Vegetable Moussaka

Vegetable Moussaka

This casserole is a celebration of vegetables! Look at the list of ingredients. Their variety is stunning! That’s why the complexity of this dish flavors conquers the taste buds of vegetarians and carnivores alike. Just like any other layered dish, benefits from being cooked in advance, set in a refrigerator for a few hours and reheated portioned right before serving. It helps to develop flavors and keep colorful layers presentable.

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Mzhave | Georgian Cabbage Pickled with Beets

Mzhave Georgian cabbage pickled with beets

Mzhave Combosto is widely popular in former Soviet countries appetizer made with cabbage and beetroot. Since it belongs to the Georgian cuisine, it is also known as Georgian or Guria-style cabbage. Word MZHAVE literally means salted, fermented, or pickled. There are variations in different regions of Georgia (e.g., in Guria, Imereti, and Kakheti). Some cooks prefer natural fermentation when other add vinegar to pickle vegetables. Some recipes make the cabbage more hot and pungent, while other are not heavy with spices and herbs. Every household adjusts the recipe to the taste. The common ingredients are juicy white cabbage, beetroot, garlic, and chile pepper. Celery is also often in the list.
In Ukraine, we have a similar recipe — Pelyustka. The name comes from the word “petal” probably because pickled with beets cabbage leaves look like pink flower petals.

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Maslenitsa | Crepe Week, Day 3 | Crespelle ai frutti di mare

Crespelle ai frutti di mare | Crepes with Assorted Seafood (Salmon, Bay Scalops, Sea Bass, Prawns), Bechamel, and Asiago Cheese

Crepes — a type of very thin pastry — exist in the majority of world cuisines. Nevertheless, when I discovered Italian crespelle, it was a surprise for me. Italian cuisine is associated with pasta and pizza in my mind, so I assumed Italians would rather use flour for those. While going through many crespelle recipes, it became clear that crepes in Italy are mostly used as a quick version of stuffed pasta. When stuffed, rolled, and baked covered with sauce and grated cheese, they relate to cannelloni. When stuffed, folded into triangles (fazzoletti di crespelle or “crepe handkerchiefs”), and baked with a sauce and grated cheese, they are a shortcut for lasagna, aren’t they?

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Family Recipes: My Mom’s Creamed Mackerel with Vegetables

Not sure how widespread it was in the Soviet era and what variations existed out there. We discussed it in LCL Group on Facebook and, apparently, the recipe with tomatoes was more popular. In other regions, pink salmon (aka Gorbusha) was more available than mackerel and was cooked similarly. The recipe below is how my Mom made it. I loved eating creamed mackerel with vegetables as a cold appetizer after school. My favorite part of this dish was the vegetables — naturally sweet, slightly flavored with sea salt and umami, and rounded with silky cream. They had to be soft and barely crunchy.

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Christmas Goose

Roasted Goose

Just like Bizet’s Carmen, a goose has it all: a memorable juicy meat and a haunting golden skin, a terrific variety of textures and flavors, a romance with highs and lows of heat, and a painful tragedy of the amount of fat.

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As American As: Mincemeat Pie

Mincemeat pie

Even though American taste buds are known for the love of sweet and salty food combinations, traditional Mincemeat pie is seen today as an acquired taste. There are many implications on why early settlers combined savory meat and ingredients that are considered belonging to dessert dishes. Was it really for food preservation purposes or our ancestors were fond of bold flavors?

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Potato Cake with Smoked Cod and Caramelized Fennel

Potato Cake with Smoked Cod and Caramelized Fennel

Gratin Dauphinois is known much better than Gâteau de Pommes de Terre, isn’t it? Gratin Dauphinois (aka potato gratiné in the U.S.) is made with thinly sliced layered potatoes and cream in a buttered dish rubbed with garlic. For the cake, potatoes are sliced thick and boiled first. Then, potato slices are mixed with some duck fat and smashed in the skillet to be cooked for the second time as a cake with golden brown and crispy crust. Traditionally, this French potato cake is served with nothing but chopped fresh garlic and parsley on top. So, feel free to omit fennel and smoked fish. But they are so good together!

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Lazy Rabbit

Lazy Rabbit

…I closed my French cookbook and made a lazy version, the one that requires the least amount of work and time in the kitchen. It was served with a glass of good brut only (lazy!), but of course, there are many choices for side dishes including spaetzle, pasta, vegetables, etc.

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