Same story every year: october, summer has gone, it has been raining for weeks, temperatures are about 15°C, winter is still far away. Perfect time to go and collect mushrooms. Ceps, Chanterelles and of corse bay boletes – they are really common all over germany. You just have to go to the forest and pick them up. And here is the problem: every year we are almost to late. Lazy beach boys. Well, this year we finally managed to go to a forest near Hamburg for a couple of hours, to collect some of the last bay boletes of the season.

Back home we were thinking about how to use them. Transforming these very European mushrooms into a latin fungi dish? Use it as a base for a japanese dashi? We are always focused on kitchens and recipes from all over the world, so we decided to go back to our roots and cook something out of our family cookbook. Cozy´s family is from Poland originally and he has always been crazy about the „Uszkas“ („little ears“). These homemade dumplings are originally filled with cooked and minced beef and served in „Barszcz czerwony“ (beetroot soup) or just a classic meat broth. But they can be filled with mushrooms, all kind of meat (lamb, chicken, pork, fish, seafood) or veggies  and served in all kinds of broths and soups as well.  We went for the classic ones: Filled with minced beef and served in the classic beetroot soup and a very intense mushroom soup („zupa grzybowa“).

Soup recipes

Mushroom soup (serves 4-6):
– 100g dried mushrooms (bay boletes or ceps)
– 2 liters of vegetable broth
– 100ml of cream
– 50g butter
– 2 bay leafs
– 4 tablespoon of dried marjoram
– fresh grounded salt & pepper (push it)

The thing is: it takes some effort to collect mushrooms. clean them, cut them into stripes, dry them…if you managed to find some and want to play the whole game: cut the mushrooms into stripes and put them on a baking tray with baking paper. Heat the oven with 60°C and let them dry over night for like 8-12 hours. They will shrink about 75%, all the water will evaporate and you will probably wonder what happened to your rich harvest of these amazing homeboys from the forest, but the flavor will be compressed in these dry leftovers. If you ain´t got time for that – you can buy them dried as well, go for it!
Heat the broth in a big bowl, and add the bay leafs and the mushrooms. Let that simmer for about an hour. The mushrooms take some time to get back all the moisture and to release all the tasty umami to the broth. The longer – the better! Just 10 minutes before you serve them with the Uzskas, put in the cream, butter, marjoram, salt & pepper and stir it till you have a smooth and creamy soup.

Beetroot soup (serves 4-6)
– 500ml beetroot juice
– 2 liters of vegetable broth
– 4 cloves of garlic
– salt & pepper

That one is easy: heat everything up, let it simmer for about 20 minutes – done. Like a good selfmade bolognese this soup tastes the best at day 3.

Dumpling recipes

Filling for the dumplings:

– 750g of beef filet (Tafelspitz)

– 1/2 big white onion

– some carrots, celeriac, parsnip, dried garlic

– 1 table spoon of whole pepper and juniper berries

– 1/2 big white onion minced very fine

– 4 gloves of garlic minced really fine
– 1 organic egg yolk

– salt & pepper

Take a big pot (like 5-8 liters), fill it with water and bring it to boil. Take the half onion and roast it together with the carrots, celeriac, parsnip and garlic in a pan with oil till its brown and soft. Now add it to the big pot, together with the meat, pepper and juniper berries and let everything simmer  for about 2 hours till you have a nice tender and tasteful piece of meat. Roast the minced onion and garlic till its nice and soft and put it together with the meat into a mincer. What comes out should be a ruff mix of meat, onions and garlic that looks like a perfect base for an epic bolognese. Let it cool down to room temperature, then add the egg yolk to give the mixture some bond.

Dough for the dumplings:

– 300g wheat flour (type 405)

– 125ml water (room temperature)

– 75ml vegetable oil

– 1 organic egg

– 1 tea spoon salt

Just mix everything together till you have a smooth and homogenic dough. It´s not that hard. Put it in a box, cover it with a towel and let it chill for about an hour.

Finishing time! Unroll small portions of the dough really thin (2mm) and cut out some circles with a glas. The smaller – the better, although that means a bit more sensitivity in the next step. Take a circle, put some of the filling into the middle and fold it once, then connect the endings. It´s not that hard, but you might need some friends for the rest 😉 Stir up water, cook them in small portions till they swim at the surface. They need about 3-5 minutes, depending on the size. Put them into a bowl or a deep plate, cover them with the broth of your choice – and enjoy! Vodka always goes well with that dish – especially for the prepping part. Have fun!