Borscht. Also know as Barszcz. 2


Before I get to today’s topic, let me just say that your comments and encouragement make the enjoyment of writing…. well, much more than you can imagine!! I’ve always had a love for the written word – back in primary school, I spent one morning with a Nancy Drew book, open, on my lap to devour the ending… thought I was being soooo very clever….. truth was, Mrs. Hunter, teacher ‘extraordinaire’ at Inverary Public School, saw me…. and this kind, kind woman didn’t say anything. Was she thrilled to see a student reading for pure enjoyment… or was she sympathetic, to a ‘farm kid’ who perhaps didn’t have time to read, at home? Perhaps some of both. She never said a word. I never did it again.

Shop local…  

I have been experimenting with beets since my  post on them several weeks ago, either cooking on the stove or roasting in the oven. Ever since I’ve found Alton Brown, part mad scientist, part food genius and James Beard Award Winner for his first book…

http://altonbrown.com/

….I’m even more curious about food and the principles behind what works, and why. Alton is also the reason my lemon meringue pies now come out ABSOLUTELY PERFECT… no more ‘weeping pies’ for this girl… but that’s a whole other topic!

SAVE YOUR HANDS!!!!!
  

Spurned on by trying, wanting and needing to recreate my Mom’s recipe, I think I’m almost there. It’s a long way from my fist attempt many years ago…. pink, pale, tasteless…. disaster. “If at first you don’t succeed…”

I actually used a plate for the cutting surface…. what can I say!

My Version of Babcia’s Barszcz/Borscht

This recipe is meatless; when I next make it I will try to do Mom’s version with spareribs…and I will post on it. This dish is not only an amazing bowl of Polish comfort food… for those of us that grew up on it – it feeds the soul as well. When handling the beets, just be sure to wear rubber gloves, use a cutting surface that will not be permanently stained and mind where the ‘beet splatters’ go…. unless of course you want red stained hands, a permanently stained cutting board and to hose down your kitchen afterwards.

Ingredients:
Beets, 2 lb
Water (or stock), to cover by at least 1 inch
Vinegar, 2 tablespoons (my Mom used white, I tried red wine… the latter will give you more tang)
Sugar, 1 tablespoon (may need more or less, depending on the sweetness of the beets)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Cornstarch, 1 tablespoon, dissolved in some of the cooled beet cooking liquid (using water will dilute the colour)

Preparation:
With gloved hands, peel the beets and cut into approx 1″ pieces/wedges.
In a medium/large, non-reactive pot, add the cut beets and cover with water – you can use veg or chicken stock if you like, but it’s really not necessary.
Bring the pot to a boil, add vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper, then turn down to a simmer and cover; it could take 25-35 minutes to get the beets tender enough (don’t forget they are a root vegetable!)
Once the beets are tender, remove about a 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid for it to cool – you’ll use this to mix the cornstarch into.
When the reserved cooking liquid is cool, add the cornstarch and combine.
Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot, and simmer for approx. 1 minute, for the thickener to activate. (If you don’t want it thicker, just leave out this step). Do not boil again at this point, or the cornstarch will lose its thickening power.
Serve as is, or for a more rib-sticking dinner, serve in a bowl with a side of your favourite mashed potatoes.

 

Simmering beets….  

 

Finished – check out that colour~

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