Friday, January 14, 2011

Fun Playing with Jewish Soul Food Again: Kasha Varnishkes

Last weekend, I had a hankering for some Jewish Soul Food. We had most of the ingredients in the pantry - I decided to add broccoli because I wasn't sharing this with Bob (who hates broccoli) and darn if I just didn't feel like adding some. Kasha Varnishkes is a relatively simple, straightforward, yet addictive-when-made-well dish of comfort food. Mushroom would be the normal vegetable of choice, but you all know how I feel about mushrooms, don't you?

The dish begins, of course, with kasha, also known as  buckwheat groats:

I prefer Medium or Coarse Granulations, but it is really your choice. 

Raw Kasha

Since this was just for me, I made a half-recipe. So, a half cup of kasha would be mated with one cup of boiling water. But first, a bath in beaten egg. It turned out to be a mistake to use the whole egg for a half recipe; the final product was a little too eggy and clumpy. Oh well.

As the kasha soaked up the egg, and the pasta water boiled, I sweated some onion in butter and ghee, then added my cleaned and cut up broccoli to the saute. If one was using mushrooms, they would go in here.

I actually cooked the broccoli a bit longer than optimal before emptying the contents of the saute pan into the now-empty pasta cooking pot. The next step, which I neglected to photograph, is the sealing of the kasha in a hot pan with hot fat (onion Nyafat would be ideal for a meat meal if it still existed and if one cared about not mixing dairy and meat; I used more butter/ghee). This can take two to five minutes, as the soaked kasha mates with the egg to create a new texture and flavor. Once the sealing is done, boiling water (or broth) is added to the pan, together with salt and pepper. Covered tightly, the kasha then steams for 7-10 minutes.

Small Bowtie Pasta Cooked Al Dente Awaits the Kasha Pan

Not farfalle, not shells, not noodles - small bowties are the proper pasta for kasha varnishkes. At least in my house.

The cooked pasta is combined with the hot kasha and the set-aside vegetables and tossed with more butter, salt and pepper, and minced parsley.


Dinner is served, perhaps with a cold glass of Snowville Creamery Milk or, as tonight, an Egg Cream (Snowville Creamery milk, Fox's U-Bet Chocolate Syrup, Seltzer). Yum. Fun Playing With Jewish Soul Food, milchiks (dairy)!

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