Beets Salad with Feta Dressing

Steamed beets salad with Feta dressing

Both beet varieties in this salad are an heirloom. Detroit red beets are the most popular, often described as “old standard.” Touchstone Gold roots have bright yellow flesh and retain their color when cooked. They are smooth, sweet and tasty, highly flavorful. Creamy Feta dressing with a touch of garlic compliments them, and the toppings add to their beauty. If you like a combination of earthy-sweet and pungent-salty, this salad is for you!

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Hummus | Creamy Chickpeas Spread

Hummus

Talk to people from the Middle East about hummus, and the first thing you hear is that this dip in the U.S. is nothing like the one they enjoy at home. According to my Israeli friend, the right variety of chickpeas play the leading role. Latin American chickpeas are better for soups and salads because they are larger, firmer, and stay whole when cooked. The best for hummus are pea-size chickpeas known as Baladi in Israel. They become soft and easily smashed between fingers when cooked. Unfortunately, in the United States, all chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are labeled the same, unless you shop for them at ethnic stores. And even if you make a trip to an ethnic grocery store, Indian for example, the chickpea names will be specific to Indian cuisine — larger Kabuli and smaller Desi aka chana dhal. Choosing the right chickpeas variety is not really an option for an average grocery shopper who craves for amazing hummus. What is the option then?

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Happy Thanksgiving! Smoked Apple Chutney

Smoked Apple Chutney

The original chutneys come from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal cuisines. They can be made of fresh or cooked ingredients. Their texture varies from smooth to chunky. To prolong their shelf life, they can be fermented or cooked with vinegar, citrus juice, or tamarind puree. There are many variations, and recipes vary from region to region.

Today chutney is a large category of condiments made of spiced fruits and vegetables. In addition to traditional Asian condiments, there are American and European (aka Major Grey’s style) chutneys that became popular in western cuisines. This recipe is based on the classic Anglo-Indian version with apples and raisins. Serve smoked apple chutney with mild cheddar, ham, roasted pork, poultry, on top of baked brie, etc. This chutney will beautifully flavor brown stock and demi-glace sauces.

May this holiday season bring joy to your heart and a pleasure to your taste buds! Thank you for being Lyukum Cooking Lab friends!

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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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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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Peach Chutney, Major Grey’s Style

Peach Chutney

This Anglo-Indian-Texan condiment is made with local peaches. In English pub, a dollop of sweet and tangy fruit chutney often complements cheddar cheese. Here in Texas, we respect beer and cheese. We are proud of our peaches. Why not to pair them all?

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“Thank You” Sauce

Fresno and Bell Pepper Fermented Sauce

There are many similar sauces in different regional cuisines. Fermented chilies are used for making some variations of famous Thai sriracha. There are popular Louisiana hot chili pepper souses that also use fermentation to add subtle acidity to the taste. The taste of fermented sauces is very different from mass production sauces with vinegar. It is more complex and intelligent. This recipe is for a very mild sauce. It allows to modify the level of heat by changing the ratio of sweet and hot peppers.

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Culinary coach and personal chef with extensive knowledge of cuisines from cultures around the world. I invite you into my cooking lab to share my discoveries.
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