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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Recipes: Red Borschty, Tacos de Papa with Avocado Relish


Red Borschty

I came up with this recipe about 4 O'clock on an August afternoon. We had loads of beets and lots of short ribs, so this seemed like a natural thing to make. Fortunately, that day was something like 95 degrees, so eating a late dinner was a little cooler at our home. Even with the heat, we all enjoyed this meal, eaten with sour cream, horseradish, and marble rye. We have since eaten it with egg noodles as well.

This recipe is so far off from authentic anything, that I don't think I can, in good conscience, call it borscht. So, red borschty it is. In your best Swedish Chef accent. This does take a bit of time to make, but it's time you mostly can be doing something else, like reading a book, working on your knitting, talking to your spouse, watching a fun movie.

1/4 cup olive oil, to cook beef and vegetables
5 pounds beef short ribs, preferably English style
2 pounds shallots or onions, peeled, halved and sliced
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1 inch pieces
2 pounds beets, peeled and shredded (use a food processor, if you can, to avoid getting your kitchen all red)
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 bunch radishes, halved lengthwise and sliced
4 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons salt + more for meat
1 teaspoon pepper + more for meat
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 4 sprigs of fresh, if you have it)
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh dill sprigs, chopped (I've used about 2 tablespoons dried, in a pinch, added with the other herbs and spices)
Sour cream (optional)
Horseradish (optional)

Heat oil over medium high heat in your largest pot. This makes a lot of stew. Salt and pepper the beef generously, and brown on all sides in the oil. Remove and set aside. I do this in the inverted lid of our big doufeu oven.

Borschty Prep

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and carrots to the same pot, and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent. Add beets, potatoes, and radishes, and cook a few minutes more. Pour in beef stock, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, thyme, bay leaves, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Return beef to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover with lid and let simmer for about an hour and a half.

Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Remove beef from pot and remove meat from bones, return the meat to the pot. Sprinkle with the chopped dill and serve with sour cream, horseradish, rye bread or egg noodles.


Tacos de Papa with Avocado Relish

This is a great vegetarian recipe. It is surprisingly delicious and a great meal for serving others, too. The avocado relish makes it. It must be made with it.

10 medium to large potatoes, peeled and finely diced
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
3 jalapeños, finely minced (seeded and deveined if you want to reduce the heat)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pound queso fresco, crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste
about 50 corn tortillas

In a large frying pan, heat a good quantity of oil over medium high heat. Add the potatoes and onions, and cook until the potatoes are just starting to brown and the onions are soft. Add the jalapeños and cumin, and cook a couple minutes longer. Take off heat, and stir in the queso fresco, salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

In another pan, heat more oil over medium high heat.

Steam the tortillas, about 10 at a time, fill with a little of the potato mixture, fold in half and fry in the hot oil, turning once, until both sides are crisp and a little browned. Repeat with all of the tortillas. I keep the finished tacos in the oven on the lowest heat while preparing the rest of them.

Serve with avocado relish.

Avocado Relish

6 medium avocados, diced
1 small onion, or half of a larger one, finely diced
2 jalapeños, finely diced
1 bunch cilantro, stemmed and finely chopped
6 small tomatoes, seeded and diced
juice of 3 limes
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and serve with tacos. Any leftover relish is great with chips or over nachos or added to corn and cooked black beans as a salad.

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