Staples: Hearty starchy vegetables like beetroot, potato, turnip made into stews and thick soups
Delicacies: Caviar, vodka
Top Dish: Bliny, thin Russian pancakes served with any goodie you can imagine!
Bliny are Russian pancakes with a slightly sour taste and the thickness of a few playing cards, accompanied by caviar or indeed almost any other filling on hand, from jam to sour cream and salmon. The light brown bliny are shaped like small suns, accounting for their central role in pre-Christian festivals at the end of winter, when the returning sun brightens the sky. The French imitation is called a crepe.
-Half a teaspoon salt
-2 tablespoons sugar
-Half a teaspoon vanilla
-1 cup flour
-A Little oil
-1 and a half cups of milk
Beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar, salt, and milk. Blend together.
Add flour and mix until smooth. Add vanilla.
Ideally, let stand for one hour. Add more milk if batter is too thick.
Heat a small skillet (about 8 inches). Add some oil to the skillet. Ladle just enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the skillet.
When golden brown on bottom (edges will start to turn up slightly), flip and brown other side. Continue until all batter is used.
Recipe makes about 12-15 bliny. Stack to keep warm. Spread with filling and roll.
A beverage of ancient heritage, Kvass is a Russian word for leaven, one of the national alcoholic drinks of Russia and popular also in Eastern Europe. It is made by a simultaneous acid and alcoholic fermentation of wheat, rye, barley and buckwheat with the addition of sugar or fruit. It has been a universal drink in Russia since the 16th century. Kvass is of very low alcoholic content (0.7-2.2%). There are, besides the ordinary kind, more superior forms of the drink, such as apple or raspberry kvass.
Borshch is a mildly tart vegetable soup dominated by the rich colour and taste of beetroot. Generally, borshch contains many different ingredients, as many as 20, but the combinations and proportions vary according to region of Ukraine, the season, and family tradition. There are even more variations of borshch than political parties and movements in Ukraine. Some say that a true Ukrainian borshch contains beans, either fresh or dried, but Ukrainian individualism being what it is, there are undoubtedly many other opinions on what constitutes a true borshch.
– 1lb uncooked beetroot
– 1 onion
– 1 leek
– 1 carrot
– 1 turnip
– 1 large potato
– 1 stick of celery
– 2pt strong chicken stock
– 1 bay leaf
– 1tbs tomato puree
– Juice of half a lemon
– 2tbs finely chopped parsley
– 1 level tsp castor sugar
– Chives for garnish
– 1/4pt sour cream
Peel and dice the beetroot. Prepare all the other vegetables and chop finely.
Put them all into a large saucepan and cover with the stock. Add the bay leaf and parsley and season well.
Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the sugar, lemon juice, and tomato puree to the soup and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
Allow to cool and blend in blender. Re-heat thoroughly and add the sour cream just before serving with a sprinkling of chopped chives.
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By Noreen Mustapha