I’m moving on, comrades…

Since around summer I’ve been writing mainly under the egis of Russian Revels. Come and find me there, where my food becomes our food, with games, theatre, stories and so much more.

 

As ever, food has never fed the belly alone…

Вояки

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Borodinsky rye arancini.

What could be more Russian than a loaf of dark and malty rye bread?

My sourdough Borodinsky bread.

My sourdough Borodinsky bread.

I have written generously about rye grain – in Borodinsky bread (here’s a version on the wonderful 100 Loaves of Solitude blog), in Ice-cream with caramelised rye bread, and Bread and Butter a la Russe.

I like rye. It touches some little, deep corners of my slowly-unRussinising heart. I like the flavour – nutty, down-to-earth, complimenting well many other of my favourite bold flavours (like herring and cured lardo).

Ry grain, raw.

Ry grain, raw.

But I also like rye’s character,  how it’s stubborn and takes on the climates of Northern Europe better than most others. The grain is easy to ferment, and so it gives life effortlessly to beer, kvas (Russian low-alcoholic drink), and sourdough bread.

So my interest picked easily when I spotted a pack of raw, unpolished, rye grain in Whole Foods (where else). Despite rye (‘black’) bread being so common on the tables of all Russians, I have never heard anyone cooking with the grain itself. Needless to say, I was buying it.

Well, I’m certain that in the old days my peasant ancestors made many a kasha with this very grain, but during my 30 odd years I’ve yet to see someone cooking with it. So I’ve started to experiment…

Rye grain needs a lot time to be cooked, as you can imagine. I soaked it first for good 4-5 hours and then cooked on a medium heat for another 2.5 hours or so. Surprisingly, the resulting ‘porridge’ is quite glutenous (surprising because rye is hailed as a panacea for many gluten-light recipes), and so I decided to follow the principle of Italian Arancini – rice balls made with leftover risotto.

I’ve come to an idea of using the flavours of Borodinsky bread: rye, molasses, coriander seed and herring, my favourite topping, to replicate the idea of Borodinsky bread but in a different format.

Without unnecessary modesty, this is one of the most original and satisfying dishes I’ve made in  a long time. The texture of grain never becomes too mushy and so retains its lovely, toothsome stubborness. Combining rye’s natural sweetness with dark sugars of molasses and contrasting it with sharp herring inside is my sublime version of a little ball of heaven.

Goes really well with cucumbers in sweet and sour marinate and sourcream.

Borodinsky arancini

(with coriander seeds, molasses and stuffed with home-made cured herring)

Rye arancini.

Rye arancini.

You’ll need (the quantities are rough for now but I’ll come back to give more precise measures soon) for about 6 golf ball size arancini:

200 gr rye grain

1 medium onion, chopped finely

1 tb wild mushrooms, soaked in a bit of hot water and chopped finaly

1 tb coriander seeds, crushed

1 ts molasses

pinch or two cayenne pepper

1-2 herring fillet (preferably salted and not vingered variety), chopped – this is optional for vegetarians of course

for frying 1 egg whisked, a couple of tbs flour and 3-4 tbs breadcrumbs

best to deep-frying but you can also shallow fry gently

For grain:

1. soak 4-6 hours or overnight.

2. cover with water and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring about every 20 mins. you want the grain to become really quite soft. it’s difficult to overboil it I find so go for 3 hours if unsure.

For arancini:

3. Fry an onion (lard is particularly good) until soft and sweet (good 20-25 mins). Add mushrooms, fry a couple of mins. Then coriander seed, another minute, molasses, then salt, pepper, cayenne.

4. Fry on low heat for another 20-30 mins. The more you fry the more caramelised the flavour will be. But obviously don’t overdo it as you’ll be in danger of burning the mixture.

5. Cool and put in the fridge for several hours.

To make arancini:

You can do it with just your hands easily but for more pretty balls use this method.

Making arancini in your palm.

Making arancini in your palm (in this picture I added a bit of mozarella first – don’t do it!).

6. Cut a piece of clingfilm about 20×20 cms, layer it on a table. Take a bit of cooled mixture, press it in your hand for a bit (you want to increase the glutenous quality, which you do by ‘needing’  the mixture), press it against the clingfilm about 5-7 mm high.

7. Put a few small pieces of herring in the middle and tie carefully the rye mixture around the fish by using the clingfilm as you aid.

8. Roll each ball in a bit of flour, then egg, the breadcrumbs.

9. Heat your oil till really quite hot but not tally burning (they say drop a piece of white bread, if it browns within a minute or so, you’re good to go. if it gets too dark quicker, turn the oil down a bit). carefully drop the balls in the oil and fry for about 3-4 mins.

10. Put your arancini onto kitchen towers to absorb extra oil.

You can eat arancini both hot or room temperature.

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Milky sausages from LavkaLavka – not from toilet paper.

One of my fondest memories of having breakfast with my mother was when she would lightly boil a couple of molochnye sosiski (literally milky sausages, frankfurter type) for me. I would eat them methodically by first peeling off the skins and only then chewing on the wobbly, pink meat inside. I almost never used a fork but would snap up a sausage with a characteristic ‘plomp’!

Demand sausages everywhere!

Demand sausages everywhere!

Of course sausages – and in Soviet/Russian context I always mean frankfurter sausages, and not the meaty bangers of the British variety – were of somewhat iconic status during the times of Soviet ‘deficit’, well, most times then. These little bright pink things were amongst the most desired: cooked in minutes, loved by whole families.

This is despite the hoards of anecdotes, and fairly real life examples, of what went into these sausages. Or rather, what didn’t go into them. Actual meat was mostly missing, was the common half-knowing joke.

‘Instead toilet paper went it!’ we all laughed and gulped another sausage. (why toilet paper? my theory is that too was mostly missing from the shelves and when available it had an alluring pink colour…).

The best breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The best breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We all loved our sausages nevertheless. And it is them I was nostalgising the most when moved to these foreign lands. At first my mum would smugle them through the UK borders, later I stopped eating them – or local Sainsburys pack for £1 variety – all together. My ethical consciousness was born. Only happy animals that have lived the life better than most of us Soviet citizens were to be eaten…

Until now that I’ve found a milky sausage with a clear consciousness.

I have just come back from Moscow where I went to write an article for a certain in-flight magazine about the seeming renaissance of national cuisine in the capital of Russia. Whilst my aim was to research the most interesting restaurants serving food from ex-Soviet republics, inevitably I have discovered that the food of old Russia is also being resurrected.

LavkaLavka is a chain of shops and a cafe in Moscow with a – somewhat surreal for a Russian ear – slogan ‘Support your local farmer!’. They sell ‘natural’ products that have a specific provenance and a farmer’s name attached to it. Pretty obvious for Britain, revolutionary for Russia.

LavkaLavka shops work with local farmers.

LavkaLavka shops work with local farmers.

Most of my Russian friends would cry out ‘Comon! we’ve always bought stuff from little babushkas who sold what they’ve grown!’.

True. But what LavkaLavka is doing differently is creating a viable business model that is built on specified principals of what is ‘ethical’ (organic certification is almost non existent in Russia) and allows farmers to get proper money for their work. The company educates its customers about the reasons for their products costing more.

Yes, my eyes are also slightly rolling thinking ‘middle classes’, ‘ponsiness’ and even ‘class distinction’. But like with organics in the UK, few would argue with the basic principles of such an enterprise – the importance of knowing where your food comes from and how it’s actually made, the support of business and agricultural diversity. Some may quarrel about the execution. In Russian environment in particular with almost non existent state support for smaller farmers and high level of corruption, LavkaLavka have started something meaningful.

But back to my sausages.

I grabbed breathlessly at a pack of pale (not pink) Molochnye Sosiki from Tatyana Yeryomkina from village Petrovskoe.

IMG_4030

Happy sausages.

These are made out of mixture of pork and beef with a natural, very thin casing – too thin for the peeling in fact. The snap is sublime though, as my local Shoredites would no doubt notice.

And so I have tried to recreate the world-famous image of sausages with peas with bottles of beer above. No beer on Sunday morning sadly, but instead a proper grenka (rye bread fried in egg) and a mug of coffee. Bliss, no other word.

The ultimate Soviet meal. With ketchup.

The ultimate Soviet meal. With ketchup.

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On sausages in fat, confinment and Haringey markets.

What better lunch can a girl have than a good sausage smeared in a healthy dose of fat.

Salame sotto grasso.

Salame sotto grasso by Picco.

My Sunday afternoon was blissful one in allowing me to combine my two longest standing passions: a bit of quality meaty fat and a farmer’s market.

Picco’s salumi at my local Harringey farmer’s market.  Now, one at a time.

I got interested in Picco’s salumi for the simple reason that all – yes, all – of the pork they use for sausages is free-range British pork. Now you can throw the meat ends of elitism (of preferring ‘local’ to ehh continental) at me, but the simple reason is that I like the confinement of being limited, the boundaries. One is forced to creativity in a way that is otherwise is too liberal with opportunities.

pic of sodahead.com

pic of sodahead.com

My recent keenness in vegetarian and vegan dishes(eg here)  has sprung out of the same desire to experiment with edges and limits. how decadent of me. The worlds of plenty and all that? And yes, you can draw many similar conclusions to our (and I do say ‘our’ in its broadest sense quite purposely) modern-day kinky interest in s & m and  fairtrade macademia nuts.

Back to the proper meat though.

Picco has a peculiar (how could I resit) story. The company started some 80 years ago by an Italian family. Very recently taken over by two young – British – chaps. All the sausages are made by hand, in their tiny production unit in Islington. All the recipes so far are Italian – soon Eastern-European to be added (yay, bro). The meat and muscle are all local.

Slide1

Picco’s selection of salumi.

I went for the garishly beautiful salumi smeared in fat, done so to preserve its tenderness. I found the flavour – compared to many other beautiful ones, such as the ones with fennel, Jamaican pepper and local Italian wine – particularly interesting, mellow, gullable.

One of the guys who now runs the company is Matt (the cappy above), who studied on the MA Anthropology of Food with me in SOAS. Additionally nice to see your co-students (?) doing well, with sausages. As part of my actual job (for the Soil Association) is to assist caterers with sourcing more ethical products, I’m going to try and set Picco up with some of our catering contacts. Oh the joy of brockering.

My Sunday sausage buying was particularly pleasant as I visited my local Harringey market for the first time. Situated just off Green Lanes, minutes away from all the glorious bustle of Turkish feeding joints, the market is a fairly new addition to the market ‘scene’ in London.

Preferring to call themselves a food market (as few traders actually grow food), the guys have done really well, in a relatively short period of time. On Sunday, lively live music, hoards of WMCF* blissfully incubating benches. I intend to go back, with or without my own WMCF hoard.

In the meantime, I came back home and sat down to one of the bestest lunches of all: salumi, good bread with titbits. tomatoes and green oranges (preserved, from Green Lanes) in this case.

The lunch of sliced salumi grasso.

The lunch of sliced salumi grasso.

*White Middle Class Family

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Scotch egg clad in Russian herring coat.

Recently I’ve been fairly per-occupied with finding ways to encase eggs with beautiful and delicious titbits. My tribute to Easter if you like.

Russo-scotch egg.

Russo-scotch egg.

Now, the above is my version of the iconic, ubiquitous ‘Shuba’, or ‘Fur-clad herring’ salad. No celebratory Soviet table can do without the combo of cured herring, potatoes, eggs, onions, beetroot. And of course mayonnaise.

Seledka po shuboj, or 'proper' fur-clad herring salad.

Seledka po shuboj, or ‘proper’ fur-clad herring salad.

I’ve a soft spot for such Soviet dishes, the other obviously being the Olivier salad, Shnitzel a la france (myaso po-fransuzski), Napoleon cake. Most have something vaguely French about them, most gloriously bastardised by 70 years of centralized food distribution system.All adored and treasured by the great ex-USSR mass, me including.

Pod shuboj, literally herring under a fur-coat – no one knows why the dish is called this way – is the ultimate example of a dish that is not sophisticated, not delicate, it’s fact it’s stubbornly old-fashion in being all about mashed up ingredients and heavy mayonnaise. But boy I’m yet to meet a Russian – or any other nationality my husband would hungrily agree – that can resist a plate of shuba.

These dishes seem to carry a great sense of history, even authenticity. Like football they evoke such sense of national (yes, pan-national) pride that one can debate passionately the exact ingredients that go into them, but never really question. We put our fur-clad combo on a pedestal and swallow saliva dreamily at the approach of every bank holiday, or, what we used to call, ‘red days in the calender’, in anticipation of a large and gleaming dish of herring, fur-coat clad.

So it was with trepidation that, whilst trialing other Russo-Scotch egg variations, I came up with the idea of making my version of a Scotch egg by encasing it with a mixture of beetroot, onion, gherkins, capers, and, most importantly, herring and potato mash.

Gosh, isn’t it an amazing feeling to be so proud about creating our beloved Pod shuboj but in a take-away, compact, version.

Trust me, these little eggs have all the flavour of the most Russian ‘Fur-clad herring’ whilst looking, well, so British.

Raise a shot to our…

Scotch egg fur-coat clad

or herring and beetroot scotch egg.

Scotch egg, undressed.

Scotch egg, undressed.

You will need for 2 eggs (each is more like a pie size, can serve 2 people as a snack. you can make with quail eggs of course then making 4-5 eggs)

well, the eggs, organic preferably

beetroot mixture:

2 small beetroots, boiled and then grated

1/2 garlic, grated

1/2 onion, chopped

casing mixture:

1 large potato, baked or boiled, cooled and mashed with a fork

about 120-140 cured herring (preferably not in vinegar but salted, look for in Eastern-European shops), chopped

1/2 gherkins, chopped finaly

1 tsp of capers, chopped if too chunky

1 tbs of dill, shopped

for the outer casing:

1-2 tbs of flour

1 egg, whisked

3-4 tbs punko breadcrubs

What to do:

1. Boil the egg to the desired consistency. Ideally so that they are still half runny inside, but in my version above they are hard boiled, which is fine too. Cool and peel.

2. To make the beetroot mixture, fry gently the onion and garlic in butter or oil, add the beetroot and fry for another 5-10 mins until quite dry. the drier the better as the flavours becomes sweeter and easier to handle. Put aside in the fridge to cool.

3. To make the potato mixture, mix the mashed potato with all the other ingredients, season to taste. The mixture should be fairly stiff and difficult to mix. Put in the fridge to firm up.

4. Half an hour later (or even the following day), start the assembling process. Put some beetroot mixture in the palm of your hand, place the egg in the middle and shape the mixture around the egg carefully to form a ball.

5. Then do the same with the potato and herring mixture. It takes a bit of a knack to make the shape all nice and balanced (in fact, the picture above shows that I didn’t distribute the mixture evenly.)

6. Now, roll the egg in flour lightly, then the whisked egg and the breadcrumbs liberally. Cover with clingfilm and cool for at least an hour but best overnight.

7. When ready to fry – you can deep fry or shallow fry, I did the former – heat the oil till the crumb of white bread browns easily within a minute or so (or sooner turn the heat down a bit) and place the eggs carefully into the hot oil. Fry for about 4-5 minutes.

8. Eat with tartar sauce or mayoannaise with gherkins and dill.

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Cake bake-off winners – Medovik (honeycake) No 19.

Svetlana has in fact stolen the recipe for her Medovik for Russian Revels Cooking with a Story event from her girlfriend – because her, Svetlana’s that is, husband loved the friend’s cake so much.

This gives the saying ‘the path to a man’s heart…’ the whole new meaning – ehhh, a path through a friend’s stomach, initially?

Our beaming Medovik winner.

Our beaming Medovik winner.

Svetlana is one of our more highly educated cake competitors. She’s a GP and originally from Belorus. I love how her surname suits the competition!

Svetlana Buttery’s mevodik (honey) cake.

The intricate layers of the best medovik. ever.

The intricate layers of the best medovik. ever.

What you’ll need:

Dough:

2 eggs

200 g sugar

2 tbs honey

2 tsp (levelled) bicarbonate soda

50 g butter

600 g flour

Cream:

3 pots of sourcream (480 g each)

1 cup of sugar

How to make:

  1. Put the eggs, sugar, honey and butter in a saucepan and place over a medium heat – until sugar is fully dissolved and a foam starts to appear.
  2. At this point add soda – the mixture will foam up a bit. Take off the heat.
  3. Add the flour. Mix all really well and let the mixture cool a bit. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  4. Then start making the dough circles by tearing a bit of dough from the mixture, a ball about 2 cm in diameter and roll out very thinly. Aim to make a circle of around 25 cm.
  5. Bake in the oven until golden (7 to 15 minutes). Cool.
  6. Make the cream by mixing vigorously sourcream with sugar.
  7. To assemble the cake spread the cream generously over each circle. Don’t be greedy!
  8. Decorate the top as you like. Svetlana used ground walnuts, physalis, honey, grounded up dough circles (just make an extra, then grate and sieve).

Important – that the cake ‘sits’ for good 12 hours so that each layer soaks up the flavours.

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Cake bake-off winners – Sharlotka cake No 11.

Irina wheeled her Sharlotka cake in a proper wheelie-bag. Twinned with a modest, beaming smile, we had big expectations…

Ira Kennerley is from Ekaterinburg in Russia. An engineer in the past and ‘quite a successful’ businesswoman she is now a full-time housewife: looking after four children!

The winners: Irina is on the left.

The winners: Irina is on the left.

Sharlotka, or Charlotte russe as its often known outside Russia, is arguably the most well-known cake to non-Russian speakers. Here in England it’s mainly made with stale bread – a bread pudding of sorts. The original recipe that is said to be invented by the celebrated French chef Careme for  his former employer  George IV’s only child,  Princess Chartlotte and his current, Russian Czar Alexander- but back at home it’s more common to make a batter.

Compared to the luxurious, striking looking Napoleons (like this winning recipe), Sharlotka is often thought of as uncomplicated, basic. But of course like most creations, all is in the detail.

This is a family recipe. Very simple, quick and inexpensive to make. Easy to digest and on figure! – Ira says.

We all loved Ira’s Sharlotka for its lightness and especially for the beautiful, crunchy top.

Irina Kennerley’s Sharlotka cake with apples and berries.

The winning Sharlotka - eaten up very quickly.

The winning Sharlotka – eaten up very quickly.

You’ll need for the batter:

2-3 eggs

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of flour

1 ts of baking powder

Filling:

1 cooking apple
plus a handful of berries, raspberries, black or red currants, either frozen or fresh. Even dried apricots or currants.

What to do:

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

  1. Separate egg whites from yolks. Beat whites with half of sugar till they form firm peaks.
  2. Beat yolks with the rest of sugar till white.
  3. Mix carefully together .
  4. Sieve flour with baking powder. Fold into the egg mixture.
  5. Peel the apple, slice thinly and add to the batter.
  6. Pour into well buttered pie dish and add any extra berries.
  7. Bake for 40-45.
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Cake bake-off winners – Napoleon No 10.

Irina is my compatriot. Originally from Kohtla-Yarve, a town in the Eastern part of Estonia that has a very high percentage of ethnic Russians, she came to the UK 14 years ago at the time when many of … ‘us’ were looking for new places to live, new ways to live.

Irina Gurjajeva - our Napoleon winner.

Irina Gurjajeva – our Napoleon winner.

Ira used to be a professional ice-skating trainer – oh, the glory of Soviet days. Now she is retired and bakes for pleasure for all the willing friends and family.

Irina’s ‘Caramel-Walnut Napoleon’ won the competition with such aplomb! Many commented how delicate, flaky and sitinctive the cake was. There’s actually caramel in this Napoleon but I think it’s the combination of condensed milk and walnuts that create this caramel-y flavour, with a refreshing hint of bitterness.

I also think she partly won people over because of the exquisite decorations of sugar flowers Ira created for her Napoleon.
‘ I just saw once some unusual sugar decorations in a magazine. I hardly spoke any English at the time, but I was so interested that I got to translating the instructions for making these flowers with a dictionary! Slowly, slowly I learnt how to make sugar flowers myself. I love creating sugar decorations!’

Irina Gujajeva’s Caramel and Walnut Napoleon.

Caramel-Walnut Napoleon.

Caramel-Walnut Napoleon.

For pasty:

2 cups of flour

200 gr of margarine or butter, room temperature

1 cup of cold water

1 egg, whisked

1 tsp of lemon juice

Pinch of salt

For cream:

1 can of condensed milk

100 gr of soft butter

200 gr of ground walnuts

How to make:

-          Pour flour onto your table. Add margarine or butter and cut it up with a knife to mix with the flour. You create a crumble of the sort (note from Russian Revels: another way of doing this would be to put flour in a large bowl, add softened cubes of butter and with your finger tips crumble the mixture until it resemble large breadcrumbs).

-          Make a little well in the mixture, pour cold water. Add the egg, lemon juice and salt. Mix all carefully but thoroughly.

-          Divide the dough into 5-6 parts, cover with clingfilm and chill in a fridge for 30 mins.

-          In the meantime mix condensed milk and butter in a large bowl.

-          Heat the oven to 200 C.

-          Now take a ball or two of dough, on a lightly floured surface roll them out to about 2 mm width. Cut out a circle to a diameter of approx 23 cms.

-          Bake for about five minutes until lovely golden colour.

-          Take the circles out the oven once baked, and cool on a rack.

How to assemble:

-          Place one circle on a plate. Spread with the cream liberally. Sprinkle with walnuts.

-          Repeat for the remaining circles. Before putting the cream on on the last one, push the pastry down a bit with both palms. Then spread the cream and finish with lots of walnuts.

-          Important to leave the cake overnight in a fridge to get all the flavours mingling.

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Russian cakes with a story.

It has now been almost exactly two years since I decided to open the doors of my humble dwelling in Wood Green to all sorts of wonderful randoms, to cook for them, to explore what this mysterious Russian food is or could be…

The original Russo-Soviet Brunchclub became  Russian Revels eventually when I’ve been joined by amazing Karina Baldry and here we are now, with everything from Cosmonaut party, to Futurist dinner and Anna Karenina feast.

THE original celebration of women's International day with Mimosa flowers and....sprats.

THE original celebration of women’s International day with Mimosa flowers and….sprats.

It’s been great to be the gang leaders,  but we felt now was the time to open the doors to all of you, our compatriots and those willing, to hear your story, to taste your food – for us, humble Russian Revels, to learn and marvel from you!

And so on the Mothering Sunday of 10 March 2013 at RosSotrudnichestvo (Russian cultural centre in the UK) we held an event imaginatively called Покулинарим, or Cooking with a Story (literally let’s rustle something up, let’s cook).

Calling all the amateur Russian bakers!

Calling all the amateur Russian bakers!

We wanted to see all sorts of different creations from all sorts of different people. We wanted to hear people’s stories behind their cakes. There’s always one, especially when the story comes with a tale of migration.

The theme was set around three Russian iconic desserts: Napoleon (thousand layer cake), Medovik (layered honey cake) and Sharlotka (apple sponge cake). The idea was simple: some people brought a cake of their choosing, others came as guests to enjoy the cake fest.

And oh boy did we enjoy the cake.

Cakefest.

Cakefest.

23 cakes to be precise.

Not to kill the guests with the sugar overload we made a few savouries, such as borsch in a boat and potato cakes with caramelised onions and fresh horseradish.

borsch boats

Bosch boats.

Savouries made by us.

Potato cakes with caramelised onions and fresh horseradish.

To carry on with the (admittedly unusually for us) traditional theme, we invited a glorious ensemble of Russian folk music called Smorodina.

Folk band Smorodina. most guests later joined in...infectious

Folk band Smorodina. most guests later joined in…infectious

Kids had their own (board!) room to make quite quirky cards – mothers’ day after all!

Cakes in all their forms and shapes!

Cakes in all their forms and shapes!

And the winners?

Gosh, choosing was an ordeal. But here you go:

The winners!

The winners!

Irina Gurjajeva for her unusual caramel and nut Napoleon (right)

Irina Kennerly with her light as a feather Sharlotka (left)

Svetlana Battelry for her amazing Medovik intricately decorated(second left)

Over the next few days I will be posting recipes of each cake with more pictures. The plan is to (ahem) eventually publish a book about the adventures of Russian Revels with these – and many other – amazing recipes and stories featuring.

But needless to say there were so so many ridiculously delicious cakes, and so if you liked a particular number (the judging was anonymous with each cake allocated a number), let us know!

And for now – eat with your eyes, dear comrades!

Pretty guests enjoying a pretty cuppa.

Pretty guests enjoying a pretty cuppa.

Even matryoshas smiling from too much sugar.

Even matryoshkas smiling from too much sugar.

 

Just starting...

Just starting…

 

Go for that one! quick!

Go for that one! quick!

Smiling happily.

Smiling happily.

 

I want the cake too!

I want the cake too!

Now a bit of dancing.

Now a bit of dancing.

And a bit more (note my own husband on his knees).

And a bit more (note my own husband on his knees).

Content.

Content.

THE END.

THE END.

 

 

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The nostalgic soup of ‘coloured cabbage’.

‘Coloured cabbage’ – Cauliflower in Russian – was amongst the first few ‘foreign’ ingredients that reached the just-post-Soviet Estonia in the early 1990s. I was about 11 and just started to do things in the kitchen, cooking I suppose one might call it.

Why it is that cauliflower wasn’t widely grown in the Soviet Union (don’t tell me your memories are different) I do not comprehend. I can only imagine that it’s the brassica’s overly flamboyant, too pretty appearance that made it inappropriate for the esthetic of the proletariat state (or perhaps more prosaically this cabbage is more prone to climate and trickier to grow that the reliable white cabbage).

 

The beauty of humble cauliflower.

The beauty of humble cauliflower.

Not having a clue as to the proper treatment of the said coloured cabbage, I used to just split it in florets and fry it in a pan with butter, till it got quite caramelised and still a tad crunchy.

Most importantly is that I then ate the little florets with mayonnaise. That was the most important element of the ehhh dish. The combination of sweet and slightly bitter cauliflower with tart, lush mayo. Not that I thought quite these thoughts at the tender age of 11. Then I just thought – it’s now bearable to eat this thing.

In my recent experiments in coming up with the ways to use more veggies as main ingredients, I recalled this long-forgotted cauli-mayo passion of mine. The result is surprisingly pleasing. Light and intense at the same time.

Soup of roasted cauliflower with home-made mayonnaise.

020

serves 2-4 depending on your greed.

You will need:

head of cauliflower, cut into chunks of about 5 cms.

olive oil, salt, pepper

1 tb coriander seeds, roasted and crushed

Chicken or vegetable stock about a litre

May need single cream (or whole milk) and lemon juice

2 tbs of mayo, quality shop-bought stuff at least

fresh coriander leaves for deco

1. turn your over to 180C. in a roasting tin mix cauli with all the ingredients but the mayo. cover with foil and roast for anything between 30-40 mins turning occasionally. open the foil for the last 10-15 mins so that the cabbage caramelises.

2. plonk the cauli into a saucepan, cover with hot stock (or boiled water and then add bought-in stock).

3. simmer for about 15-20 mins.

4. blend until smooth (leave a few florets for deco later). squeeze lemon, and, if too thick, add cream. taste for seasoning.

5. to serve put a spoon of mayo on top, roasted florets and a bit of chilli if you like.

Works wonders with cold cider.

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Posted in Courses: suppers, Cuisine: Russian/Soviet, Ingridients: soups, Ingridients: vegetables, Uncategorized | Tagged as: , , | Leave a comment
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    A Russian, living in London, writing about Soviet kitsch, sex in food and fat' - this would be the headliner, the reality of this blog is, I hope, more delicate’ [....]

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