Eastern Europe: Dessert Dumplings (Marillenknödel/Apricot Dumplings)

dumpling

Because one dessert is not nearly enough for the Spicebox Supperclub, Nalin excused himself to the kitchen to freshly prepare those Eastern European dessert dumplings for us. This was an intriguing combination of dumpling dough filled with a fresh apricot, wish fresh shavings of dark chocolate as a garnish.

Marillenknödel (Apricot Dumplings)

Recipe from The Wednesday Chef (adapted from Nicole Stitch’s Marillenknödel – http://www.deliciousdays.com)

Makes 12

INGREDIENTS

1 pound fresh quark cheese

2 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest

12 small apricots

12 sugar cubes or 12 teaspoons of Demerara sugar

8 tablespoons soft unsalted butter

2 large egg yolk

1 1/2 cup semolina flour

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

A pinch of salt

Scant 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for forming

2/3 cup plain, unseasoned breadcrumbs (increase to 1 cup)

Powdered sugar

TECHNIQUE

1. Place the quark in a fine mesh sieve and let drain for an hour into the sink. If you don’t have an hour, 15 to 30 minutes are fine. Wash the apricots and dry them, then cut them open along their seams (only halfway!) and remove their pits. Fill with either a sugar cube or half a teaspoon of Demerara sugar.

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a generous pinch of salt, and reduce the temperature until the water bubbles just very lightly.

3. In a big bowl cream together the strained quark, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of soft butter, egg yolk, semolina, sugar, vanilla, and salt using a wooden spoon. When it’s well-combined and fluffy, fold in the flour. Don’t over-mix. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and with well-floured hands, form the dough gently into a thick log.

4. Cut the log into into 6 equally sized pieces. With floured hands, gently pat each piece into a small disc, then place a sugar-filled apricot in the middle of the dough and gently wrap the dough around the apricot. Form a neat little dumpling (re-flour your hands as necessary) and double check that the apricots are completely covered by the dough. There will be seams, but try to make sure they are as closed as possible.

5. Carefully slip the dumplings into the water and watch to make sure none got stuck to the bottom of the pot, stirring, if needed. Let them simmer at low heat for 12 to 14 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a pan over medium heat and toast the breadcrumbs in the butter for a few minutes. Remove the dumplings with a skimmer, then roll them in the pan with the buttered breadcrumbs until evenly covered. Pile the dumplings on a serving plate and dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve hot.

Yum! And for our final dessert, see you next week!

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Eastern Europe: Chocolate Beet Cake

choc beet cake

Heather, who normally shies away from the executive chef role, surprised us with the first of not just one but three desserts she and Nalin brought to the Supperclub.  This was a wonderful addition playing on the Eastern European theme by including beets, this time hidden in a luscious chocolate cake from Nigel Slater via David Lebovitz.  The beets added an incredible moistness and lightness to the cake and paired well with sour cream (also very Eastern European).  For the recipe, visit http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2011/11/moist-chocolate-beet-cake-recipe-nigel-slater/.

Come back next week for the next of the decadent Spicebox Supperclub’s trio of Eastern European desserts!

Eastern Europe: Sarma (Croatian Stuffed Cabbage)

cabbage

You’d think that after those lovely (but not light) chicken and wild mushroom blintzes that we were done for the meal.  But no, not the Spicebox Supperclub.  We go all out, and then beyond! A wonderful counterpart to the blintzes were some of the best stuffed cabbage rolls we’ve ever had, paired with olive oil mashed potatoes.  These cabbage rolls were in tribute to Rani’s Croatian heritage.

Sarma (Croatian stuffed cabbage)

http://thelifeshemade.com/2012/08/03/sarma-croatian-stuffed-cabbage-rolls/

Notes from Chef Dave:

I added 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and some nutmeg.

I found that the jarred cabbage leaves were better and easier than making your own cabbage leaves in vinegared boiling water.

I took the cooked cabbage rolls our of the tomato/chicken broth mixture that the rolls have been cooking in and let them cool and then chilled them in fridge overnight. I then put the paprika and garlic roux in the tomato sauce and thickened it. Finally, I split the sauce in two, reserving half for reheating the rolls and blending the other half smooth.

Olive oil mashed potatoes

2 lbs Yukon gold, roughly cut
Salted water
1/3 cup olive oil
Pepper
Salt to taste

1. Cook the potatoes until the potatoes flake. Drain and reserve 1 cup of cooking water.
2. Heat olive oil, then take the pot off the flame. Put the drained potatoes in the hot oil (watch for spitting oil) and mash. Use reserved water to reach desired consistency.
3. Season with salt and pepper.

Eastern Europe: Chicken and Wild Mushroom Blintzes

blintz

Ever the culinary perfectionist, Dave did not deign to serve the Supperclub pre-made blintzes. Instead, he took a few moments to excuse himself to the kitchen to prepare this next, lovely course.  The rich aroma of butter was seductive, so much so that the less wise of us asked for two, not one, of these decadent blintzes upon their arrival to the table.

Chicken and Wild Mushroom Blintzes by David Tanis (modified)

Serves 8 -10.

http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/1015852/chicken-blintzes-with-wild-mushrooms.html

Note from Dave: I changed the mushrooms to use porcini and crimini instead of chanterelles. I also tripled (!) the blintze (crepe) recipe.

Eastern Europe: Russian Borscht

borscht

After the delightful Eastern European style salad nicoise, our palates were cleansed with a classic Russian Borscht, the iconic beet soup.  This was a delightful presentation, vegetable hearty yet light.  We learned that while borscht originated in the Ukraine, there are as many versions of borscht as there are cultures in Eastern Europe, including a green version made with sorrel and/or spinach.  Borscht may be served hot or cold.

Russian Borscht

modified from The New York Times Cookbook recipe

Serves 8.

Ingredients

1 qt beef broth or bouillon
1 qt water
2 cups shredded beets
1 cup shredded carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
2 TB tomato paste
2 TB vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 TB butter
1/2 small cabbage, finely shredded
Freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
2 bay leaves
Garnish: Sour cream and dill sprig

Technique

1. Heat the broth and water together in covered pot.
2. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, simmer the beets, carrots, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar and butter, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir frequently. Add shredded cabbage and cook 10 minutes longer.
3. Add vegetable mixture, pepper and bay leaves to broth. Adjust seasoning and cook until vegetables are tender. Add more vinegar, if desired.
4. Serve in warm bowls with sour cream and dill.