Here we are christening this new list and, despite being a Brit, I thought it would be cool to start off with Russia. There are two Russian things in the 1001 foods list that I have wanted to make for a while and I thought that this would provide me with the perfect opportunity.
Russian cuisine, like the country, is vast. If it was not for the 1001 foods list providing me some focus I would have had a lot of trouble narrowing it down to one or two dishes. I might have made some of things in GentleWhispering’s ASMR video on traditional Russian cuisine, although there is no way I could have made as pretty a block of gingerbread as Maria did.
This huge variation in dishes does bleed into a lot of the surrounding countries, which means I have somewhere to start from when I plan my meals for the likes of Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. For example, I know I am going to make plov at some point – it’s just that I need to assign a country.
So… what did I make?
Main Dish: Kulebiaka
Kulebiaka (or coulibiac) is one of those things that I have wanted to make ever since I first saw the recipe for it in my copy of the Samarkand cookbook. On the surface of it, kulebiaka looks like it would be a difficult thing to make. However, once you decide to get premade puff pastry instead of making your own, it is deceptively easy to make.
What we essentially have here is two layers of a rice mix (containing mushrooms, rice, onion and various herbs and spices), one layer of sliced hard-boiled eggs and a layer of flaked salmon. All this is wrapped in puff pastry and then baked in the oven after giving it a good eggwash.
I cannot begin to describe how proud I am of this and it tasted so good. I did wonder about the inclusion of three hard-boiled eggs, but they really took on the flavours (and colours) of the turmeric, cardamom and cumin – so I shouldn’t have worried. The smell as we cut this open was something else as well.
This will not be the only thing I end up making from the Samarkand cookbook and it probably won’t be the last time I make a Kulebiaka. Now that I have the confidence to make it, I think I might start experimenting with flavours to see how I can pull it in different cultural directions.
As we were eating this for lunch on Easter Sunday (yup, I’m more than 6 months ahead now) I thought that this would be the perfect time to try and make pashka. This is a creation traditionally made for Easter to be served with kulich (a pannetone-style Russian loaf) and is made from curd cheese, dried fruit and cream.
Technically, this dessert is meant to be turned out of the dish and decorated with dried fruit, but I didn’t trust this enough to not completely collapse over the table. So, I took this picture and just went to town on it with a spoon and spread it on chunks of kulich that I had bought from a Russian bakery in Borough Market.
I got the recipe for this from Great British Chefs and, aside from my blender breaking halfway through, this was really simple to make and taste delicious. It’s incredibly rich and, the version I made, really reminded me of the filling of a rum-raisin cheesecake. Again, this is something that I would want to make again and, maybe, have the nerve to turn it out and decorate it in the traditional style before eating it.
Being the first country (and as we did this for Easter), we thought it would be cool to also have a Russian style appetiser and what’s more Russian than caviar and blini. This is my first time eating something labelled as caviar (please note that this is lumpfish caviar because I am not made of money) and I really liked it. Especially with the blini and creme fraiche.
List Item: Try caviar
The next country will probably not be as extravagant as this, but I had to start this list off with a bang. At the moment I have no plans for what the next country will be, so I guess I need to see where the recipe searches take me.
So, until next time, prijatnogo appetita!