I would like to continue educating our readers on Russian cuisine and its unique dishes.
Russian cuisine provided the ingredients for a plethora of is so diverse, as Russia is by area the largest country in the world and the coutry that takes the second place is only 1/3 of Russia's land. Russian cuisine derives its varied character from the vast and multi-cultural expanse of Russia. Its foundations were laid by the peasant heathy and seasonal food of the rural population in an often harsh climate, with a combination of plentiful fish, poultry, game, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, barley, and milletbreads, pancakes, cereals, beer, and vodka. Soups and stews are usually full of flavour and take a central part in Russian cuisine, Main meal does not start without soup (pervoe). This wholly native food remained the staple for the vast majority of Russians well into the 20th century.
Russia's great expansions of culture, influence, and interest during the 16th–18th centuries brought more refined foods and culinary techniques, as well as one of the most refined food countries in the world. It was during this period that smoked meats and fish, pastry cooking, salads and green vegetables, chocolate, ice cream, wines, and juice were imported from abroad. At least for the urban aristocracy and provincial gentry, this opened the doors for the creative integration of these new foodstuffs with traditional Russian dishes. It did not bring health along with the above though but the result is extremely varied in technique, seasoning, and combination culinary.
As the season is getting hotter and hotter I though we'd better start with variety of cold soups.
Soups have always played an important role in the Russian meal. The traditional staple of soups such as borscht (борщ), shchi (щи), ukha (уха́), rassolnik (рассо́льник), solyanka (соля́нка), botvinya (ботви́нья), okroshka (окро́шка), and tyurya (тю́ря) was enlarged in the 18th to 20th centuries by both European and Central Asian staples like clear soups, pureed soups, stews, and many others.Let's cook
Okroshka belongs to so called chilled soups usually based on kvass or kefir (butter milk).
Okroshka is also a salad. The main ingredients are two types of
vegetables that can be mixed with cold boiled meat or fish in a 1:1
proportion . Thus vegetable, meat, and fish varieties of okroshka are
made. There are typically two types of vegetables in okroshka. The first
must have a neutral taste, such as boiled potatoes, turnips, rutabagas,
carrots, or fresh cucumbers. The second must be spicy, consisting of
mainly green onion as well as other herbs—greens of dill, parsley,
chervil, celery, or tarragon. Different meat and poultry can be used in
the same soup. The most common ingredient is beef alone or with
poultry. If it is made with fish, the best choice would be tench,
European perch, pike-perch, cod, or other neutral-tasting fish.
The kvass most commonly used in cooking is white okroshka kvass, which
is much more sour than drinking kvass. Kvass is also very sweet.
Spices used include mustard, black pepper and pickled cucumber
(specifically, the liquid from the pickles), solely or in combination.
For the final touch, boiled eggs and smetana (a heavy sour cream,
similar to crème fraîche) are added.
For sour milk based okroshka, well shaken up natural sour milk(often
with the addition of seed oil) is used with the addition of pure water
and ground garlic. Sometimes manufactured kefir is used instead of
natural sour milk for time saving reasons, though some say it detracts
from the original taste of okroshka.
The soup is also found in Ukraine. The name probably originates from "kroshit'" (крошить), which means to crumble into small pieces.
Okroshka is mostly served in summer because the soup combines the refreshing taste of kvass and the lightness of a salad. Salt and sugar can be added according to taste.
Okroshka is always served cold. Sometimes ice cubes are added to served portions to keep the soup cold in hot weather.
This reference on cooking intrsuction by my favourite Russian Master Chef who had a deep knowledge in food and its intelligence, William Poknlyobkin is in Russian but the page can be traslated through a common page translator.
Ingredients for Okroshka: 8 cups kvas or kefir
1/3 cup sour cream 1/2 tbsp vinegar 1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons chopped dill (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup green onion, finely chopped
300gm of mortadella ham or better cold beef or cold chicken breast diced
4 medium cooked potatoes, peeled and diced
3 hard-boiled eggs, diced
3-4 cucumbers, diced
How to Make Russian Okroshka: 1. Boil potatoes for 20-25 minutes until you can pierce them smoothly with a knife. Don’t overcook or they will fall apart in the soup 2. Cool potatoes and eggs in cold water. 3. Peel potatoes, eggs, cucumbers and bologna, dice then all. 4. In a large bowl or soup pot, mix together kvas / kefir (butter cream) and salt to taste Stir in Chopped dill and green onion. 5. Add in all the rest of the diced ingredients. Stir and serve. Easy and healthy meal!
Various minced meat dishes were adopted from other cuisines and became popular only in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; for traditional Russian cuisine they are not typical.
(cotelettes, meatballs), a Western European dish popular in modern Russian households, are small pan-fried meat balls, not dissimilar from Salisbury steak and other such dishes. Made primarily from pork and beef (sometimes also from chicken or fish), they are easily made and require little time. Ground beef, pork, onions and bread are put in a bowl and mixed thoroughly until it becomes relatively consistent. Once this effect is achieved, balls are formed and then put into a hot frying pan to cook.
1 kg mince (mixture of lamb / beef / pork)
1 small brown onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2-3 slices of bread soaked in little milk
Dry breadcrumbs, to coat the cutlets
1/2 kg ripe tomatoes or 1 can chopped tomato tin
1 cup water
1 tbsp oil
1 small brown onion, chopped
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
are thin pancakes made with yeasted batter which are often served in
connection with a religious rite or festival. The word "blin" (singular
of blini) comes from Old Slavic "mlin", which means "to mill". Blins had
a somewhat ritual significance for early Slavic peoples in
pre-Christian times since they were a symbol of the sun, due to their
round form. They were traditionally prepared at the end of the winter to
honor the rebirth of the new sun during Maslenitsa
(Масленица, Butter Week; also known as Pancake Week). This tradition
was adopted by the Orthodox Church and is carried on to the present day,
as the last week of dairy and egg products before Lent. Bliny are still
often served at wakes, to commemorate the recently deceased. Blini can
be made from wheat, buckwheat, or other grains, although wheat blini are
most popular in Russia. They may be topped with butter, smetana (sour cream), fruit preserves or caviar. The word "blin" is also often used as a soft curse word, expressing frustration.
The word "Blin" comes from Old Slavic mlinъ, (cf. млинець (mlynets’), Ukrainian for blin).
Blins or blini were symbolically considered by early Slavic peoples in pre-Christian times as a symbol of the sun, due to their round form. They were traditionally prepared at the end of winter to honor the rebirth of the new sun (Butter Week, or Maslenitsa, also called "pancake week"). This tradition was adopted by the Orthodox church and is carried on to the present day. Blini were also served at wakes to commemorate the recently deceased.
Traditional Russian blini are made with yeasted batter, which is left to rise and then diluted with cold or boiling water or milk. When diluted with boiling water, they are referred to as zavarniye blini. The blini are then baked in a traditional Russian oven. The process of cooking blini is still referred to as baking in Russian, even though these days they are almost universally pan-fried, like pancakes. French crêpes made from unyeasted batter (usually made of flour, milk, and eggs) are also not uncommon in Russia, where they are called blinchiki and are considered to be an imported dish. All kinds of flour may be used for making blini: from wheat and buckwheat to oatmeal and millet, although wheat is currently the most popular.
Blintzes were popularized in the United States by Jewish immigrants who used them in Jewish cuisine. While not part of any specific religious rite in Judaism, blintzes that are stuffed with a cheese filling and then fried in oil are served on holidays such as Chanukah (as oil played a pivotal role in the miracle of the Chanukah story) and Shavuot (when dairy dishes are traditionally served within the Ashkenazi minhag).
Maslenitsa is a Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian Holiday, which is celebrated this year from February 20 to February 26. In Slavic mythology, it is a Sun Festival, celebrating the end of winter. The characteristic food of Maslenitsa is Blini (pancakes or crepes). Blini symbolizes the Sun as they are round and golden in color. Maslenitsa has many celebrating traditions during its week, like snowball fights, sledding, and dancing. It is a great fun holiday for the kids. The last day of the holiday is considered to be the "Forgiveness Sunday". Russians prostrate one another and ask for forgiveness, and also ask for forgiveness from God.
You will need 1 Cup of Milk (Whole or 2%)
1 Cup of White Flour (preferably unbleached)
2 Large Eggs
1 Heaping Teaspoon of Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
Take a medium size bowl and mix all the flour with 1/2 Cup of milk. Mix it well to eliminate all the lumps.In a separate container, mix 2 eggs, all the salt and sugar, with the rest of the milk.Combine your 2 mixes together and do another quick round of mixing. Gotta love that mixing. Set your mixture aside for about 1-2 hours and go read a few chapters of "Master and Margarita" and let the mixture stand for 1-2 hours as it guarantees better results.Heat up your frying pan with a bit of butter (I use olive oil as butter burn too quickly). Use small or medium frying pan, which will control the size of your blinys. Take a full kitchen spoon of your mixture and pour it in the middle of the frying pan. Then, tilt your frying pan in a circular motion to make the mixture spread around to form a circle. Fry your mixture on one side until it turns golden. Just keep checking it with spatula. Once one side is ready, flip it over and do the same. It is very easy to do - my son learnt it from his grandmother, my mom via phone. Your blin has to be thin. We have a saying "First Blin will always turn into a wodge". You will learn to adjust the amount of mixture you need after 1-3 tries. You need to add a little bit of butter after each blin, or add some if I see that they start to burn quickly.Stack them up on top of each other. You can even add a little bit of butter in between to prevent them from sticking.
TOPPINGS There are lots and lots of toppings you can enjoy your Blini with. If you want to go traditional, here are some of the ideas.
Red Caviar (or Black if you are rick enough)
Jam or fresh berries (Strawberry, Raspberry, etc.)
Cottage or Farmers Cheese
Thinly sliced salmon or ham and mince
Some ways blintzes/blinis are prepared and served include: The batter may contain various additions, such as grated potato or apple and raisins.These blini are quite common in Eastern Europe, and are more solidly filled than the spongy pancakes usually eaten in North America.
They may be covered with butter, sour cream, jam, honey, or caviar (whitefish, salmon, or traditional sturgeon caviar, although the latter is not kosher and therefore not used in Jewish cuisine) and then they might be folded or rolled into a tube. In rolled form, they are similar to French crêpes. The caviar filling is popular during Russian-style cocktail parties.
A filling such as jam, fruit, potato, cottage cheese or farmer cheese, cooked ground meat, cooked chicken, and even chopped mushrooms, bean sprouts, cabbage, and onions (for a Chinese eggroll-type blintz) is rolled or enveloped into a pre-fried blintz and then the blintz is lightly re-fried, sautéed, or baked. Such blintzes are also called nalysnyky (Ukrainian: налисники) or blinchiki (Russian: блинчики).
Blintzes are the traditional meal in Lithuania during Lent.
Buckwheat blini are part of traditional Russian cuisine.They are also widespread in Ukraine, where they are known as hrechanyky (Ukrainian: гречаники), and Lithuania's Dzūkija region, the only region in the country where buckwheat is grown, where they are called Grikių blynai.
Although I adore Russian cuisine it is always nice to surprise your friends with something different when you decorate your table for X-mas. This is what we did (Japanese theme and sushi). On the menu: sushi and inari varieties; salads: garden salad with rainbow trout decorated with pink, white and red rose petals and enoki mushroom tiny elegant cups; lettuce salad with black calamata olives and small curry beans balls decorated with european jasmine fragrant flowers and goat yellow cheese; spinach, tomatoes, strawberries and cucumbers salad decorated with geranium purple flowers. Very light and refreshing meal on a hot day. We hope you will enjoy your holidays!
There is some home made jam: strawberry, brown sugar and good quality champagne NEW:
photos from Masha M: Entre: oysters, prawns with garlic and herbs, red caviar Main: Trout whole fish backed stuffed with dill, lemon, herbs and garlic Side: fennel and apple salad; king oyster and other variety of mushrooms cooked with herbs, capsicum and mini-tomatoes; wild black rice, pumpkin, red capsicum and leek cooked with herbs to perfection Desert: flour-less chocolate cake from Thomas Dux, assorted French cheeses served with figs and pomegranates, Vanilla ice cream with Port and sweet Cherry Liqueur Plus cheese platter of selective French cheeses decorated with figs, pomegranates, blueberries and fresh garden flowers The recipes were taken from Epicurean website. NEW
Fruit platters photos (NM) NEW:
NY celebration photos from Natasha A - some sensational Russian salads and organic chicken baked with majoram and thyme. There are lots of other snacks on the table - no names for these dishes though except the ones that I know: marinated cucumbers and tomatoes Olivie (or Russian salad) Green garden salad Bessarabia yellow bell peppers Russian vinegrette stuffed eggs potatoes cooked with dill, garlic and butter marinated herring shuba (herring with beetroot and eggs) rye bread baby peppers stuffed with goat cheese, hummus, home made deep with pine nuts and semi-sun dried tomatoes (all home made) there was also lamb cutlets and shashlik with pork and vegetables A real NY table feast NEW:
John M heart pancakes NEW:
Rob B photos - cooking classes in Vietnam NEW:
Mai L, France paris - some fancy restaurants dishes photos (provided with Mai's kind permission) NEW: