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A Dinner in Honor of Longtime Food52-er Kukla

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Over the holiday weekend, we received some sad news in our editors' inbox: The grandson of one of our longtime community members, Kukla, wrote to tell us that she passed away at the end of October.

Photo by Kukla

"Food52 brought joy to my grandmother every day since she began there," her grandson wrote us. "From what I understand, her recipes were well received, and she even won a few site-wide contests."

That's an understatement: In the more than 4 1/2 years that Kukla was a member of the Food52 community, she won 4 contests, and her recipes were recognized as Community Picks 25 times. She uploaded a whopping 282 recipes to the site (psst: That's more than Amanda Hesser or Merrill Stubbs).

Kukla's Georgian Khachapuri
Kukla's Georgian Khachapuri Photo by James Ransom

Kukla's recipes were hugely well received with the rest of the Food52 community, too: Enthusiastic notes from other cooks fill the comment sections of her recipes—and Kukla would answer nearly all of them, wishing them the best, thanking them for cooking from her recipes, and often offering helpful tips. (Just look at the exchanges on her recipe for Lemon-Ricotta Bars.)

She wrote often in her contest winner Q&As about finding culinary inspiration in the cooking of her mother and aunt, and reflectively, her recipes often celebrated her Eastern European heritage. She introduced us to the herb-stuffed Azerbaijani pancakes called Kutabi; the garlicky hand-formed sausages Mititei; and to Shalotta, a pickled lettuce condiment that quickly won us all over (and taught us that you can pickle lettuce!).

To celebrate Kukla, who, wrote her grandson, found great happiness in the Food52 community, here's a feast of some of her recipes. So that we may be continued to be inspired by her:

Smoked Salmon on Mustard-Chive and Dill Butter Toasts

Smoked Salmon on Mustard-Chive and Dill Butter Toasts

Kukla Kukla
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Serves makes 20:
  • 10 ounces of the best quality smoked salmon in medium-thin slices (Norwegian or Wild Alaskan)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped chives or green onions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 thin, long French baguette, cut into 1/4-inch slices
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Shalotta, Mom's Pickled Lettuce Condiment

Shalotta, Mom's Pickled Lettuce Condiment

Kukla Kukla
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Makes 1 quart
  • 2 large bunches Green Leaf or 2 medium heads Iceberg lettuce, washed and dried
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium bunch fresh dill, thick stems removed and fronds roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, tart cherries, or raisins
  • 1 cup boiled warm water
  • 1/2 cup red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or your favorite hot chile pepper, finely diced
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Spiced Shrimp in Lemon-Ginger Sauce

Spiced Shrimp in Lemon-Ginger Sauce

Kukla Kukla
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Serves 4

For the Spiced Shrimp

  • 1 pound large raw shrimp, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 whole green onions, sliced in half
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 cups water

For the Lemon-Ginger Sauce

  • 2 large lemons, zested, white pith and seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 inch of peeled ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup shrimp stock, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Fresh herbs, chopped, for garnish
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Kutabi, Azerbaijani Savory Pancakes Filled with Greens and Herbs

Kutabi, Azerbaijani Savory Pancakes Filled with Greens and Herbs

Kukla Kukla
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Serves 6 to 8

For the dough

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + more for kneading and rolling
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive or sunflower oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons warm water

For the filling

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 medium bunch (about 7-8) green onions
  • 1 medium bunch (about 6) green garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter for sautéing, plus more melted butter for the tops
  • 1 medium bunch fresh sorrel, thinly chopped
  • 1 medium bunch of fresh dill
  • 1 medium bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 medium bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 fresh serrano pepper, seeded and diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
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Crunchy Celery, Radish and Turnip Salad-Slaw in Blue Cheese Sauce

Crunchy Celery, Radish and Turnip Salad-Slaw in Blue Cheese Sauce

Kukla Kukla
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Serves 4 to 6
  • • 1/2 head celery (about 6-7 stalks), peeled and thinly sliced, leaves picked and reserved
  • • 1 bunch radishes, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
  • • 1 bunch young turnips, ends trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
  • • 5 spring onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • • 1/2 cup fresh flat leave parsley, chopped
  • For the sauce:
  • • 3 tablespoons Gorgonzola Dolce blue cheese, room temperature
  • • 2 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
  • • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice plus 2 teaspoons zest
  • • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • • 10 grinds black pepper
  • • 2 teaspoons sugar
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Herbed Chicken Thighs Roasted in a Paper Bag

Herbed Chicken Thighs Roasted in a Paper Bag

Kukla Kukla
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Serves 8
  • • 8 large free ranch chicken thighs
  • • 6 garlic cloves
  • • 3/4 cup mixed fresh herb leaves (such as thyme, sage, rosemary)
  • • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • • 2 tablespoons fine red wine vinegar
  • • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • • 1/2 cup good dry white wine for the baking dish
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Georgian Khachapuri Filled with Ramps, Green Onions, Herbs, and Cheese

Georgian Khachapuri Filled with Ramps, Green Onions, Herbs, and Cheese

Kukla Kukla
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Makes 4 (7-inches in diameter) or 8 (4- by 4-inches square) pies

For the dough:

  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 ounce active dry yeast
  • 1 cup hot water (about 120º F)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta, drained (a soft goat cheese also works)
  • 1/2 cup Havarti cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup good quality feta cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for frying and brushing the tops
  • 1/4 ground coriander seeds
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 5 whole ramps (bulb and leaves), washed, dried of excess water, thinly chopped (when not in season, use spinach)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 4 large eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk
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Lemon-Ricotta Bars

Lemon-Ricotta Bars

Kukla Kukla
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Makes 18 (2-inch) squares

For the crust

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1-inch pieces, slightly softened plus extra for greasing pan

For the lemon-ricotta filling

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) fresh whole milk ricotta, drained
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice from 3 to 4 large lemons, strained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
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