Russian Beetroot Caviar

 This bright beetroot dip doesn’t contain salmon or any other fish raw. In my home-country vegetable spreads and dips that are mushed into a non-smooth consistency are often called caviar. In USSR fish caviar was an expensive product and most of the time was served over special occasions, but people have always wanted something tasty not only during holidays or weekend; and such vegetables as an eggplants, marrows and beetroots were cheap and available almost throughout the year, thus I guess economical version of the “caviar” was created.

russian-beetroot-caviar

 The recipe I found in a book dated 1990, it calls to boil beetroot, fry onions and press through the  meat-grinder machine along with other ingredients. Easy-peasy. It turned out so tasty, that i have already made it few times in a row! Moreover, it was a hit at the home-party, especially when I served this dip nicely decorated with little festive crackers; needless to say, guests asked for the recipe!
 The original Russian recipe calls for the salted pickled cucumbers, which are usually watery and personally I don’t like its taste, so I used regular crunchy pickled cucumbers and the beetroot dip was absolutely amazing and delicious! I prefer slightly coarse a caviar-like texture, so I don’t blend ingredients too much, but if you wish – just blitz it more to get the smooth dip. Enjoy!

Russian Beetroot Caviar

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients 
400g/2 medium-size beetroots
2 tps olive or sunflower oil, for frying
1/2 large brown onion
~100g pickled cucumbers
2 cloves of garlic
Salt&Pepper, to taste
Method 
  1. Boil beetroots until soft. Cool, clean and chop.
  2. Chop the onion and fry in a oil until soft and golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Finely chop cucumbers. Also finely chop or mush garlic.
  4. Blitz all ingredients in a food processor until desired consistency.
  5. Check the seasoning. Serve with rye bread or crackers.
Enjoy!

Warm butternut squash salad

This delicious warm salad is perfect for cold months. Yes, it is simple but bursting with flavour, and of course it contains the main autumn ingredient – beautiful winter squash! Slightly sweet roasted butternut squash together with salted feta and fresh spinach leaves create nice and tasty salad, perfect in its simplicity.

winter-squash-salad
And don’t forget to sprinkle the salad with raw pumpkin seeds (as I did.. haha)!
Warm butternut squash salad

Warm butternut squash salad

  • Time: 40min
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Slightly adapted from here
Ingredients
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm-thick slices
1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
1 orange
fresh spinach leaves, as much as you like
100-150g feta or white/Bulgarian cheese
handful of raw pumpkin seeds
Dressing*
juice of 1/2 orange
2-3 tsp white balsamic or champagne vinegar
1 tsp honey mustard
2-3 tbsp EV olive oil
freshly ground sea salt &white pepper, to taste
Method
  1. Arrange butternut squash and onion on a baking tray, drizzle everything with olive oil, plus squash with juice of 1/2 orange. Roast in preheated 180C oven for 25 minutes or until squash is soft.
  2. For the dressing, in a small jar combine all ingredients and shake well. *Adjust to your taste by adding more vinegar or oil.
  3. Arrange spinach on a serving plate, top with warm squash and onion. Sprinkle with feta and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with dressing.
Enjoy warm salad!

Spiced cauliflower with peas

 A year ago I visited “Taste of Dubai”. It was a large, full of fun and activities festival, dedicated to food, cooking and eating! It brought together restaurant and street food, music performances, cooking classes and live cooking demonstrations. You could order some nice food, relax and enjoy the music, another great way to spend the evening was to cook along with top chefs. Many world-famous and celebrity chefs were invited to the festival, and I could watch how they are preparing amazing and tasty food, and then taste it. Among many chefs was Dhruv Baker, he is known as a winner of MasterChef 2010, and I didn’t miss a chance to sign his cookbook ‘Spice’. Spiced cauliflower with peas

 Honestly speaking, I’ve prepared only few recipes from his book so far. 😀 They were not spectacular as I expected: for example, “caponata” turned out as a regular eggplant stew, that I make often too – only without vinegar and olives. But I really liked this recipe made from fried cauliflower florets with peas, tomatoes and a mixture of spices. Mustard seeds, fresh ginger and cumin infuse the dish perfectly, while chilli adds a mild spiciness. The final addition of fresh coriander leaves on top and lime juice adds a beautiful touch. I served this simple but tasty cauliflower with roasted chicken.
Fried cauliflower with spices
 I am curious about all new foodie things and lately, I have discovered on the Internet that the combination of cauliflower and peas is a common in Indian cuisine. I really liked this easy and healthy dish. Spices do wonders! 🙂

Spiced cauliflower with peas

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 30min
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Adapted from “Spice” by Dhruv Baker.
Double the qauntity of cauliflower and peas to serve the dish as a main vegetarian course.
Ingredients
200-300g cauliflower
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 small round chilli
100g frozen peas
1 large tomato, finely chopped
2-3 tsp lime juice, optional
some fresh coriander leaves, chopped
salt, white pepper to taste
 
Method
  • Wash the cauliflower and cut into small florets.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat, add mustard seeds. As soon as the start to pop add all spices and stir for a minute.
  • Add cauliflower florets and stir to coat with spices. Cook on a medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes.
  • Add frozen peas and tomato, season to taste. Reduce heat to low-medium and cook for 20 minutes or until cauliflower is cooked.
  • Arrange on a serving plate, drizzle with lime juice if using and top with coriander.
Enjoy!
Fried cauliflower with peas, mustard seeds and round chilli

Millet bitochki

 Bitochki or bitki is the name for round-shaped, flattened cutlets (côtelettes/patties) in Russian cuisine, which are prepared from chopped meat or grains. Originally in old Russia, a good and expensive cuts of meat were flattened, cooked and called bitochki, but lately people adapted the recipe and began to use cheap meat. Any remaining meat was chopped, mixed with other ingredients and then served fried or baked. Poor people even used grains.MIlletBitochki
 Nowadays, not only poor one can make such bitochki. I used millet for mine. Bitochki are not only tasty, but healthy and it is a good option for a meatless day. Millet is one of the healthiest grain, moreover is considered to be one of the digestible and non-allergenic grains*. It contains lots of fiber and low simple sugar. Finally, bitochki have such a nice texture inside (it reminds a white fish a bit) and crispy outside.
 You can serve them with a lettuce-tomato salad on a side. I made mushrooms sauce, but if you are run out of time or lazy – serve with a good dollop of sour cream (or creme fraiche).
MIlletBitochki with mushroom sauce

Millet bitochki with mushroom sauce

  • Servings: 12 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Instead of mushroom sauce you can serve bitochiki with sour cream.
Bitochki as well as mushroom sauce can be made a day or two ahead and then gently reheated.
 
*You can use both cream and sour cream, or any one.
Ingredients
150g millet
500ml hot water
1 medium egg
2-3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 medium onion (any sort you like)
300g mushrooms (I used oyester and champinions), chopped
1 tbsp butter+ 1 tbsp olive oil, for mushrooms
20g butter
15-20g plain flour
100ml 35% cream*
2-3 tbsp sour cream*
150ml hot water
salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive or sunflower oil, for frying
some chopped parsely, for garnish, optional
Preparation method
  • Wash millet throughly under running water, cover with hot water, season with some salt, bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until millet is ready. You need to cool it completely. To make it faster, spread millet on a large plate and put in a fridge for 10-15 minutes, while preparing the mushrooms and sauce.
  • In a frying pan, heat butter and oil, add onion and fry for 5 minutes (set aside half of onions for millet ). Add mushrooms and fry on a hight heat for 10 minutes or until all liquid is evaporated (if there is any). Season to taste. Set aside 3-4 tbsp mushrooms for millet; then chop it finely.
  • Meanwhile, in a small pan, add butter and flour, stir on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir into mushrooms.
  • Pour over cream along with sour cream, give it a good stir. Pour in hot water. Check the seasoning. Simmer on a medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Add more hot water to reach desired consistency. Keep the sauce warm.
  • Transfer cooled millet in a mixing bowl, add egg, parsley, season with salt and pepper. Mix in fried onion and mushrooms. Combine the mixture. I didn’t use any flour, but if the mixture seems doesn’t want to resemble into a patty, add a tablespoon or two of plain flour.
  • Generously spread breadcrumbs on a large plate. With a tablespoon take a millet mixture and make a ball, pat it down with your hand or spoon. Cover in a breadcrumbs. Repeat with all millet mixture.
  • In a large frying pan, heat oil, put bitochki and fry on both sides until golden. To keep it warm while preparing others – put them in a preheated 120-150C oven.
  • Serve with mushroom sauce and sprinkle with extra parsley, if desired.
Enjoy!

Beetroot soup with bacon and chive

 The week before St.Valentine’s Day is just started. Are you ready for the Big Day? Have you planned how do you want to spend it? No matter what you choose – whether to go to a restaurant or to spend a romantic dinner in, I recommend you to try this pureed soup with roasted beetroot. You can serve it as a hot starter on the V-Day, or just prepare it during the week.Beetroot soup with bacon and chives  The soup is very easy and quick to make. The only thing I’d like to mention: better to roast beetroot instead of boiling, roasted beets with rosemary and olive oil have such a lovely aroma and they add an extra amazing taste to the soup! And if you are vegetarian – omit the bacon.

Beetroot soup with bacon and chive

  • Difficulty: very easy
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You may also garnish the soup with fresh chopped dill instead of chives.
Omit the bacon for vegetarian option.

Ingredients

2 small beetroots, about 230g
1 small red onion
1 garlic clove, optional, peeled
1 teared fresh rosemary sprig or 1 tsp dried
1 tbsp olive oil
500ml water (or veg or beef stock)
2 small potatoes, about 230g
1 bay leave
1 tsp dark muscovado sugar (or sub with white)
1 tbps lemon juice
freshly ground pink pepper, to taste
sea salt, to taste
Garnish
3-4 smoked bacon strips
1.5 tbsp each cream cheese+sour cream (or use more cream cheese)
4 tbsp fresh chive
Preparation method
  1. Wash and peel beetroot, cut into 4-5 slices and arrange on a piece of foil. Slice onion and add along with garlic and rosemary to beetroot. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in preheated 180C oven for 20 minutes, then take out onion and garlic. Seal the foil and bake beetroot for 20-30 minutes more or until it’s soft.
  2. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into small cubes. Bring water or stock to boil in a medium pan, add potatoes, bay leave and some salt. Slightly cover, simmer on a medium heat until soft. Discard the bay leave.
  3. Add all roasted vegetables to the pan along with sugar and lemon juice. Season to taste with pink pepper and salt. Simmer all together for 5-6 minutes more.
  4. In a small pan, fry sliced bacon (without oil) until it’s crispy. Drain on a paper towels.
  5. Blend the soup until smooth.
  6. For the garnish, mix cream cheese with sour cream, or use only cream cheese. Chop chives.
  7. Pour the soup into serving bowls. Garnish with fried bacon, chives and a dollop of cream.
  8. Serve warm with some bread.
Enjoy!
Pureed Roasted Beetroot Soup