Golden Beet Borscht + Smeared Chicken Breast

Welcome to another episode of Cooking from my Cookbooks! Yay! I have already consolidated my collection of cookbooks down by two. One was a tiny nutrition/diet book with recipes from a chiropractic office I used to work at. There’s barely any photos in it and the ones that are there are black-and-white and the recipes are not appealing, so byeee. And I’m also getting rid of a Hungry Girl cookbook which was one of the very first cookbooks I ever bought for myself. I got it in high school when I was obsessed with my weight and tried to make every thing I ate add up to as few calories as possible. Those days are behind me (tryna make them muscle gainzzz now) so I don’t really have a need for this book. Plus I was looking through it and so many of the recipes called for at least one processed ingredient, with the goal of keeping the calories low. My goal now is to eat mostly whole foods and minimize processed foods as much as possible. I know I am typing this as I put another Thin Mint in my mouth and savor the cold chocolately minty-ness, because frozen Thin Mints are the best, am I right or am I right? Moderation is key, and come on, it’s for the Girl Scouts. 😉 If I didn’t eat the whole box in like two days every time, I would make something epic like these recipes using Girl Scout Cookies. Anyways…

Today I made Golden Beet Borscht from The Good Cook’s Book of Oil and Vinegar by Michele Anna Jordan. This book has been sitting on my shelf forever and I have no clue where it came from. I was considering giving it away, but after looking through it’s plethora of unique recipes, I think this one’s a keeper.
This book is so handy when you have a bottle of some random oil or vinegar you want to use that’s been in your fridge for a while. You know, the one you needed for that one recipe that one time. You can simply turn to the index and viola! A delicious use for that bottle of sherry vinegar that I have no idea what to do with. Until now. Borsht. Boom.
Spoiler alert – it tastes absolutely delicious and I would make it again. However, the next time I make it, I’m sure it will taste different because I missed about half a dozen steps throughout the recipe. lol. I’m still learning, ok? At least I haven’t made myself sick from my own cooking in like a month now – woo!

This soup is delicious! The sherry vinegar really elevates this soup because you can taste all the players – the potato, the carrot, the beets, the onion. The ginger sings through with a brightness and the yogurt topping (I used labneh because it’s easier for me to digest) is so yummy! The cool crunchiness compliments the warm sweetness of the soup. Four-out-of-four stars 🙂

Golden Beet Borsht
Elaborated from The Good Cook’s Book of Oil and Vinegar by Michele Jordan

what

– 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus some for roasting the beets
– 1 yellow onion, diced
– 1 small carrot, diced
– 1 medium russet potato, diced
– Kosher salt & black pepper in a mill
– 1 tsp minced ginger
– 1 tsp ground cumin
– 3 cups chicken or beef stock
– 1 lb golden beets, roasted until tender, peeled and diced
– 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
– 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– 3 Tbsp snipped chives
– 8 oz plain whole milk yogurt
(or labneh)
– 1 tsp whole cumin seeds, lightly toasted
– whole chives for garnish

how

– Preheat the oven to 400 F.
– Peel the beets and cut into one-inch chunks. Toss the beets in olive oil, salt and pepper and lay in a single lay on a baking sheet. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.
– Meanwhile, heat the olive oil on medium-low heat. Add diced onions and saute until soft and fragrant ~ 15 min.
– Add the diced carrot and potato, season with salt and cook for ~ 5 min.
– Add several turns of black pepper, ginger and ground cumin.
– Pour in the stock and simmer for ~ 15 min, until the potatoes are almost tender.
– Add the roasted beets and vinegar and simmer for another ~ 15 min.
– Meanwhile, put the minced cucumber into a colander, toss with salt and let drain for ~ 20 min. Squeeze out excess liquid and pour cucumbers into a small bowl.
– Add the garlic, snipped chives and yogurt (or labneh) to the cucumbers and mix. Add salt and pepper as needed.
– Remove the soup from the heat & blend with an immersion blender.
– Serve: ladle soup into a bowl, top with a dollop of the yogurt and sprinkle cumin seeds and whole chives on top. Enjoy!

I was ambitious and I also made this Simple Smeared Chicken Breast from You Suck at Cooking. My sister & mom got me this cookbook for Christmas as like a 20% joke and 80% you seriously need this right now sort of gift. I’m so grateful for it because the recipes simple and the author is hilarious. If you haven’t watched any of his cooking videos, you have to check out his YouTube channel. I promise you’ll laugh. It might be his sarcasm. It might be his absurdity of taking recipes steps literal or to the extreme. It might be the random historical facts. But something in each video will get you to spill out a good, hearty laugh.
This particular chicken recipe was chosen because it has the word “simple” in it, and that’s the type of chicken recipe I need right now in my life. It calls for either whole-grain mustard or hummus, and since I had mustard in my fridge, mustard is what was smeared on the chicken. However, I wasn’t a fan of the crunchy texture it created on the chicken. Crunchy chicken reminds me of food-poisoning-inducing chicken. Overall, these chicken breasts won’t win a beauty contest with brown mustard seeds all over them, but they are pretty tasty. The chicken was super juicy on the inside, since the smear locked in the moisture. Make sure you season with enough salt and pepper on these bad boys. And enjoy 🙂

Simple Smeared Chicken Breast
from You Suck at Cooking by You Suck at Cooking

what

– 2 (5-oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts
*this recipe works best with chicken breasts under 1-inch thick.
– Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
– 2 Tbsp whole-grain mustard or 3 Tbsp hummus

how

– Place the chicken on a baking sheet and season with salt & pepper on both sides. Smear the chicken with the mustard or hummus. Marinate for ~ 40 min.
– Preheat the oven to 400 F.
– Bake the chicken breasts for ~ 20 min, or until the thickest part is 165 F.
(I only bake chicken using an instant-read thermometer now, due to my experiences with under-cooked fiascoes and over-cooked jerky.)
– Let cool ~ 10 min before serving.

Look at how beautiful the sky was today! This lasted about 30 minutes and then the clouds rolled back in -_-

If you’re still here reading, I’m going to try my best to give you a good laugh. Because I am still trying very hard to learn how to cook. But I’m not trying hard enough apparently because I didn’t quite follow that borscht recipe. Surprisingly, it still turned out good. I don’t know if that means my culinary skills are improving, or that this recipe is just really resilient to my mishaps.
1. I used baby carrots instead of 1 small carrot. No big deal I think.
2. I used tube ginger instead of fresh ginger. I think that’s also no biggie.
3. Somehow, I just read “golden beets” and chose not to continue reading “roasted until tender,” but I still got the part that said “peeled and diced” after that. How? I don’t know. Selective reading, perhaps. Irregardless, even though I didn’t roast the beets, it turned out good. No wonder the beets were so difficult to blend though. Which brings us to the next recipe “divergence”.
4. My soup was a bit more… rustic. I think the soup was intended to be very well blended – the book even uses the adjective “suave”. There are a lot of chunks of carrot and beet in mine. The texture is mostly soupy, so I’m good with it.
5. My cucumbers are more diced than minced. But I’m so proud of myself for remembering to remove the seeds from them, so I’m not even bothered by it.
6. My sensitive tummy doesn’t tolerate raw garlic well, so I used garlic powder in the yogurt topping. THIS one was a purposeful, intentional decision.
7. I used labneh instead of yogurt, again for the sake of my tummy. It turned out delicious, and I highly recommend it 🙂
8. That whole toasting the cumin seeds thing completely slipped my brain. I’m sure it would have tasted a lot more cumin-y. Next time… lol

Overall, a culinary success on my journey of learning how to successfully feed myself!

Published by strawberryandcream

Hello! I am on an epic adventure to learn how to cook and bake. So far I have only given myself food poisoning twice and made myself sick about a half a dozen other times. I am notorious for making poor substitutions, being clumsy in the kitchen & getting sent to the ER, and creating food that just looks downright nasty. But alas! I will prevail and learn how to master the art of feeding myself! :)

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