls of the pan and sprayed with cooking spray above the walls of the pan.)
  2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  3. Sift the bread crumbs until fine, then sift again with the flour baking powder, and spices.
  4. Add the grated lemon and orange zest.
  5. Separate the eggs.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg yolks with the granulated sugar until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla and beat again.
  8. Fold the bread crumb mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  9. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the batter until no white streaks can be seen.
  10. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until set or a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. (I was afraid that the cake would fall if I checked it too early- and baked it for 1 hour.)
  11. When fully baked, keep the cake in the oven with the door ajar, and allow to cool slowly. (The cake may fall slightly. Mine did!)
  12. When cool, remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Serve.

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Balsamic Vinegar

Brussels sprouts are an essential part of my Thanksgiving weekend menu because my mom and mother-in-law are here to gobble them up with me. 🙂 In this dish, they are sweetened- and darkened- with balsamic vinegar.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Amanda Hesser. I significantly reduced the amount of breadcrumb topping. It was a nice side dish to serve on Thanksgiving because it comes together quickly and requires minimal oven time.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 lbs baby Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed (cut larger ones in two)(I used an entire stalk of sprouts)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces pancetta in small dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 T minced shallots
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup veal stock or rich chicken broth, more if needed
  • 2 T chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a bowl, mix bread crumbs and thyme with 2T olive oil, and spread on a cookie sheet. Toast, tossing frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Heat butter and remaining 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until foamy.
  4. Add brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add diced pancetta, and sauté, tossing frequently, until sprouts are well browned and softened slightly, and pancetta is crisp, about 10 minutes more.
  6. Reduce heat, add shallots and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  7. Increase heat to high, add balsamic vinegar and stock, and cook, tossing frequently, until sprouts are glazed and tender, about 10 minutes; add more stock if needed.
  8. Taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary.
  9. Transfer to a warm serving bowl and scatter bread crumbs and chopped parsley on top.

Braised Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

This quick cooking side dish is perfect for Thanksgiving or any other large holiday meal because it is prepared on the stove top when the oven is often too busy for another pan.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Suzanne Goin. According to the Times, braised vegetables are a hallmark of Goin’s cuisine. It was described as a “marvelously flavorful dish, rich with garlic and salty pancetta.” A keeper! I completely agree. Simple and perfect.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Time: 30 minutes

  • 1 ½ cups fresh bread crumbs (I used prepared bread crumbs)
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds baby brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed (cut larger ones in two)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces pancetta in small dice (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup veal stock or rich chicken broth, more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix bread crumbs and thyme with 1/4 cup olive oil, and spread on a cookie sheet. Toast, tossing frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. (I substituted prepared bread crumbs.)
  2. Heat butter and remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until foamy.
  3. Add brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add diced pancetta, and sauté, tossing frequently, until sprouts are well browned and softened slightly, and pancetta is crisp, about 10 minutes more.
  5. Reduce heat, add shallots and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  6. Increase heat to high, add balsamic vinegar and stock, and cook, tossing frequently, until sprouts are glazed and tender, about 10 minutes; add more stock if needed.
  7. Taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Transfer to a warm serving bowl and scatter bread crumbs on top. (We had bread crumbs on the side.)

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Ina Garten’s Provencal Tomatoes

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In the summer, my husband takes care of the tomato plants at his boss’ house for a week while she and her family are on vacation. If we are lucky, we are rewarded with delicious tomatoes that happen to ripen under his watch. 🙂 This year we were so fortunate! The classic combination of tomatoes with herbs and cheese in this side dish was the perfect use for our special tomatoes. I think it would be great with Parmesan cheese in lieu of Gruyere as well. This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, via foodnetwork.com. We ate it with pulled chicken sandwiches and corn on the cob- so summery and tasty!

  • 6 tomatoes (2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (from 5 slices of bread, crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
  • 2 T minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place bread slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast bread in oven until dry and crispy, about 5 minutes. Pulse crispy bread in a food processor until coarse bread crumbs are formed. Set aside.
  3. Cut cores from tomatoes, removing as little as possible. Slice tomatoes in half crosswise and remove seeds. Place tomato halves in a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  4. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, scallions, basil, parsley, garlic, thyme, and 1 tsp of coarse salt.
  5. Sprinkle the tomato halves generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Using your hands, fill the cavities and cover the tops of the tomatoes with the bread crumb mixture.
  7. Bake the tomatoes for 15 minutes, or until tender.
  8. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 2 to 4 minutes more, until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
  9. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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One Year Ago:

Raw Baby Red Kale Salad with Chiles & Pecorino

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I was so happy to receive my first CSA box of the season. It has been such a LONG six months without a surprise box of fresh vegetables to look forward to every week! My box was loaded with tender spring greens including beautiful baby red kale- perfect for this salad and perfect for my guest post for Sonal of simplyvegetarian777. Sonal is my oldest friend in the blogosphere and is also one of my biggest supporters. She is always there with a “like” and a complementary comment on my posts- She is so kind to me!

This salad made a beautiful lunch that I thoroughly enjoyed. 🙂 This recipe was adapted from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: 150 Recipes & Stories About the Food You Love by Melissa Clark (my favorite New York Times contributor).

The guest post along with the lovely remarks Sonal said about my blog 🙂 can be found here. Healthy & Delicious!!

  • 1 small bunch Tuscan kale (for ex: black or laminate) or Red Kale
  • 2 thin slices country bread, 1 slice whole wheat bread (crusts removed), or two handfuls good, homemade coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 large garlic clove or 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
  • 1/4 cup (or small handful) grated pecorino cheese, plus additional for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (from a generous half of a large lemon- about 3 T)
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Trim the bottom few inches off the kale stems and discard. Slice the kale into 3/4-inch ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place the kale in a large bowl.

2. If using the bread, toast it until golden brown on both sides and dry throughout. Tear into small pieces and pulse in a food processor until the mixture forms coarse crumbs, or crumbs to your liking.

3. Using a mortar and pestle or a knife, pound or mince the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a paste.

4. Transfer the garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss very well (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves).

5. Let the salad sit for 5 minutes. Serve topped with the bread crumbs and additional cheese.

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Baked Mustard Chicken

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My husband’s birthday celebration involves a special meal out and a special meal at home. For the past few years, there have been a few constants on the birthday menu at home: cheesecake (his FAVORITE listed on the link at the end of this post), mustard “something”, and potatoes. 🙂 When I first spotted this recipe in the New York Times, I immediately thought of my husband’s birthday dinner. It involved 3/4 cup of Dijon mustard (mustardy) and baked for HOURS (special). I quartered chickens for the first time too. (Thanks to help from You Tube!)

The chicken is coated with mustard, garlic, spices, and bread crumbs; this coating seals in the moisture as the chicken bakes. The original recipe stated that the chicken should cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the coating is dark and crispy. I set the oven to convection and shortened the baking time to 1 1/2 hours. The end result was tasty, but not that mustardy! It tasted more like delicious baked “fried” chicken. We ate it with wonderful creamed spinach and roasted potatoes. This recipe was adapted from Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin, via the New York Times.

Happy Birthday to my hubby and Happy Fiesta Friday #18 at The Novice Gardener!

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 3/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups fine dry unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 chickens, approximately 3 pounds each, quartered, dried, at room temperature for 1 hour
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika, or as needed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. (I used a convection oven.) In a large mixing bowl, combine mustard, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Place bread crumbs in another large bowl.
2.
Working in batches, coat chicken quarters on all sides with mustard mixture. Shake off excess mustard, then coat completely with bread crumbs. Arrange in a single layer in two large, shallow baking pans.
3.
Dust the chicken with paprika to taste and scatter butter pieces on top. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and crispy, about 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes in a convection oven, or 2 hours  to 2 1/2 hours in a standard oven. Serve hot or at room temperature.

One Year Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Pasta with Greens, Caramelized Onions & Garlicky Bread Crumbs

I thought that the anchovies would be the “I can’t place my finger on the flavor” component in this dish – like in Caesar salad dressing. 🙂 Maybe because I was anticipating their flavor, I was positive that I could distinctly taste them in the final dish but my husband completely disagreed. This dish is so ultra full-flavored with the garlicky bread crumbs and caramelized onions, the anchovies really don’t stand a chance of standing out.
 
I really love that I could use my HUGE assortment of CSA greens in this meal! This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, via The Golden Earthworm Organic Farm. I used ghee instead of butter and panko instead of bread crumbs. I also modified the proportions of garlic, onions, greens, and pasta. I used our favorite Italian fresh pasta– so special and delicious!
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  • 3 tablespoons ghee, butter, or olive oil
  • 5 anchovy fillets
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs or panko
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved from stem to root and thinly sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, kale, and/or beet or turnip greens, ribs removed, leaves chopped into ribbons
  • 12 oz to 1 pound whole-wheat pasta, such as fusilli, or fresh pasta (I used fresh orecchiette)

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter or ghee. Add 3 anchovies to the skillet; cook until melted, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the bread crumbs and toast until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Wipe the skillet clean and return it to a medium-high heat. Add the oil, the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Chop the remaining 2 anchovies and add them to the skillet. Cook until melted. Add the greens (adding the longer cooking greens such as kale first), a handful at a time, and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well. Toss with the greens and bread crumbs, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil, if desired.

One Year Ago:

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