Na Zdorovia! aka – Russian food
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m ethnically Russian. Combine that with a career in international relations, and you get sporadic attempts on my part to learn Russian, the most proactive of which I am currently undertaking. This week, I finally moved from Level 1 Russian to Level 2 in Rosetta Stone and my dad (who speaks it fluently) told me I should celebrate … by cooking Russian food. Specifically, kapusni perog, or cabbage pie. Of course, my logic was, why stop with that? Clearly this requires a whole themed meal of awesomeness. So the menu became kapusni perog, hard-cooked eggs, a side of beets, and all served with Moscow Mules.
Moscow Mules: Fill a tall glass with some ice. Pour in 1 1/2 shots of vodka, the juice from 1/2 a lime, and maybe 1/2 a can of ginger beer (not ginger ale). Mix with a spoon and enjoy.
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup salted butter
some cold water
Put flour in a bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (or a fork if you don’t have one) until it is all incorporated, and the dough can almost clump together. Add the water, a little at a time, stirring it in with a knife and your hands until a nice dough has formed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until the filling is done.
3-4 cups chopped cabbage
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons butter
To make the filling, chop up 1/2 an onion and several cups of cabbage. Saute in a large pan with a couple tablespoons of butter. Butter, not olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, and saute until the mixture is done.
Split the dough into two equal parts. Roll out one of the balls and use it to line a pie plate. Place the cabbage mixture in the pie plate. Then roll out the other half of the dough, and lay it on top of the mixture, crimping the edges together with the bottom crust. Prick the top crust with a fork. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
1 medium beet, either golden or normal
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oz goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Peel one medium beet, and slice into relatively thin half-circles. Toss with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until tender – make sure to flip the beets over once during the cooking process so both sides cook evenly. Let the beets cool. Once cool, spread a little goat cheese on each beet slice, like you would with a cracker. Drizzle a little honey over it all and serve.
The whole meal was delicious. Basic, simple foods can be delicious if cooked well. Food doesn’t have to be complicated. But really, the most fun about it is the whole cooking and meal experience. Everything was just super enjoyable. Ok, so the beets were more French than Russian, but well-educated Russians all secretly wanted to be French back in the day – blame Peter the Great for that. Song of the week: “To Life” from Fiddler on the Roof. I have loved this song since I was little. Now, this may seem weird, given that the Russians were horrible and the bad guys in the movie, but this song at least is a happy bubble of tolerance and thus is appropriate enough I think.