Beets, Bakery, Borscht and Other Goodies

I’m heading over the the Dakota Harvest Bakery in downtown Grand Forks on Thursday. Besides their tasty pastries and breads, the artisans over there also serve several kinds of homemade soup.

On Thursday, one of the soups they’ll be featuring (for the second or third time, I think) is borscht, a recipe made popular by Germans from Russia. Its main ingredient is beets but also contains several other veggies. I’m going to pick up some and take it home for lunch.

I love borscht and plan on making some this weekend. (I was planning on making some last weekend, but things didn’t work out.) I’m going to be using a recipe given to me by a former co-worker, Steve Schmidt, himself descended from Germans from Russia. If I recall, it is a variation of his grandma’s recipe. (Steve says it’s best after a night in the fridge.)

If you want to try it yourself, the recipe follows, as does another ethnic specialty, which I picked up from a former co-worker, Candance Decker. It’s called Knoephla, Sausage and Sauerkraut. Candace said she learned the recipe from two aunts from Dickinson, N.D., and her mother from Bismarck.

"They taught me this family recipe, which I wrote down to preserve the yummy dish that’s always been passed down through `cooking classes’," Candace said.

And if you don’t feel ambitious, head over to Dakota Harvest Bakery. I’ve never been disappointed.


German-Russian Borscht
1 to 2 pounds boneless chuck steak, cubed
¼ to ½ pound soup bones
3 quarts water
1 stalk celery (leaves included)
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 beef bouillon cubes
Mix ingredients and cook for 2 to 3 hours. Strain stock, saving the meat and bones. Let stock sit, overnight if possible. Skim fat. Reheat and add more water to make about 3 quarts.
Next, add:
3 bay leaves
1 quart tomato juice
3 or 4 grated beets, with a dozen tops
3 tomatoes or 1 or 2 14½-ounce cans
1 pint of green garden beans
2 small potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped, or 8 green ones
1 clove of garlic
2 stalks of celery, chopped
½ cup or a handful of rice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 carrots, sliced (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh dill (or a mix of dill, caraway seed and parsley or chives)
Simmer for a good hour (or all morning).
Add 2 tablespoons of sour cream to soup when done and sprinkle on some fresh dill weed. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or half-and-half, with a sprinkle or two of herb vinegar.
Note: Soup is best after a night in the refrigerator.

Knoephla, Sausage and Sauerkraut
2 eggs
¾ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour, plus up to ¼ cup more
Combine the ingredients and add enough flour to make the dough stiff. Mix by hand or with a spoon.
Add a little salt to a very large kettle of water and bring it to a boil. Either spoon and flick small pieces of dough into the kettle (load up one spoon with dough, then "cut" about the size of a penny off with another spoon and flick) or add tablespoon-sized dough balls to the water, then use a pasta spoon to pick up the dough balls and cut them into smaller pieces with scissors.
Let dumplings cook for 20 to 45 minutes. Once your dough bowl is empty, you usually can remove the entire pot from the stove. Drain. Put the shortening of your choice into a frying pan. Fry the white, somewhat slimy dumplings to your liking (they’ll turn brown and slightly crunchy).
Add salt and pepper to taste. (Remember the sauerkraut is salty.)
Cook a package of sausage links (country-style, venison or whatever is you favorite) like you normally would, then cut the sausage into small circles.
Chop one onion, saute in butter, add up to 2 cans of drained sauerkraut and heat the mixture together. Add ¾ to 1 pint (or more) of cream and bring the mixture to a boil.
Pour the sausage circles and the onion, sauerkraut and cream mixture over the dumplings. Mix well. Serve hot.

For more tasty recipes, go the Herald food page.