> Lemon and Strawberries: Borscht with "uszka" (mini dumplings with mushrooms) - Polish Christmas food #3

Friday, December 11, 2015

Borscht with "uszka" (mini dumplings with mushrooms) - Polish Christmas food #3

I'm continuing my preparation for Christmas Eve dinner. In Poland, we're having a festive dinner on 24th of December - so you may say we start celebrating a day before everyone else!
This day is very special and so is the food we serve. There is twelve traditional dishes and the custom says you need to at least take a bite of every one of them!
Today's recipe - borscht with uszka is served for starters. "Uszka" are tiny dumplings stuffed with mushrooms - their name means "little ears" and it's because of their shape. This type of borscht is light, spicy and it will warm you up - necessary thing in the Winter! We make several types of borscht, but this one is different than others - clean, made only with few ingredients and no meat, as we're not eating any on Christmas Eve. Borscht is specific for a region of Poland I grew up in, in other places at that day they may serve you mushrooms soup or fish soup. 

INGREDIENTS (for borscht):
  • 1kg beetroots
  • 1-2 handful dried mushrooms (boletus)
  • 3-4 smoked plums
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tbs vinegar
  • 5 allspice seeds
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1-2 tsp marjoram
  • salt & pepper to taste
This is a very straight forward soup! You just have to cut beetroots in pieces, put them in a pot with mushrooms, crushed garlic, plums and spices and then cook on a medium heat for about 40 minutes. In the end add vinegar to preserve the color and get a little bit of sour taste and that's it!
We serve just the liquid as you can see on the picture above, so when your borscht is ready you can strain it before serving.

INGREDIENTS (for about 40 "uszka"):

  • 200g flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 glass hot water
  • 1/2 tbs salt
  • 200g mushrooms (fresh or dried ones - you need to soak them over night!)
  • 1 onion
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1-2tbs oil for frying
Preheat a pan with oil. Chop the onion and fry for about 5 minutes. Cut mushrooms in very small pieces, add to the onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, mix and let it simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Set aside to cool down.

Preparing a dough for "uszka" is very similar to pierogi - mix flour, egg, salt and water and knead into a smooth dough. It's ready when it doesn't stick to your fingers.
Sprinkle a flat surface with some flour and using a rolling pin, roll your dough to 2mm thickness - if it stucks to your rolling pin, sprinkle it with a little bit of flour,
Using a small round cookie cutter or a glass, cut out circles - uszka are meant to be small, much smaller than pierogi. I used a 5cm diameter cookie cutter.

To make a "uszko", take one of the circles, put some of the filling in the middle (up to 1tsp), fold it in half and seal the edges. Then take both corners, wrap them around your finger and stick them together. This will create a shape of little ear if you look at it from above. Here's a little tutorial:

Boil a big pot of water and prepare another one with cold water. Add some salt to boiling water and start throwing uszka into it. It's good to make it in batches to make sure they don't stick to each other or bottom of your pot. Stir gently and let them cook until they come out to the surface and then 1-2 minutes more. Using a slotted spoon, take them out and put in a cold water for a moment.

You can prepare uszka some days before Christmas Eve and freeze them to save time! Just put them in a plastic bag or box, sprinkle with a little bit of oil to prevent from sticking.

And on Christmas Eve defrost them, and serve with hot borscht - they will heat up in no time, since they're tiny. Sprinkle with a little bit of marjoram and enjoy!

Bon appetite!