Monday, August 27, 2012

Vegan Borscht Feeds the Masses

Remember when I went to Ukraine a few months ago? My mom and I went with the Sister Cities program, and last week some of the people we met in our sister city (Alushta) came to Santa Cruz to visit us! It was so nice to see our pals again!

The folks who were organizing their visit had a big event to welcome them - and wanted to sell traditional Ukrainian foods to raise money for the local Sister Cities Group. There was traditional tea, Ukrainian cookies, blini (little pancakes with sour cream), and ... then they asked me to make a Metric Ton of vegan borscht! I filled my two giant soup pots all the way to the top. This is just a small selection of the beets I chopped that day!

I have been using this recipe for years - it's from Voluptuous Vegan and I love it soooo much. It's one of my favorite meals. Beets, beet greens, onions, cabbage, carrots, white beans, potatoes... it's a hearty and nutritious meal all in one bowl. Plus - just look how beautiful it is!

We were selling samples - one cup for $1. A pretty good deal! I already know how great this soup is, but I was stoked that so many people came back for seconds... 

...but honestly, I had no idea whether it was authentic or not. So, I was nervous when samples of my soup were served to all the delegates from our Sister City (and the Consulate General from Ukraine!) - what if it didn't stand the test?? Well - it did!!! I love this picture my mom took of Galyna (Deputy Mayor of Alushta) telling me how much she loved the borscht (with the help of awesome translator & friend Olga). As you can see, I was so happy! (Also, notice how I wore dark red, so that I wouldn't have to worry about borscht splatters... very sneaky!)

On the last night of their visit, there was a nice farewell dinner (complete with hours of toasts and vodka shots for the fellas - in true Ukrainian style!) We were celebrating the Sister City relationship that has been going on for 25 years, and also Galyna's birthday. When they asked me to make a cake, I knew right away what I would make - a double layer Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Mocha Mousse Filling topped with Chocolate Ganache. This is my favorite combo of 3 recipes from 3 different cookbooks and this cake truly pleases all taste buds. When serving vegan cake to a crowd of 25+ people (none of whom are vegan!), you need a cake that will stand up and represent veganism with honor and deliciousness! I'm happy to say that this good ol' cake did just that and was a big hit.

In case you're wondering, here are my recipes of choice:
Vegan Chocolate Cake - Joy of Cooking (I add 2 Tbsp extra of cocoa powder per batch)
Hazelnut Mocha Mousse - Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World
Chocolate Ganache - Simple Treats (my favorite ganache of all time)

It was great to see our Ukrainian friends again, and also a fun experience to share the good word of delicious vegan food through nutritious soup and naughty chocolate cake!


  1. Oh, this all looks like so much fun! I would have been worried too that the borscht wouldn't pass muster with the delegates, but I'm glad they enjoyed it. You definitely did vegan baketivism proud with your beautiful cake!

  2. Anonymous2:29 PM

    Your hands must've been red for days!

  3. that looks so good! what a smart idea wearing red! i know it if were me i would have had all kinds of stains

  4. Hooray! I love when masses of people have good vegan food experiences. I know too many people who are all, "I ate something vegan once and it was so gross". Gotta represent! Also, that's some mad cake decorating skills, looks great!

  5. I have somehow never made borscht and I love beets so much! I will have to see whether I can borrow voluptuous vegan from someone.
    And very cool that your Ukrainian friends came over, it sounds like such a great program!

  6. Anonymous12:50 PM

    oh that looks amazing! i love beets!


I love comments, they really make my day! Thanks for reading my blog!