Sunday Night Special: Beets, Spinach, Dumplings
A million years ago, I used to post Sunday cooking
experiments. At some point I stopped because if there's anything less
interesting than hearing someone talk about where and what they ate out, it
might be what they made at home (yes, I know that cooking blogs are a huge
genre). Personally, I'm not into telling cute back stories or styling photos
with props. But I have felt the urge for a revival. Cooking is fun. I'll
probably just stick to the facts, and use the same serving dishes over and
over. So every other Sunday, I will be having a handful of friends (of varying
skill levels and dietary preferences) over for a informal cooking club that
will tackle a different cuisine each session. There's not likely to be any beef
or pork included (much to my sadness) but sticking to vegetables, a little
seafood and the occasional chicken, is a challenge I'm up for.
I'm a competent home cook, but not wildly creative
or intuitive. I pretty much follow recipes unless I know my way around a dish,
which is why I never understand people who say they can't cook. I've had
surprisingly few disasters as a result of simply following a set of rules (however,
I'm scared of empanadas and mayonnaise after a few miserable failures).
Georgian was a slightly odd first choice for
cuisine, considering no one had any first-person experience with any of the
dishes. On the other hand, that's freeing because who knows if you're doing it
wrong? Does the food taste like crap? No? Ok…success.
All recipes were single-sourced from the May Saveur.
Charkhlis Chogi/Beets in Tart Cherry Sauce It's
possible that people who say they don't like beets would eat this without
trouble. The roasting and subsequent application of butter softens any
bitterness (I don't think beets are bitter, but it has been said) and the
cherries may be monochromatic, but add different dimension of sweetness.
Phkali/Spinach and Walnut Salad I think this emerald
green puree is meant to be more of an appetizer than side. That's ok, though.
There is a startling amount of spinach in this mound, enriched with an
impressive amount of toasted, ground walnuts, which is why I just went with bagged
C-Town greens. Sorry. I'm conventional–and frugal. All-baby, all-organic
spinach would've made this a $25 plate of food, I calculated. Pomegranate seeds
were impossible to come by, so this is garnish-free.
Khinkali Qvelit/Cheese and Mint Stuffed Dumplings
These were a little more intermediate. I wanted to make the eggplant dish, too,
but dough-making plus frying seemed a bit ambitious for a test run. Luckily,
one attendee was a confident baker (others got relegated to chopping, shredding
or Game of Thrones-watching). If you can't find farmer's cheese (I found
it–Friendship brand is common in NYC–but it was past the expiration date) and
live somewhere where queso fresco is common, that'll do. And if you eat the
leftovers the next day with untraditional Thai chile paste, that's ok, too.
What did you cook this week?