Ok, last food post for awhile…I think. There has still been a little rain, but not nearly as bad as last week. This week we’ve met two couples with young girls, new playmates! I’ve been doing some preparations for Miss P’s birthday. With our new friends we’ve doubled the amount of people coming so I am working on some fun stuff. It’s been difficult without a printer. I’m hand writing plenty of things I’d rather do on the computer. Miss P won’t remember it but we’re gonna have fun anyway. I can’t wait to post photos!
So, back to the subject…Russian food, Borscht to be exact. I brought back two very large beets from my father’s farm. Now, I’ve not had much experience with beets. It’s one of those vegetables that tends to be overlooked and shunned by many. My mother swears she loves them, but I don’t recall her ever eating them. Her mom, however, loves pickled red beat eggs. I’ve seen my grandma eat several at one sitting! But me? I’ve maintained my distance from the root vegetable. So why bring them home with us? I was going to serve them up to the kids, of course.
Well, I thought of just roasting them, but then I had the crazy idea of making them into the one thing I knew had beets in it (other than pickled red beet eggs), Borscht. My only experience with Borscht was in middle school while visiting my Russian friend’s home. Her mother had made Borscht and offered to ladle out a bowl for me. I politely declined and ran far away from the strange magenta soup. But now I’m a bit more adventurous and I figured if we don’t like it, we can walk down the road to a restaurant for pizza. So began my culinary adventure.
I searched on Pinterest for some recipes. There were many different variations so I made my own version with what ingredients I had on hand. One of the most important steps to making a good Borscht is to make a good stock from beef or chicken (unless you’re a vegetarian, then a veggie stock will have to do). The more flavorful, the better. My Lithuanian friend, Kristina, gave me this great advice.
Did we like it? No, not all of us, but we all tried it, including my picky toddler. Miss P liked it the first day, but would not eat it after that. Cory ate a small bowl, but I think the look of it turned him off. I enjoyed it, but can say I didn’t like it enough to be the ONLY one in the house eating it. It was a very flavorful soup, not as sweet as I thought it would be, especially with the good stock I made. If you like beets, get some in a CSA batch and don’t know what to do with them, or are just feeling adventurous, I encourage you to try it out. It really was pretty good. My sister-in-law was inspired to make a batch from my recipe. She said it was delish.
2 large beets – peeled and chopped (I think next time I will chop them smaller) then toss them with olive oil and salt and pepper
About 2 medium potatoes, chopped
1 small red onion (or two shallots) chopped
1 carrot cut it into matchsticks or coins
2-3 garlic cloves crushed or diced
5 cups stock (beef, chicken or veg) – the richer the stock, the better
1 tsp thyme
1TBSP tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
I roasted the beets at 400 F for 45 minutes. You could also roast them along with the potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic (if you do, I’d leave the garlic whole and toss them with olive oil and salt and pepper too). If not roasting all the veg, sautée the onions and garlic for a few minutes in olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add potatoes and carrots. Stir around for a few minutes. Add the broth, thyme, beets and tomato paste. Bring to a boil then simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender. If you roasted the veggies then that shouldn’t take too long. Salt and pepper to taste. I puréed some and left the rest chunky, but pureeing is not necessary. Some people strain out all the veg and serve the broth only. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, heavy cream or goat cheese. You can also top with chopped chives and/or parsley.
Several recipes also used 1/2 a head of shredded cabbage. It was sautéed for about 15 minutes before adding it to the broth mixture.
You can also add coriander and parsley.
Several recipes called for red wine vinegar to be added just before serving.
I was lacking all the variation ingredients and Cory doesn’t like cabbage or vinegar. So I didn’t add them.