Thursday, February 21, 2013

horseradish vodka, borscht and rabbit dumplings

There aren't all that many dishes at -10 c that cut the mustard, but horseradish vodka, borscht and rabbit dumplings seem to be doing the just just fine here in Kyiv. What a splendid place, even in the dead of winter, where the warmth of the people totally overcompensate for the lacking in the city's temperature. Where else are you welcomed with a glass of 40% proof horseradish to take the chill off I ask? Follow that up with a smoked plum beer and I'd eat a dumpling filled with anything whatsoever. Interestingly enough, these dumplings are so outright delicious, they're served only with some sour cream. No need for chilli, vinegar or soy here - they simply don't need any more flavour - properly rabbity good.

On the soup thing, this is where the source of internal warmth seriously lies. There are way too many variations of this burgundy coloured soup to even start dissecting, all of which reflect the Eastern European heritage of many Romany people. This one is, I hope, is in the Ukrainian style befitting the incredible hospitality of these brilliant people.

Serves 6
1.2 litres vegetable or chicken stock
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
225g raw beetroot, peeled and grated
500g potatoes, peeled and diced
600g red cabbage, shredded
2 large tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 onions, grated
4 tblsp soured cream
12 chives
Put the stock and vinegar in a large pan and bring to the boil. Add the beetroot and potatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add the cabbage and whole tomatoes.
Cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft, then remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, purée them in a liquidiser or push through a sieve, and return to the soup.
Add the bay leaf and season to taste. Stir in the onions and cook for 20 minutes until the onions are soft. Garnish with a blob of soured cream and a few chives and serve.

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