Esther Bargen’s Bubbat

For at least forty years I have been putting off making bubbat, a Mennonite dish that combines meat and bread dough for an inexpensive dinner. Jerri’s family did not make it, so neither of us knew what to expect when I finally found the courage to try it. We bought a pound of Farmer’s Sausage at Louie’s Finer Meats on our way to the cabin, and I baked our first bubbat to accompany a turkey vegetable soup made with leftovers from our Thanksgiving dinner.

Our judgments were mixed. We agreed that bubbat was edible and rather attractive, but we also agreed that it would probably not become one of our favorite foods. When I researched bubbat on the Internet, I found some recipes that tell the baker to chop the sausage into small pieces and mix them into the dough. Others call for raisins instead of sausage. Both suggestions appeal to me. Since one version of raisin bubbat includes a cup of whipping cream to enrich the dough, I think that I’ll try that one first.

Raisin bubbat is a side dish served with meat, often roast chicken or turkey, while Esther Bargen’s bubbat is a main dish. This recipe comes from the Mennonite Community Cookbook by Mary Emma Showalter. According to the cookbook, bubbat is “A Favorite of the Russian Mennonites.” Mrs. Bargen was married to Bernhard Bargen, who was an associate professor of economics at Bethel College and the first manager of the Mennonite Press in North Newton, Kansas.

I am sure that Mrs. Bargen cooked many popular Mennonite dishes, one of which was undoubtedly her bubbat. She probably learned how to make it by watching her mother. Here is her recipe. I substituted active dry yeast for cake yeast and reduced the amount of salt.

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/4 tsp. yeast
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tsp. salt
3 T granulated sugar
1 lb. Farmer’s Sausage
3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour

PROCEDURE:

Warm the milk until it is steaming, then let it cool to lukewarm (105 – 110º F). Let the egg come to room temperature while the milk is cooling. Stir the sugar and yeast into the warm milk and allow it to proof for three or four minutes. When you see bubbles forming on the milk, beat the egg until it is lemon colored and, using a wooden spoon, stir it into the milk along with a cup of flour. Stir until you have a smooth batter.

Stir in more flour a half cup at a time until you have a batter that you can just stir with the spoon. You will have the right consistency when the batter begins to come away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow the batter to rise in a warm location until it has doubled in volume.

Cut the sausage into pieces about three inches long and grease a nine by thirteen-inch baking pan while the batter is rising.

When the batter has risen, spread it evenly in the pan with a spatula and press the pieces of sausage into the batter at two to three-inch intervals. Bubbat ready for the ovenCover the pan and let the dough rise until it has nearly covered the sausages.

Preheat the oven to 350º while the dough is rising in the pan. Put the pan on a center shelf and bake thirty-five to forty-five minutes or until the dough is nicely browned.

Take the pan from the oven, cut the bubbat into twelve pieces and serve immediately. Leftovers should be warmed before serving.

This recipe makes four to six servings.

NOTES: Mrs. Bargen’s recipe says to bake at 375 or 400º for about forty-five minutes, but 350º works better. Like most vintage recipes, this one almost certainly assumes you will use whole milk. If you don’t have whole milk in your refrigerator, melt a tablespoon of butter in the hot milk.

Farmers sausage is a mild smoked sausage seasoned mainly with salt and pepper. You can use any smoked sausage you enjoy for your bubbat.

Linguine With Summer Peppers and Sausage

Every cabin should have a stack of old food magazines.  They’re perfect reading for those days when you are trapped by bad weather miles from shopping malls, movie theaters and sidewalks.

Food magazines don’t have news stories, political cartoons, investment advice columns or movie reviews.  They do have ads, photos, advice columns and an occasional editorial.  And of course they have lots of recipes.

Our collection of old  Bon Appetite and Cuisine magazines includes issues from the 1980’s and 90’s.  They are filled with things I didn’t know.  For instance, in the July-August 1981 edition of Cuisine there’s an ad for a zucchini cookbook.  I can only think that the author must have planted ten hills of zucchini and was desperately trying to find ways to justify the mistake.

Letters to the editor in the same issue are relevant today.  From one writer I learned, for instance, that one of my favorite wines, Gewürztraminer, goes well with Indian cuisine.  I wish I had known this two years ago when there was a case price special on that wonderful wine at the local store.

The editorial in the August 1995 issue of Bon Appetite is a a philosophical essay. Among other matters “The Real Dirt on Gardens” addresses the question of whether “leisure activity” is an oxymoron.  The editor’s conclusion is that “Leisure is leisure and activity is activity and never the twain shall meet.  Not on my sofa, anyway.”  Clear, concise and accurate.

My wife was ignoring me and reading this issue while lying on the bed in front of our newly installed room air conditioner when she announced that she had found a recipe that looked good to her.  In the newly cooled air of the bedroom I first learned about “Linguine with Summer Peppers and Sausage,” one of the recipes in the “30 Minute Main Courses” article from long ago.

All I will say is, “It’s delicious!”

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. mild or sweet Italian sausage
2 large bell peppers, preferably red and green
1 medium onion (3 to 4 inches)
1 large clove garlic
1 cup dry white wine (sauvignon blanc works well)
1 lb. linguine
Salt for the linguine cooking water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more to pass

PROCEDURE:

First begin heating three to four quarts of water in a large pot.  Peel and thinly  slice the onion .  Then wash the peppers.  Remove the stem, seeds and white membrane and chop the peppers into half inch pieces.   Remove the paper from the garlic clove and mince it.

Sauté the sausage in a large skillet until it is lightly browned.  Break the sausage into bite-sized pieces as it is browning.  Depending on your sausage, either drain the meat or add a little oil.  You should have about a tablespoon of oil in the pan.  Add the onion, garlic and peppers and sauté until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Add the wine and simmer until the wine is slightly reduced, about six or seven minutes.

While the meat and peppers are simmering, cook the linguine al dente, following the directions on the pasta package.  Drain the pasta and mix it with the sausage and peppers.  Stir in the parmesan cheese.  Add a little salt and pepper and taste.  Adjust as necessary.

Serve with salad and bread for a wonderful but simple dinner.  Pass the parmesan so guests can add more if they wish.

NOTES:  Any sweet summer peppers can be used.  You should have two to three cups of chopped peppers.  Chardonnay can be substituted for the sauvignon blanc.