Our loyal blogger friend Ann has done a cookbook review on Olia Hercules latest book – Summer Kitchens. Read below to see all the interesting things she has made from it:
I was lucky enough to be given this book on Ukrainian Cooking and what a truly inspirational book it is. The book gives a certain amount of history in the Ukraine and focusses on rural life in the country and has some stunning photography of the countryside and the simple life still led by many there to this day. However a lot of the modern generation have moved on from the old traditional ways which Olia is setting out to revive.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book learning a great deal about the Ukraine, of which I was ashamedly lacking, about ordinary country folk centred around the kitchen particularly the Summer Kitchens of the title. Sadly a lot of these seasonal kitchens have now fallen into disrepair and disuse. There is quite a bit centred around food production in the basic form, in other words that grown and produced in the back garden and surround. I hate food waste and love preserving so it was to this end I have revisited the book myself in recent days having a glut of autumnal delights in the form of fruits and vegetables.
I have been introduced by Olia to the art of fermenting, very trendy at the moment in the form of Kimchi etc , and an addition to the usual round of chutneys and pickles usually attempted at this time of year. Some of the recipes are totally practical and I have on the go some Sauerkraut made up of cabbage and carrot which is gently maturing. So far, so good, it is certainly milder than shop bought although I would probably add some spice in the form of peppercorns.
However, some recipes are not, take for instance Fermented Watermelon which as a start we don’t grow in this country but even if we did who has an old tin bath to hand to leave the fruit for at least 40 days!!
To date, I have attempted some Courgette Fritters after being handed a carrier bag of courgettes by my neighbour and challenged to a Courgette Challenge 2020 by my younger daughter on Instagram (@helenelizabethbakes – check it out).
I have done some wonderful flatbreads using Kefir in the dough and filled with Feta, Halloumi flavoured with Garlic and Parsley. My husband Mike, tempted by the photos in the book, has done a Rye based Sourdough which was superb, moist and full of flavour but also containing the expected holes in a sourdough so not like the dense Rye Bread we buy in supermarket.
There are some lovely recipes, partly inspired by the tempting photos which accompany most of the recipes, one in particular both Mike and I have top of our list to try are some yeasted buns (his department) filled with either slow cooked pork or duck (my department) as a filling. There is a short chapter towards the end featuring tempting cakes, desserts and pastries to try but otherwise this book has a savoury bias. However, I have made the Curd Cake with Caramelised Apple which was rather good.
This is a book to dip in and out of, plus learn about the Ukraine with Olia including at the back, some memories of other Ukranians. With the coming months of autumn and winter nearly upon us, there are lots of hearty stews to try which might give us a little comfort as Covid-19 will still be with us plus help ward off the cold weather. There are a few recipes that I, personally, will never try, Tripe Soup – Tripe being one of the things, the smell alone puts me off, whilst Pigs Ears with Garlic and Paprika I’m not sure about, certainly I would try it but only cooked by someone else. Ukrainian Blood Sausage is another, not that I baulk at the eating of it, after all it’s basically a Black Pudding, but if you have 200g of pig’s blood to hand …….!