Before I was introduced to this recipe, I thought that borscht was always a deep red, beet-based soup. I now know that borscht means “sour.” The sour tang in this soup comes from soaking sourdough bread in the broth, puréeing it, and incorporating it into the finished soup, along with crème fraiche which is stirred in just prior to serving.
I made my first homemade borscht (the beet-based version) for Christmas Eve, and my husband purchased pierogies at a Polish store for the same meal. Luckily, I saw this recipe and he was also able to buy house-made garlic kielbasa for this soup. The quality of the kielbasa is very important because it is used to create the broth for the base of this soup.
This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Gabrielle Hamilton. I followed the recipe closely, but may decrease the amount of butter next time- I’m not sure it was necessary! (but it was quite delicious 😉 ) It was a creamy, indulgent, and delicious upgrade of potato-leek soup. Fabulous cold-weather comfort food.
Yield: 5 quarts, Serves 10 to 12
- 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds full horseshoe link of high-quality smoked kielbasa
- 5 fresh bay leaves
- 3 pounds leeks (6 long, lively leeks)
- 3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 1 large yellow onion, small-diced (about 2 cups)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- 1 (4-ounce) hunk of dense, very sour sourdough bread, crusts removed
- 1 full tablespoon finely ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1 bunch fresh dill, woody stems removed, fronds minced
Posted in Pork, Recipes, Soups, Stews, & Chowders
Tags: borscht, creme fraiche, dill, Easter, Eastern European, kielbasa, leeks, potatoes, russet potatoes, sausage, soup, sourdough, stew, Ukrainian, white borscht
The photo of this special breakfast is on the cover of the April issue of Bon Appétit. I made it almost immediately after seeing the magazine! I really liked the idea of using dates in the filling to add a little bit of natural sweetness and fiber- and to reduce the amount of sugar. Yum.
This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz, Sohla El-Waylly, and Sarah Jampel. It was included in an article titled, “Butter, Sugar, Flour, Magic: A Basically Guide to Better Baking.” There are a lot of other delicious treats included in the article. 🙂 I made the dough and the date filling the day before assembling and baking.
It would be a lovely breakfast to serve on Easter morning.
Yield: 9 sticky buns
For the Dough:
- 3/4 cup buttermilk or whole-milk plain yogurt
- 7 T vegetable oil, divided
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup (50 g) packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4-oz (2 1/4 tsp) envelope active dry yeast
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Filling and Assembly:
- 1 cup (180 g) packed Medjool dates, halved, pitted
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 T vegetable oil, divided
- 1/4 cup (50 g) packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (83 g) Confectioners’ sugar
- 3 T buttermilk or plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
To Make the Dough:
- Combine the buttermilk and 6 tablespoons of oil in a small microwave-safe bowl. (It won’t get smooth.) Heat in the microwave in three 10-second intervals until just about body temperature, or when it registers 98°F with an instant-read thermometer. (Alternatively, the mixture can be heated in a small saucepan on medium-low for about 1 minute.)
- Whisk egg, brown sugar, and yeast in a liquid measuring cup to combine, then whisk in the buttermilk mixture.
- Pulse the flour, baking soda, and salt in a food processor to combine.
- With the motor running, stream in the buttermilk mixture. Process until about 80% of the dough comes together in a ball, about 2 minutes. (The mixture will look very wet at first, then the sides will begin to pull away.)
- Using a bowl scraper or rubber spatula, scrape the dough onto an unfloured surface. (It will be wet and sticky.)
- Knead, pushing it away from you, then pulling it back toward you, until a smooth ball forms, about 3 minutes. (You can lightly oil your hands if the dough is too sticky.) The dough will grow silkier, tighter, and easier to work with as you knead.
- Roll out the dough into a rough 8-inch square.
- Fold dough over onto itself to make and 8×4-inch rectangle, then flatten it slightly and fold over once more to make a 4-inch square.
- Roll dough back out into an 8-inch square.
- Repeat the folding process (Step 8); you will finish with a 4-inch square.
- Pour remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into a medium bowl and add dough (still folded); turn to coat.
- Cover bowl tightly and chill dough until doubled in volume, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. (I refrigerated my dough overnight.)
To Make the Filling and Assemble:
- Place dates in a small bowl and pour in 1 1/2 cups hot water to cover. Let soak until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Drain dates and transfer to a food processor; discard soaking liquid.
- Add cinnamon, salt, and 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Purée, scraping down sides as needed, until smooth, about 4 minutes. (You should have about 1/2 cup purée.)
- Grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Transfer dough to a clean, unfloured surface and roll out to an 8-inch square.
- Fold in half into an 8×4-inch rectangle, then fold rectangle over itself to form a 4-inch square. If dough feels tough and uncooperative, let it sit for about 5 minutes to relax and try again.
- Roll out dough into a 12-inch square, about 1/4-inch thick.
- Dollop date purée all over. Using a small offset spatula, spread evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border without purée along edge farthest from you.
- Sprinkle brown sugar over purée.
- Starting at the edge closest to you, roll up dough into a tight log.
- Using a sharp serrated knife and long sawing motions, trim about 1/2-inch of dough from both ends. (These ends can be discarded, but I baked them in a separate small ramekin.)
- Slice log crosswise into 3 sections, wiping knife clean between cuts.
- Slice each section crosswise into 3 buns. (I used a ruler.) You should have 9 buns total that are each about 1-inch thick. Transfer buns to prepared pan as you go.
- Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap or foil. Place in a warm, dry spot. (I used plastic wrap so that I could monitor the rising process. I also placed the pan in a warming drawer.)
- Let buns rise until they’re doubled in volume and spring back when poked, leaving only a small indentation, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the humidity and warmth of your kitchen.
- Remove plastic wrap, if using, and cover pan with foil.
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection.
- Bake buns, still covered, until puffed, pale, and mostly set, about 20 minutes. (I baked the small ramekin with the extra end pieces, covered with foil, at the same time.)
- Remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes if you prefer a soft and squishy bun and up to 25 minutes for a more toasted bun. Let cool slightly. (I baked the small ramekin with the extra end pieces at this point for about 5 minutes- uncovered.)
- Meanwhile, whisk powdered sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla in a medium bowl to combine.
- Brush glaze over warm buns and serve in skillet.
Do Ahead: Purée can be made 3 days ahead. Place in an airtight container, cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.
Posted in Baking, Coffee Cake, Holiday, Recipes
Tags: breakfast, brunch, buns, buttermilk, cast iron skillet, cinnamon, dark brown sugar, dates, Easter, glaze, healthy, Medjool dates, rolls, skillet, sticky buns, vanilla, vanilla bean paste
I made this lovely dish for Easter dinner. The sauce was absolutely incredible. I also loved that the salmon was served over a plate of sautéed vegetables. The recipe was adapted from one of the most popular menu items at NYC’s Union Square Café in the 1990’s.
The recipe is from the 40th Anniversary Special Edition of Food and Wine magazine titled “Our 40 Best-Ever Recipes,” contributed by Michael Romano. I am keeping this issue as a “cookbook” because I want to try so many (practically all!) of the dishes. The issue states that this salmon dish is one of the best recipes Food and Wine has ever published. Very special.
We finished our meal with a celebratory Bunny Cake, of course!
Yield: Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a first course (this recipe can be doubled easily)
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 ounces), divided
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion (I used 1/2 of a large red onion)
- 3 garlic cloves (2 thinly sliced and 1 whole), divided
- 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps quartered, divided
- 1 medium-size ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup water
- coarse salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound fresh spinach
- 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3-4 ears)
- 1 (1 to 1 1/2 pound) center-cut salmon fillet, sliced crosswise into 4 to 6 strips
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Make the Sauce:
- Cut 6 tablespoons butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-low.
- Add onion, sliced garlic, shiitake stems, tomato, black peppercorns, and bay leaf, and cook until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 12 minutes.
- Add balsamic vinegar and 1/3 cup water, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is syrupy, about 4 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low, and add cubed butter, 2 to 3 pieces at a time, whisking thoroughly between additions.
- Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour sauce through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids.
- Keep sauce warm over a double boiler.
Prepare the Spinach:
- Spear whole garlic clove with a dinner fork. (I’ve never done this before- genius!)
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high until just beginning to smoke.
- Add spinach; cook, stirring using fork with garlic clove, until spinach is wilted.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste; transfer to a colander to drain. Discard garlic clove.
Prepare the Corn & Mushrooms:
- Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Reduce heat to medium, and add 3 tablespoons butter.
- Add shiitake caps, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in corn kernels; cook until completely heated through, about 3 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl, and keep warm.
- Increase heat to high, and add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet.
- Season salmon strips with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add fish to skillet, and cook until browned but barely cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
- Divide spinach among 6 plates; surround with corn and shiitakes.
- Place a salmon strip on top of spinach, and spoon vinegar sauce on fish.
- Garnish with a sprinkling of chives; serve immediately.
Posted in Greens, Holiday, Recipes, Sauces, Seafood
Tags: balsamic vinegar, chives, corn, Easter, fish, mushrooms, salmon, sauce, shiitake, spinach, tomatoes, Union Square Cafe
Charleston, South Carolina is a very special place for me. As a tribute, I make a lot of Southern food. 🙂 I also make shrimp and grits as part of our traditional Easter celebration.
We were lucky enough to travel back to Charleston recently and we brought home a couple of different types of grits. The fresh from South Carolina grits really made this dish extra special. I also baked the grits for the first time and the results were amazing. I used a blend of stone ground white and yellow grits for this dish, but, I also have special pink “unicorn grits” from Millers All Day which I’ll be sure to share with you in another dish.
This dish is from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Isaac Toups of Toups South in New Orleans. It was absolutely incredible. (We need to go to his restaurant!) It may be quite difficult to try a new version next year. I served it with roasted asparagus. Lovely.
- Preheat oven to 200°F, preferably on convection.
- Toss together shrimp and Cajun seasoning in a medium bowl. Cover; refrigerate until ready to use.
- Place milk and 1/4 cup butter in a medium ovenproof saucepan. Bring to a vigorous simmer over medium, stirring occasionally.
- Gradually add grits, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly and grits are evenly suspended in milk, about 6 minutes.
- Cover saucepan; transfer to preheated oven. Bake until grits are tender, 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove from oven; stir in 2 teaspoons salt and remaining 1/4 cup butter. Cover to keep warm until ready to use. (I put the pot in a warming oven.)
- While the grits are in the oven, stir together vinegar, 3/4 cup water, sugar, and remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil over high.
- Stir in mustard seeds. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until seeds are tender, about 35 minutes.
- Add tomato and bell pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and mixture has thickened, 14 to 16 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Remove shrimp from refrigerator. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high until smoking.
- Add shrimp to skillet in a single layer; cook until opaque and lightly charred, about 1 minute and 30 seconds per side.
- To serve, divide grits among 4 bowls. Top evenly with shrimp and chowchow; sprinkle with sliced scallion.
Note: The chowchow can be made up to a week in advance.
Posted in Holiday, Recipes, Sauces, Seafood, Shrimp
Tags: apple cider vinegar, baked grits, brunch, cajun, Charleston, dinner, Easter, green tomato, grits, mardi gras, mustard seeds, New Orleans, shrimp, Southern, southern food
Happy Easter! I made this sweet and tender orange-scented bread to serve for breakfast with our hard-boiled Easter eggs. The texture was similar to panettone without the dried fruit.
As an aside, I have to share a photo of my Easter cat with his catnip carrot. ❤ We are all very festive in my house!
Because I live in fear of overbaking my sweets, I was disappointed that this loaf was slightly overdone after I had already significantly reduced the baking time in the original recipe. Don’t worry! We still gobbled it up, but, I modified the recipe below. The sweet orange glaze made it a crowd-pleaser.
This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. I weighed all of the dry ingredients and used vanilla and orange extract instead of Fiori di Sicilia. I also reduced the baking time and tented the loaf during baking. Pretty.
Yield: One 10-inch round loaf
- To make the bread: Mix together the starter ingredients, cover the bowl, and let rest at room temperature overnight, or for up to 15 hours.
- Next day, combine the bubbly starter with all the remaining dough ingredients. Mix and knead, using a mixer or bread machine, until the dough is elastic and satiny. We don’t recommend preparing this dough by hand, as it’s quite sticky and challenging to bring together. (I used the beater until the dough came together and the dough hook for about 7 minutes on medium speed to knead the dough.)
- Grease a large bowl and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s noticeably puffy. (I used a proofing oven.)
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, divide it into three pieces, and shape each piece into an 18″-long rope. Braid the ropes together, and connect the two ends to form a wreath.
- Cover the wreath and allow it to rise until puffy, about 1 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
- Bake the wreath for 10-15 minutes, then tent the loaf with aluminum foil and reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 8-15 minutes. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register at least 190°F. (I baked it at 375°F for 15 minutes, and 350°F for 10 minutes and the internal temperature of the loaf was 205°F.)
- Remove the wreath from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool.
- To make the glaze: Stir together the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the milk or orange juice. Add more liquid 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze is thin and pourable.
- Drizzle the glaze onto the cooled braid, then decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
Posted in Baking, Bread, Coffee Cake, Holiday, Recipes, The Piggy Pancake (Breakfast)
Tags: braided, bread, breakfast, brioche, challah, Easter, egg, Italian, orange, orange extract, panettone, sweet, vanilla, wreath, yeast
After sharing my friend’s Greek Meat Stuffing recipe, I realized that I have other Greek-inspired dishes to share. As avgolemono soup is one of my all-time favorites, I must say that the star of this dish is the creamy but cream-less egg-lemon sauce. It seems to bring brightness that should be served in springtime. 🙂
This dish was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Gabrielle Hamilton. I used chicken stock instead of lamb stock. The author states that it is easier to perfect the rice by cooking it pasta style, in seasoned, boiling water. She also suggests using the delicious sauce with asparagus, roasted salmon, or poached chicken. Nice.
- coarse salt, for cooking rice and for seasoning the sauce
- 1 ¼ cups jasmine or Basmati rice
- 1 cup frozen small peas
- 2 cups homemade brown lamb stock, turkey stock, or chicken stock
- 5 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 scallions, sliced in 1/3-inch rings, on a slight bias
- freshly ground black pepper
- Bring 8 cups of water to a rolling boil. Season lightly with salt.
- Rinse the rice, and pour into boiling water, stirring well to keep grains from clumping. When the water returns to a boil, lower heat a little to a gentle boil, and cook the rice “pasta-style” until just done. (I cooked the rice 8-9 minutes.)
- Drain the rice through a fine-mesh colander, giving it a couple of hearty shakes to remove the last of the water.
- Immediately spread cooked rice out on a sheet pan lined with parchment to cool quickly. Do not pat down or pack the rice — you want it fluffy and to be able to cool and dry quickly.
- Rinse the peas under cool water briefly to remove any frosty crystals.
- Bring the stock to a simmer.
- In a stainless bowl, whisk egg yolks and lemon juice together until fully incorporated.
- In a slow steady stream, while constantly whisking, add half the hot stock into the yolks. Then whisk the egg-lemon mixture back into the remaining stock.
- Return the pot to the stove, and simmer (still whisking constantly so as not to cook the egg too fast and too hard), until the avgolemono sauce is full-bodied, approximately the consistency of buttermilk — a minute or 90 seconds more.
- Stir in the scallions, then the peas, and when they both turn bright green, turn off the heat, and stir in the rice.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. The rice should be as soupy as risi e bisi (Italian rice and peas) and as creamy as risotto.
Posted in Quick, Recipes, Sides
Tags: Basmati rice, chicken stock, Easter, egg-lemon sauce, frozen peas, grains, Greek, jasmine, lamb stock, peas, rice, side, side dish, spring
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