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
  • 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

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

Beetroot dip with coriander crackers

 This is an extremely delicious beetroot dip that is super easy to prepare and is a crowd-pleaser. The bright beetroot dip can be made as a tasty and healthy appetizer for either home-parties or just your family, especially if you serve it with lots of homemade coriander crackers. Appetizer made from scratch adds a special touch to any kind of gathering. 🙂 It’s also a healthy snack anytime – just spread it over toasted bread, or use it as a wrap filling.
Beetroot dip
You can make the dip even without cheese, but I like it this way more. Also try to add feta or other soft white cheese instead of cream-cheese, walnuts is a another good substitute for pine nuts.
Beetroot dip with coriander crackers
 

Beetroot dip with coriander crackers

  • Difficulty: very easy
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Keep covered in the fridge up to 3 days.
Beetroot dip
Ingredients
150g cooked beetroot (boiled or roasted), chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2-1 tsp cumin, crushed
1 tbsp EV olive oil
2 tbsp Philadelphia cheese
1 tbsp parmesan, finely grated, optional
1 tbsp pine nuts, lightly roasted
sea salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Put all ingredients, except the pine nuts, in a small bowl of blender and blitz until smooth. Season to taste, add pine nuts and pulse a couple of times to keep some nuts pieces; if you like more smooth-pulse again.
  • Garnish with pine nuts and some grated parmesan, if desired. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.
Coriander crackers {Make approx 18 crackers}
Ingredients
130g plain flour+some for kneading and rolling
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt (want less salty, add less salt)
some freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp whole coriander seeds, crushed or ground
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, ground
40 ml EV olive oil
40 ml water+1/2 tsp white sugar
  • In a mixing bowl, combine flour, b.powder, salt and all spices. Mix in olive oil.
  • Dissolve sugar in water and pour into dough, knead the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and keep to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • On a lughtly dusted surface, roll the dough (approx 3-4 mm thick) and cut into 5×5 cm squares.
  • Transfer to a lined baking sheet and bake in preheated 190C oven for 15 minutes or until golden-brown.
  • Cool&Enjoy!

Sunday Breakfast: Savory bread pudding

  During the week I’m trying not to buy an extra loaf of bread, if I still have some leftover. But when I see a freshly-baked croissants it’s so hard to resist.. And the poor leftover bread is lying and waiting to be used somehow. Though I use leftover bread and make breadcrumbs with herbs or croûtons for a soup-puree, but sometimes I simply do not need it. Several years back when I started being interested in various cuisines and tried to cook different recipes, I stumbled upon one English recipe – ‘bread pudding’. I was surprised how simple this dish is, and lately – how trendy it can be. It dates back to the early 11th century England and was a popular dish among poor classes, because leftover bread was used for this frugal meal. We have similar dish in Russian cuisine, which is called ‘grenki’ (fried bread); for that we just dip white bread slices into a mixture of eggs, milk and sugar, and then fried it. But what I like the most in English version, that I can bake it and even make it a night ahead. Plus there are endless possibilities for bread pudding: I can add soaked raisins, fresh peaches or any other available berries, vary the type of bread and even make it savory! And that’s what I did this time – I cleaned up my fridge and used not only bread leftovers, I added fried mushrooms with onions (have got some from a pie filling), some peas and cheese. Simple and tasty! 🙂Savory Bread Pudding

Savory bread pudding

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Also tried to add some fried smoked bacon, it adds a nice smell and taste.
Ingredients
few white bread slices, cut into cubes
2 eggs
80ml full-fat milk
1/2 dried thyme
salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fried onions+ mushrooms
a handful of peas (if using frozen, no need to defreeze)
50g feta or mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
some grated parmesan, optional
1-2 tsp butter or oil, for greasing baking dish
Method
  • Preheat oven to 190C. Grease a baking dish, arrange bread cubes.
  • In a bowl, whisk eggs with milk and spices. Pour over bread crumbs, mix with your hands or a spoon.
  • Mix in fried mushrooms, onions and peas. Season with some extra pepper. Put in the oven for 14-15 minutes.
  • Take the dish out and top with feta or mozzarella cubes. Sprinkle with some parmesan as well, if using. Put back into the oven for 5 minutes more.

Serve immediately for breakfast! Enjoy!

P.S. Even if the bread is too stale, don’t throw it – go outside and feed birds! 🙂
Savory Bread Pudding with mushrooms and peas