Today, I express my gratitude to all my friends of Eastern European descent who shared their traditional foods with me over the years as well as to those who taught me how to cook so many wonderful dishes. Happy Orthodox New Year to you and all who celebrate today, January 14.
Those memories (and the blistering cold winter days of last week) are the inspiration behind today’s “comfort food” segment on CBC Edmonton AM: Eastern European dishes like perogies, pork hocks and sauerkraut, dill pickle soup, deep fried bacon, and more.
As soon as the audio link becomes available, I’ll insert it here.
Below is a snapshot of resources, some dishes I mentioned on air, a few restaurants where you can get a good feast of Eastern European food, and the recipe for the Czech garlic soup called česnečka.
To find ingredients to make these dishes, or to find foods like Marina’s Blinchiki (the meat-filled crepe called blinchiki pictured in the feature photo at the top of this post), use this list:
- Marina’s Cuisine – Product is available at several stores. Check her Facebook page.
- European Market and Deli in Callingwood – 6607 – 177 Street
- Baltyk Deli (Baltyk Bakery right next door) – 10559 Kingsway Avenue
- Polish Food Centre – 10131 Princess Elizabeth Ave
- Budapest Deli – 9308 – 111 Avenue (go for the deep fried bacon!)
- K & K Foodliner – 9944 82 Avenue
- Siberian Meat Dumplings – available at select stores
We have limited resources for restaurants that specialize in Eastern European foods. Two longstanding ones are Bistro Praha and Continental Treat, and for a more casual experience, Uncle Ed’s in the same building as Stawnichy’s on 118 Avenue. Chef Brad Smoliak (Kitchen by Brad) and the Lazarenkos behind the Culina locations also specialize in Ukrainian foods, so check them out to see what’s available when. For the remainder of January 2022, Brad Smoliak’s menu is dedicated to the Ukraine, so if you’re looking for cabbage rolls, varenyky (perogies), dill pickle soup, et al, head on over to his website.
Dill, garlic, onions and bread are all humble ingredients used in so many Eastern European dishes. Don’t throw out your old bread. Keep it to make dumplings or croutons, and don’t shy away from garlic (if you can help it). It adds so much flavour but is also known for its health benefits, and when used to make česnečka, a Czech garlic soup, a hangover cure, too.
- 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 large waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
- 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1 egg whisked
- 2 slices day old rye bread
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp chives or Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)
- Melt butter in a medium sized stockpot on the stove, add onions, sauté until translucent (about 4 minutes), turn heat to medium low, add garlic and cook for an additional 4 or 5 minutes, stirring so that it doesn't burn.
- Add potatoes, marjoram, caraway and stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Mash a bit if you prefer a thicker consistency.
- While potatoes are cooking, drizzle the cubed rye bread with olive oil and put under the broiler to brown. Watch carefully so they don't burn. Take them out, and let them cool.
- In a small bowl, whisk egg. Take soup off of the heat, stir in the egg.
- Serve in bowls, top with croutons and garnish with chives or parsley.
Na zdorov’ya! To your health!