Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ukrainian style Borscht

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Finally! After living in Los Angeles for almost 7 years, I have finally had a taste of that elusive Veselka borscht. Perhaps time has altered my taste buds but this gigantic pot of bubbling borscht has certainly hit the spot. This has been an almost epic journey, with last minute ingredient runs and constant tasting to track the development of flavors. After reading countless recipes on Epicurious, AllRecipes and other sites, I "threw away" the recipes and just went for it. As much as I, and my poor non-meat eating roomie, would have wanted this to be vegetarian, beef is a must for the flavor of this to match that of Veselka's. Let's start our journey into the center of the beet...

Beets are a magical root. Just look at the little sucker. It looks like a heart and indeed has cardiovascular benefits. Rich in iron, folates, fiber and anti-oxidents, this powerhouse is great for detoxification of the liver as well as preventing colon cancer. Honestly, anything with color this rich is going to be good for you.

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Ingredients:
1 red beet with greens
2 golden beets (the tend to be smaller)
1 half of a white cabbage shredded
1 large red onion sliced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
4 carrots shredded
3 celery stalks chopped
1 sweet potato peeled and cubed
1 bone in chuck
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
5 bunches of dill
small handful of black pepper corns. maybe 20?
6 bay leaves
1 small can of tomato paste

Let's do this.

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I first wrapped the beets in foil and put them into a preheated oven at 375 for maybe 45 min, or until they were tender.

While the beets were baking I started boiling the beef in a gigantic pot filled with about 4 quarts of salted water. I added the bay leaves and pepper corns.

Saute in olive oil or Earthbound the veggies. I did this in batches since my pan couldn't possibly manage them all at once. So, I did the onions and garlic first, then the potatoes and carrots, followed by the celery. I added it all to the pot.

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Once the beets were done I peeled the skin off with the back of a knife and started grating. Man was this painful. This entire recipe left me with cuts and burns all over my hands. So, please be careful and wait for the dang beets to cool a bit. To save time try baking the beets the day before. After grimacing my way through the beets I added them to the pot along with the red wine vinegar. This is where you can control how sour your soup is. At first I had only added maybe a few tablespoons but after tasting decided that it could use more.


Pull the leaves off of the dill and add to the pot. The fragrance is amazing.

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It was right about now that I tasted it. NO flavor. Bummer. So, I ran across the street to the ethnic grocery store to grab some beef bouillon. While at the store, I remembered that I never added tomato paste or cabbage. Borscht with no cabbage?!!! Travesty. So, bag of forgotten ingredients in hand, I risked life and limb crossing the boulevard and hoofed it to the kitchen.

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Cabbage shredded, I sauteed it and added to the pot along with the tomato paste. I pulled out the meat bone and shredded the beef off of the bone and added the meat back to the pot.

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NOTE: I had completely forgotten my greens!! Clean and remove the leaves from the stalks and chop. Saute in a pan with a tad of salt and pepper. Once it cooks down add to the pot.



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Then I dissolved two bouillon cubes in some of the pot juice. I was ready to let it boil down on a low heat with the lid off.

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And boil down it did. The veggies softened and the broth was rich and red from the beets. Just remembering it is making me hungry as I sit in my cubicle noshing on the free pizza knot from a co-worker's birthday pizza lunch. If it weren't for the salad and knots I would be one sad lactose-intolerant.

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Anyhoo, I went back to check on the pot after an episode of Vampire Diaries, yes that show. (Figured I'd give those little CW teens a try. Not half bad.) The soup had boiled down a good inch and the color had deepened in color and was smelling up a yummy Ukrainian storm. SOOO GOOD!! It was like I had given birth to a yummy soup baby and was a proud mommy ready to send pictures to everyone I know. I am one screw loose from carrying a picture of the soup in my wallet. Garnish it with a sprig of fresh dill and ENJOY!!

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1 comments:

Jen said...

you saved me a quart, right?

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