Conscious Food Choices

For the love of delicious healthy food…

Creamy Beet Borscht with Horseradish Swirl

creamy beet borscht with horseradish creamBorscht is one of those things, like art, that everyone has an opinion about, but really, what is it?  My friend, the artist John Fadeff, who I think is also qualified to speak on this by nature of his fine cooking ability and Russian last name, told me that borscht in his family was anything that started with: 1 onion, 1/2 head of cabbage, and 3 beets, and then they would put all sorts of stuff in it afterwards, greens, beans, even meat. Really, anything goes with borscht –  look it up in Wikipedia – there are a bazillian varieties out there and everybody’s got one (they even make it in China, with tomatoes instead of beets), but anyway, per Mr. Fadeff: 1 onion, 1/2 cabbage and 3 beets is the basic ratio I always start with.

This borscht is the hot, thick and creamy kind – which I was recently told is the Hungarian variety, as opposed to the chunky Russian kind, or the chilled ones with dill and egg, or all the other variations there seem to be out there. The horseradish addition I am crediting to my friend Katherine, from Kosmic Kitchen, who used to do a horseradish sour cream to top a delicious red root soup (also a borscht, I guess: beet soup – with the addition of carrots, parsnips, ginger and all sorts of sweet rooty deliciousness.) I also adopted the ginger from her because I really like the warm spicy complexity it adds. This soup is all about balance of opposites: sweet, sour, spicy, smooth, hot, cold and creamy. It’s a perfect with a loaf of hot whole grain bread and salad.

Creamy Beet Borscht for 8

  • 2 large onions, in 1/2″ slice
  • 1 smallish head of cabbage, cut into 1 – 3″ pieces
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3 huge beets or up to 6 medium ones, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 t. white pepper
  • 1 – 2 t. Himalayan or other high mineral salt
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 6 -8 cups water
  • 2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 – 2 t. maple syrup
  • 1/2″ fresh ginger, chopped coarsely

In a large, heavy bottomed soup pot, saute onions and olive oil with a pinch of salt until sweet and slightly caramelized. About 5 minutes. Add cabbage, salt, pepper and bay leaves and continue to cook over medium flame, with the top half on, until the cabbage softens and also starts to caramelize, about 10 more minutes. Stir occasionally, and add a little water as necessary to deglaze the pan and keep it all cooking away. Add beets to the pot, and then add water (eyeball it) to about an inch or two over the vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until the beets are thoroughly cooked though.

Remove bay leaves and blend with ginger in Vitamix or blender until completely smooth. Return to pot adjust for salt and pepper, then add vinegars and maple syrup, cautiously. The soup should be both sweet and slightly sour, and how much you add will depend on how naturally sweet your veggies are, how patiently you caramelized them, and how acidic your type of vinegar is. In any case – if it is not already “mmm… wow” ad this point, keep adjusting.

(This soup freezes really well – I do a large batch and freeze half of the batch for later).

Serve with a scoop or swirl of Tangy Horseradish Yogurt Sauce or Vegan Horseradish “Sour Cream” in each bowl.

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December 31, 2012 Posted by | Recipes, Sauces, Soups, Sugar Free/Unrefined Recipes, Vegan Recipes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tangy Horseradish Sauce (Vegan and Non)

When I was growing up, my Japanese grandmother  – whom we all called “Granny” –  used to make a sauce with Best Foods Mayonnaise with a bit of soy sauce in it and serve this as a salad dressing on sliced tomatoes.  I know – it sounds weird…(Japanese meets 1950’s style middle American food culture!), but actually, you know, it’s a great combination. I ate “Granny’s Best Foods Sauce” on everything when I was growing up – it was my favorite dip for steamed artichokes (still basically is) and its also great with asparagus spears, whole blanched green beans, spears of broccoli or broccolini or broccoli rabe… this sauce totally makes veggies fun!

Over the years I played with adding other flavors like horseradish and capers, and started cutting the mayo with sour cream, then yogurt, and then finally, eliminating it all together in favor of a raw vegan version. At any given time I usually have a couple of versions of this sauce in my refrigerator – maybe one with cumin and lime to drizzle over anything Mexican, and usually a horseradish or caper version for artichokes or any other steamed vegetable. I also float a spoonful of this in my Creamy Beet Borscht soup recipe….

Tangy Horseradish Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/4 c whole milk yogurt, (or Greek yogurt, or sour cream)
  • 1 T mayonnaise (I grew up with Hellman’s/Best Foods and nothing else tastes right to me)
  • a few drops of soy sauce (really, about 1/8th teaspoon – this makes it, and no one will know)
  • 1 t. horseradish (fresh, grated, if you can get it, or prepared is fine – look for “hot”)

Whisk together well in a small bowl. Serve with anything!

Vegan Horseradish “Sour Cream”

  • 1 c cashews, soaked 4 – 6 hours
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 t salt
  • a few drops of soy sauce (really, about 1/8th teaspoon – this makes it, and no one will know)
  • 1 few drops of umeboshi vinegar (optional)
  • 2 t. horseradish (fresh, grated, if you can get it, or prepared is fine – look for “hot”)

Blend all ingredients, except horseradish, in a Vita-Mix until completely smooth. Mix in horseradish. Thin with water if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Play with it!

  • Add cumin and lime juice – use it alongside salsa and guacamole to top tacos, tostadas and anything else vaguely Mexican.
  • Replace horeradish with chopped capers, ad a bit of garlic and fresh lemon for another nice artichoke sauce.
  • Leave out horseradish and serve plain.

December 31, 2012 Posted by | Cheese 'n (Non) Dairy, Gluten Free, Low Carb Recipes, Recipes, Sauces, Vegan Recipes | , , , , | Leave a comment