Sunday, August 23, 2015


I’m grateful that we’ve finally had a taste of fall weather even though it’s still August. The kids are settled in school now, and my husband’s art is getting noticed. I’ve been having a little trouble getting any editing/proofreading work, so I started working toward becoming a book reviewer this week. I’m hoping this works out. But I’m grateful we are able to make food from Kazakhstan today. I’ve been looking forward to this all week. 

After some sugar, cinnamon, and cream cheese, this was the really good.

I started out making baursak, the Kazakh version of puffy bread, or like a doughnut of sorts. (The original recipe yielded a lot, as in it required 12 c of flour, and that is a lot! Needless to say, I cut the recipe in half and it was still too much. I made about half of this and froze the other half of the dough.) In a large bowl, I added 6 c of flour, 250 mL of lukewarm milk, ½ Tbsp salt, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 pkg of active dried yeast, 1 egg, and ½ Tbsp melted butter. I mixed everything until it came together as a dough, but I had trouble getting it to be elastic. It was either too dry and crumbly or it was too moist and sticky. I finally found a happy medium between the two and covered it, letting it rest for four hours. After this time, I divided my dough into four balls, rolling out each ball to a thickness of about a ¼”. I took each flattened ball and then cut them into strips of about ½” width and cut them again to make them look like small rectangles. Once I heated my oil and it was ready, I dropped my dough rectangles into the hot oil and fried them. They fried up really quickly (sometimes too quickly), but they tasted plain with only a hint of sweetness. I forgot to research to see if they topped these with anything, so I topped them with a blueberry-lemon cream cheese, and it was delightful! I can’t wait to have some with my coffee. 

This may not be truly authentic... And it was a little oily... But overall, it was pretty good.
Next, I got started was manti, or Kazakh lamb dumplings. Now, I didn’t use lamb this time. I read many people use a variety of different meats including beef, chicken, and even shrimp. So, I used ground beef (mostly, because the ground lamb went up on their prices). I cheated a little with this recipe, and I know it’s not completely authentic, but I did it for the sake of time. Instead of making the dough to go with these, I had a package of wanton wrappers, so I used them. So, instead of looking like half-moons, mine will look more like triangles. To make the filling, I melted butter and oil into a skilled before adding in my ground beef and onions to brown. Once it was completed browned, I transferred this to a different bowl where I added in the parsley, cilantro, salt, and a little bit of cooked rice (I’ll go with a little less salt next time). I mixed this all together and let it cool to room temperature. I spread out my wonton wraps and put a bit of filling mixture in the middle of one and folded it in half and pressed them together using water to help make the seal. I also brushed them with an egg bath to sort of glue them together. Then I carefully fried these in oil until both sides were browned. These were very good albeit a little oily. Perhaps it was because I used wonton wrappers, I don’t know, but they didn’t seem to drain the oil very well. However, they were tasty nonetheless, and they were especially good dipped in the soup broth or with a little bit of sour cream on top. 

My non-pink borscht.
I found a Kazakh version of Borscht soup. I made a version of Borscht when I cooked for Albania, but it was meatless. This recipe was definitely a remnant left behind by the Russians. To start with, I thawed my whole roaster chicken last night. (With chicken, it generally takes 5 hours per 1 pound of chicken to thaw.) I put my chicken whole in a stock pot along with my beets (I just used a can of beets—the store I was at didn’t have any fresh. If I were smarter than I am, I would have realized that because I was using canned beets, I should’ve put them in toward the end. Boiling canned beets for an hour apparently takes all the color out of them. And my soup was lacking that distinctive pink color. Who knew?). Then I added in enough water to cover it all and boiled this for an hour. In the meantime I sautéed a little bit of onion and grated carrots in a smaller skillet. (I ended up throwing in my baby carrots whole. I found it difficult to grate baby carrots. Next time, I’ll either buy grated carrots or buy regular carrots to grate.) After the hour was up, I took the chicken out and cut it into smaller pieces. While I was doing that, I added in the shredded cabbage and let it cook for about 10 minutes (I used what’s called angel hair slaw mix—it’s just shredded green cabbage). Then I put the onions, carrots, and cut-up chicken back into the pot to simmer. Just before it was done, I added in a little salt, pepper, and cilantro. I topped mine with sour cream, but my daughter is vehemently opposed to sour cream, so this is entirely her loss. 

I'm actually really good and sleepy after this meal, which I believe, is the international sign of being a good meal.
Even though I should’ve anticipated the issue with the beets, I’ll never make that mistake again to be sure. But some mistakes aren’t always bad. When I was 13 years old, I was trying to learn some piano song, and I made a mistake. But that mistake actually sounded good and led me to writing my first composition. And since then, I have written over 50 pieces for piano, voice/piano, choir/piano, and others. So, even though my beets didn’t turn out, it didn’t ruin the soup (thankfully). It was still a really good chicken soup regardless of what it was supposed to be. And even though the dumplings weren't exactly authenic, they were still good nonetheless. My kids ate it, and that’s what’s important.

Up next: Kenya

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