I know I’ve been silent for a long time, but I’ve been working head down on The Goulash Archipelago, and with over 300 pictures and 65 recipes calling for approximately 200 different ingredients, there sure was a lot to do! I’m happy to report that the editing of both text and images is now pretty much complete, which means I should have more time for the blog again. To start, here’s a Ukrainian recipe that will be featured in the book’s introduction.
Horseradish vodka, called khrinovukha, is a Ukrainian classic. It sounds like a scary association: horseradish alone isn’t to everyone’s taste, and when mixed with alcohol, it can quickly become vile. To balance the pungency of this tuber most emblematic of Eastern Europe, people often supplement the tincture with sugar, honey, ginger, pepper, garlic, or lemon peel. I stick to just honey and lemon, but I caramelize the horseradish in a pressure cooker. You’ll see, the result is so mellow that you’d almost want to have a shot for breakfast.
Recent events could provide us with plenty of ideas for a toast: to our next visit to a free Ukraine; to the day when Russia is rid of Vladimir Putin… But the seasoned Homo Sovieticus doesn’t drink to the future. So let’s keep it simple: the Ukrainian toast, bud’mo, simply means “let’s be.”
Yields about 1 pint
Total preparation: 8 days
Active preparation: 15 minutes
30 g orange blossom honey
10 g warm water
40 g peeled fresh horseradish, in one piece
4 g lemon zest, cut into strips
400 g vodka (40% alcohol)
- Combine the honey and water in a 120 ml / 4 fl. oz Mason jar and add the horseradish. Seal with a lid, then unscrew the lid by a 1/4 turn. Place a wire rack in a pressure cooker filled with about 1 cm of water, and place the jar on the rack. Cover and bring to pressure over high heat, reduce the heat, and cook for 45 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before releasing the pressure.
- Take the horseradish out of the jar and cut it into medium dice. Add to a pint-sized Mason jar, then add the honey liquid, the lemon zest, and the vodka, in that order. Seal with a lid, shake well, then infuse at room temperature away from sunlight for 5 days.
- Pass the infused vodka through a chinois. If you want a perfectly clear spirit, pass it again through a 100-micrometer filter. Return to a clear Mason jar and let rest for another 3 days, still at room temperature away from sunlight.
- Keep in the refrigerator and serve chilled.