Thursday, 3 January 2013

Primitive and Delicious

Feeling a little thwarted in my Paleo Ukrainian Christmas planning lately.  Puzzled and trying to find ancient solutions with today's tools.  Cultural anthropology anyone?

Armed with a recipe for non gluten varenyky that requires non gluten all purpose flour from the health food store.  Not sure I am going to like garbanzo bean flavoured dough.  Sure enough, pyrohy don't stick! Back to the health food store for another variety that uses rice, tapioca, quinoa and something else.  Doesn't sound like something pra-baba used.

It got me thinking about this whole wheat issue.  If it is true that wheat has been around for thousands of years, clearly the first farmers harvested only small amounts, and used what they had.  Milling would have been way to much a process for the ancients, not in a big way at least.  So they must have ground what they needed, as they needed. 

I've discovered that wheat doesn't instantly produce gluten, it needs to be worked - ie kneaded to produce the gluten properties, then....Well, it seems that rolling dough thin enough for sticky dough varenyky was probably not easy for the ancients.  And compounded with that, finger pinching pyrogies in the coldest, darkest time of winter was probably not all that comfortable. 

So, it got  me thinking about  korzh  iz makom - корж із маком, the way my mom makes it.  Actually, this recipe is probably something her grandmother brought from her mother, when she left to be married at 12 years old.  Yah, that's my pra-baba, and that's an old recipe.

It's a basic dough for varenyky, kneaded soft, and rolled out onto a greased pan, like a flatbread.  No yeast involved.  Bake it, cool and break into chunks while warm and dress it with a warm liquidy mixture of poppy seed, honey and water.  Suitable for a meatless meal anytime!

So, in all practicality, the Ukrainian kutia кутя is probably a real starting point in culinary tradition.  And varenyky вареники are probably based on the enhanced properties of gluten wheat flour.  Interesting. Korzh iz makom корж із маком is probably somewhere in the middle of the journey in Ukrainian cookery - hope you enjoy the recipe.  In my eyes, this is truly winter lenten fare - primitive and delicious.

Try this recipe for a lenten korzh корж - 3 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 3 tsp baking powder, 1 cup soya milk.  Mix the dry ingredients and add the wet, mix and knead well.  Roll to 1 cm thick and place on sprayed baking sheet.  Prick all over with fork and bake for 45 minutes in medium oven.
Or try this recipe for a non lenten korzh - 3 eggs, well beaten, 1 cup milk, 1 tsp salt, 3 tsp baking powder, 4 cups flour.
Beat the liquid ingredients, add the dry and knead until soft and pliable.  Roll thin and drape in vegetable oil sprayed cookie sheet, pricking the dough in several places.  Bake in medium oven for 45 minutes.  After the palyanitsia паляниця cools, break chunks into a bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, soak 1 cup poppy seed in boiling water, drain the water and grind the seeds.  Add sugar or honey to taste.  Moisten the palyanitsia паляниця chunks with boiling water, adding the sweetened, ground poppy seeds and mix.  Serve warm.

Still have to find solutions to the non gluten varenyky problem - help!
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