The European tour class is going like a house afire though my numbers have dwindled, unfortunately that means my budget has as well. You can imagine the pouty chef here as you choose. Still, it is fun, though more work with the brain-twisty, food-budget maneuvering. We were in Russia, Belarus, Georgia and the Ukraine last week. The menu is marked to help decipher which dish is from where.
A Western Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Georgian Menu
Eggs Minsk – Belarus
10 hard-boiled eggs
1/3 cup soft butter
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons finely chopped dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons paprika
salt and black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons bread crumbs
3 tablespoons grated cheese
anchovy filets, soaked and halved
Peel the eggs and cut each in half, carefully preserving the white to be stuffed. Remove the yolks and set the whites aside on a tray or plate. Place the yolks in medium-sized mixing bowl and add the butter, mayonnaise, cream, herbs and paprika. Mix and then taste for seasoning, adding the salt and pepper according to your personal taste.
Chop four of the egg whites very finely and fold them into the yolk mixture. Fill the remaining whites with the yolk mixture, mounding the mixture attractively.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix the bread crumbs and cheese together. Lay the anchovies in a crisscross across the yolk mixture on each egg half and sprinkle with the crumb and cheese mixture. Brown for ten minutes in the oven and serve hot.
Beet Puree – Georgia
1 pound raw beets
2-3 cloves of garlic
½ cup shelled walnuts
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon ground coriander
3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 425°F and wrap the beets in foil making a lose parcel so air can circulate but seal the edges well so stem can build up in packet and soften the beets. Roast the beets until soft, this can take up to 2 hours depending on the beets. Check after an hour to see where they are on the road to tenderness. Carefully open the packet and pierce with the tip of a sharp paring knife. There should be little to no resistance. Allow the beets to cool completely in their parcel before you proceed to the next step.
Peel and chop the garlic and add to a food processor and pulse to mince. Add the walnuts and salt and pepper and process again until everything is a fairly fine rubble but not pasty. Peel and roughly chop the beets (wearing gloved to avoid being dyed beet purple) and add the chopped beats to the processor with the herbs and the ground coriander. Continue processing until you have a fine paste. Add the red wine vinegar, pulse to mix and taste. You may need more vinegar if the beets are very sweet. You want something that approaches a relish with a balance of sweet and sour. Decant the puree to a glass bowl (to avoid pinking any plastic containers, but avoid metal because of the vinegar) and refrigerate for at least to hours up to overnight to allow all the flavors to marry.
Moscow Potatoes – Russia
2 ¼ pounds medium-sized potatoes
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 small onion, very finely chopped
5 tablespoon sour cream
salt, to taste
2 oz. red caviar (salmon roe) (we used yellow North American lumpfish roe)
Peel the potatoes, though if you have well-washed new potatoes you can leave the skins on. Bake in the oven at 350°F until they are almost soft. While the potatoes are baking, sauté the onions in a small amount of additional butter until meltingly soft. Set aside. When the potatoes are ready, cut a “lid” off the top of each potato and hollow out the centers using a melonballer or small teaspoon. Mash the lids and centers with the melted butter, the sautéed onions and the sour cream. Season the mashed potatoes to your taste with salt and pepper. Place the mashed potatoes in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and fill the potatoes hollowed out potatoes mounding the filling just slightly. Place the filled potatoes shoulder to shoulder in a baking dish and place under a hot broiler just until the ridges of the mashed filling begins to brown. Remove the potatoes from the oven, sprinkle with the caviar and serve immediately.
Beef stroganoff – Russia
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and black pepper to taste
2 pounds of beef filet (or other tender cut), cut across the grain into thin slices
1 pound mushrooms
1 pound of onions
16 ounces of sour cream (full fat, to avoid splitting the cream)
Mix the mustard, sugar, a pinch each of salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of water together into a thick paste and set aside. Give the mushrooms a good rinse and slice them about ¼” thick. Peel and julienne the onion into ¼ inch strips. In a skillet large enough to hold all the final ingredients, heat enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan and sear the strips of beef in batches, setting aside on a clean plate.
After the beef has all been seared, add a small amount of additional oil and brown the onions and mushrooms, cover them and cook gently for about twenty minutes. Uncover and allow any accumulated liquid to evaporate. Add the meat back to the pan with the mushroom and onion mixture. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and add the mustard mixture. Cook until mustard mixture has coated all the ingredients in the pan and seems to have slightly thickened. Turn the heat to a bare simmer and add the sour cream. Stir gently until the cream has warmed through. Do not allow the mixture to boil or the cream will break and become grainy. If this happens the stroganov will still taste wonderful, it just won’t be quite as attractive. Serve immediately with hot, buttered egg noodles or boiled potatoes.
Noodle bake – Jewish Ukrainian
Generous 1 pound of ribbon noodles made with egg
Salt to taste
7 tablespoons of sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons honey
7 tablespoons butter
1 ¼ cups raisins, soaked in hot water for 15-30 minutes
1 cup walnuts or almonds, roughly chopped
butter for the baking dish
Boil the noodles in lightly salted water according to the package directions. Drain them and rinse under warm water. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, honey and the softened butter. Mix well. Fold the noodles into the egg mixture with the raisins and walnuts. Place in a greased ovenproof dish and bake in a 350°F oven for 45-60 minutes. Can be served either warm or cold according to personal preference.
Variation: The bake tastes even better (I know it’s hard to believe) with a finely chopped cooking apple added to the mixture with the raisins and nuts.