Twisted Chocolate Babka – Шоколад Бабка

Chocolate BabkaThis recipe will make 2 loaf-sized chocolate babkas

Ingredients:

Dough:
4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
Grated zest of half an orange
3 large eggs
½ cup water (warm, between 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit) and 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, if needed
¾ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature
oil, for greasing

Filling:
4 ½ ounces dark chocolate (or approximately ¾ cup chocolate chips)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, cold is fine
Scant ½ cup powdered sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Syrup:
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Make the dough:

In a small bowl mix together the warm water and the yeast, with about 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let this stand aside and foam up. This should happen within 10 minutes.

Combine the flour, remaining sugar and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low to combine. Add the foamy yeast water, and the eggs (one at a time), while the mixer is on low with the dough hook. Keep the machine mixing, increasing the speed as the ingredients come together to form a dough.

It’s okay if the dough is on the dry side, but if it doesn’t come together at all, add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a mass. With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the butter, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough. Then, mix on medium speed for 10 minutes until dough is completely smooth; you’ll need to scrape the bowl down a few times. I usually found that after 10 minutes, the dough began to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t, you can add 1 tablespoon extra flour to help this along.

Coat a large bowl with oil (or scrape the dough out onto a counter and oil this one) and place dough inside, cover with plastic place in a warm area to rise, about 2-3 hours. Once the dough has doubled (or close to it), stick it in the fridge to cool. This will help with the rolling out of the dough in the next segment.

Make filling:

In a small pot on med-low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar, cocoa and cinnamon; mixture should form a spreadable paste. Remove from the heat and set it aside.

Assemble loaves:

Coat two 9-by-4-inch loaf pans with oil or butter, and line the bottom of each with a rectangle of parchment paper. Take half of dough from fridge (leave the other half chilled). Roll out on a well-floured counter to about a 10-inch width (the side closest to you) and as long in length (away from you) as you can when rolling it thin, likely 10 to 12 inches.

Spread half of chocolate mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ -inch border all around. Brush the end farthest away from you with water. Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar. Seal the dampened end onto the log. I found that transferring the log to a lightly floured baking tray in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes made it much, much easier to cut cleanly in half. Repeat with second dough.

Trim last ½ -inch off each end of log. Gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up. Pinch the top ends gently together. Lift one side over the next, forming a twist and trying to keep the cut sides facing out (because they’re pretty). Don’t worry if this step makes a mess, just transfer the twist as best as you can into the prepared loaf pan. In one batch, mine was long enough to “S” inside the pan and I nested the trimmed ends of the log in the openings. Even if you don’t (and choose to bake them separately in a little pan, as I did in other batches), the dough will fill in any gaps by the time it’s done rising and baking, so don’t worry.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise another 1 to 1 ½ hours at room temperature. Repeat process with second loaf.

Bake and finish cakes:

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes, but there’s no harm in checking for doneness at 25 minutes. A skewer inserted into an under baked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If you babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.

While babkas are baking, make syrup:

Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist. Let cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating.

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Russian Carrot Salad – Салат из моркови

Carrot saladIngredients:

8 large carrots, shredded
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup finely chopped walnuts (or nut of choice)
½ to ¾ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh dill*

Directions:

Stir together the carrots, garlic, walnuts, mayonnaise and dill until evenly blended. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

* Click here to learn how to check dill.

Eggplant Salad – Баклажан Салат

Russian Eggplant SaladIngredients:

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 4″ strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 tomato, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced thinly
¾ teaspoon white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

Place the eggplant, bell pepper, tomato, and onion into a large pot. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, oil, vinegar, and water. Pour over the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Russian Beet and Potato Salad – Свекла и Картофельный салат

Beet and Potato SaladIngredients:

2 beets, peeled and diced
4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
3 small dill pickles, diced
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt to taste
3 green onions, chopped

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook beets until tender, about 30 minutes. Bring a separate pot of water to a boil and cook potatoes and carrots until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain vegetables, and place in a large bowl.

Place the diced pickles in the bowl with beets, potatoes, and carrots. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt. Sprinkle with green onions. Chill completely before serving.

Beef Stroganoff with Egg Noodles – Бефстроганов с яичной лапшой

Beef StroganoffIngredients:

1 cup red or white wine
2 pounds beef chuck roast
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup margarine (or 1 stick)
1 medium cooking onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
2 ⅔ cups beef broth
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 cup sliced mushrooms, canned or fresh
⅓ cup non-dairy sour cream
⅓ non-dairy cream cheese
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 package egg noodles (to serve)

Directions:

Remove any fat and gristle from the roast and cut into strips ½ inch thick by 2 inches long. Put the meat in a large bowl or container and season with ½ teaspoon of both salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Add about 1 cup of wine and let sit in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours to marinate.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips quickly, then remove them strips to a plate. Add the onions to the pan and cook slowly for 3 to 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and add them to the plate with the beef strips.

In a small bowl mix together the flour/starch with a little bit of broth to help it dissolve. Add the mixture to pan which now only contains the juices of the meat and onions, and mix around to bring up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir in mustard. Return the beef and onions to the pan, along with mushrooms, then cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.

Boil noodles according to the package directions. Drain once cooked, and set aside until beef is ready.
In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the sour cream. Five minutes before serving, mix in the cheese mixture. Heat briefly then salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a bed of wide egg noodles.

Cabbage Borscht – Капуста Борщ

Cabbage BorchtIngredients:

1 large cabbage, cut into large chunks*
2 cups (about 1 lb.) beets, peeled and quartered
2 cups (about 1 lb.) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 lb. stew meat or flunken
1 – 2 beef bones, with marrow
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 (156ml) can tomato paste
3 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
3-4 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder (to taste)
½ cup Brown sugar
Salt, to taste
LOTS of pepper

Instructions:

In a large stock pot, place the meat and bones, and fill with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, skimming any fat or debris that rises. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil again. Once temperature has been reached, reduce to a simmer and let cook for several hours, stirring every now and then so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot and burns. Taste for flavouring, adding more lemon, sugar or pepper as needed. Serve hot.

* Click here to learn how to check cabbage.

Хорошо суббота! Khorosho subbota! (Good Shabbos!)

Well today’s Russian menu brings Shabbos Theme Week to an end… I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did! I must give a general apology to all my Italian, Asian, Latino and Russian readers out there if I did not stay true to authentic ethnic cuisine. Again, I use the excuse of being a Jewish girl from Canada! (Oy… if my Polish and Russian ancestors could hear me!) I found planning these menus a lot of fun, which is strange for me, since it tends to be the hardest part for me when planning a meal… I love the cooking, I don’t mind the shopping (though I seriously suggest everyone gets a boyfriend like mine that does all my weekly shopping for me!). The part I get stuck on is what to serve. Having a theme really helps, ’cause it takes the options from limitless to something more controlled. In my mind anyway. On that note, please enjoy today’s menu and Good Shabbos!

Russian Menu