Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rosemary Halusky with Cabbage and Broccoli Rabe

I'm not quite sure what I think of this dish. The halusky are the best I've ever made, namely because I used potatoes for the first time. Duh! Also, the rosemary added a nice flavor and made the halusky seem like something special rather than just filler dough balls. Whereas my taste tester liked the broccoli rabe and said it "punched through the cabbage and dumplings," I thought it was a tad too bitter. The next time I make halusky, I'll use a different green (mustard, kale?), although I don't know which one. You can't really see it in the picture, but the dish came out much more attractive and interesting than traditional halusky with cabbage. Not only does the broccoli add color, I added some parsley to the halusky which give them green flecks and break up the white.

Here's the recipe I used. It's a modified version of a basic halusky recipe from the "Dobra Cookbook" I mentioned in the previous post.

2 medium potatoes
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 cabbage
1 large bunch of broccoli rabe (aka broccolini)
1 Tblsp butter
1 Tblsp olive oil
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion
1 Tblsp dried rosemary squeezed by my fingers into small bits
1 Tblsp dried parsley
1 tsp white pepper

Peel and grate potatoes and then pulverize in a food processor until they look like hummus. Add salt, egg, flour, rosemary, parsley and white pepper. Mix until the dough holds together but is still very sticky and doesn't hold its shape. It should not be like bread dough. Because it's moist and sticky, it will make for moist halusky. I used a halusky maker my mother lent me to drop the halusky quickly into a pot of boiling water to which I had added some vegetable oil to keep the halusky from sticking together. Boil halusky for about 10 minutes; drain in a colander and rinse with cold water and return to pot. Brown 1 Tblsp butter and 1 Tblsp olive oil in a pan and then pour over the halusky. Chop onion and brown in 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of butter. Chop the cabbage finely and add to the onion. Also, remove the leaves from the broccoli rabe and set aside. Add the crowns and thick stems to the cabbage and onion mix. Fry the onion, cabbage and broccoli stem and crown mix slowly, covered, about 15 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe leaves and saute for another few minutes until they are wilted but not mush. Add dumplings, season with salt and pepper to taste, mix well.

Breakfast Machanka: Traditional Recipe

I've been wanting to make this recipe for a long time, namely because it sounds so unappealing. For me, its simple and cheap ingredients that lack spice or color conjure up images of poor Slavs living in clapboard homes in company towns in Western Pennsylvania preparing to be lowered into the coal mines. Of course, that's a pretty accurate picture, cause those are the people who actually ate this stuff.

Before I can experiment with "Breakfast Machanka," I had to make it in its original form. Here's the recipe, which comes from my mother's "Dobra Cookbook," a collection of recipes put together in 1977 by the members of the Federated Russian Orthodox Club.

2 cups boiled milk
2 Tbsp. flour
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter

Mix flour and egg in 1/2 cup cold milk to a smooth cream. Slowly add the cream to the remaining 1.5 cups boiling milk and stir so it will not turn lumpy. Add salt and cook until thick. Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add Machanka to small bowls, and spoon butter on top. Eat as any hot cereal.

I'm very surprised to say that this stuff is quite good. The texture is smooth, creamy and soothing and is basically a porridge. It had a few lumps in it, but they actually enhanced the feel. As for the flavor, it is a lot like a buttermilk biscuit with butter and salt. I'll definitely be making this again and updating it. It would be fantastic with brown sugar, cinnamon, apples or other fruit, like bananas.

On a related not, I need to find out what "macanka" actually means, because my mother makes a macanka that has tomatoes in it, and the Slovak neighbor of ours from my childhood used to make it with sauerkraut juice and bacon fat, which we would all eat on bread. I'm wondering if machanka means gravy or sauce or something like that. Anyone know?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Kremnica in Winter

How beautiful is this place?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sausage, Kale and Roasted Red Pepper Pierogis

My taste taster gave these a 3.9 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest. In other words, they were on the high side of okay, mainly because of the tough pierogi dough. The filling alone ranked higher. I thought about calling them Christmas pierogis, because the filling had red and green bits in it and was festive looking. The hot sausage didn't taste hot at all, though. Although I prefer my pierogis meat-free, I'd make these again but with different dough. I'd probably add more roasted peppers, too.

Filling Recipe:

1 lb ground hot Italian sausage
1/4 lb (I think) Kale, stripped of hard stems
1 large shallot, chopped into small pieces
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, chopped into small pieces
3/4 cup roasted red peppers in oil, chopped into small pieces

Dough Recipe: See Pierogi Dough with Eggs

Brown the shallot for about 3 or 4 minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil until it gets soft. Stir in the sausage, breaking it up as it browns. Just before it browns completely, stir in the garlic and let it brown for about 1 minute. Then, stir in the chopped red peppers for another minute. Finally, add the kale and stir the whole mixture for several minutes until the kale is wilted but not mush. Drain the mixture in a colander, pressing out as much juice as possible.

Make the pierogis, which, I'm assuming, everyone reading this knows how to do.

After boiling the pierogis for approximately 7 or 8 minutes, I sauteed them in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a teaspoon of butter until they were just a bit crisp in parts. I love the taste of butter, especially mixed with salt and sour cream, but I always feel guilty afterward. Fortunately, you could barely taste olives and probably would have tasted less had I used "light" olive oil. They were still buttery and good, not to mention much healthier. It's definitely the way to go. Finally, I served them with sour cream.

Lessons learned: Definitely use olive oil and butter combo. Don't use an egg in the pierogi dough.

Pierogi Dough and Eggs

I made the mistake of adding an egg to my pierogi dough, and the pierogis came out dense and tough. Yuk. I actually threw one away (which is sacrilege in my home) after eating three even though the flavor was good. Next time, I'll skip the egg and add a bit of oil to the dough instead.

The lesson seems to be that the same principle that makes an egg excellent glue for keeping pierogis closed also makes an excellent glue within the dough itself.

Here's the recipe I used. Leave out the egg.

2 cups flour
1 egg
3 tblsp sour cream
1/2 cup cold water