brrr! after a way-mild start to this week, our temps plunged on tuesday eve! over the span of a couple hours, the thermometer dropped from a high of seven degrees (celsius) to about minus six! then yesterday, the snow fell steadily – biggest snowfall yet this winter! (good news for a ski fanatic…which i am not!).
today i’m going to share with you the ideal january winter weekend meal. you know: it’s been a long week, you want nothing more than to cosy up at home, enjoy a warming dinner, then snuggle into the couch with a (knit) blanket covering you up and a delightful movie
popped into the vcr queued up on the pvr. or, perhaps you’ve invited some dear friends over for conversation and socializing – the following selections would be appropriate for casual entertaining, also.
here is my proposal for your dinner:
- borscht (cabbage soup)
- raw veggies and salsa
- tea biscuits
- cherry crumb pudding
and the recipes!
this hearty soup is a part of my german-mennonite heritage. it seems that each village “back in the old country” had its own take on how to make the best borscht! our version does not include beets, although this root vegetable is a staple in many recipes. here is a modernized version of my family’s borscht:
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/2 green pepper, chopped
- 2 T oil (optional)
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 T sugar
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 – 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 2 – 5.5 ounce cans tomato paste
- 4 cups hot water (see below)
- 2 tsp (or foil packages) beef bouillon (like OXO brand)
- 3 T chopped parsley or dried flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 6-7 cups coarsely chopped cabbage (approx 1 small cabbage)
in a very large soup pot, sauté ground beef, onion, celery, and green pepper until redness is gone from the meat (if meat is really dry, add the 2 T oil). [note: break meat up with fingers before adding it to the pot, then chop at it all the time it is sautéing so taht you don’t have big chunks of meat]. add remaining ingredients EXCEPT cabbage and combine thoroughly. simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. add cabbage, combine and simmer COVERED for 1 more hour. note: if soup is too thick for your taste, add 1-2 cups hot water.
option: when serving the soup, dollop on a spoon of sour cream (or plain yogurt!). this was a favourite addition, when we were kids!
raw veggies and salsa
i would add a platter of cut-up veggies to add a rainbow of colour, some crunch and some more fibre (!) to this meal. set out a mild and a hot salsa for dipping – that will also add some heat to warm everyone’s hearts!
now we’re going to jump over to the other side of my family tree, to my scottish heritage. my grandma c used to make tea biscuits pretty much every time we would go over for dinner, when we were little – she knew they were my favourite! these biscuits would make an excellent accompaniment to the soup and veggies. serve them hot!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup milk
cut shortening into dry mixture until it is the consistency of coarse crumbs. make a well. add milk. stir quickly just until dough follows fork around bowl [doesn’t that just sound like a grandma’s practised hand!]. turn onto lightly floured surface (dough will be soft). knead gently with heel of hand about 15 strokes. roll or pat about 1/2 inch thick. dip cutter (a small drinking glass works fine!) in flour. cut dough straight down – no twisting. bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 450 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.
cherry crumb pudding
after the more time consuming and labour-intense soup and biscuit making, this dessert will come together in a flash! [the topping of cake mix + butter is outrageously delicious!].
- 1 – 19 ounce/540 ml tin of cherry pie filling
- 1 – 250 gram size white or yellow cake mix
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, cut into thin slices (easier to do if cold from fridge)
put cherry pie filling into oblong baking pan (approx 11 – 7 inches) and spread evenly. sprinkle and spread DRY cake mix evenly over the filling. cover top with butter slices. bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes (but watch carefully after 25 minutes so that the top does not get burnt!).
please share YOUR idea of the perfect mid-winter menu! and what are the origins of your recipes? my winter picks are definitely different than what i would propose for a mid-SUMMER eve menu…but family classics would still reign supreme for the hot months, too!