Sunday, December 3, 2017


Well, I’m finally getting around the cooking Russian food. I had to put it off because of Thanksgiving. I really don’t enjoy the holidays. It just interrupts everything I’m doing, and I end up having to spend a lot of extra money this time of year. New Years is fine—it just celebrates what I do every weekend: staying up until midnight drinking. And there’s no religious aspect to it. Although, I’ll end up taking another break around then because my family wants me to make Brazilian feijoada again. And who can blame them? 

Rough and hearty.
But today is something that is appealing to me: Russian food. The first thing I started off with is Russian Black Bread. In a large bowl, I mixed together 1 c of rye flour, 1 ¼ tsp salt, 2 Tbsp butter (I use unsalted butter), 2 Tbsp molasses, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 3 Tbsp cocoa, 1 tsp espresso or instant coffee, 1 packet of yeast, 1 ½ c of all purpose flour, 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar, and 1 1/8 c lukewarm water. I mixed this until it started to form a dough. Then I slowly added in 1 c of all-purpose flour and mixed well, kneading for 5-7 minutes until it was pretty elastic. I covered it and let it rest for about an hour. After this time, I put my dough into a greased bread pan and covered it with a greased plastic wrap and let it rest for another hour. Before putting it into my 375ºF oven, I brushed the top with water and lightly dusted the top with rye flour and added a few slashes to the top. I baked this for about 30-35 minutes. It was actually pretty dry and very earthy. By itself, it’s pretty hearty, but I think it would go better with some cheese (smoke gouda perhaps?) or a spread of some sort.

Even sans egg noodles, it was still amazing.

My main dish today is Bef Stroganov, or as we know it, Beef Stroganoff. The recipe I was using called for beef tenderloin, but I used a beef London broil/top round cut instead. I cut it into 2” long strips and seasoned it with salt and pepper. In my skillet, I sautéed some onions in butter and then added in some sliced white mushrooms until they start to “wilt.” Then I added in my beef strips and sauté for 5-10 more minutes until the meat started to turn, at which point I add in 1 Tbsp of flour. I mix together some beef broth, dry mustard, and tomato paste before pouring it into my skillet and stir everything together. Toward the end, I mix in about a ½ c of sour cream and 3 oz of white wine, stirring and let everything simmer for another 15 minutes or so. This was fabulous. The only thing I might do differently would be to turn down my heat and let it cook for another 10-15 minutes until it was even more tender. Otherwise, it was very good. And I served this by itself (well, with my side dishes), as opposed to the American version, which tends to use ground beef and served on egg noodles. I also learned there are some who serve it on rice.

I love dill. It's such a pretty plant, and it's quite tasty.

To go with this, I served Potatoes a la Russe. I brought a pot of water to a boil and cut a lemon into quarters, squeezing the juice into the water and just dropping the whole thing in there. Then I added in a bay leaf, some salt and pepper and boiled my peeled and cut potatoes. Once I drained them in a colander, I transferred just the potatoes back to the pot, adding in a little bit of fresh dill, a little olive oil, and some minced garlic. Holding the lid back on, I picked up the entire pot and shook it to coat the potatoes on the inside (a little harder than it seems since the pot is still hot). Then I transferred it to a serving dish, adding a little more dill on top. Other than needing a touch more salt, I thought this was a very good side to the Beef Stroganoff. 

And finally, I made Russian Gingered Carrots. To make this easy dish, I peeled and cut up 4 carrots into rounds and combined it with some ginger and sugar in a bowl, stirring to coat. I let it sit for about 20 minutes before melting a bit of butter in a pan and adding the carrot mixture in. I also added in a pinch of salt and some fresh marjoram as it sautéed until the carrots were soft. This dish right here surprised me the most. There was something about the flavor of the marjoram and the ginger meshing the way it did that I didn’t expect. I especially liked this one.

Overall, this was an excellent meal if I may say so.

And of course I can’t forget vodka. Russia is famous for its vodka. I haven’t had vodka for such a long time, and although it’s probably not authentic at all, I bought vanilla vodka, which is actually pretty good. There are actually several Russian-named drinks: White Russian, Black Russian, Moscow Mule to name a few (basically, they all have vodka in them). So, all in all, this was a good meal, and I’m almost inspired to relearn my Cyrillic. It started to come back to me a little as I read through articles and such. Maybe I’ll go back and try to learn some Russian on Duolingo. Right after I finish up German. And French and Dutch.  

Up next: Rwanda   

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