Autumn Taste of Ukrainian Cuisine

Having lived 21 years in my hometown left me no space and perspective for seeing Ukrainian cuisine in the big picture. I was a consumer there, some dishes were good, some of them were bad, some of them were my favorite. My grandma was the one who was cooking for all of us and I remember that there was no day that our fridge was empty. Cooking was a cult for her, and sharing food was a ritual through which her generosity was expressed the most. Whenever my friends were visiting me, the food would appear on the table and Mrs. Anna never cared if you were full, she had her own way to make you taste her dishes. And who could resist?! Who would be able to say No to homemade stew or warm bowl of soup prepared from scratch using seasonal ingredients or simply a cup of tea with a pie or cookies or her favorite brioche croissants with jam inside. She loved observing people and the way they were eating. Her philosophy “the way you eat, the way you work” could tell her more about your character than you would expect. Playing with the food or eating too slow was like a personal offence for her. She believed in people with a good appetite, she trusted them she knew that they would be able to work hard. That was her world where people ate big portions of homemade food and no one counted calories, the time where gluten was a friend and smoothies for breakfast would be considered as a frivolous behavior.

Sharing the recipe of Cabbage rolls is paying tribute to my Ukrainian roots, my attempt to understand the value of my cuisine and its uniqueness. The recipe embraces my grandma’s way of preparing them and my love for Middle Eastern spices.

Ingredients

For filling

 1 green cabbage

150 gr ground beef

1 cup short-grain rice

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

several cloves of garlic, sliced

handful of chopped dill

For sauce

1 cup tomato sauce

1 cup sour cream

1 cup water

handful chopped dill

Preparation:

Trim off the large tough leaves of the cabbage. Make four deep cuts around the core of the cabbage in order to make the leaves easier to pull off later. Leaving the cabbage whole, put it in a deep, large pot with the core facing down and pour a full kettle of boiling water over it- the cabbage should not be fully covered in water, just about a half. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to water for preventing cabbage from getting mushy.  Put a lid and simmer over low heat until the cabbage leaves have softened (It is hard to say the exact time because it is all about the type of cabbage you are going to use. Some get soft after 15 mins and some need more time)

Meanwhile prepare the filling by putting the beef, rice, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, oil, garlic and dill. Mix well with your hands. (A useful tip: prepare the filling before making the cabbage rolls and leave it in the fridge over night, in such way the spices infuse the filling and it is full of flavor as a result)

Remove the cabbage from the water and very gently pull off each leaf, always from the base to avoid tearing.

The Size of the leaf will determine how much stuffing you put in. Be careful not to overfill. Place the leaf sideways, so the spine is horizontal to you, and put the stuffing in the middle, running along the spine like a sausage shape, but leaving room at either side of folding. Place in a deep frying pan or a Dutch oven, tightly packed. When the pan is full. Mix the ingredient for the sauce and pour over the cabbage rolls (the cabbage rolls should be completely covered with the sauce,  if you lack sauce add more water mix with sour cream and tomato sauce)

Simmer over low heat around 1 hour occasionally checking the readiness of cabbage and filling.  When the cabbage rolls are ready, don’t forget to place one generous spoon of sour cream for topping. Enjoy the flavors of autumn.

Kategoriler: Comfort Food Tags: , , , , , ,
10 Tips for Sourdough Beginners

Tips for getting better results while working with sourdough

  1. Dealing with sourdough bread when only 4 ingredients are used, make sure you are using the best flour you can get. Flour is everything! One brand of flour can handle wet dough, while the other can fail completely. Adjust your recipe to the flour you use.
  2. Sieve your flour! When the flour is oxygenated, it allows for better gluten development and the gluten can trap more air in the loaf. In the sifted loaf 10-15% more volume
  3. Don’t be greedy with add ins, add 20% from the weight of bread
  4. Happy starter better baking. Keeping your starter is not a difficult thing, observe how much time your starter rises and when it falls and build your own schedule for feeding it. Active bubble starter will definitely produce a better loaf
  5. You control the dough not around. It is important to understand that even the best recipe is only the direction and your ingredients, skills and environment can bring the best results
  6. No steam, bad oven spring and as a result flat loaf.
  7. If you have a regular home oven, heating it well is very important. I heat my oven around 1 hour before placing the loaf, but will try to keep it heated it even more
  8. Underproofed or overproofed loaf is a matter of time. Catching the dough at its best time to be baked is the skill which will come with some experience.
  9. Use a scale for achieving consistency
  10. If you have just started baking, don’t compare your loaves to any Instagram glorious loaves! Don’t torture yourself why your first loaf was too dense or too flat, it is a matter of experience and patience. Being patience and persistent will be rewarded sooner or later

Essential equipment for baking a sourdough loaf

    • A glass jar for keeping your starter
    • Scale
    • Lodge Combo Cooker is what I personally use. Deciding between a Dutch oven and an iron cast my choice fell on the second one because of the price and it works absolutely fine .

    • Bench knife for cutting and lifting dough

  • Bread basket for proofing is not a must but the whole process will be much easier if you have it
  • Bulk container with clear sides to observe the rise of dough
  • A big bowl for mixing dough
  • Lame for scoring your bread (I use simple razor for scoring. You can make your own lame a pack of razors and a coffee stirrer)

Kategoriler: Hamur İşi Tarifleri Tags: , , , , ,
Who is Afraid of Sourdough

My interest in sourdough bread started to grow with each fascinating picture I saw on Instagram and the more I was seeing all this beauty the more I wanted to try to work with sourdough. The tiniest problem was that I had no idea about sourdough and the idea of making my own starter was a bit scary. So, let me share my own experience the way it all worked for me, what moments were discouraging and how I managed to overcome them. So, if you decide to embark on sourdough journey you will need to create your own starter. Creating your own starter is not a hard task, it only requires patience and observation. What I personally was struggling with was the feeling if my starter was good, if I managed to get needed wild yeast so I was smelling it and checking the pictures and was trying to understand if It was good (Understanding your own starter at the beginning might be a challenge so it is good to have someone experienced who is willing to help). My starter is based on white flour and the recipe I followed was from the book Classic Sourdoughs by Ed Wood and Jean Wood. The tutorial is quite easy to follow: mix 1 cup of organic white flour with 1 cup of warm water from a bottle, in a glass jar (why from bottle? because tap water can be harmful for bacteria which will inhabit your culture) Stir the mixture well and leave it in a warm place if there are insects I cover my jar with a kitchen towel. In two/ three days first bubbles will appear which will be a sign of success. At this point the starter must be fed, and this is the formula I was following 1:1:1 which means the same amount of ingredients should be used (like 50 gr of starter, 50 gr of water and 50 gr of flour) This feeding must be performed at 12-to 24-hour intervals during several days until the starter is bubbly and active enough. So how can you understand if the starter is ready? On the 6th day the starter will become predictable after feeding it will rise within 6-8 hours and will fall, and when this cycle of rise and fall is established, the starter is bubbly and smells good, it is ready to be used.

One more trick which helps to understand if a starter is ready is throwing a small amount of it into water and if it floats that’s an indicator it is good to be used.
So now a bit more about baking my first loaf which was the funniest baking experience. So, the recipe was from the same book I used for creating my starter. The recipe was super simple which said: pour the starter into a bowl, add water and salt mix it will. Add flour and kneed it. Proof the dough overnight at 21C, let the dough rest for 30 mins, afterwards shape it and bake it. My first sourdough was so sticky that I could hardly handle it. It felt weird to deal with this type of dough. At that moment, I didn’t do enough reading and had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, I shaped that sticky dough and decided to bake it even though I had the feeling that I failed. To my biggest surprise the bread wasn’t bad at all. The crumb was soft and full of aroma. That first loaf marked my sourdough journey and that I won’t come back to using commercial yeast. This was my first loaf, a super weird one but edible and I was grateful for it!

After gaining my first experience I got encouraged to learn more about sourdough bread. My second book which has been a very valuable source of information -Chad Robertson Tartine Bread, where the pictures and detailed information help a lot understand the nature of creating bread. Using this book, I baked many tasty loaves but unfortunately majority of them were flat and the more I tried, the worse bread I got. I must confess I was quite annoyed because I couldn’t point the problem: if my hands were bad at shaping the loaf or my starter wasn’t active or the oven. (As I understand the problem was I didn’t heat my oven enough, and the lack of steam and some mistakes at shaping were all the reasons of my flat loaves) The situation got so much better when I decided to invest some money into Lodge Cast Iron Combo Cooker 3.2 Quart and that was the moment when better bread has started appearing.

Since that time my baking experience has been getting better, the loaves are prettier but still there is so so much work to do, so many things to experiment with and the most important things is gaining consistency during multiple baking.

Having 6 months of experience (what a newbie I am) I can say that sourdough is a bit of magic, all details matter there. Using four basic ingredients such as flour, water, salt and time can create a unity of flavor that eating a regular bread from a shop will be a dull experience. The whole process of baking your own bread is soul satisfying, it is the connection with the past where the things were made without a hurry where quality prevailed quantity and each product was uniquely shaped with the energy of artisan.

The second reason is that sourdough bread has so many health benefits like more minerals and vitamins easier to be digested, free of preservatives and flavor additives.

The third thing you have your own yeast (you save money!) and whenever you want to bake, it is waiting in the jar to help you make the best bread.

Kategoriler: Hamur İşi Tarifleri Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,