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Kasha: Newsgroup Thread December 1998
-------------------------------------
These posts were all posted to the rec.food.cooking newsgroup in the second
half of December 1998. They were spread over four threads with the 
subjects:

  Can uncooked tofu be made edible (by humans with tastebuds?)
  Buckwheat kasha (was Can uncooked tofu be made edible... 
  Buckwheat kasha
  Kasha 

----

From: Mark Horne (mhorne/ucla.edu) on 17 Dec 1998

I make a grain, veggie and tofu salad. I use kasha, but any whole grain
will do. Cook the grains and let them cool. Lightly steam some
chopped/sliced veggies. Add to the grains. Crumble firm tofu into the
mix. Add a vinagrette dressing. Presto. Grain, veggie and raw tofu
salad.

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From: Carmen Bartels (caba/squirrel.han.de) on 19 Dec 1998

Sounds great and I will try it in my holidays (no work up to January
4th *smile* ). Kasha is whole grain buckwheat if i remember correctly?
At least the dish called kasha uses that. Hmmm, buckwheat, broussel
sprouts and tofu sounds really good.

----

From: Victor Sack (sackv/uni-duesseldorf.de) on 21 Dec 1998

In the USA, kasha, for some unfathomable reason, does seem to mean
buckwheat and buckwheat only. In reality, kasha is porridge or gruel
made of any cooked meal or cereal.

----

From: Carmen Bartels (caba/squirrel.han.de) on 21 Dec 1998

Thanks Victor,
actually the cookbook said to use buckwheat or millet for kascha, which
sounded right for me, it being a besserabian reminiscance.
Somehow I only remembered the buckwheat, maybe because I love to
snack on beech-nuts (for non german speakers: buckwheat=Buchweizen,
beech-nuts=Bucheckern, very similar sounding words).

Carmen,
more and more interested in buckwheat recipes

----

From: Victor Sack (sackv/uni-duesseldorf.de) on 24 Dec 1998

Carmen Bartels wrote:
> more and more interested in buckwheat recipes

Here is a recipe for buckwheat kasha, as prepared in Russia.

3 cups          water
1 1/2 cups      buckwheat groats
2               onions, finely chopped
2               hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
3-4             dried ceps (porcini) mushrooms, ground into powder
6-7 Tbl         sunflower oil
salt

Put buckwheat in a saucepan, cover with water, and sprinkle with
mushroom powder. Cover and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce
the heat by half and continue to cook for 10 minutes until the kasha
starts to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 5-7
minutes until the water has completely evaporated. Put the lid on
tight, roll the saucepan in newspapers and something warm, like a
blanket, and place it between pillows for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry onions in oil, add salt. Add the fried onions and
oil, together with hard-boiled eggs to the kasha and mix well.

----

From: C.L. Gifford (saiga/concentric.net) on 24 Dec 1998

This looks quite good Victor. The main problem I have with
buckwheat kasha is it's dryness. The flavor is good, but it seems
to stick in my throat. I have looked at some "salad" type uses
for buckwheat but none seem to be that appealing to me. Perhaps a
recipe such as the above with extra butter?

----

From: RJ (baranick/epix.net) on 24 Dec 1998

Kasha Polish style....

Prepare kasha as you would rice;
(2 parts water, 1 part buckwheat groats)

Bring to a boil, cover, simmer for 15 minutes.

meanwhile;
Scorch butter in a frypan. 
it MUST be browned for the flavor

pour over cooked kasha and serve. 

----

From: Monika Adamczyk (monika7/mediaone.net) on 24 Dec 1998

C.L. Gifford wrote:
> This looks quite good Victor. The main problem I have with
> buckwheat kasha is it's dryness. 

That's because buckwheat is 'intended' to be eaten as a side dish with
meat which has plenty of sauce. E.g. there is a Polish dish called
'zrazy', which is a generic name for meat rolls made with slices of beef
pounded thinly and stuffed with different things. My favorite filling is
a strips of bacon, brine cucumber onion and carrot. Brown the rolls
first in hot fat, then stew them until soft with plenty of sliced
onions. The sauce should naturally thicken from the onions but if
doesn't you can add a bit flour at the end. Mix in some cream before
serving as well. Put buckwheat on the center of the platter, surround by
the meat and serve with plenty of the sauce on the side. Have sauerkraut
salad with it - mix fresh sauerkraut with grated carrot, some minced
onion and a tart apple (there should be more kraut than everything
else). Season with oil, salt, pepper and a sugar. Let it sit for 1/2
hour to mellow. Enjoy 100% Polish dinner.

----

From: Victor Sack (sackv/uni-duesseldorf.de) on 24 Dec 1998

C.L. Gifford wrote:
> This looks quite good Victor. The main problem I have with
> buckwheat kasha is it's dryness. 

This one won't be dry! However, you can always add some butter or
replace some or all of the oil with butter. This is just one of many
buckwheat kasha recipes and you can modify it as you see fit. BTW, I
accidentally used 'butter' instead of 'oil' in the instructions and will
be reposting the recipe. Sorry 'bout that.

----

From: Victor Sack (sackv/uni-duesseldorf.de) on 25 Dec 1998

Monika Adamczyk wrote:
> That's because buckwheat is 'intended' to be eaten as a side dish with
> meat which has plenty of sauce.

I violently disagree with the above statement. ;-)  Kasha, one of the
oldest Russian dishes, certainly deserves better. Even in Poland. ;-)
Kasha, whether buckwheat or not, is a dish that is perfectly well
capable of standing on its own. It can be a separate dish or a meal in
itself. Again: kasha prepared according to the recipe I posted will
_not_ be dry.

Each kind of kasha requires certain rules to be followed to the letter
in order for it to become tasty. In the case of buckwheat kasha, these
rules are as follows: Don't use hard water; it is imperative to always
use exactly twice as much water as there is buckwheat (by volume);
kasha is cooked more by the steam than by boiling and it is thus
extremely important not to raise the lid, not to stir, not to disturb
the kasha until it is ready; it is just as important to follow
instructions regarding the three heat stages during kasha preparation:
first high heat, then medium, and then low; buckwheat should be whole
kernels (Sheldon's post reminded me to point this out).

Once you prepare kasha following the above rules, anything goes - you
can add anything you want to the kasha - once it's ready. BTW, onions
can be added to the kasha as soon as it is boiling or after it is ready.
Mushrooms are added either before or after the kasha reaches boiling
temperature; eggs should only be added to the cooked kasha. These
additions are as traditional as you can get, and I think it is advisable
to at least learn to make this variation before thinking of other
additions. A properly made kasha is a revelation.

[recipe of Polish involtini snipped ;-)]

----

From: Stan Horwitz (stan/thunder.temple.edu) on 24 Dec 1998

C.L. Gifford wrote:
> This looks quite good Victor. The main problem I have with
> buckwheat kasha is it's dryness.

The recipe we use for kasha in our family is fairly traditional. It
results in a type of pilaf and it is dry, but there's an easy way to
moisten the kasha. What I do is serve the kasha with gravy to moisten it.
I even cook some gravy into the kasha at the last phase of the cooking.
The result is fairly moist kasha. 

----

From: Sheldon (penmart10/aol.com) on 24 Dec 1998

                       ---= This Is Kasha =---

Important: use "Whole Kernal" kasha. Combine each cup of kasha with one
beaten egg let stand until egg is fully absorbed... go about preparing
other ingredients. Toast kasha (med-low heat) and egg mixture in large
heavy pan with lots of butter (actually schmaltz is best). Toast well, but
do not burn - stir with fork - break up clumps, but leave some clumps.
Remove from pan. In same pan, saute until browned, finely diced onion
(lots, at least 1 lg. per cup uncooked kasha). Add back kasha, stir. Add
canned drained 'shrooms (lots), stir, reserve liquid. Add salt, black
pepper, and heated chicken stock combined with 'shroom liquid to equal 1
1/2 cups per each 1 cup of kasha... bring to boil, stir, reduce heat to
lowest setting, cover pan with tight fitting lid, and cook for 10 minutes
(no more), remove covered pan from heat (do not peek), let rest 10 minutes.
Fluff with fork and serve immediately; with brisket, gravey, and creamed
spinach (no other combination is legal). I can easily eat the equivalent of
1 cup uncooked kasha, so make lots!

----

From: Monika Adamczyk (monika7/mediaone.net) on 25 Dec 1998

Victor Sack wrote:

> Monika Adamczyk wrote:
> 
> > That's because buckwheat is 'intended' to be eaten as a side dish with
> > meat which has plenty of sauce.
> 
> I violently disagree with the above statement. ;-)  Kasha, one of the
> oldest Russian dishes, certainly deserves better. Even in Poland. ;-)
> Kasha, whether buckwheat or not, is a dish that is perfectly well
> capable of standing on its own. It can be a separate dish or a meal in
> itself. Again: kasha prepared according to the recipe I posted will
> _not_ be dry.

Oh my, I didn't have a slightest idea I would invoke such a violent
reaction from you Victor.
Tell me, what is it - a repressed memory of tons and tons of kasha from
childhood. Some recurring nightmare about fields of blooming buckwheat
(which BTW looks lovely) or a true passion for kasha? :-)
 
> Each kind of kasha requires certain rules to be followed to the letter
> in order for it to become tasty. In the case of buckwheat kasha, these
> rules are as follows: Don't use hard water; it is imperative to always
> use exactly twice as much water as there is buckwheat (by volume);
> kasha is cooked more by the steam than by boiling and it is thus
> extremely important not to raise the lid, not to stir, not to disturb
> the kasha until it is ready; it is just as important to follow
> instructions regarding the three heat stages during kasha preparation:
> first high heat, then medium, and then low; buckwheat should be whole
> kernels (Sheldon's post reminded me to point this out).

With all due respect for age, experience etc., I beg to disagree. I have
cooked kasha without paying special attention to the exact technique or
proportion of water to grain and I still had good results. Although I
must confess that such carelessness could be applied only to kasha in
Poland. The one which I buy in the States requires more fuss and
attention. I discovered e.g. very hard way that if you put it into cold
water, it cooks to complete mush. Only covered with boiling water leads
to the correct fluffy results. As for Russian kasha, I have no idea how
it cooks. :-)

----

From: Victor Sack (sackv/uni-duesseldorf.de) on 26 Dec 1998

Monika Adamczyk wrote:

> Victor Sack wrote:
> > 
> > Each kind of kasha requires certain rules to be followed to the letter
> > in order for it to become tasty. In the case of buckwheat kasha, these
> > rules are as follows: Don't use hard water; it is imperative to always
> > use exactly twice as much water as there is buckwheat (by volume);
> 
> I have
> cooked kasha without paying special attention to the exact technique or
> proportion of water to grain and I still had good results.

Define good.

> Although I
> must confess that such carelessness could be applied only to kasha in
> Poland. The one which I buy in the States requires more fuss and
> attention. I discovered e.g. very hard way that if you put it into cold
> water, it cooks to complete mush. Only covered with boiling water leads
> to the correct fluffy results.

You are probably not using whole kernel buckwheat. As far as I know, it
is hulled, but not otherwise processed. Buckwheat sold in the USA under
the name 'kasha' is, as I now know, cracked into granules. This is
totally unsuitable for making proper Russian kasha. You can use it as
an addition to 'zrazy' filling, though - but not as a side dish! ;-)

As to the exact technique of cooking kasha, it was no accident that I
mentioned that it was a very old dish. The modern method of cooking
kasha is an attempt to approximate the results of cooking it in the
Russian oven, a box-shaped structure made of brick and mortar, about
half the height of the ceiling and occupying considerable space. It was
used for heating as well - and for sleeping upon. The oven was heated
and the kasha was put there and left for several hours. You could
attempt to approximate this effect by cooking kasha in a bain-marie, but
hardly any time would be saved with this method. The technique of using
three distinct heat stages during kasha preparation, together with
wrapping up the pot and leaving it in a warm place for 15 minutes, leads
to very similar results and makes kasha something that could be prepared
in about 30 minutes. 

> As for Russian kasha, I have no idea how
> it cooks. :-)

Try the recipe I posted and you'll get the idea. :-)

----

From: TJ (garamala/halcyon.com) 26 Dec 1998

Victor Sack wrote:
> You are probably not using whole kernel buckwheat. As far as I know, it
> is hulled, but not otherwise processed. Buckwheat sold in the USA under
> the name 'kasha' is, as I now know, cracked into granules.

Sold under Kasha (tm), it's a puffed breakfast cereal. Plain old kasha
in a co-op store, the buckwheat is whole, toasted or untoasted. The
toasted is a pretty red brown, the untoasted a pale grey-green. Both are
like a rather crazy three dimensional triangle.
I've never seen it 'unhulled', but I have bought the hulls, which are
great as pillowstuffing.

----

From: Victor Sack (sackv/uni-duesseldorf.de) on 27 Dec 1998

TJ wrote:
> Sold under Kasha (tm), it's a puffed breakfast cereal. Plain old kasha
> in a co-op store, the buckwheat is whole, toasted or untoasted. The
> toasted is a pretty red brown, the untoasted a pale grey-green. Both are
> like a rather crazy three dimensional triangle.

I've heard from two people who say that what they buy as kasha is
cracked buckwheat. Perhaps it is a regional thing - yours or
theirs...(?) Whole buckwheat as sold here, is indeed somewhat conical
in shape, but I certainly wouldn't describe it as crazy. In fact, its
form is rather regular, and does not differ much between kernels,
either. The colour of untoasted buckwheat ranges from pale green to
tan.

----

From: Monika Adamczyk (monika7/mediaone.net) on 27 Dec 1998

Victor Sack wrote:
> TJ wrote:
> 
> > Sold under Kasha (tm), it's a puffed breakfast cereal. Plain old kasha
> > in a co-op store, the buckwheat is whole, toasted or untoasted.
> 
> I've heard from two people who say that what they buy as kasha is
> cracked buckwheat.

The breakfast cereal called kasha is sold in health food stores and it
is fairly popular in Northeast. Trader Joe also carry it. Whether it
contains any buckwheat, I doubt so but I will check it the next time I
will see it. 

Regarding the kasha sold for cooking in the States, there is a brand
sold in supermarkets which comes in 3 granulation sizes - whole, medium
and fine. I only had the whole size and it looks very much like the one
I had in Poland. I wonder whether it may be parboiled before packaged
and that's why gets mushy when cold water is used for cooking it.

----

From: Sheldon (penmart10/aol.com) on 27 Dec 1998

Monika Adamczyk writes:
>Regarding the kasha sold for cooking in the States, there is a brand
>sold in supermarkets which comes in 3 granulation sizes - whole, medium
>and fine.

http://www.thebirkettmills.com/  <---This is the second time in less than a
week I've posted this address. I'm puzzeled that peope who claim to be
buckwheat mavens can't remember the name "Wolff's". BTW, Buckwheat 
originated in China and Japan.

And if you're really in the mood to learn: 
go here---> Current Advances in Buckwheat Research: Proceedings of the 6th.
International Symposium on Buckwheat in Shinshu, August 24-29,1995

----

From: Monika Adamczyk (monika7/mediaone.net) on 26 Dec 1998

Victor Sack wrote:
> > I have
> > cooked kasha without paying special attention to the exact technique or
> > proportion of water to grain and I still had good results.
> 
> Define good.

Assuming that it is cooked in water with salt only, it means fluffy and
soft but not mushy. We Poles seldom mix kasha with something else when
serving it for dinner but there is a very traditional recipe for Polish
roasted duck with buckwheat used for stuffing. If I only find it, I will
post it here.
 
> You are probably not using whole kernel buckwheat. As far as I know, it
> is hulled, but not otherwise processed. Buckwheat sold in the USA under
> the name 'kasha' is, as I now know, cracked into granules. This is
> totally unsuitable for making proper Russian kasha. You can use it as
> an addition to 'zrazy' filling, though - but not as a side dish! ;-)

Zrazy with kasha used for filling??? You are speaking heresy and you
should be punished accordingly. I think someone should look forward to a
large sack of kasha being delivered soon :-)
 
----

From: Victor Sack (sackv/uni-duesseldorf.de) on 27 Dec 1998

Monika Adamczyk wrote:

> Assuming that it is cooked in water with salt only, it means fluffy and
> soft but not mushy.

Ah, now I realize that we've been talking about different things - me
about kasha, and you about boiled buckwheat. ;-)

> We Poles seldom mix kasha with something else when
> serving it for dinner but there is a very traditional recipe for Polish
> roasted duck with buckwheat used for stuffing. If I only find it, I will
> post it here.

I happen to be in possession of a recipe claimed to be authentically
Polish. It is for kasha baked with mushrooms. First, kasha is
prepared. Meanwhile, fresh mushrooms, cut into thin slices are stewed
with onion rings, oil, a bit of water, salt and pepper, until ready.
Half of the kasha is then laid out on the buttered (or brushed with some
other fat) baking sheet, the mushrooms are laid out on top of the kasha
and covered with the rest of the kasha. The whole thing is then covered
with an egg beaten with some salted sour cream, sprinkled with cheese
and baked in the oven until the cheese is melted. Serve with a salad of
fresh vegetables.

> Zrazy with kasha used for filling??? You are speaking heresy and you
> should be punished accordingly. I think someone should look forward to a
> large sack of kasha being delivered soon :-)

Zrazy is a dish that has been very popular in countries other than
Poland, such as Russia and Lithuania for at least two or three
centuries. There are very many zrazy variations. Zrazy with a filling
of boiled buckwheat is just one of them. ;-)

----

From: Monika Adamczyk (monika7/mediaone.net) on 27 Dec 1998

Victor Sack wrote:
> I happen to be in possession of a recipe claimed to be authentically
> Polish. It is for kasha baked with mushrooms. 

I wonder what part of Poland is the dish from? I have never heard of it
before but sounds very east to me. On the other hand kasha with mushroom
sauce was fairly popular fare in my home during lean 80'. In fact,
buckwheat kasha was served at my home frequently due to the fact that
among other kashas, it cooks the fastest and my mom would do anything to
get the dinner ready a.s.a.p.

> Zrazy is a dish that has been very popular in countries other than
> Poland, such as Russia and Lithuania for at least two or three
> centuries. There are very many zrazy variations. Zrazy with a filling
> of boiled buckwheat is just one of them. ;-)

Victor, you are not going to claim zrazy originated in Russia. I will
give you rights to barszcz, heck I even let you have the ownership of
vodka but you stay away from zrazy. They our mine, only mine and one one
else by mine! :-)
But zrazy with kasha for filling? Interesting and very efficient - meat
and side dish together. 
What do you serve it with? More kasha? :-)

----

From: Stan Horwitz (stan/thunder.temple.edu) on 27 Dec 1998

Taste is entirely a matter of personal opinion. I like the way I prepare
kasha. I just follow the recipe on the box of kasha. I usually use some
beef gravy and a bit of soy sauce in place of half of the liquid. I also
throw in some sauted diced cellary and onion. The results taste pretty
good, at least to me and my family. 

----

From: robdgot/aol.com (Bob Gottlieb) on 27 Dec 1998

I haven't read the directions in years, but add the egg to the kasha then 
mix it in the pot using a high flame. Stir constantly until the kasha is 
separated and is toasted. Add REAL stock (whatever kind) in place of water. 
If you have no stock, try Lipton Onion Soup mix, already mixed and hot. 
Meanwhile, saute sliced onions in a WHOLE lot of butter until just 
translucent. When the kasha is done, add the onions, a lot of salt and 
pepper and serve. If you have beef gravy, serve it on the side. You can 
also boil up some bow ties and mix it in. That is the Russian version.
 

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