Amazing Menu

Chef Daria’s Amazing Menu - Russia

TAR goes to Russia in the winter! Russians eat a lot of fat and carbs to keep warm in the long, cold winters, which means a lot of potatoes, bread, eggs, meat, and butter, with few fresh fruits and vegetables. But really, the cuisine is varied enough to keep anyone happy. So grab the vodka, pick up some hearty, whole-grain bread at your favorite bakery, and warm the soup plates for a meal that will stick to your ribs.
The featured recipes were selected specifically because they’re easy for North Americans to follow.
The featured recipes were selected specifically because they’re easy for North Americans to follow. If you’re more adventuresome, check out the links at the end of the article. As for food from the Race, we will have no caviar in honor of the Racers, who are probably sick of it. And despite this being Russia, there will be no borscht, because I once lived in a vegetarian group home in which we must have had borscht every single friggin’ night, and years later I can’t even stand to think about it (and it’s all about me, of course). If you’re bound and determined to have borscht, check the links at the end of the article. I’m sure you’ll find something. Just don’t tell me about it.


Appetizers/Soups
No appetizers this week, just soups. But there’s nothing here you’ll find in a can at the grocery store. To start with, we have mint-flavored beer bread soup which can serve as a broth, a stock for other soups, or a beverage. (I think I’ll stick with vodka.) Beer is also an ingredient in the cold green vegetable soup with fish, although if you’re heavily into experimentation, you might replace the beer with the mint-flavored beer bread soup. Hey, at least it’s not borscht! Another option is a spicy eggplant soup, traditionally served in the fall.


Meat Entrée
If you’re carnivorous, you can eat well in Russia, although it helps if you’re not also on a low-fat diet. Chicken Kotletki is similar to Chicken Kiev, except the filling is made of mushrooms, and the dish is served with a sour cream sauce. In Zharkoye, beef is stewed with the root vegetables that grow so well in colder climates – assume about one-half to three-quarters of a pound of beef here. And Pelmeni is a Russian dumpling served with sour cream sauce or broth.


Vegetarian Entrée
Lobio Tkemali is a hearty vegetarian dish that draws from the Asian-Russian tradition – made with red beans, it has some of the most interesting spice combinations I’ve encountered. A more traditional vegetarian dish is Pisni Holubts, or meatless cabbage rolls. If you prefer fresh ingredients, you can undoubtedly adapt this recipe to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. Finally, we have the Russian take on veggie burgers.



Dessert
This sweet potato pudding might also work as a side dish at an American Thanksgiving. Orange teacakes are a variation on a classic. These walnut fritters, which are called Samsa and actually originated in Kazakhstan, provide a nice touch of sweetness at the end of a meal.


Want more recipes?
Both last week and this week, I faced a plethora of broken links and ended up relying heavily on the Food Down Under and Recipesource sites. The most authentic-sounding Russian recipes, which might be a stretch for inexperienced cooks but which mostly use ingredients common in North America, came from Ruscuisine and Russianfoods.com. And if you’re not afraid of recalculating measurements and tracking down obscure ingredients, try this site, which has recipes for everything from dandelion jam to carrot pancakes.