here and there

Saturday, December 29, 2012

12 dishes of Ukrainian Christmas Eve

"Khrystos Rodyvsya" (Christ is born). The reply is "SlavimYeho" (Praise him). 

 Christmas meal starts with the first star, believed to be the star of Bethlehem
After the singing of Boh Predvichnyi ( God Eternal) the meal begins.

The Twelve Traditional Dishes starts with Kutya, a wheat berry dish with poppyseeds that has been simmering in a saucepan all day, flavored with honey..

The next dish served is a soup.  My Grandmother always served Lenten Borscht or Pisnyy Borscht with tiny dumplings called 'Vushka" or small ears. However, my Mom served Cream of Wild Mushroom soup.

Appetizers such as Pickled Herring, Pickled Mushroom and Marinated Salmon(Gravlax) is served next. 

The main Meatless Entrees served are Pyrohy or dumplings with  two different filling; Sauerkraut and potato with cottage cheese.  A wild mushroom sauce is also served to be a topping for the pyrohy 

Meatless Holubtchi or cabbage rolls, Cabbage rolls, 2016Nalysnyky or crepes with cottage cheese filling, Mushroom sauce and pan seared Haddock or Salmon.  Fish Balls are delicious and popular with the young children.
A sweet Pyrohy are delicious with a fruit filling like, Prunes, Plums or Cranberry!

For dessert, assortment of Christmas baking with fruitcake and pampushky are served.

I am posting my recipes as I prepare the dishes for this year's Christmas Eve meal.
Here is another beautiful site to check out on 12 Ukrainian dishes for Christmas Eve 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peroghies,Pyrohy, dumplings by any other name!

 My Mom's dumplings have become legendary as everyone remembers how tender, pump and delicious they were.  As a young kid, I could never understand why anyone would want to eat potatoes and dough!  Even the homemade cottage cheese that was part of the filling with the potatoes was not to my liking! Pyrohy were a common dish especially at holidays and during lent.

Everyone in my family especially my Irish husband loved them the first time he tasted them at my Mom's house!   My Mom kept my deep freeze filled with these dumplings! Until that one Christmas, I no longer had any and mixed up my first dough!  Yes, only water, flour and oil are the three ingredients in the basic recipe! I realized I was in trouble.. I had never really paid any attention to how they was made.  My aunties and Mom's friend came to my rescue! However, everyone had different recipes from adding an egg, adding sour cream, adding Baking powder,  lukewarm to cold water, the list goes on!!

For a couple of years, my sister has been visiting in November and it become a pyrohy bake off using different dough recipes.. All the different recipes of dough seemed the same, difficult to roll out,  yet the results tasted the same!

This year after reading the article about Baba's Beauties from the Edmonton Journal and how the ladies had to adjust the basic recipe and going by feel, I decided to increase the amount of water used in the recipe and also to use hot water almost boiling water!  To my surprise the dough was tender, especially easy to roll out and work with! Although the dough was a little sticky, a little flour corrects this.

 Here is my Mom's basic recipe, that has been tweaked.

6 cups of flour
2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
pinch of salt
1/4 cup of oil

 I increased the amount of water to 3 cups and used very hot water. I also increased the amount of oil to 1/3 cups

In my head as I rolled out the dough, I kept hearing "By George I think she's got! from my Fair Lady in "The rain in Spain"

Yesterday I ran into an elderly woman who was widowed last summer and was telling me of her preparation for the traditional Christmas Eve Dinner and how difficult it will be without her husband.  I mentioned to her that I had finally had success in making the dough for the dumplings.. Without even batting an eye, she asked if I had used hot water! Interesting!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Home made Pasta Noodles

Searching for the perfect pasta recipe! One that that is tasty and  tender and doesn't take forever to cook! Delicious homemade noodles are a favourite memory of my childhood.. My husband follows recipes precisely as he did with Michael Smith's homemade pasta recipe


  • cups flour 
  • eggs
  • teaspoon olive oil
After many tries, we found the dough was too difficult to work as not very soft or tender to roll out or work through the pasta maker.. The noodles took for ever to cook and certainly with 6 eggs in the mix, not the tastiest!

Michael Smith did comment "Cook until the pasta floats to the top, 3 minutes or so. It should be al dente, cooked through but still chewy." 

I grew up with home made noodles. Homemade chicken soup with tender, plump, yellowish, perfectly hand cut noodles floating on the broth with a garnish of green parsley was my favourite!

I never saw my mom making noodles as she made this during the day when we where in school.. We would come home from school to see sheets of thinly rolled out dough draped on clean tablecloths hanging on doors to dry. The next day we would see the dining room table covered with floured cut noodles on a tablecloth to dry!

Sadly, when I used up the last package  of my Mom's homemade noodles frozen in my deep freeze, I cried! I never did have her recipe, just knew when there was an extra supply of eggs from the farm, she made  noodles to freeze!

I was determined to make great tasting noodles.. 
I convinced my husband to use my Aunt Mary's recipe 
5 extra large eggs
5 cup flour
1 cup hot water 


The dough was easy to handle, making a soft ball! It rolled out well in the pasta maker, but bunched and did not go through the blades to make noodles. Since everyone was hungry, some of the dough was rolled out, cut into strips, dusted with flour and then cut into small julienne pieces.  The rest of the dough was refrigerated. The noodles cooked quickly in the boiling water.

The youngest food critic loved the noodles with a little butter and parmesan cheese!

The birthday boy said "It was Freaking awesome!"

The next day, the rest of the dough was placed through the pasta maker armed with tons of flour which was used to dust the sheets of pasta and flour was sprinkled on the blades to make Fettucini!

Success with extra dusting of flour!

Last picture is nostalgic with memories of mom making noodles!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pickled Grapes

My brother had an abundance of Concord grapes at the front of his house this fall.  I made him concentrate  juice for jelly from some of the grapes.  I decided to pickle a few bunches of the grapes and leave them on the stems.  
 I used the recipe with ginger and jalapeño peppers. The jalapeño peppers were from his garden. I picked up what I thought was crystallized ginger, only to find out it was pineapple!  


  • 1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger
  • 2 medium jalapenos, diced
  • 1 bunch green or red seedless grapes, 

Having seen the above pictures, my daughter requested some jars to give as Christmas gifts for her friends, I used the following recipe with peppercorns and to one of the jars included crystallized ginger.. I also added 2 dried chilies to the brine! I also left the grapes on the stems and it was difficult to pack tightly, therefore didn't to mix up 2 batches of brine

1 pound red or black grapes, preferably seedless
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon stick, cut in half
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blueberry Scones

My husband hates using Blueberries in his scones as they get messy when he rolls the dough out!  I must say that my husband does the best scones ever. He likes doing the cheese and ham scones, but I prefer  blueberry!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Garlic and Chile Flavoured Cauliflower

What to do with a head of cauliflower, when you don't want to dump tons of calories i.e.  cheese sauce? 

I used an Indian recipe from Indian, cooking school.  The recipe suggested that you blanch the cauliflower first then add to a hot skillet that had spices heated to open up the flavours, cumin seeds, mustard seeds , chillies and garlic!   Skipping the step of blanching the cauiflower, I popped the small pieces into the hot pan.  After sautéing the cauliflower, the spices were starting to burn, and the cauliflower was not cooking so I microwaved the cauliflowers!  Wondering how authentic the recipe was, I googled it and found that  it can be done, just as I had done, but the most interesting recipe was to grill or bake the cauliflower to give a more golden look!  Which I did! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Escargot stuffed mushroom caps

Last night I was asked to bring an appetizer for a lasagne supper.. Thinking Italian, I hate running out for stuff at the last minute and realized I had makings for Escargot stuffed mushroom caps.. Although it was snowing for the first time this year, I still had fresh parsley in the garden which I gathered for the dish!The last time I had made this dish, I had the mushroom caps stuffed.  

This time I thought I would fill the Escargot dish with escargot, chopped up mushroom stems that were removed from the mushroom cap, drizzle a mixture of Olive Oil and butter with garlic and tons of parsley! The mushroom caps were popped on top.This was baked for 15 minutes! Grated mozzarella cheese was added at the end.

The dish was broiled to a golden top before serving. Everyone enjoyed sopping up the garlicky butter with slices of french bread!   The Mushroom caps  did look wrinkled! Next time I think I will sauté the caps in butter before assembling the dish

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving Day!

I came across Mom's recipes in her Scribbler of Recipes that was once my science scribbler for high school!
Thanksgiving dinner always ended with her beautifully baked pumpkin pie in a homemade golden flaky pastry.  The pies were velvety and spicy accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream!  
Mom always used evaporated milk for the custard and her own mix of spices- cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg along with brown sugar. 

Everyone loved the pumpkin pie and there was always remove for a second piece. Only one of my son's did not enjoy pumpkin,   although every year he would try!

This year, I followed the recipe but used the whole can of pumpkin as well as the whole can of evaporated milk.

I used 1 T cinnamon, and the rest was 1 tsp of allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves! Although the recipe didn't call for Vanilla, I did add this and I think my Mom did too.. Mom reduced the amount of sugar  indicated in the recipe.

Next time, I'll bake the maple leaves and free styled leaves less, only about 15 minutes.  I had also baked them separate as uncooked pastry would sink to the bottom

Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe with Pecan Praline sauce. Not to sure if my family would settle for this with pumpkin pie without whipped cream or ice cream

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easter Bread- Babka

Aunty Marion gave me this recipe this morning. Although she has not made this in a couple of years, she likes the addition of oranges and says it’s much better than lemon. My Mom used to make one  with orange and it is interesting that this recipe also doesn't use as many eggs. Some Babka recipes add as many as 12 eggs to the dough. My mom did not like the taste of a very eggy dough.. Not to mention that it needs to be handled very carefully during and after baking so this very light dough does not collapse.. Some cooks suggest cooling the baked bread on a pillow, this I did when I first cooked the Babka in Winnipeg.. much to the amusement of my Mom and today my Aunt!  She also suggests as did my Mom to cook at one temperature, depending on your oven, 325 or 350 degrees for 1/2 hour.  
Here is her recipe
2 cups of lukewarm scaled milk
1/2 c lukewarm water. 
2 packages of quick rise, now she only uses regular so the yeast has to be proofed first in the lukewarm water and milk 
1 cup of sugar or least
pinch of salt 
1/2 cup of butter
6 egg yolks or whole egg
2 oranges, rind and juce of the 2 oranges
1/2 pound of golden seedless raisins
10 cups of flour , more or less according to her!!LOl

Tomorrow I will be doing Easter breads with my nephew's wife and their kids, twins that are almost 3 and a 5 year old.. we will be using coffee tins, in this case the size is 19 inches circumference, 6 1/2 inches diameter and height. 
Since the three children will be taking their own Easter Basket to Bless at the Church on Easter weekend, we will be making individual sized Paska and Babka bread! 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Long Haul Driver

Today, there is sadness as my first cousin is being buried in Manitoba.. He was a long haul driver as long as I can remember and even when his health was poor, he continued..
He even appeared at my son's wedding in Northern Alberta driving his semi!!
Last weekend while driving through Alberta, he drove into high winds and his truck was trashed as it was pushed over by the high winds.. Bruised from the spill, his boss had him catch the greyhound to Manitoba, where he was hospitalized then sent home to his rural home where he died in a couple of hours.

This song by Luke Doucet makes me think of him

My cousin loved and died behind the Wheels of his Semi

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Madhur Jaffrey's recipe for Beef Baked with Yogurt and Black Pepper

I tried with great anticipation last night the recipe posted in our newspaper from Jaffrey's  My Kitchen Table: 100 Weeknight curries cookbook..Beef baked with yogurt and Black pepper .. I followed the recipe, only lowered the temperature and cooked it slower in my oven at 275 and longer.. the smell was incredible as my daughter in law with a busy day was in and out of my house, leaving my grand daughter with me and she decided to stay for supper as it did smell fabulous!!.. I used a very heavy caste iron pot with a lid, my Straub which I love!

Beef Baked with Yogurt and Black Pepper
Jaffrey notes this is her take on a traditional cooking method that involves sealing the pot and lid with a stiff dough and then leaving it to cook over a gentle fire with hot ashes spread over the lid. Serve with rice, chapati, paratha or naan.
She adds you can make this dish with stewing lamb from the shoulder as a change from beef.
6 tbsp (100 mL) vegetable oil
2 lb (1 kg) boneless stewing beef from the neck and shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch (4-cm) cubes
8 oz (250 g) onions, very finely chopped (2 cups/500 mL)
6 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground ginger
1/4 to (1 to 2 mL) 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
1 tbsp (15 mL) paprika
2 tsp (10 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) very coarsely ground black pepper
1 ¼ cups (300 mL) natural yogurt, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Put the oil in a wide, flame-proof casserole and set over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, put in as many meat pieces as the pan will hold easily in a single layer. Brown the meat pieces on all sides, then set them aside in a deep plate. Brown all the meat this way.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Stir-fry for about 10 minutes or until browned. Add the browned meat and any juices. Also add the ginger, cayenne, paprika, salt and black pepper and stir for a minute.
Add the yogurt to the pan and bring to a simmer.
Cover tightly with foil and then with a lid, and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
If the meat is not tender after this time, pour in 2/3 cup (150 mL) boiling water, cover tightly and bake for a further 20 to 30 minutes or until the meat is tender.
Stir gently before serving.
Serves 4 to 6.

I must say that the dish was a disappointment as the yogurt sauce was not thick and creamy as it appears in the picture in the paper..

the yogurt sauce had separated . I was surprised as sour cream and yogurt will separate at high temperatures! This was not  as high a temp as suggested in the recipe.. 

 I tried to savage the sauce by thickening it with a bit of cornstarch which did help.. The flavour was also bland.. which was a surprise.. I think I would do this again but hold the yogurt until the end, also flavour it more with more seasoning at the end. I also think this would work well in the crock pot !

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Farm Life

This summer, I visited an old friend of my Mom's.. My Mom would only leave her cows to be milked by this lady when we went on Holidays to Ontario the first week in July, which was a short break between busy farm seasons, planting and haying than all the summer busyness followed by harvest

As I spoke to her, all my memories of farm life and my parents came rushing in and tears filled my eyes.
What an experience to visit with her and relive farm life that I had experienced as a child.

These turkey are all promised for  Thanksgiving in mid October.

I left with 2 dozen fresh eggs, jars of fresh cream, so thick and a yellow cream colour that you could see the fat content and fresh cottage cheese!  I also left with many warm memories of farm life and my parents! What a treasure!