Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kasha Varnishkes

It's gotten pretty cold here. A big plate of good old comfort food sometimes just hits the spot! Sometimes they bring you right back to when you were a kid! This one does it for me. My grandma used to make this with brisket or stuffed cabbage, it's a perfect side to soak up the gravy! Dinner was definitely going to be Stuffed Cabbage, but I wanted to serve something beside mashed potatoes. I usually serve mashed potatoes with cabbage rolls, but when I was looking for a change, I found this recipe at Epicurious. It just reminded me so much of when I was a kid, we'd go to Brooklyn to see my Grandparents and have dinner with the whole family at the table. It was a fun production every week, the drive to Brooklyn, familiar sights along the way, going up in the elevator, by the time we got to their floor, the door would open, and you could smell the cooking!  We'd try to guess what it was! Always felt bad for the neighbors, so much garlic! So much spice. So much heartburn :)

Grandma made Kasha and Bows often! We loved it! My kids never had it before or so they thought. They actually did have it, when they were very small, my grandma had made it for them. Kasha Varnishkes, but they called it Kasha Veronica's! It obviously never left the same impression as it did for me, or they were probably just too little to remember! Miss Picky liked it, the Big Kid loved it. And the Griller is just so good about eating, whatever you put in front of him is fine, except for a stinky cheese! Besides, he's had kasha and bows before! It's something we grew up with!  So I am trying to make some good food memories for my kids! Aside from the ones where they say "hey, remember when Mommy burnt the muffins? Remember when Mom forgot to take the giblet bag out of the chicken before she threw it in the soup pot?"

Kasha Varnishkes
(Kasha and Bowtie Egg Noodles)
Source: Joan Nathan - Jewish Cooking in America
Adapted by There's Always Thyme to Cook
Printable Recipe

2 large onions, diced
1 package cremini mushrooms, chopped (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons margarine, butter, vegetable oil or chicken fat
1 large egg or egg white, slightly beaten
1 cup medium or coarse kasha
2 cups water or chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3/4 pound large or small bow tie-shaped noodles
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of the margarine or chicken fat in a heavy frying pan with a cover until golden, then add the mushrooms and saute until soft. Remove to a plate.

Beat the egg in a small mixing bowl and stir in the kasha. Mix, making sure all the grains are coated. Put the kasha in the same frying pan, set over a high heat. Flatten, stir, and break up the egg-coated kasha with a fork or wooden spoon for 2 to 4 minutes or until the egg has dried on the kasha and the kernels brown and mostly separate.

Add the water or stock, to the frying pan and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onions and mushrooms, cover tightly, and cook over low heat, steaming the kasha for 10 or 15 minutes. Remove the cover, stir, and check to see if the kernels are tender and the liquid has been absorbed. If not, cover and continue steaming for 3 to 5 minutes more, until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the bow-tie noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain.

When the kasha is ready, combine with the noodles. Adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with the parsley and coriander. If desired, add a bit more margarine or chicken fat. Sprinkle with a little parsley, for garnish.

The dish can be made 1-2 days in advance and reheated, uncovered, in a 350°F oven. If it seems dry, add 1/4 cup chicken stock

Stuffed Cabbage (Holishkes)
Source: Syd M
Printable Recipe

2 heads green cabbage
2 pounds chopped meat
1 egg
2 slices white bread slices, soaked in water and then squeeze out the water
3 15-oz cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup rice (uncooked)
1 cup brown sugar, more or less to taste garlic powder, to taste

Some optional ingredients I found along the way:
Raisins (not for me)
crushed gingersnaps (someone else's mother suggested this!)
a big squeeze fresh lemon juice (1 lemon) or more, to taste!

Boil the cabbage for a few minutes to soften, and remove the outer leaves when cooled. You can also freeze the cabbage heads overnight, but who has room in the freezer for two heads of cabbage? Or you can steam it for a few minutes in the microwave.

In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, combine 2 1/2 cans of tomato sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar, lemon juice and raisins, if you're using them, and some garlic powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Taste to see if you need more sugar, garlic or lemon juice. Add crushed gingersnaps if you want, I got that idea when I was checking out recipes from a friend's mom. I tried it a few times, but now I don't bother!

Mix meat, eggs, bread, 1/2 can tomato sauce, rice and about 1/3 cup brown sugar. Make a small meatball and place it near the stem end of the leaf, fold stem over the filling, fold in the sides and roll it up firmly. Envelope style. Place the cabbage rolls carefully in the sauce (seam side down) and add chopped pieces of the cabbage and raisins if you want. Simmer at low for 1 1/2 hours or more, I let it simmer for a long while. If you see that there is not enough sauce, add more tomato sauce.

I'm joining Suzy over at Kitchen Bouquet for another Flashback Friday!


  1. My husband would love this! I'll have to try it...I might like it, too! Merry Christmas to you, sweet friend! ♥

  2. How fun to recreate your childhood food memories for your kids to experience and maybe find a new tradition. I am glad they all enjoyed them. Your comments about "remember when mom..." made me laugh especially the burnt one.

  3. Both of these dishes look and sound really good! Happy Holidays!

  4. I haven't had stuffed cabbage in 100 years! I have a recipe for "unstuffed cabbage" but the person left the "lid on" part out of the recipe and it got so dry I couldn't eat it. I think it's time to try again:@)
    Merry Christmas!

  5. Those dishes look delicious! It has been quite a while since I have made stuffed cabbage and your recipe sounds good, sooo, have to put that on the list for next week! Merry Christmas!

  6. going to try this.. oh yummmm

  7. You got me again - I can't even pronounce this dish let alone knowing what kasha is! Guess I will have to google. It's fun to remember Grandma's cooking... remember Foley's cinnamon rolls especially!!
    I bet the kids have LOTS of ..Remember when Mom...

  8. Any comfort food is always great with me. I will have to try this out for the Tuesday theraphy session with the gal pals.
    I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

  9. Interesting dishes that look wonderful for this time of year. I love the cabbage rolls that my mother used to make.

    Merry Christmas!

  10. I love that stuffed cabbages!!! They look so darn great, esp. for the snowy weather here in Germany. It's COOOOOOoooooooooooooold...but it's a snowy Christmas. :-))
    Merry Christmas!!!

  11. I haven't heard of this dish but looks and sounds very interesting. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  12. It looks and sounds delicious! I love stuffed cabbage and that is a great side for it that I will have to try. Here's wishing you and your family a wonderful Merry Christmas!

  13. HI,
    I'm your newest follower, Hope you will folow back.
    Merry Christmas

  14. The stuffed cabbaage looks great! I usualy make a different version of it. Never tried yours. Should give it a try very soon!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  15. What a wonderful tradition to keep! "Remember when the time when Mom made Kasha and Bows and it was delicious" Now there's a happy memory :)

    You are so funny, Carol!

  16. Yikes! It's a good thing I read this post because my cabbage rolls are tucked into the freezer and need to come out to thaw and be warmed up to serve with the tortiere tonight.
    Merry Christmas!

  17. I remember my mom leaving a pot of stew on the back steps in a snow storm . Some dog got it and we found the pot in the spring a few back yards away!

    Nice memories, I never had anything my grandparents cooked, but I remember my mom's.

    I'll make stuffed cabbage, but I won't eat it, Miss Picky eat it??


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