Ukrainian Borshch (Украинский борщ)

BorshchI lived in Moscow through the summer and fall of 1991, the last months of the Soviet Union, when food could only be reliably found in open-air farmers’ markets, at prices jacked up to market levels.  During these days, I spent many hours with my friend Sergei Maslov who, like me, was studying at the Moscow Energy Institute.  Often I would visit his family in their cozy apartment in the southeast corner of the city, and his mother Marina would make dinners for us.  One of my favorite dishes was her authentic Ukrainian borshch.  One day I took out my notebook and wrote down the recipe as Marina prepared the soup.  I have scanned the original handwritten page and included it below. Continue reading

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Gazpacho

GazpachoThis chilled soup is ideal for a summer meal, and a sure way to impress any guest.  This is the gazpacho that blew my mind in Madrid when we first visited a few years ago — with a smooth, creamy, velvety consistency, but without any animal-based products at all.  The recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated.  While the folks at America’s Test Kitchen often seem to needlessly complicate some standard recipes, this one is well worth the small additional effort to prepare the vegetables. Continue reading

Chanakhi (Georgian lamb stew)

ChanakhiWow!  This is a remarkable dish.  I made it last night for the first time, and it blew me away.  I dream about dishes like this: a slow-braised lamb stew with cubed potatoes and eggplant, and enormous amounts of chopped herbs.  The flavors melt together in a clay pot and create an intensely flavored broth.  Darra Goldstein, in her fantastic cookbook The Georgian Feast, recommends braising in the oven.  But it’s also an ideal recipe for a Crock Pot.  Just make sure that for this recipe, you’re using at least a 6-quart pot.  The 4-quart variety isn’t nearly big enough. Continue reading