Flowering Leeks | 韭菜 | jiǔ cài

Blanched and Seasoned Flowering Leeks

Years ago, I discovered foraged ramps in the U.S. though available only matured, expensive, and very difficult to find. Unfortunately, matured ramps cannot substitute cheremsha, which is ramp sprouts from Kavkaz mountains. But flowering leeks can! Cooked the same way, I consider succulent stems of flowering leeks the second best. The recipe below is exactly how we prepared ramp sprouts in our family — simple and delicious. It works for the flowering leeks to the letter.

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Romanesco Salad with Israeli Couscous, Mushrooms, and Asparagus

Romanesco Salad with Mushrooms, Ptitim,  Asparagus, and Garlicy Pesto

Have you ever been served a dish with food so beautiful you felt it was a crime to eat it? Imagine a cook, who is so charmed by the natural beauty of raw ingredients and hesitates to cook them. That’s what I feel when I see Romanesco Broccoli. What is the best way to put it on a pedestal of our dinner plate? How to protect its color and shape? How to bring out its nutty flavor and crunchy texture?

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Dumplings: Dargin Khinkal

Dargin Khinkal

If you are with me for a long time, you already know about my roots and my fascination with layered dough. They come together in this recipe. I’ve seen dargin khinkal on pictures and videos only and know about its taste and texture from somebody else’s descriptions. The combination of boiled beef and garlicky tsahdon (sauce) is the treat from my childhood, one of the dishes my grandma used to make for me.

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Patir | Indian Cabbage Rolls

Patir

This recipe is vegetarian. To make it vegan replace Ghee (clarified butter) with vegetable oil of your choice, and cow milk yogurt with coconut milk yogurt. A wonderful combination of Indian spices make this dish highly flavorful, and chili peppers make it hot. You can adjust the level of spiciness and heat to your taste. When Eastern Europeans see this recipe, they call it Indian golubtsy and ask me what can be used instead of chickpea flour which is not easily available there. I don’t see any harm in experimenting with other locally available gluten free flours (buckwheat, oat, etc.), spices, and flavorful herbs and vegetables.

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Buckwheat Crepes from Brittany, France

Buckwheat Crepes/Galette De Bretagne

I have to eat my cook’s hat! When asked how to make buckwheat crepes with good taste and delicate texture, I insisted on adding some wheat flour. Not any more. I still believe nothing beats my buckwheat blini recipe with yeast, kefir, and meringue. It is the best for serving caviar. But! This adopted to our local ingredients Galette De Bretagne version is a gluten-free delicacy for every day meals. Read more

My Borsch

Borsch

Rich, thick and dense, bright red, piping hot, always served with a dollop of a sour cream on top. My father and brother would say: “There is a borsch and there is red soup with beetroots and tomatoes. These are two very different things.”

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Megrelian Kharcho

Megrelian Kharcho

Kharcho (ხარჩო) is a traditional Georgian meaty soup or stew. It is usually made with beef or chicken, but can also be made with other meats and poultry. Depending on the region, its consistency may vary. There are many recipes, many variations. What similar characteristics make them all “kharcho”?

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