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!

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!

Cauliflower couscous with shrimps

 When I saw a cauliflower couscous recipe for a first time in a food magazine I didn’t pay much attention to it and dismissed it, and made another pan of creamy cauli soup. 🙂 But when I stumbled upon similar recipes again and again, I decided to give it a chance. 
 I red few recipes to know how to make a cauliflower couscous: the main thing is to pulse cauliflower florets in a food processor to get tiny bits, which reminds couscous grains and then you can mix it up with any your favourite ingredients. Thus, I came up with my own recipe. Even thou, I topped cauli couscous with shrimps, you may omit it and keep totally vegetarian. Whatever you choose, this dish is full of flavour! It’s a good alternative for a regular couscous, and especially for people with gluten sensitivity. Such couscous pairs well with roasted chicken or barbecued meat as well. Cauliflower couscous with shrimps
 And you know what, now it’s my fav way to prepare cauliflower! When I served it for a dinner my husband couldn’t guess what was that – whether pasta or couscous, but he liked it. Because it tasted divine: buttery and aromatic! 🙂

Cauliflower couscous with shrimps

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 20mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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You can also try to add: chopped walnuts or pistachios, raisins, goji berries, chickpeas..
Ingredients 
Cauli’couscous
cauliflower 400g
baby onion 5-7, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped, optinal
olive oil 1 tbsp+ butter 1 tbsp, for frying
lemon juice 1 tbsp
sea salt, black&white pepper to taste
chopped mint 1 tbsp
chopped parsley 1 tbsp
olives 6-7, stoned
extra virgin olive oil, for dressing
roasted slivered or flaked almonds 2 tbsp
Shrimps
medium shrimps 10 (or more if shrimps are small), cleaned
lemon juice 2 tbsp
1/3-1/2 tsp chilli flakes, optional
1 tsp sweet paprika
freshly ground sea salt and white pepper to taste
olive oil 2 tbsp, for frying
 
Method
  1. Mix up all ingredients for shrimps marinade. Put shrimps in a bowl, pour over marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a fridge at least for 1 hour.
  2. Wash and roughly cut cauliflower. Using a food processor, blitz cauliflower until breadcrumbs/couscous size.
  3. In a frying pan, heat oil and butter. Add whole baby onions and fry over medium heat until golden. Add cauliflower and garlic if using, fry for 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower is ready. Add lemon juice and season to taste. Stir in chopped herbs and olives.
  4. In a separate pan heat oil and fry shrimps for 2-3 minutes on each side over medium-high heat.
  5. Arrange cauliflower couscous on a large serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with almonds. Top with shrimps.
Enjoy!

Cauliflower couscous