Sunday, September 21, 2014

Kandinsky and Cucumbers

The Milwaukee Art Museum had the most amazing exhibition of Wassily Kandinsky's work (and some important contemporaries), this past summer. It was an enlightening show - I was totally unaware of his early figural work, and completely charmed by his pieces done in tempera on black paper. 

Of course, there was a gift shop to check out after the exhibit. I try not to buy anything (or at least not spend too much); I could not pass up the cookbook by Elena Makhonko on Russian food. I thought I knew something of their cuisine, but paging through the book I realized I really didn't. 

The first recipe I tried was for Salted Cucumbers, a.k.a. Smedoni, mostly because I had all the ingredients, including an overabundance of cukes. Also, since these are basically refrigerator pickles, it gave me a chance to use one of the really cool antique canning jars from my mom's collection. 

We even had the obscure blackcurrant leaves! A friend gave us a blackcurrent shrub earlier this summer, so I clipped some off for use. The leaves don't match what was in the book, but I double checked that our leaves at least, for sure, come from a blackcurrant. 

I crammed the two quart Atlas jar pretty full. With a new gasket, it was ready to head into the fridge for a couple weeks before trying. 

We tried out the Salted Cucumbers and... very tasty. Obviously a pickle, but lightly vinegary. The dill and garlic are evident, and so is this herby-green-slightly unfamiliar flavor, which must be the blackcurrant. Fine by themselves, there are several recipes in the cookbook that require these as ingredient. So: step 1 done! 

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