Barszcz Czerwony – Polish Red Borscht

Barszcz Czerwony – Polish Red Borscht

A simple, yet healthy recipe. Borscht is made in Eastern Europe; from Russia to Ukraine, to Poland. Poland also has another borscht, that is white (without beets, barszcz biały).

After browsing recipes in English and Polish, the Polish variety of borscht is very simple. Some may make a fermented beet starter, also known as kwas. Others simple make it a beet soup. You can’t really add beets to anything without making a mess, so be prepared for some clean up (I don’t recommend storing leftovers of this one as this can make a mess)

There are basic ingredients in the soup, nothing fancy:

  • Beets, or beet kwas
  • Garlic
  • Onions (white or yellow)
  • Beef, Vegetable, or Chicken Broth
  • Marjoram or allspice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Vinegar, or lemon juice (if omitting the kwas
  • (Optional: carrots and celery)
  1. You can either bake the beets in the oven first, or add in them chopped, raw. Either way, start with sautéing your onion.
  2. Then add garlic and beets, and any other vegetable you are using.
  3. Add stock, vinegar or lemon juice, and seasoning, and simmer for as long as you would like.
  4. It is optional to top with fresh dill and/or sour cream as well.

Side note: the Polish borscht is the simplest of them all. Russians may add cabbage and meat as well, and the Ukrainians add extras as well. There is also a traditional Christmas meal in Poland where mushrooms are added to the borscht.

I hope you enjoyed reading, learning, and cooking!

German Music Part 1

Music is an important part of every culture, and out of all the countries in Europe, the main one I have been focusing on lately are the ones in German. Some of my favorites as of recent have been Heino and Ilse Werner.

When listening to German language music, I have found there are quite a few English language songs covered in German, or even redone in English. It doesn’t matter which genre; Freddy Quinn sang old Americana songs in English such as “Don’t Fence Me In”, but also sang “Heimweh” (a German version of “Memories are made of this”) in German. James Last, a bandleader, played a wonderful take of “Orange Blossom Special”; while there are no words, it is truly an American song in origin. James Last did not cover this song only once, he incorporated it into his performances on many occasions.

When I listen to music, it goes in a pattern where I’ll listen to the same 20 or so songs until I find a couple more to switch in, but some German songs to get inspired into delving further are:

Heino:

Blau blüht der Enzian – a romantic song with the image of the enzian in mind (a beautiful flower that grows in mountainous areas)

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree (in German) – with Heino and Sarah Jane Scott

Ein Heller und ein Batzen – a folk drinking song dating back to the 1820’s according to the German Wikipedia, which seems correct given the currency: Heller and Batzen, went into disuse during the 1800’s.

Auld Lang Syne (Ein Jahr Vergeht) – Heino’s take on the famous Scottish song of the same name. This is my preferred version, though a great English version is done by The Choral Scholars of Univeristy College Dublin.

Ilse Werner

Ich hab’ dich und du hast mich – Translated to “I have you and have me”. A love song, with an upbeat tempo.

Ja, das ist meine Melodie – her singing a lovely melody

Sing ein Lied, wenn du mal traurig bist – Translated to “sing a song, when you are sad”. A cheerful song to sing when you’re sad.

While this list is very short, I hope it gives you good starting points to expand your knowledge of German music on.

New Scandinavian Cooking

A show on KLRN that showcases the beautiful land of Scandinavia as well as the cuisine of Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, and Denmark.

Each show features a different area such as the mountainous regions of Norway to the southern coastal lands of Finland. The regions have their own cuisine and the host really focuses on the history and why the food is popular where it is. For example, rye grain is heartier than wheat and actually become a staple out of necessity in order to brave the tough years where wheat would not survive.

The meals they make during each show is not cooked in a kitchen but rather the outdoors. They have a mobile cooking setup where you see the beautiful scenery while getting to know Scandinavian cuisine.

Salata Od Hobotnice -Octopus Salad

Salata Od Hobotnice -Octopus Salad

This is a Croatian dish, specifically from the coastal region of Dalmatia. It starts with a simple dressing mix of:

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • S+P
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Olives and/or capers
  • Vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar)
  • Lemon Juice

It then gets mixed with cooked octopus (I used the frozen cooked squid tentacles and threw in some mussels as well), and also boiled golden potatoes cut into chunks.

  • Octopus or squid (cooked)
  • Golden potatoes
  • Mussels not standard but optional

Not traditional, but I also topped it with:

  • Pimiento

Banana peppers may added as well, and again; mussels are not the standard

Other common ingredients include:

  • Bay leaf
  • Onions

Tarragon Soda

Tarragon Soda

If you haven’t heard of it, try it. It smells wonderful and tastes just as delicious. I found it while wandering through a shop called Sasha’s International Market in San Antonio, Texas. The market has Eastern European food/drinks with a focus on Russian specialties (the shop will have its own post on my blog).

Tarragon is used medicinally as well cooking, and is definitely my favorite herb. When I read “tarragon” and it looked like a liquid I got so excited. The idea of tarragon soda was invented in Georgia (the country), and is very popular in Russia, and other Eastern European countries.

I personally have never seen this offered in any grocery store, though maybe I haven’t looked hard enough.

Enjoy!

Battalion – San Antonio, Italian

I just got the food to-go as I heard the music choice was not the best, and when I picked it up, I confirmed that. The interior decor inside an old fire station was definitely contemporary, but in a good way. The main color scheme was red and black, and was very well designed.

I had to wait longer than the app “Toast” said, though they explained that 20 minutes was too short of a time to prepare a 3 course meal, which I totally understood with me working in the food industry. The offered me a soda or water while I waited which made it up in my mind, and was very considerate.

The food (again with no star ratings)

Ricotta Gnocchi Amatriciana (tomato, guanciale, red onion, chiles, pecorino) $12- the gnocchi was classic sized gnocchi though there could have been a little more guanciale. Overall, great taste, and for the price, I would recommend.

Berkshire Pork Saltimbocca (charred lemon polenta, prosciutto, sage, pork jus) $24- I didn’t see the charring on the polenta, though it was delicious and the star of the night. The sage leaf was left whole and definitely could have been more incorporated though I guess they were looking for more of a decorative item. The saltimbocca was flavored well, though overcooked. I never judge a dish by the way it was cooked due to that being an error by the cook, and not the chef. Too small of portion for me to reorder. Simple pork dishes should be less.

Tiramisu (marsala-mascarpone,coffee, cocoa) $10- there are only 3 things I am truly a snob about: gnocchi, risotto, and tiramisu. Tiramisu is my absolute favorite dish in the world, when prepared right. There was too much cocoa powder and left a chalky taste, and definitely not the melt in your mouth, heaven on earth type of feeling. If you have had delicious tiramisu, you know the only thing that can come close is Kentucky Bourbon Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce (forget about ice cream).

Overall, for the ambiance alone, I would recommend trying it once, though for the food, it is worthy of the prices mostly. I wouldn’t personally recommend this Italian restaurant for any foodies, though it is a neat experience.

Haluski

Haluski

An Eastern European food typically attributed to Polish origin. It can be a vegetarian dish by not using pork, and is mostly omitted anyways. I added it for more filling. This takes about 10 minutes from starting your prep to finish. Cheap, delicious, and easy.

  • Butter
  • Onion
  • Cabbage
  • Egg noodles
  • (Optional) – pork: bacon, pancetta, kielbasa
  1. Heat a pot of water and a pan with some butter and pork if using.
  2. Chop the onion then put in pan of butter and sauté for a couple minutes
  3. Add egg noodles to water then chop your cabbage
  4. Add your cabbage and some salt and pepper to pan of onions and cook until soft
  5. Add drained egg noodles.
  6. Done

Roast Vegetables

Oil and seasonings are the main thing.

For potatoes I may do the standard mix I use: salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Then I may add Italian seasoning.

For broccoli, cauliflower, or broccolini, I just use that 4 spice mix.

For carrots I add some brown sugar and the 4 spice mix.

Whatever the vegetable; toss in olive oil, garlic oil, or your preferred oil, and season generously.

Then put on a pan with parchment paper on 375. Stir once or twice and turn pan around to cook evenly. The time varies greatly depending on the size you cut the vegetables, and the variety.

Broccolini will be done in less than 15 minutes, while carrots may take over 30.

Roasted Garlic – Garlic Oil

Garlic oil is a byproduct of roasting garlic and is commonly used in restaurants to create a more flavorful oil.

I usually buy the peeled garlic for this when I make it at home due to the large amount of garlic I used.

How-to

Fill a bread or similar sized pan halfway with peeled garlic then add olive oil until it covers it by at least 1/2 inch. The garlic that is uncovered will cook more quickly and may brown too much if left alone.

Put the pan in the oven with foil loosely on top at 350 for at least 45 minutes. You are waiting until the garlic is soft and mashable. It will be a long while before the garlic is burnt. I usually check every 10-15 minutes from here on out, though you can lightly roast the garlic until it has not really changed color, or you can wait until it is a golden brown.

Cool the pan once it is done so you can put the strained garlic oil into a container that won’t melt.

Either keep the garlic as is, or purée it and find the many useful ways such as marinating chicken or making garlic bread.

Risotto – about

Risotto is a dish with starchy rice cooked in a broth/stock. The rice used primarily are arborio, carnaroli, and vialone.

The rice is usually cooked by adding the liquid a ladle full at a time with very frequent stirring, though many are now just adding the liquid and letting be.

When starting the risotto, there is usually at least onions sautéed in butter and sometimes celery as well, then the rice is toasted, then deglazed with vermouth or wine.

The broth is then slowly added, waiting until it gets absorbed before adding more.

It is classically cooked al dente, but most restaurants in America will serve it tender.

Restaurants from different cuisines have taken on this delicious rice dish. I have seen it in Albuquerque at a Spanish (Spain) restaurant who put hatch chiles and corn it, and at a German style restaurant in Fredericksburg.

  • Fun fact of the day: Mussolini tried to get Italy to eat more risotto instead of pasta due to the country’s reliance on importing the wheat.