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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Oaxacan Green Corn Cakes with Green Chilies

Corn Cakes with Green Chilies

“The Corn Mother from whom we receive our nourishment is thus an entity like Mother Earth, and so closely are they united that they are virtually synonymous. Because we build its flesh into our own, corn is also our body. But corn is also spirit, for it was divinely created, so we are also offering spiritual thanks to the Creator.” — Book of the Hopi

I started with Nopi’s soufflé corn cakes recipe and … changed it to make them greener and gluten-free. I also walked away from the Mediterranian flavors. Oaxacan Green corn flour, miso-glazed shishito peppers, and Roth’s Moody Blue (American smoked blue cheese) made a wonderful contribution to a complex flavor and color of the cakes.

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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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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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Crabmeat Stuffed Hatch

Crabmeat Stuffed Hatch

Hatch season is relatively short. There are only so many Hatch dishes we can have within a few weeks — we cannot possibly try them all. That’s why I anticipate every next harvest — to discover and enjoy new recipes. This year, mild Hatch stuffed with crabmeat is my new find. The combination was featured by Central Market. I adjusted their original idea to my taste and kept making it every other day — so good!

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Patlican Kebabi | Oven Roasted Eggplant Kebab

Roasted Eggplant Kabob | Patlican Kebabi

This recipe is an adaptation of southern Turkish style kebab, prepared in the oven. Eggplants are cooked twice — either grilled or fried first, and then baked with meat in a tomato and pepper sauce — to concentrate flavor. My version of Patlican Kebabi doesn’t look the same as Turkish, but the idea of vertical rolls allows to use large Italian eggplants we mostly have available in Central Texas.

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Lamb Kabobs: Making Shashlik in Texas

Lamb Cabobs | Shashlyks

How authentic is this shashlyk? Well, let’s see. Instead of traditional mangal, I use shichirin and instead of grapevine — binchotan charcoals from Japan. While true Georgian shashlik is made of non-aged lamb, I choose conditioned lamb from New Zeland. Finally, the marinade is based on local herbs, vegetables, and spices. I couldn’t even find a good substitute for young Georgian wine and decided to use sake for its cleaner taste.

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Khashlama

Khashlama

I prefer slowly cooked beef shanks for plain khashlama and leg of lamb for festive version. A slow cooker/crock pot is the most convenient device to make this dish. Otherwise, assemble vegetables and meat layers in an iron pot, start on the stove to bring water to boiling and finish in the 300F oven by slowly cooking for another 3-4 hours. There is also a version when meat is cooked first; then it is layered with vegetables in small ceramic or clay pots and cooked in the oven to serve khashlama individually portioned. In this case, it only takes 1-1.5 hours in the oven — just to cook vegetables.

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