Monday, May 17, 2010

Воскресенье (Sunday)

Tonight's dinner (Monday, as I type this) was such a let-down -- chicken nuggets, pizza rolls, and cheesy tater-tots, all poured out of a bag and baked in the oven...and a lone can of corn as a salute to the need for vegetable matter in our diet.

I say a let-down, because Sunday night's dinner was AWESOME!!  Even the kids -- yes, the same kids upon whom I unloaded just yesterday -- found things to like in last night's dinner.  We had Borscht, Chicken Kiev, Rice Pilaf and Zucchini-Cheese Patties with Yogurt and Garlic Sauce.

Okay, we can dismiss the rice pilaf out of hand.  It was a last-minute toss-in, and Angel found a recipe that included orange-peels, and thus...tasted like oranges to an overpowering extent.  It wasn't wretched, but nobody liked it.  Since we hadn't been planning for it, I've omitted the recipe from this site.

Next, though...we spent the week in Russia, how could we NOT have the single food that everyone.. EVERYONE associates with Russia?  No, not vodka, that's a drink, and that's after the kids go outside to play after dinner.  I meant Borscht.  The traditional beet soup, which is about as much as anyone I've run into knows about it.  I'll own up to having eaten Borscht once before -- in a Russian-styled deli in Sitka, Alaska while on our honeymoon.  I liked it...but I didn't think it was stringently authentic, in a deli that served cruise-ship patrons on shore-leave.  During the cooking process, Angel and I were pretty dubious about the aromas coming from the pot.  I thought it was pretty strong and earthy.  Angel was of a mind that the smell was a short word, and rhymed with "comet."


In the bowl, though, the soup was totally un-"comet"-like.  Savory, somewhat pungent broth, with generous chunks of potato, beet, carrot, green pepper and cabbage.  With a dollop of sour cream mixed in, the borscht transformed into creamy goodness as the pungent-ness was cut way down.  Evie ate hers, the twins turned up their nose and Gable actually gave it a valiant effort but was defeated.  Angel liked it enough to pronounce it a "make again," and it might even mark the first dish ever with green peppers in it that she's eaten and not been revulsed.

Kotleta po-Kievski, Risa Plov, Kabak Mucver i Sikhdorov Madzoon

Angel's chicken Kiev was Angel's chicken Kiev -- read the notes on the recipe and you'll  understand.  We'll just say that Angel's made it before, and it was good...all the kids ate their chicken.

But the star, the real STAR of the table was the platter of zucchini-cheese patties, redolent in crispy, golden goodness.  They used the kassari cheese for which I had quested across Lansing, Michigan.  They were deep-fried.  They ended up much like potato cakes -- crispy around the fringes, yet delectably soft in the middle, with creaminess and a hint of tang from the cheese, and an almost eggplant-like taste from the humble zucchini.  We dipped them in a Yogurt-Garlic sauce with cilantro leaves in it -- I think Angel actually shed a tear, they were so good.  The kids could've cared -- that was fine...more for us!!

Kabak Mucver

Russia has not been an easy week.  We had mutineering children, I battled the flu, and Angel spent upwards of two hours every day in the kitchen, cooking.  Work has been busy, school (for me) has been busy, life has been busy for both Angel and me.  We have not wavered on our commitment to this project, though -- we are going to see this out for the whole year.  Not for the kids or for any noble reasons.  No...for us.

Ellie picked our next country.  In a week's time, we go to Mexico.  Remember what I said about Taco Bell a bit before?  Yeah, we'll see who's sent on a run for "tortadas" and Burrito Supremes somewhere around Thursday. ;^)


Borscht (Beet Soup)


  • 3 cans (14 ounce) beef broth
  • 2 medium beets
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 3 potatoes
  • ¼ head of cabbage
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ green pepper
  • ½ fresh parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • Sour cream as garnish
  • Sugar, to taste


  1. Prepare onions and carrots by chopping them.
  2. Pour a little vegetable oil into a skillet and add the carrots and onions. Cook until softened, and set aside.
  3. Peel the beets and chop or slice both into small bite-sized pieces.
  4. Remove the seeds from the green pepper and chop.
  5. Put the chopped beets and green pepper into a small saucepan and add about ½ cup of broth and the tomato paste. Cover the pot and simmer the vegetables for about 30 minutes until the beets are tender.
  6. While the beets and peppers are cooking, pour the remaining broth into a large saucepan and heat it almost to boiling.
  7. Chop the cabbage and add it to the broth.
  8. Peel the potatoes, cut them into bite-size pieces and add to broth.
  9. Add cooked onions and carrots to broth. Simmer the soup for about 20 minutes.
  10. When the beets are tender, add them to the broth. Add lemon juice, salt, sugar, parsley, and garlic cloves.
  11. Simmer 10 more minutes, and serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream in each bowl.
Serves 10 to 12.
-- from foodbycountry website

Zucchini-Cheese Patties (Kabak Mucver)

3 zucchini (about 8 oz. each), peeled and grated
1 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
6 oz kasseri cheese, grated (we had to mail-order this...for a substitute, think soft & white like Provolone, with some fresh Parmesan tang to it)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
Black pepper to taste
Light vegetable oil for frying
Yogurt and Garlic Sauce (see below)

In a colander, toss the zucchini with 1 tsp salt.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Rinse thoroughly under cold running water.  Drain and squeeze the zucchini to remove the excess water and pat dry on paper towels.  Place the zucchini in a bowl.  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute', stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes.  Cool slightly, then add the onion and cheese to the zucchini in the bowl.  Stir well to combine.  Beat the flour together with the eggs and add to the zucchini mixture.  Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Measure enough oil into a large skillet to come up about 1/2 inch.  Heat the oil until very hot.  Drop about 1 1/2 Tbs of the batter into the skillet for each patty, spacing them about 1 inch apart.  Pat the patties lightly with a spatula to flatten.  Fry until golden on both sides.  Cool and serve with the Yogurt and Garlic Sauce.  Serves 6

Yogurt and Garlic Sauce (Sikhdorov Madzoon)
1 cup plain yogurt
2 medium-size cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press
Salt to taste
3 Tbs finely chopped fresh cilantro or mint, plus a sprig of either as garnish

In a small bowl, stir all of the ingredients to mix well.  Refrigerate, covered, for at least 12 hours.  Garnish with the herb sprig and serve.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
 -- Patties and sauce from "Please to the Table" by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman

Chicken Kiev
Okay, this one is almost cheating.  Chicken Kiev has been my wife's "signature dish" since before I met her.  She cooked it for me when we were dating, in college.  When we invite guests (rare rare rare!) she uses Chicken Kiev as a safe, "fall-back" dish.  Just sayin'. 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 lb)
1 Tbs chopped green onion
1 Tbs snipped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 of a 1/4-lb stick of butter, chilled
1 beaten egg
1 Tbs water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs cooking oil

  1. Rinse chicken; pat dry.  Place each breast half between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.  Pound lightly into a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick.  Remove plastic wrap.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Combine green onion, parsley, and garlic; sprinkle on chicken.
  2. Cut chilled 1/2 stick of butter into four 2 1/2 x 1/2 inch sticks.  Place a stick of butter in center of each chicken piece.  Fold in sides; roll up jelly-roll style, pressing edges to seal.  Stir together egg and water.  Coat rolls with flour, dip in egg mixture, then coat with bread crumbs.  Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours.
  3. In a large skillet melt the 1Tbs butter; add oil.  Add chilled chicken rolls.  Cook over medium-high heat about 5 minutes or till golden brown, turning to brown all sides.  Transfer to a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.  Spoon drippings over rolls.  Makes 4 servings.
 -- from The Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book.

1 comment:

  1. Those zucchini things are AMAZING! I could happily get fat on those!