Russia is more than just beautiful women and vodka. It's also food! Why Russia is not yet a foodie's travel destination is a mystery to me. Perhaps it's because there are no "haute cuisine" restaurants that serve Russian food or perhaps it's because no celebrity chef has ever tried to open a trendy Russian-fusion eatery. In any case, don't knock it 'til you try it. I'm sure it will blow your mind.
1. Beef Stroganoff
Sauté sirloin steak strips, onions and mushrooms separately. Once cooked, combine the three ingredients in a pan and cover in a mix of beef broth and Greek yogurt. Season with salt, pepper and any of your favorite spices. Serve over egg noodles.
2. Smoked Salmon and Caviar
Pretty straight forward as a recipe. Smoked salmon, sour cream and caviar served on little crisps or russian blinis. De-li-ci-ous!
Shashlik is all about the right marinade. The classic combination is equal parts water and vinegar, diced onions, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Chop lamb or pork meat into cubes and cover it in the marinade. The longer you marinate the meat, the tastier it will be. Thread meat and onions onto skewers. Grill the meat on a BBQ, preferably over coals, to desired tenderness. Boom!
4. "Vinaigrette" Salad
"Vinaigrette" is a refreshing and healthy salad. Boil carrots, potatoes and beets until they are cooked, about 30 minutes. Put them aside to cool off, then peel them. Dice the veggies into little cubes, add diced pickles, red onions and canned green peas as well. Season with olive oil and salt.
Syrniki are delicious sweet and cheesy bites of heaven. You'll need 1 lb of cottage cheese, 2 eggs, 4 tbsp sugar, 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 tsp of baking powder and a bit of vanilla. Mix all of these ingredients well, you'll get a sticky mass. Scoop a small amount of dough, roll it in flour and form a patty of desired size (see photo). Fry the patties in hot canola oil, like you would fry pancakes. Serve with sour cream or Nutella. Yummay!
6. Apple Sharlotka
The easiest apple pie you're ever going to make! Peel and slice 6 Granny Smith apples into bite size pieces. Place the apples into a non stick or greased pan. In a separate bowl beat 3 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and a touch of vanilla until uniform. Pour the batter over the apples. Bake for about an hour in a 350 degree oven. Let the pie cool down before serving. Enjoy.
Pelmeni are basically meat dumplings. So delicious! They're a bit more complicated to make, so just get frozen pelmeni from a Russian store, like Ella's Deli, for example. Boil them in water until cooked, just follow the instructions on the package. Serve with sour cream and butter.
8. Cucumber and radish salad
Super easy and refreshing salad to make this summer! Thinly slice cucumbers, radishes and green onions. Mix with sour cream, chopped dill and salt and pepper to taste. Done!
9. Berry Kissel
Kissel is a Russian traditional non-alcoholic fruity drink, although you can definitely mix it with vodka, YOLO. It has a very unusual texture. Fill a medium pot with 8 cups of water and 1 pound of your favorite berries, like pitted cherries for example, fresh or frozen. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and stir in 3/4 cup of sugar and a bit of lemon juice. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Dissolve 4 tbsp of corn starch in 1/4 cup of water and add the mixture to the fruit pot while stirring. Let the kissel cool down before serving.
10. Buckwheat Kasha
Kashas are really popular in Russia. They're super healthy and good for you. Try this buckwheat and mushroom kasha, you'll love it. Place dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover them in water for about 20 minutes. In a hot pan, fry onions until soft and add the hydrated mushrooms. Add 1 1/2 cups of buckwheat to the pan and sauté the mixture for a couple of minutes. Pour 2 3/4 cups of boiling water over the mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, season to taste and cook until buckwheat is ready, about 30 minutes. Add a generous amount butter to the kasha when serving.