Monthly Archives: February 2014

Russian schi (cabbage soup)

 
 Today is 3rd day of Butterweek (Rus.-Maslenica) in Russia. It’s spring festival, saying goodbye to the winter, and the week before Lent. During the week we bake pancakes (we say exactly bake, not cook, even though we fry them on a pan) almost every day, invite relatives and friends, and our hearts fill with a joy of the upcoming spring.
 Every day of Butterweek has the name and meaning. Today (Wednesday) is ‘Lakomka’ – Gourmand. When wife’s mother invites son-in-law and treats him with pancakes. Unmarried boys and girls usually went to slide from snow hills. Old folks bantered with guys, who hadn’t married that year and played various pranks to them. And guys bribed with pancakes and candies.
 More you can read in my previous post here. 
 
 I’d like to tell you about another no less famous Russian dish – Schi, it’s cabbage soup, similar to Borsch (with cabbage and beetroots). Everyone knows and enjoy it. 😉
Schi-9
 Schi is the main hot Russian dish over a millennium. Peasants started to cook it a long time ago in the 9th century when cabbage has begun to cultivate everywhere in Russia. In spite of the fact that people’s tastes have been changing, the soup is always been eaten.
 Of course, schi was not the same for all social classes. Full of content, with meat and thick cream, was called ‘rich’, other ‘empty’, as it was cooked only from cabbage and onion.
 To create a special and unique schi’s taste, it was prepared in clay or cast-iron pot in Russian petch/oven. ‘Schi’s spirit’ was always in homes, that means everybody cooked it. The Russian proverb says ‘Schi and kasha is our food’, as they were eaten every day.
 
 Schi consists of six major components: cabbage, meat (or mushrooms rarely), roots (carrot, parsley), spice part (onions, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper) and sour part (sour cream, apples or cabbage brine). First and last parts are essential and absolutely compulsory. Thus, the simplest schi could be done from cabbage and sour cream 🙂
 The notable feature of schi (that you cook not just a simple cabbage soup) is a slightly sour taste, which usually archived by adding sour cream, sour/salted cabbage, and brine or salted mushrooms into the soup.
  
 Originally, flour was added as well to make schi thicker, but such ‘dressing’ spoiled the taste and then began to add potatoes or buckwheat.
 
 Considered that the ideal schi is so thick, that if you put a spoon into the soup, it holds vertical position and doesn’t fall. 😀 or when a huge piece of meat is risen above a plate of schi.
 
 Health-giving properties of the soup allowed to consume it frequently. There are many schi versions: ‘summer schi’ with fresh cabbage or sorrel, ‘winter schi’ with sour cabbage, ‘lenten/lean schi’ without meat and etc. Mine is with fresh cabbage and meat.
 For the meat part better to choose fatty beef, belly or rump, bone in. Even you can add some pork. I used boneless lamp, because couldn’t find a proper piece of beef.
 When the soup is ready, leave it for 15-30 minutes to get the enhanced flavor. A similar principle is brewing tea, we keep it for 3 minutes to get a wonderful aroma. So, you can make a big pot of schi and eat it all week long. 🙂

Russian schi

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
 

Ingredients
500-600g lamb or beef
300-400g cabbage
3 medium potatoes
1+1 onion, for broth and frying
1+1 carrot, for broth and frying
2-3 tsp tomato paste
small bunch of parsley and/or dill
2 bay leaves
5 whole peppercorns
2 tbsp. sunflower oil, for frying
1 garlic clove
sour cream, good quality 
rye or wholemeal bread
salt, black pepper to taste
 
Preparation
    • Put the meat inn a large soup pot, cover with 3 litres of water, bring to boil and remove the foam.
    • Meanwhile, grate carrot and dice onion. Sauté vegetables until they are soft for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and sauté for 3-4 minutes more.
    • Take and throw carrot and onion out, we won’t use them anymore.
    • Take the meat out as well. Cut into small cubes and keep aside.
    • To get the clear soup, you can strain the broth through cheesecloth (optionally).
    • Season the broth with salt and black pepper to taste.
    • Slice potatoes, add into the broth and boil 15 minutes.
    • Thinly shred the cabbage and add to the potatoes (when they are half way done) along with meat cubes.
    • Again bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are soft.
    • Add sautéed carrot and onion to the pot along with bay leaves, whole peppercorns (you can smash them little bit), salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.
    • Add chopped parsley/dill and crushed garlic.
    • Turn the heat off, cover the pot with a lid and let it stand at least for 15 minutes.
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream and rye or wholemeal bread.
 
Enjoy Russian lunch! 🙂

You can click on any picture to have a look it in full size.

Linzer cookies

  I do love shortcrust pastries! It’s versatile, great choice of fillings allows your imagination run wild. 😀  Thus, is easy to guess that I’ve made so many shortbreads as well, some of them were not good and too crumbly for me, but I keep on.
 Linzer cookie is two nut-flavored cookies are sandwiched together with a jam, originally it was a torte, named after the city of Linz, Austrian. Do you know that such round-shaped cookies are called “Linzer eyes”. What a pretty name! 🙂
Love_cookies_v2-1
 Based on different recipes, I used following Linzer cookie recipe:
Ingredients
100g (1/2 cup) white sugar
1 egg
120g (1/2 cup) butter, cut into small cubes, room temperature
200g (1 1/2 cup) all purpose flour
90g (1 cup) almond meal
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
50g (1/3 cup) or less powdered (icing) sugar
50-60 ml (1/4 cup) Raspberry jam
Method 
In a bowl on a table cream butter and sugar. Add the egg, vanilla and mix.
Finally, beat in the ground almonds.
Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl and add to the batter and blend.
Form into disk, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line baking trays with parchment paper.
Roll out pastry to 25-50mm (1/4-1/8 inch) thickness.
Cut out the cookies (if cookies are too soft-chill it again for 10-15 minutes).
Bake for 12 minutes. Allow to cool.
Spread 1/2 or 1tsp jam on the bottoms of solid cookies. Sprinkle the cut-out cookies with icing sugar, place them on top and sandwich them together.

 

The assembled cookies can be store in an container (in the refrigerator), or I keep them without jam, in a jar, and assemble when it’s needed 🙂Love_cookies_v2-3
Enjoy! Cookies are sooooo good! 😀
Love_cookies_v2-4
*You can cut out any shape, and use your favourite jam.
**In case if the pastry turned out too crumbly and difficult to roll it out, add 2tbsp of cold water, usually it helps me 🙂 
P.S. You can click on all photos to have a look it in full size.

 

Roast quail for St.Valentine Day

 Quail may be tiny birds but they pack a real flavor punch. Perfect for Valentine’s Day meal.

 There’s something adorable about presenting your Valentine with their own whole bird. The easiest way (and messy) to eat a small quails is with your fingers 🙂 or you can carve it as turkey.
Quail(Click on the photo to see it in a larger size)
 Serve one quail per person as a starter or two as a main course.
 
Ingredients
4 whole quails
4 medium potatoes
2 carrots
2 medium onions
1 small bunch thyme
6-8 juniper berries
2 tbsp runny honey
2+2 tbsp olive oil 
salt, pepper
 
Method
  1. If you’ve got frozen quail, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Take the quail out of the fridge 1 hour before cooking. Wipe the outside of the bird and inside the cavity, using kitchen paper.
  3. Season inside with salt&pepper, put in sprig of thyme and one juniper berry. Tie the legs together with string (optionally).
  4. Season birds with salt&pepper and thyme, brush with honey and 2 tbsp olive oil.
  5. Preheat oven to 200C. Put thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, onions, thyme and juniper berries into a roasting tin. Sprinkle with salt&pepper, drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Sit the quail on top and roast for 25 minutes more.
 
Enjoy!