Kutia ■CHEF'S CORNER With the weather getting colder, I have a perfect stay-at-home-cooking project for you. This one is a bit more time consuming, but so worth it! This recipe is traditionally created specifically as a Ukrainian Christmas dessert. Because it’s so time consuming, and is so closely associated with Ukrainian Christmas, I only really get to see it during the holiday season. It’s like the pumpkin pie version of Ukrainian desserts. The really unique thing about Kutia is the way it’s served. The tradition is to serve it in a large bowl to the youngest person at the table, usually a child. The child then takes a spoonfull of the Kutia and throws it up to the ceiling. If it stays in tact and sticks to the ceiling without falling down, everyone in the room will have a very successful and profitable year! Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky Executive Chef and Owner of Bear Restaurant 12-14 31st Ave., LIC www.bearnyc.com I www.ChefNatasha.com CHEF NATASHA POGREBINSKY Money if it Sticks! Ingredients for Kutia (Pronounced KooT-Ya): 1 1/2 cups barley 4 1/2 cups of whole milk 3/4 cups poppy seeds 1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup dry cherries 2/3 cup dry apricots, chopped 2/3 cup chopped walnuts 1/8 tsp salt Instructions 1. Rinse the barley in cold water until water runs clear, then transfer to a bowl and soak overnight in lukewarm water, adding enough water to cover 2-inches above the wheat berries. 2. In a medium-sized heavy pot, cover with 4½ cups of milk and bring everything to a boil over high heat. When milk starts to boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid and simmer until barley is tender, 30 minutes to an 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add more milk if needed to keep fully submerged (If you simmer over low heat, you won’t have to add anymore milk). 3. Rinse ¾ cups of poppy seeds thoroughly in a fine mesh sieve, drain well, and transfer to a medium sauce pan and add 3 cups water. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer (Don’t boil). Turn off. Cover with lid and let it sit for 30 minutes. Drain poppy seeds well through a colander or by keeping lid on and placing several layers of cheese cloth over lid to catch stray poppy seeds. Push the poppy seeds through a food grinder, using the fine grinding plate (You can also mill the poppy seeds in batches in a clean coffee grinder). 4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread 2/3 cups of chopped walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 5 minutes. Set them aside and reduce temperature to 325 degrees. 5. Drain off the milk in a glass measuring cup. Keep ½ cup of the cooked milk and discard the rest. Combine ½ cup of honey with ½ cup of saved milk and stir until combined. 6. Place cooked barley in a mixing bowl, add ground poppy seeds, ½ cup raisins, 2/3 cup dry chopped apricots, 2/3 cup walnuts, honeymilk mixture and 1/8 tsp salt. Mix everything together and place in an casserole or pie dish. Bake your kutia for 20 min uncovered at 325 degrees. 7. Remove kutia from the oven, cover with foil and let it rest 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold. The longer it sits, the more flavor it will have. Kutia will last in the fridge for a good two weeks. Great if topped with fresh wipped cream or ice cream.
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