Cucumbers, sour cream and dill

Marissa     Eats and Drinks         0    

While searching for recipes to try out for our online cookbook, I came across three fairly similar ones in the Time Life Foods of the World cookbook series. They are all variations of cucumbers in a sour cream and dill sauce. What to do with these three recipes? Taste test of course!

The three recipes come from Poland, the Baltic States and Germany. While I expected similarities with the English names of the dishes being practically identical, each recipe is quite unique.  One of the ‘joys’ of growing and selling produce is that you get to all the ugly and misshapen vegetables. So I grabbed 6 pounds of cucumbers that had gotten caught in the chicken wire trellis, got a little too bloated or just grew in a funny way.  Then I started on the adventure of finding the best cucumber in sour-cream-and-dill sauce recipe published in the Foods of the World cookbooks.

The Polish recipe, the simplest one, had me peeling, deseeding and slicing the cucumbers paper-thin before salting and allowing to drain for 30 minutes. After that I squeezed all the moisture out I could and dried them thoroughly with kitchen towels and combined the remaining ingredients (sour cream, vinegar, sugar and dill) for the sauce before mixing it all together and putting in the fridge to chill for several hours.

Meanwhile, I got to work on the Baltic recipe – also peeling and deseeding but cutting into 1/2″ pieces. These were marinated in salt and vinegar for 30 minutes before draining and patting dry with towels. This sauce was much more complicated – hard boiled egg yolk, mustard, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, pepper and dill. The egg whites were also sliced thinly and added to the cucumbers. I put this together and also stored it in the fridge while the last dish was being finished.

The German recipe was by far the most complicated, though still an easy preparation. Just like the others, the cucumbers were peeled and deseeded and this time left in large 1″ chunks. I had help from one of our WWOOFers Mary while doing all of this peeling and chopping. There was a typical farm scene going on in the house that day – we were processing piles of vegetables while some other weird activity was occurring at the table. This weekend, it was an experiment to see whether or not you could discern the skeletons of the diatoms that make up diatomaceous earth.

As it turns out, our microscope isn’t powerful enough. Anyway, after the cucumbers were sliced, these two were salted and drained for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I heated butter in a large skillet and sauteed some onions and then made a white sauce in the pan with added flour, milk and sour cream. Once the sauce was thickened, I added the cucumbers and stewed them for about 15 minutes until they were tender. Finally, I added parsley and dill.

With the three dishes complete, I took them out to the harvest house for the crew to try. I had meant to have it all done before the evening work session started, but I missed the mark by about 30 minutes. But I’m sure no one minded the interruption! We all dug in to each dish. I was really surprised how different they were. The simple Polish one was far too salty – something that could easily be remedied upon making it again. But it was rather lack luster. The Baltic dish – the one with the egg yolks and mustard – had a very summery, potato salad sort of taste. It was quite good. But the winner of the majority of the votes was the stewed German dish. I honestly thought that the cooked cucumbers would turn everyone off since it is simply not the way we usually enjoy that vegetable. But it had a rich creamy flavor that was perfectly balanced by the delicate flavor and texture of the cucumbers. So with no question, that recipe has won its spot in our cookbook – Stewed Cucumbers with Sour Cream and Dill.

(left to right: Polish, German, Baltic)