Monday, November 4, 2013

comfort food: kołduny

Sometimes you realize you did stuff wrong, that choices that were supposed to make your life better have all just gone to shit, you may never have the chance to do what you love and you can't even post anything to your blog more often than once in a month. At times like this, you need comfort food. For me, comfort food is not just about how it makes you feel when you eat it. The whole cooking process can be comforting too. That's why for me kołduny are the best comfort food known to mankind.

It may seem like I'm going sentimental, but I have to mention there's also some family tradition when it comes to this dish. First with my grandma and my aunts, then just with my Mom, we used to spend a whole day on this. We'd sit all together, make the first batch, trying to make the kołduny as small as possible and bragging about our skills, then we'd cook the first batch, eat it, suffer from overeating and start the next batch. Repeat until the filling is gone. There's something about forming the tiny dumplings that makes it a lot like occupational therapy.

The most amazing and important thing about the kołduny is the filling. Like in the Ukrainian pelmeni, you use raw meat filling. In this case it's lamb - the ultimate base of comfort food - not only extremely delicious, but also rich in things that actually improve your mood and make you healthier.

  • 500g ground lamb
  • marjoram
  • salt
  • pepper

The filling is quite simple, but you have to rely on your own taste here. I'd advice to use at least half glass of marjoram. You just have to taste it until it's good - add some of the spices, mix with a fork or with your hand, taste, repeat until you're satisfied. Try not to eat everything at once.

After you're done with the filling, cover it and put it in the refridgerator. Then make the dough, you'll find the recipe here. Let it rest a while in the frige too, and then cut out a small bit and roll it out thinly - the thinner the better, as it can't overwhelm the filling, it's just there to catch the fluids.

Now comes the occupational therapy part. You'll need a shot glass and an espresso spoon. Cut out circles of dough with the hot glass, put in the filling with an espresso spoon. Then fold it in half, close it squeezing the exces dough together with your fingers and, for decorative purposes, add "waves" by pinching it together along the side a few times, as close as you can.

When you're done with the first batch, boil some salted water in a short, but wide, pot. When it's boiling, throw the kołduny in and boil them until they float to the top, then just a minute more. Now, this is VERY IMPORTANT. DON'T DISCARD THE WATER. It turns into a perfect broth - serve the kołduny in it. Keep the rest of the broth and cook the next batches in it - it will be ever more flavourfull. Of course you can add some water every next time.

If you don't think you can eat all of them at once, you can freeze them before boiling. They'll be just fine.