I’ve wanted to cook a sorrel soup (which is called in Ukraine ‘green borsht’) for a long but I never saw sorrel on sale in Slovakia. My Slovak friends told me that, of course, they knew what sorrel is but most of them had never heard that it could be used in soup. Sorrel soup should be a little bit sour, it makes this soup special and that is why it was difficult to find a good substitution. Sometimes spinach is used together with sorrel in green borsht, but I never liked it because boiled spinach leaves remind me wet toilet paper (sorry!), so combination of spinach and lemon juice was not an option. Last Saturday I discovered that it’s an autumn season of Swiss chard and decided to use it in the soup. It worked perfectly 🙂
I actually wanted to take a short break from cooking and food writing but can you guess where I found myself on Friday evening? Of course, right in the kitchen again. Well, if it can’t be helped, I should use this endless enthusiasm wisely and write a new recipe here.
My Friday night hero was Buddha bowl. I’ve been excited about it since the moment I saw it on Instagram as I love dishes made from many ingredients. Is Buddha bowl a dish? In a way yes, but maybe I would prefer to call it “food concept” because ingredients can be combined in any order you want. Original Buddha bowl is a vegetarian dish, however I found meat recipes too and I added a hard boiled egg to my own version. Here are a few rules of what should be added to Buddha bowl.
I’ve got few home grown zucchini in Nová Baňa and 2 of them were white. It’s actually interesting because I have been trying to find white zucchini (so common in my native Odessa) for last 5 years of my life in Slovakia but all my attempts were unsuccessful. Nová Baňa managed to surprised my once again.
I cook a lot of dishes with zucchini, both green and white. It is nice, when it’s stewed with sour cream, chicken and dill or like a filling for a cake. Zucchini pancakes are nice dish for late summer morning. I used chickpea flour for this recipe, but you can substitute it with white all purpose flour.
It was very hot here in Slovakia during last 2 weeks so to be honest I didn’t cook a lot. It was hot even in Nová Baňa last weekend but it didn’t stop me from cooking one of the most famous summer dishes from Odessa cuisine: grilled eggplants, peppers and tomatoes spread. This recipe has obviously Greek or Bulgarian roots, but both Greek and Bulgarians were quite influential in summer Ukrainian region so it’s no wonder that a lot of dishes I often cook have South European or Middle East origin.
Can I officially claim this year “the year of the products I’ve never tried before”? Here is another prove of this fact: my traditional Saturday visit to the farm market in Zilinska street brought me a large bunch of colourful Swiss chard. The lady, who sells it names chard “Croatian spinach” and tells that it can be cooked like ordinary spinach. If you are from Bratislava and also visit the market in Zilinska, you know this seller for sure. It’s famous Cilka from Zohor, area to the North from Bratislava which is reach in culinary traditions. She names chard “Croatian spinach” and tells that it can be cooked like ordinary spinach. It makes a nice side dish together with potatoes. Of course I’ve made a short research of Swiss chard recipes and here is my own version of potatoes with chard.
The main event of July (not just for me but for all Slovakia I assume) was Pohoda musical festival. I’ve never taken part in summer open air activities and was quite nervous if my inner introvert survives in a crowd of 35000. Well, I shouldn’t have been nervous as the festival was unexpectedly cool: really good organized, with plenty of workshops, master classes and great music, of course. Food courts were also great with all possible types of dishes: from fresh coconuts to traditional Slovak langos (fried dough with different toppings like cheese or garlic) or from absolutely great pastrami (it was my first pastrami and I totally liked it) to chia pudding. I finally tried the famous Slovak codfish salad tapped into hot dog bun. It tasted ridiculously good despite the fact that I have prejudice to mayo salads. Well, once in a while 🙂
On one of festival days my breakfast was chia pudding made by Lunter company ( the biggest Slovak producers or tofu and vegetarians spreads like hummus or “fake codfish salad”. Btw, it makes Slovakia special, where else can you try codfish salad hot dog or fake codfish salad made from soya beans?
This week was very hot in Bratislava so the idea to spend a weekend in a country house in Nová Baňa sounded as a good idea. It was hot even there so my choice for the Saturday dinner was obvious: I cooked a cold beetroot soup.
If you ask me what is the taste of south Ukrainian summer, I will place this soup (it has very cute name in the region where I grew up “cholodnichok”) right after famous Mikado tomatoes. It’s also interesting because you can find all 3 staples of Ukrainian cuisine in this recipe: beet, dill and sour cream. Someone call this soup “cold borsht”. Every year I waited for the beginning of summer and my mom can finally cook it. It’s a super dish for hot summer days when you don’t want to eat too much but you also don’t want to feel hunger in an hour after you had lunch.
Bittersweet memories from the past: I was not a very healthy kid and spent most of my childhood on a very strict diet. What was a boy, who was allowed to eat only boiled or steamed food dreaming about? About “normal” food of course. I was drawing my first food illustrations, inventing recipes and reading famous “The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food” – staple cooking book of the Soviet Union, published in 1952. Since then, I have felt a special connection to old cookbooks, as by reading them you can understand cultural background of the country where they were published. Do I need to say that I was very excited to discover “Cooking for the healthy and the sick” (original title: Varíme zdravým a chorým) by Imrich Sečanský, first published in 1957? So what was Slovak cuisine about 60 years ago?
I read enormous amount of food related content, so it’s high time to write about food here in my blog.
My Saturday morning ritual includes visit to the Old city market in Bratislava.