We missed celebrating Christmas with our extended family this year. 😦
Traditionally, my Mother-in-Law makes all of us the meatless 12-dish Ukrainian Christmas Eve feast as part of our celebration. It is a beautiful dinner, but a major undertaking. I didn’t attempt to make the complete meal, but I did make a couple of the courses for our celebration at home. 🙂
Our meal began with a (mini) shot of vodka and a bite-sized piece of challah with honey. We ate this Winter Borscht with Vushka (mushroom-onion dumplings) followed by sauerkraut and potato-cheese pierogies, which my husband purchased from a local Polish store, as our main courses. I made my Mother-in-Law’s apple strudel for dessert, post to follow.
This recipe was adapted from Tom Birchard and Natalie Danford of NYC’s East Village restaurant Veselka, via The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. (I gave my husband the Veselka cookbook for Christmas!) I incorporated some of the beets, puréed, into the finished soup. I used dumplings wrappers instead of making the dough for the dumplings. I also modified the Vushka proportions and technique.
I used beets from my CSA share for the soup, made it in advance and stored it in the freezer. I made the Vushka a day in advance and stored them in the refrigerator. The recipe states that the dumplings are optional; in my house they are essential! The soup had a spicy kick which may have been from the fresh garlic, which is incorporated at the end. I enjoyed it but may consider omitting the garlic next time.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
For the Borscht:
2pounds beets, trimmed and scrubbed (do not peel)
3/4cup white vinegar
1carrot, peeled and diced
1stalk celery, diced
1small onion, diced
4cups chicken or vegetable stock
5whole allspice berries
1tablespoon sugar, more to taste
1garlic clove, minced
1 ½teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
mushroom and onion dumplings (Vushka)
chopped dill, for garnish, optional
Coarsely chop beets, preferably in a food processor.
In a medium pot, combine beets, 4 cups water and vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until beets are soft, about 45 minutes. Strain and set juice aside. (Beets can be used for another purpose, like salad.)(I puréed half of the strained beets in a Vitamix and incorporated them in the finished soup.)
Meanwhile, in a deep pot, combine carrot, celery, onion, stock, bay leaves and allspice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes. Strain and discard aromatics and vegetables.
Combine strained stock and beet juice and simmer 5 minutes.
Add sugar, garlic (if using), and black pepper. Season to taste with sugar and salt.
Add half of the reserved beets, puréed, into the finished soup, as desired.
Serve with dumplings and sprinkle with dill, as desired.
For the Vushka (Ukrainian Mushroom & Onion Dumplings):
Yield: 80 to 100 dumplings
For the Filling:
2 tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms
1 1/2tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 large yellow onion, minced
2cups chopped button mushrooms
freshly ground black pepper
For the Dough: (I used Shanghai-style dumpling wrappers instead)
1large egg yolk
1tablespoon vegetable oil
3 ¼cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
To Make the Filling:
Place dried mushrooms in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Let soften, about 10 minutes. Strain, reserving liquid and mushrooms separately.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until golden but not brown, about 5 minutes.
Add button mushrooms and cook, stirring, until mushrooms have released their liquid, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drain liquid.
In a food processor, combine both kinds of mushrooms.
Spoon in porcini liquid, leaving behind any silt in bottom of bowl.
Pulse together until finely ground but not pasty: about 3 or 4 pulses. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
To Make the Dough: (I used dumpling wrappers and continued at Step 8)
In a small bowl, combine egg yolk, oil and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water and whisk 1 minute.
Place flour in a large bowl and make a well in center. Add a third of the egg mixture and lightly mix in with fingers or a fork. Repeat 2 more times.
Using hands, fold dough together until soft: if crumbly, gently work in more water; if sticky, add flour.
Transfer to a lightly floured board and knead 3 minutes.
Form into a ball, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate 45 minutes.
Lightly flour a work surface and a pan or board for the finished dumplings. Divide dough into 3 sections.
Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll each section out until very thin and in a rough rectangle.
Use tip of a sharp knife to cut dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. (I used a 1 1/2-inch square cookie cutter as a guide. Each dumpling wrapper yielded 2 squares. If using square dumpling wrappers, each one may be able to make 4 squares. Next time!)
Cover the cut dough with plastic wrap so that it doesn’t dry out.
Drain any excess liquid from filling. Place 1/4 teaspoon filling in center of each square. (I found it helpful to pre-scoop the filling and place it on a cutting board because it dried it out slightly.)
Wet the edges of the dough and fold squares in half to form triangles, sealing filling inside.
Pinch the 2 opposing corners together to seal tightly, use water if necessary.
Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with plastic wrap or a floured surface: do not stack.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook dumplings until they float, 2 to 4 minutes. (If cooking frozen dumplings, cook until they rise to the surface and add 2 minutes.)
Drain and serve in hot borscht, about 10 per serving, or just with sour cream.
This healthy one-pot dish is for fans of greens. 🙂 I thought that it could even work as a dish to serve for a small-scale Thanksgiving feast because it incorporates bread (stuffing), greens (vegetables), and chicken (poultry). It would just need potatoes on the side- which is actually how my husband ate the leftovers. 😉 It was a pre-Thanksgiving meal for us because my crowd prefers a more indulgent feast on the big day. We did end the meal with apple pie bars.
This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Melissa Perello. It was inspired by chef Judy Rodgers’ famous wood-fired roasted chicken at Zuni Café in San Francisco. I kept waiting for chard to appear in my CSA box so that I could make it. This dish gobbled up all of the chard, kale, and beet greens from my share! The capers and golden raisins made the base of the dish extra delicious.
Yield: Serves 4 to 8
8 to 10 oz (about 1/2 loaf) day-old peasant bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used a pain au levain boule)
4 to 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
4 T salted capers, rinsed well
4 T golden raisins
1 1/2 pounds tender fresh greens such as Swiss chard, kale, spinach, or beet greens (the original recipe uses Swiss chard)
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 skinless bone-in chicken thighs or one 3 1/2 pound chicken, skinned and cut into 8 pieces
fresh thyme and parsley, for garnish, optional
Prepare the Greens: If using Swiss Chard: Remove the stems and finely slice or chop; slice leaves in half through the ribs and cut into 2-inch ribbons. If using Kale: Remove ribs and discard; tear leaves in half and slice into 1/2-inch ribbons. If using Spinach or Beet greens: Remove stems and slice leaves into 2-inch ribbons. Wash and spin dry.
Preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the olive oil, capers, raisins, prepared greens, shallots, and garlic. Season with salt and black pepper.
Spread the bread-greens mixture in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. (My pan was almost overflowing!)
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and arrange them over the bread. Sprinkle with dried thyme.
Cover the chicken with a piece of parchment paper and close the casserole with a heavy lid. Bake the chicken for 35 minutes.
Remove the lid and parchment paper and increase the oven temperature to 400°.
Bake the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until golden on top and cooked through.
Remove the casserole from the oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the chicken with the bread and greens, garnished with fresh herbs.
This phyllo-crusted savory pie is packed with caramelized summer zucchini. It is a wonderful way to gobble up an abundance of fresh squash from the garden or your CSA share. 🙂 I loved that it was baked in a cast iron skillet too.
The recipe was adapted from thekitchn.com, contributed by Grace Elkus. We ate it for dinner with a green salad but it could also be served for a special brunch or lunch- an amazing summer meal.
This is another wonderful one-pot vegetarian baked egg casserole that can be served any time of day. The title of the New York Times article about it was, “Polenta That You’ll Never Need to Stir: Baking a classic in a sea of eggs and cheese gives it complexity.” Irresistible. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. I used my special grits from Charleston, South Carolina instead of polenta. I also increased the amount of garlic, reduced the red pepper flakes, and kept the corn kernels whole. I loved all of the brightness from the combination of fresh herbs. Delicious!
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
warm naan, pita, or crusty bread, for serving
Heat the oven to 375°F/200°C, preferably on convection.
If desired, add the corn to a food processor and pulse once or twice, just until roughly chopped. (I opted to leave the kernels whole.)
In a large bowl, combine the corn, spinach, cornmeal, Parmesan, scallions, 1/4 cup cilantro, parsley, dill, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a good grind of pepper; stir to combine.
Transfer this mixture to a large, deep, oven-proof skillet, then add the milk, stock and butter, stirring gently to mix through. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and give everything a good whisk.
Return to the oven and bake until the cornmeal is cooked through and the mixture has thickened, about 20 minutes. Give the polenta another good whisk — it should be quite smooth and not completely set — then stir in half the feta.
Increase the oven temperature to 425°F/220°C, preferably on convection.
Use a dinner spoon to make 8 shallow wells in the polenta. Crack an egg into each well and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the remaining feta all over, and bake until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the reserved scallions and cilantro in a bowl with the oil. Spoon this mixture all over the polenta and eggs and sprinkle with the red-pepper flakes, if desired. Serve directly from the pan.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. We ate it for dinner with a crusty sourdough baguette and a giant green salad. This quick and tasty dish can be served any meal of the day.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
6garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp sweet paprika
1/8tsp ground cayenne, or to taste
1(28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with their juices, coarsely chopped (I used San Marzano)
3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more as needed
5ounces feta, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
6 to 8large eggs (I used 7)
chopped cilantro, for serving
hot sauce, for serving
warm pita or crusty bread, for serving
Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.)
Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes.
Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook 1 minute.
Pour in tomatoes and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes.
Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Stir in crumbled feta.
Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce and warm bread.
This creamy and indulgent vegetarian stew was hearty and delicious. The dish is based on Southern Indian chickpea stews and some stews found in the Caribbean. I loved how it was loaded with greens (I used Swiss chard) and toppings. An added bonus is that the stew and toppings are made in one pot.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alison Roman. I doubled the onions and garlic, used rainbow chard, and substituted parsley for mint. We ate it over Basmati rice with warm naan on the side. Wonderful!
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
¼cup olive oil, plus more for serving
4 to 8 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 to 2large yellow onions, chopped
1(2-inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½teaspoons ground turmeric, plus more for serving
1teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon, to taste, if desired
2(15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2(15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
2cups vegetable or chicken stock
1bunch Swiss chard, spinach, kale or collard greens, stems removed, torn into bite-size pieces (I used rainbow chard)
1/2 to 1cup flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or mint leaves, for serving
yogurt, for serving, optional (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
toasted naan, pita, lavash or other flatbread, for serving, optional
Basmati rice, for serving, optional
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and starts to brown a little at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, (ground coriander and/or ground cinnamon- as desired) and the chickpeas, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, so the chickpeas sizzle and fry a bit in the spices and oil, until they’ve started to break down and get a little browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove about a cup of chickpeas and set aside for garnish.
Using a wooden spoon or spatula, further crush the remaining chickpeas slightly to release their starchy insides. (This will help thicken the stew.) Add coconut milk and stock, and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until stew has thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. (Taste a chickpea or two, not just the liquid, to make sure they have simmered long enough to be as delicious as possible.) If after 30 to 35 minutes, you want the stew a bit thicker, keep simmering until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Determining perfect stew thickness is a personal journey! (I continued to cook the stew to a thicker consistency.)
Add greens and stir, making sure they’re submerged in the liquid. Cook until they wilt and soften, 3 to 7 minutes, depending on what you’re using. (Swiss chard and spinach will wilt and soften much faster than kale or collard greens.) Season again with salt and pepper.
Divide among bowls, over rice (if desired) and top with mint/parsley, reserved chickpeas, a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes and a good drizzle of olive oil.
Serve alongside yogurt and toasted pita or naan, if using; dust the yogurt with turmeric if you’d like.
My son and I made this dish together for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner. We’ve been keeping ourselves busy while we’re stuck at home! He is a big fan of mashed potatoes, so he made the topping himself. I loved the ridged pattern on the finished crust.
Although the recipe is streamlined to be made in one skillet, it was still a little bit time-consuming. (Thankfully, we had plenty of time!) The plus side is that it can be prepared with ingredients that are readily available in your pantry and freezer. It definitely created less dishes too. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via The Associated Press. It was originally published in their book, Cook it in Cast Iron. I used a combination of Dutch yellow baby potatoes and red potatoes instead of russet potatoes, ground turkey instead of ground beef, increased the amount of garlic, and modified the method. Great comfort food.
Yield: Serves 6
2 pounds potatoes, Dutch yellow baby potatoes (unpeeled), red potatoes (unpeeled), or russets (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 large egg
6 T unsalted butter, divided (4 T melted)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey or 93% lean ground beef
2 T tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 T all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen peas
Cover potatoes with water in large saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon salt, bring to simmer over medium-high heat, and cook until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes for unpeeled baby potatoes or 8 to 10 minutes for peeled and cut russet potatoes.
Drain potatoes and return them to saucepan. If using unpeeled baby potatoes, remove the peels at this point.
Using a potato ricer, process all of the potatoes. (Alternatively the potatoes can be mashed until smooth.)
In a measuring cup, whisk milk and egg together. Stir into potatoes along with 4 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; cover and set aside.
Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet.
Add carrots, onion, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add ground meat and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
Slowly stir in stock and Worcestershire, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.
Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
Off the heat, stir in peas and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Adjust oven rack 5 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
Dollop the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling. Smooth topping with a knife or the back of a spoon, then use the tines of a fork to make ridges on the surface.
Place the skillet in the oven and broil until topping is golden brown and crusty, 5 to 10 minutes.
Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before serving.