Korovai Fruit and Hazelnut Bread: #192 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Korovai is a braided, decorated fruit bread often served at Russian or Ukrainian weddings. This one is filled with raisins, orange peel, cranberries and hazelnuts. The entire bread is lovingly smothered in apricot jam after baking. We adapted the recipe from the Great British Bakeoff cookbook.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($12 total)

Dough:
4 tsp active dry yeast – $1.60
1 tsp brown sugar – $0.01
1 cup + 1 tbsp hottest tap water – free
7 tbsp softened margarine – $1.09
1 egg – $0.29
1 tbsp vanilla extract – $0.70
1 tbsp almond extract – $0.70
4 cups flour – $0.64
1 1/2 tsp salt – $0.08
1/4 cup apricot jam, warmed and stirred well – $0.64

Filling:
1/2 cup margarine – $1.24
1/2 cup brown sugar – $0.26
2 cups raisins – $2.00
1/2 cup dried cranberries – $0.96
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts – $1.75
1/2 cup chopped orange peel – free leftovers

Directions

1. Make the dough: in a small non-metal bowl, mix the yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar, and water. Let it sit to form a thick foam for about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the 7 tbsp margarine, egg, vanilla and almond extracts. And in a larger metal bowl, mix the flour and salt.

Once the yeast has bloomed, add the yeast mixture and the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to bring it into a ball of dough, then knead with your hands for about 5 minutes. Cover the dough in the large metal bowl with cling wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled.

2. Make the filling and assemble the breads: In a medium bowl, cream the margarine and sugar, then add the dried fruit and hazelnuts.

When the dough has risen, split it into two balls, 1/3 and 2/3 of the mixture. Roll the larger ball out on a floured board to about 8×12 inches. Cover it evenly with 2/3 of the fruit and nut mixture, then roll it up tightly from the long side into a baguette shape. Cut this down the middle with a sharp knife, then twist the two halves around each other and join the ends together to make a braided circle. The fruit and nuts will end up around the outside.

Repeat with the smaller dough ball, rolling it out to about 6×9 inches and using the remaining 1/3 of the fruit and nut mixture. Cover and let the two braided rings rise in a warm place for 1 hour until about doubled in size.

3. Once the dough rings have risen, bake them at 425F for 10 minutes, then cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 more minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and smother in the warm apricot jam. Sprinkle with any remaining hazelnut bits. Place the smaller ring on top of the larger ring and cut into this delicious breakfast or teatime treat.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 1 = >3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of servings
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness:  2 = decent meal
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 1 = eat rarely
  • TOTAL: 13/18

If any of you amazing cooks tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Plant-Based Pierogies: #134 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Pierogies are dumplings from Eastern Europe traditionally filled with things like potato, meat, cheese, fruit, or vegetables, and then boiled. We chose a savory potato-bean-onion filling that is both plant-based and tasty, and we made our own dough. It was a fun weekend project!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($6.50 total for a dozen pierogies)

3 cups flour – $0.48
1 tsp salt – $0.05
2 tbsp coconut oil – $1.10
2/3 cup water – free
2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1/2 onion, chopped – $0.25
1/2 tsp each oregano, garlic powder, and basil – $0.42
1 can black beans – $0.79
3 potatoes, baked and peeled – $0.90
Salt and pepper to taste (optional sprinkle of Worcestershire sauce if you like that flavor)
1/2 cup tahini to drizzle over top – $2.30

Directions

1. Make the dough: mix the flour and salt together, then rub in the coconut oil until it’s a fine crumb mixture. Add the water and stir it into a dough. Knead for 3 minutes, adding a bit more flour if it’s too sticky. 

Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rest for 15 minutes, then roll it out to 1/4″ thickness on a lightly floured board.

2. While the dough is resting, make the filling. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat, then add the onion. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and starting to brown. Add the spices and black beans, and stir well.

Mash up the baked potatoes (you can bake them in the microwave if you don’t want to fire up the oven) and mix them into the beans and onions. Taste and adjust seasonings, add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Make the pierogies: using a large glass, cut out circles from the the rolled out dough and put about 1 tbsp of filling into each one. Fold the dough circle in half around the filling and pinch all the edges together, then fold the pinched edge over all around to make a nice decorative seal. 

Boil the pierogies in a large pot of salted water until they float to the top, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and gently to make sure they’re not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Serve drizzled with tahini and accompanied with veggies – we had it with leftover chakalaka.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings: 2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 1 = inedible (dough was very chewy, need to roll it thinner next time)
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal impact
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 13/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff: #82 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Stroganoff is one of our regular rotation meals, thanks to my husband’s German-Russian roots. It’s great for a quick weeknight meal that pleases a crowd of hungry stomachs, and the leftovers are delicious too. Feel free to substitute another kind of meat or tofu for the beef if you prefer.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($22 total)

2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1/2 onion, chopped – $0.25
1 lb organic ground beef – $5.99
1 container cream of mushroom soup – $1.99
1 pint sour cream – $2.99
2 cups frozen peas – $1.00
1 lb spaghetti or egg noodles – $2.99
4 cloves garlic, minced – $0.15
1 8 oz package crimini mushrooms, sliced – $2.49
1 8 oz package baby broccoli, chopped up – $2.79
Pecorino romano cheese to sprinkle on top – $1.00
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat, then add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent and soft. Add the ground beef and stir until it’s all broken up and there’s no pink left. In a separate pan, heat the other 1 tbsp olive oil and cook the garlic for 2-3 minutes until it starts to brown, then add in the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the baby broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the broccoli is a bright green.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot filled with boiling, salted water. It’s usually about 10 minutes but check the package directions. Add the mushroom soup and sour cream to the beef mixture, along with the frozen peas, and mix well. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. Drain the pasta and pour the stroganoff sauce over the noodles, mixing to combine thoroughly.

3. Serve in individual bowls with a side of vegetables (or mixed in if you don’t have picky eaters), with pecorino romano cheese sprinkled on the side or over top. Freshly ground pepper is great here too. This recipe usually provides 2 dinners for 5 of us.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings:  3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 1 = wowzers (beef)
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 15/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

German Cabbage Rolls: #26 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

If you’re looking for comfort food in Germany or Russia, you might come across this dish of cabbage, beef, rice, onions, and tomato. I know it from the Mennonite tradition in Canada, as the first dish Tim’s grandmother made for me. It is also fantastic as leftovers, so I make a big tray and it lasts for at least 3 dinners.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($15 total)

1 large savoy cabbage – $3.69
1 onion, chopped – $0.50
2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1 cup rice – $0.50
2 cups water – free
1 lb organic ground beef or chicken – $5.99
3 eggs – $0.87
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce – $0.20
2 tsp salt – $0.10
Pepper to taste
1 carton creamy tomato soup (946 mL) – $2.69

Directions

1. Dig out the core of the savoy cabbage carefully with a sharp knife, then pull off the leaves. Bring a large pot of water with some salt to a boil and boil the cabbage leaves for 5 minutes to soften, then cool off in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. 

In a pan, cook the chopped onion in the olive oil for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until it starts to brown. In a separate pot, cook the rice with the water by bringing it to a boil and then turning off the heat to let it sit and soak up the water.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, onions, and rice until well combined.

Take a leaf of softened cabbage and put a scoop (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup depending on the size of the cabbage leaf) of meat filling at the base of the leaf. Tuck in the sides and roll it up and away from you to form a neat little bundle.

3. Repeat until you run out of meat filling, arrange the cabbage rolls tightly in a casserole dish, then pour the tomato soup over the whole thing. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 325F for 2 hours. Serve warm or freeze for future enjoyment!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings:  3 = >6 servings
  • Cost per person (prices based on Trader Joe’s/Costco): 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!