Mamushka: Borshch (beet broth) and Pampushky (garlic bread)

It’s orthodox Christmas today, so I figured this would be an excellent day to try out a couple recipes from Mamushka, the Ukrainian cookbook I recently got.

I’ve mentioned before that I have Ukrainian heritage, but we didn’t grow up culturally Ukrainian. My grandfather never seemed to want to pass down the traditions. I’m not sure why. But I take the opportunity at this time of year to cook pierogi, cabbage rolls and borsch. This year I just did the borsch.

The only other borsch I’ve made is a light soup with no meat. This one was heartier. It was a bit of a production, but it was worth it. It also made enough for the week. I started by searing some beef (oxtail and short ribs) and then boiling them with an onion to make the broth. Meanwhile, I cooked the beans. I only had a small bit of kidney beans left, so I also used romano beans. I’m still struggling with cooking dried beans. They often don’t turn out as soft as I’d like (more mealy). I think they might be old beans. These ones cooked up not too badly though.

Then I added beets and potatoes and let them cook. Meanwhile, I sauteed onion, carrots, bell pepper and tomato. I was supposed to use tomato paste, but I didn’t want to open a new can, so I just used canned tomato. Then I added all that to the broth. I finished by adding back the shredded meat, the cooked beans, and some shredded cabbage. Then I seasoned with more salt and pepper, dill, and some lemon, which wasn’t in the recipe, but I thought it could use a little brightening.

It was pretty tasty. It definitely had a bean flavour that I’m not used to in borsch (and I wonder if that was because I used romano beans). But I would definitely make this again (maybe forgoing the beef procedure and just using chicken broth I already have made).

The recipe suggests making pampushky – rolls that are brushed with a garlic infused oil. These were VERY tasty (I ate two with dinner). They are essentially just white dinner rolls. You prepare an easy sponge the night before, and then add salt and more flour the next day to make the dough. Divide into balls, let rise, and bake. Amazing.

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