A few days ago we got the little glossy magazine that our electric company sends out each month. The magazine always includes some recipes that people have submitted. This issue was all soup recipes, and one of them was for Ukrainian Borscht. My husband frequently mentions that he enjoyed borscht growing up. This is new to my wheel house, but I love beets and all of the other ingredients in the soup so I decided to try it. I found a recipe in one of my Jewish cookbooks, googled more recipes, and finally came up with a meld of several recipes including the borscht in our electric company magazine. I called my sister-in-law to see if she remembered how my mother-in-law made hers, but she said, at the time, she didn’t take an interest in the cooking. I think we all wish we had taken more interest and made notes on how our mothers and grandmothers prepared some of our favorite dishes. Borscht is a sour soup common to Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is often liked to Jews, the group that first brought it to this country from Europe. Borscht comes directly from Yiddish as the dish was first popularized here by Yiddish speaking Ashkenazi Jews. I don’t find mine to be very sour so I did a little research to see where the “sour” comes from in the references. Apparently the tart taste is traditionally obtained by adding beet sour to the soup. And beet sour is made by covering sliced beets with lukewarm preboiled water and allowing bacteria to ferment some of the sugars. The liquid becomes viscous. This process takes 2-5 days. The liquid is then strained and added to the soup near the end of the cooking time so as to not let the sour dissipate. No beet sour in my soup, and my mother-in-law probably did not use it either. Instead I added the juice of one lemon.

The soup can be served hot or cold, and the list of accompaniments is seemingly endless…from rye bread to hard boiled eggs, to boiled potatoes, to pierogis. This soup can be made vegetarian by using a vegetable broth, or by preparing a broth with beef, pork, fish, or a bone broth. Polish Christmas Eve borscht is ladled over dumplings made from pasta dough and filled with meat. Russian borscht might be served with round, cheese-filled tarts or small pancakes with cheese mixed into the batter. In East Slavic countries “memorial borscht” is served as the first course of funeral dinners. So many traditions are associated with this dish and several ethnic groups claim this as their own national dish. The history of borscht, as well as many other ethnic dishes that have been around for centuries, is very interesting.

I made a meat broth for my soup base by cooking pork ribs with half of a large onion (skin on), carrots, celery, and bay leaves. The broth simmered for a couple of hours. I strained the broth, shredded the meat, and discarded the vegetables. You can choose to use canned meat or vegetable broth or make your own.


8 cups of broth

5-6 medium size beets peeled and diced

1 large onion diced

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

1-2 carrots shredded

2 potatoes peeled and diced

1/2 head of green cabbage shredded

3 T tomato paste

2 T of butter

Juice of 1 lemon

2 T sugar (optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel and dice the beets. I wore disposable gloves. You might want to also.

Shred the carrot and dice the onion and mince the garlic.

In a fry pan over medium heat melt 2 T of butter and sweat the carrots, onion, and garlic.

Peel, dice, and rinse the potatoes and shred the cabbage.

Using a large soup pot or a Dutch oven, begin heating your broth over medium heat. Add the shredded meat (if you’re using) and all of the vegetables.

Bring the soup to a boil, reduced the heat, and cover and simmer for about an hour or until all of the vegetables are tender. Add the sugar and lemon juice.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill.

NOTE: You can substitute cider or wine vinegar for the lemon juice. As mentioned, any kind of broth will work including a vegetable broth. Some of the recipes I reviewed suggested shredding the beets but I like more texture in my soups.

Limpa (Swedish Rye Bread)

Another pandemic baking experiment. Yesterday I made a loaf of Swedish limpa, not to be confused with Finnish limppu. Bread is a Finnish staple. There is always bread on the table for every meal and I’m sure the same is true for the Swedes. My grandmother made limppu, occasionally wheat bread, and, of course, the sweeter cardamom braids on a regular basis. I have my grandmother’s bread bowls and I always use them when I make bread. I like to think they give me an edge. I grew up in a household of bread lovers. My grandfather and my dad had bread with every meal. Some of my brothers still carry on that tradition. The Finnish limppu is always baked in a round loaf, is dark, dense, heavy, and on the dry side. A little bakery near my hometown in the UP of Michigan, the Trenary Home Bakery, makes a great limppu bread. My dad liked his limppu toast in the mornings with his coffee and I would frequently buy a loaf or two to bring home when I visited. The recipe that I used yesterday is another King Arthur bread recipe and it is for Limpa, the Swedish Rye. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had the Swedish variety before. The consistency is moister and lighter than the Finnish bread and, since it calls for currents, dark beer, and molasses, it has a sweeter, malty flavor. Neither the Finnish or the Swedish rye is what you would imagine for a Reuben sandwich, but the limpa tasted great this morning with a little smoked salmon. After baking all of the sour doughs that require a couple of days to completion, this loaf came together rather quickly.


1/4 cup orange juice

1 cup currants

3/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup dark beer at room temperature

3 T molasses

2 tsp instant or active dry yeast

1 T grated orange zest

2 T unsalted butter at room temperature

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp fennel, anise, or caraway seeds

1 1/2 cup (156g) rye flour

3 cups (361g) AP flour

Pour the orange juice over the currants and let them soak while you measure the remaining ingredients. In a large mixing bowl combine water, beer, molasses, yeast, orange zest, butter, salt, ginger, and seeds. Add the rye flour and mix thoroughly. Pour in the orange juice that the currants were soaking in. Set the currants aside for now.

Add the AP flour, one cup at a time, mixing until the dough thoroughly absorbs the flour. If you are mixing by hand set aside 1/2 cup of the flour for your work surface and hands as you knead. Mix in the currants. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl.

Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours or until puffy. Deflate the dough, reshape it into a ball, and place it in an 8” round cake pan that has been generously greased. Allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes to an hour until puffy but not doubled in size. Halfway through the rise, preheat the oven to 375. Whisk an egg with 1 T of water and brush the loaf with the egg wash. Make a 1/2” deep cross in the top.

Bake the loaf for 40-45 minutes, tenting loosely with foil after 20 minutes, to prevent it from browning too quickly. When a digital thermometer inserted into the center reads 190 degrees remove it from the oven. Tip the bread out of the pan and place it on a wire rack to cool.

Once the bread has cooled, slice and enjoy.

Store, well wrapped, at room temperature for three days or freeze for longer storage.

NOTE: I thought I had currants but did not so I substituted golden raisins. Research told me I could have also substituted pitted, chopped dates or soft prunes. If you don’t like dark beer (I do not) it’s fortunate a lot of groceries and party stores, at least in Michigan, sell beer by the bottle.

Coconut Macaroons

The Spring 2021 issue of Cuisine at Home had a great macaroon recipe. What made it different than macaroon recipes I’ve used before is the chocolate kiss you put in the center. In addition to subscribing to a few cooking magazines I also like to watch the cooking and baking shows. On the baking shows they frequently make macarons pronounced mack-a-ROHN, not the coconut variety pronounced mack-a-ROON. The former is a cookie, French in origin, that has a meringue-like consistency and is made primarily with egg whites, confection sugar, and almond flour. They are usually tinted in pastel shades and made into sandwich cookies with a creamy filling. When they make them on the baking shows the judges always talk about how perfect the “feet” are on the macarons. I have never made them, but I’ve eaten them, and prefer the less sophisticated coconut macaroon any day. And I don’t have to worry about them having perfect feet. This recipe is embarrassingly easy and everyone I shared the cookies with loved them.


2 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (7oz)

2 egg whites lightly beaten

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp pure almond extract

1/8 tsp kosher salt

24 Hershey’s kisses

4 oz bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate finely chopped

1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Using a whisk or a hand mixer lightly beat your egg whites.

Add the coconut, almond extract, sugar and salt to the egg whites and stir until well combined and the coconut is evenly moistened.

Take about 2 teaspoons of the coconut mixture using a small cookie scoop or teaspoon and insert a kiss in the center until enclosed on all sides but not the bottom.

Put the macaroons on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake about 20 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet about halfway through.

The macaroons will be a golden toasty brown when they are baked. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the macaroons are cooling heat the chocolate and cream in a double boiler stirring until smooth.

Drizzle the ganache over the macaroons and let it set up before serving.

I made a double batch. The recipe said it would make 24 macaroons. Each batch that I made yielded 16 cookies. Maybe I was a little heavy handed. But I got no complaints from any of my cookie eaters.


NOTE: You could also make these without the kisses in the center. I don’t eat chocolate so I made a couple for myself chocolate free. My dear friend Joyce makes macaroons and drizzles them with a sweet orange glaze which is excellent.

If you don’t have a double boiler put the chocolate and cream in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Works perfectly.