Week 10 – Russia

As I walk into the kitchen of my Classical European cuisine class, Chef Bill is wearing a brilliant red hockey jersey with large white letters on the front which reads C C C P. Instantly, memories of the 1980 U.S. olympic hockey team rush into my head. Mike Eruzione running on the ice in celebration as he scores a goal against our hated Russian rivals. I thought for sure I would be disliking this weeks class due to the distain left in my mouth for the Russians. But that was over 30 years ago. The cold war is over and Billy Joel is no longer “starting a fire”. So how is the cuisine of Russia? Do you believe in miracles? I do.

The first item on the menu is Borshch Moskovsky (Moscow-sytle Beet Soup). I enjoy beets and thought this would be a delightful soup. I found it to taste just as it sounds, beety. It was ok. I felt it was missing a component or two. The dollop of sour cream didn’t help as I thought it might. I guess you can say that this dish is an aquired taste.

Next up is the Blini (Buckwheat Pancakes). This was a nice item. Obviously a side dish of sorts, the Blini is like a russian crepe. I wasn’t sure what to do with it but it tasted good. It had a sweetness to it that felt like it should be served as dessert. But we have other plans for the dessert course.

Our next item on the menu is Chahohbili (Georgian-style Chicken). This dish reminded me of chicken cacciatore. I took a whole chicken and cut it into 8 pieces. After sauteeing onions, peppers and garlic, I put the chicken in the pot, deglazed with white wine, covered and simmered for 30 to 45 minutes. The meat fell off the bone. The sauce had tomatoes in it and I added brown sugar to the onions so it was nice and sweet. However, crushed red pepper brought the dish to life. We all enjoyed this dish immensely.

Our next dish was Loby (string beans in sour cream sauce) but Chef asked us not to make the sauce as he doesn’t care for the taste of it. So I made sauteed string beans with diced tomatoes and onions. I used it as a bed for the chicken which was an obvious match.

Finally, the dessert is called Syrniki (Sweet Cheese Fritters with Berry Kissel). The fritters were a nice and savory accompaniment to the berry kissel. Berry kissel is basically a berry marmalade cooked down with sugar. I decided to strain out the seeds of the raspberries and blackberries and use it as a sauce and I took the marmalade and dolloped it on top. I freshened the dish up with a few fresh berries and sprinkled powdered sugar over the top. All in all it was a nice successful and well presented dish.

Well, that’s it. Next week is our practical final and the sememster is finally ending. I will miss this class along with its zany but highly educational Chef Instructor.

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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