All posts filed under: Russia


Russian Cabbage Pie

This much Russia knows: the chilly, early days of spring go hand-in-hand with cabbage. Throughout the countryside, rows of cabbages can be found poking through the ground even as the last freeze thaws. The tough, squeaky heads are impenetrable to all but the peskiest of creatures, but give them some attention with a sharp knife and persistent flame and you’ll see why cabbage is the pride of Russian home cooking. From cabbage rolls to borscht, Russian cookbooks are fat with ideas to use up the spring harvest – and at a mere $2-$3 per head at the market, it’s tempting to attempt them all. But if I had to pick just one, cabbage pie seems to shows off the humble vegetable’s truest potential. Cook it up with little more than butter, a smattering of onion and lay it between sticky spoonfuls of sour cream batter… bake, then slice into neat squares and you’ll have a feast fit for any potluck. (We took it over to our neighbor’s potluck party; the casserole was cleaned out in mere minutes!) The ingredients …

Read More
Cold soup recipes from around the world.

Chill out with 7 cold soups from around the world

A few things have changed since the early days of this blog (namely the photography), but one thing is certain: I love a good, chilled soup in the summer. Here are seven awesome cold soup recipes from around the world that aren’t gazpacho – because, my goodness, there are other cold soups besides gazpacho! So, without further ado, summer’s almost over – let’s skip the heat and chill out. 1. Mul Naengmyeon | Korea [Recipe] This Korean recipe is the most recent addition to our collection – a soup so cold, it is actually served with ice. It’s claim to fame? The balance of flavor between earthy buckwheat noodles spicy cucumber, sweet Asian pear, and tart vinegar. The best part? This soup is DIY, so everyone can add exactly what they like (and leave out the rest) – perfect for picky eaters who want to stovetop travel to Korea! 2. Rye Bread Soup with Homemade Rhubarb Raisins | Iceland [Recipe]   A soup made with bread? Yup. It’s thick, heavy on the rye, and just odd enough to get …

Read More
Julia Lipnitskaia, Russian figure skater. Photo by David W. Carmichael. Gold medal winner Stefan Groothuis during his race. Photo by M. Smelter.

7 Russian Dishes Worth Celebrating

Frankly, I’m embarrassed by the press’ coverage of the Olympics – it feels like the popular kids ganging up on the ‘outsiders’. While I don’t expect everything in the press to be all to be sunshine and rainbows, mean-spirited articles and blog posts whose primary goal has been to “poke fun” of the culture and people is a failure – a total disregard for the true purpose of the Olympics. We deserve more. They deserve better. The Olympics are a time to step up and celebrate each other – our athletes, our talents, that thing called dreams realized.  I recently read a fairly negative article about the food in Sochi, with interviewees calling their food experiences “bland” and “different” (citing the pervasiveness of cow tongue on the restaurant menus as a negative), with “McDonald’s as a best friend”. To be fair, the author did come around by the end of the article and cite a few decent meal reviews. Still, the time has come: someone needs to focus on the good. Let’s be real: it is all too …

Read More

Monday Meal Review: Russia

This week we took the Russian Potato Salad to a potluck event in downtown Tulsa called “Open Tables” where individuals of different religions and belief systems gather to share food and company. It was my first time. While the discussion would have been fascinating (we were encouraged to talk about our differences), my table – through a series of prior commitments, baby bedtimes, and no shows – had completely vacated by the time discussion started. And so it came to be that, while the room chattered on, I sat alone at my table, thinking about the evening, staring at my empty plate. I briefly considered switching tables to join another group but the longer I sat there, the more I realized that the food had already done the job – no words were necessary to learn about our differences. Earlier that evening I had slipped our potato salad into the mix between a giant steaming bowl of biryani, spicy chickpeas, cinnamon-laced kugel, and goat stew. The variety was intoxicating. As I filled my plate, a casserole of neon green lime …

Read More

Russian “Egg, Egg & Caviar”

The scrambled eggs in Russia are so moist and creamy, you’d swear there’s cheese folded up inside. To achieve this texture, the eggs are never whisked or salted at this stage, but broken directly into a pot (not a pan), then cooked over gentle heat in a “on again, off again” game that makes Ross and Rachel’s relationship on Friends look stable. Finally, a generous swoosh of heavy cream and a sprinkle of seasoning finishes the eggs off right. Then, while they’re still steaming hot, you slide them inside a hollowed out egg shell. Even with all this glamour, it’s the glimmering, shimmering egg topper that really steals the show: the caviar (a.k.a. more eggs). Caviar is Russia’s love. To give you an idea of how precious these fish eggs are, imagine spending $8,000 on a pound of anything. Well-to-do Russians are happy to spend that much per pound on caviar. Thankfully for the wallet, one only eats an ounce or two in one sitting. I got the idea for today’s recipe from Andrew Zimmern. Here’s how they …

Read More

Russian Tea

If you want to try something uniquely Russian (at least, I’d never heard of it until this week), try a cup of nice, black tea with a spoonful of fruit jam stirred in. Tea is the national drink of Russia, while the jam is a happy bonus. If you’re serving to more than one, be sure to brew the tea extra strong. According to Wikipedia: A notable feature of Russian tea culture is the two-step brewing process. Firstly, tea concentrate (Russian: заварка) is prepared: a quantity of dry tea sufficient for several persons is brewed in a small teapot. Then, each person pours some quantity of this concentrate into the cup and mix it with hot water; thus, one can make one’s tea as strong as one wants, according to one’s taste. Sugar, lemon, honey or jam can then be added freely. Even with the jam, a cube (or three) of sugar is optional, but recommended. So what’ll it be? Raspberry jam? What about cranberry? Or sour cherry? Whatever you choose, you’ll be well on your …

Read More

Pumpkin Olad’yi

Sometimes it’s hard being a mom. Take this week, for example. People I don’t even know have been throwing candy at my daughter from giant parade floats. They call it Halloween, but I call it “the reason why my daughter is still awake an hour and a half past her bedtime, thrashing around like a junkie in withdrawal.” You see, I don’t let Ava eat all her candy in one sitting. She gets a couple of pieces at snack time for a few days in a row. That’s it. Any candy that remains gets donated to the Laura Dester Shelter, for kids in crisis situations. Ava’s reward for sharing? A fun adventure to either Incredible Pizza or the Zoo. Her choice. All this to say that Ava clearly hasn’t consumed a ton of candy but what she has eaten went straight to her crazies. Now is the time for something wholesome. Something nutritious. Something unabashedly Russian to sort her out. Enter Pumpkin Olad’yi. It’s practically science: whenever I mention Russian food, 9 out of 10 people suggest we try …

Read More

Russian Potato Salad | Olivier Salad

Winter doesn’t just bite in Russia. It eats you alive. In the far east of this great nation, temperatures can actually drop to -95F. In the west, things are nearly so dire – winter might only drop to -22F (!), with occasional warm spurts in past years reaching 50F. 50F isn’t so bad. But the rest? Yikes. By the time New Year’s Eve comes, Russians are ready to break up the monotony with a blast of soul-warming comfort food. Major. Everyone tells me New Year’s Eve in Russia wouldn’t be complete without a scoop of Olivier Salad (and the same goes for weddings, Christmas, and just about any other festive occasion). It’s the “go to.” And by New Year’s Eve, I mean both of them. There’s the classic December 31/January 1 New Year’s Eve. Then, two weeks later is round two, a.k.a. “Old New Year’s Eve” on January 14th, which hails from the Orthodox calendar. P.S. Between the two? Russian Christmas falls on January 6th. Don’t think of it as complicated. Think of it as …

Read More

Menu: Russia (with Double Giveaway)

There’s a Russian proverb which states “The appetite comes with eating” (Appetit prikhodit vo vremya yedy). Sometimes, when trying new foods, we just have to dig in (especially – oh goodness – when it comes to trying caviar the first time). Only then can we know if we have an appetite for the new dish. Thanks Russia! We definitely used this advice this week. All recipes and meal review will be posted throughout the week. Pumpkin Olad’yi [Recipe] This is Russian breakfast at her best. Think fluffy pancakes, but smaller. While typically made with buttermilk, these olad’yi also have a happy helping of pumpkin puree, which makes them perfect for right here, right now.  Served with honey, sour cream, and fresh berries. Russian Potato Salad | Olivier Salad [Recipe]  This classic salad contains everything but the sink: ham, peas, pickles, carrots,  hard boiled eggs, and potatoes. Welcome to the ultimate potluck celebration dish in Russia. “Egg, Egg, Caviar” [Recipe] This fun concoction is something saw on Andrew Zimmern’s show. Imagine a gently scrambled egg with cream, chives, and …

Read More
River Angara at Talzy close to Lake Baikal. Photo by octagon.

About the food of Russia

Ava’s been pointing to the giant orange mass on our world map lately and asking “are we eating that country tonight?” Each time I know without looking that she’s pointing to Russia. She always is. To her little three year-old mind, there’s nothing more enticing than the biggest country on the map (Russia is literally 1/8th of the world’s landmass!). This week I can finally  tell her “yes.” Russian food is simplicity itself. We’re talking cozy staples designed to get people through long tough winters, like beef stroganoff and princess pink borscht, that traditional beet soup we tried with Belarus [Recipe] (Russia is home to a dizzying array of borscht.  Want it hot? No problem. Chilled? Sure thing. Inside a carnival colored cathedral? If you promise not to spill.) Then there’s the pickles. Pickles were a great way to preserve food in harsh weather, so it’s a standby from the old days. Pickles in Russia are not limited to cucumbers – you’ll find pickled garlic, tomatoes… even garlic shoots. I know, because I saw it on Andrew Zimmern’s show …

Read More