Tag Archives: hearty

The G20 Series: Russia

15 Jun

by Stephanie Dickison

I love the fact that Russian cooking includes a lot of cuisines.

In The Best of Russian Cooking by Alexandra Kropotkin, soups not only get their own section, it’s early on in the cookbook, which isn’t always the case with North American cookbooks.  I like to believe this is because they place a lot of importance on them.

I also love that there are a ton of both cold and hot soups available.

According to Wikipedia:

“Russian soups can be divided into at least seven large groups:

  • Chilled soups based on kvass, such as tyurya, okroshka, and botvinya.
  • Light soups and stews based on water and vegetables.
  • Noodle soups with meat, mushrooms, and milk.
  • Soups based on cabbage, most prominently shchi.
  • Thick soups based on meat broth, with a salty-sour base like rassolnik and solyanka.
  • Fish soups such as ukha.
  • Grain- and vegetable-based soups.”

Over at Yulinka Cooks, Julia in Wisconsin gives you the low down on Borsch with her Borsch 2.0 entry (note there is no “t” in hers).

I like the decoding of Uzbek Soup in Anna’s Recipe Box.

Schi, a traditional Russian soup, might sound a little hearty for this warm weather, but I say give it a try.

If you live in Seattle, you can learn to make Russian soups like a pro.  But since you probably don’t, you can make some of the soups from The Food and Cooking of Russia by Lesley Chamberlain, discover Russian Food Culture and learn to read Russian menus.

And on your way to Russia, shop here for your authentic ingredients.

In the meantime, Clear Russian Fish Soup with Lime and Dill sounds delightful:

* 8 cups fish stock, clarify

* 1 pound white fish fillets, sliced into 6 serving pieces (salmon fillets are also excellent)

* 6 paper thin slices of lime

* 1 Tablespoon finely cut fresh dill leaves

Bring stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Lower in the fish fillets and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 3-4 minutes–until the fish is just opaque. Carefully lift the fish out and put into flat soup bowls. Pour hot stock on top, squeeze a little lime juice into each bowl, float a thin lime slice on top, and sprinkle with dill. Serve at once.

The G20 Series: Mexico

13 Jun

by Stephanie Dickison

Funny, I was just thinking along the same lines as Chris – how the hell do you sum up an entire country’s food in a mere 3-4 paragraphs?!

You can’t.  I can’t, anyway, so I thought long and hard about what sets Mexican food apart for me from the rest of the crowd (I had to fight getting up in the middle of the night to make tacos).

Here’s what I came up with:

Mexican food is perhaps one of the most fun, messy foods to eat.

Tacos and tacitos drip hot sauce and juices from pork and chicken,  enchilada sauce bursts forth from your entree, and ceviches blot your napkin with lemon or lime juice.

Salsas are perhaps one of the messiest condiments, with the water from the tomato or tomatillo and citrus juices making it sometimes difficult to get on your tortilla chip or breadstick.  And when your  fajitas, quesadillas and tacos have salsa on them, just  know that it might take a few tries to get the hang of it and not have it end up on your shirt front.

The good thing about salsa is it is simple to make an outstanding one as long as you have fresh ingredients on hand, and because you don’t have to cook it, it can be made quickly.  The base ingredients include tomatoes or tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic, citrus juice and hot peppers.  Some pros say salt and pepper too, but I’ve never done that.  (Hmm, I’m going to try that next time….) I like to chop and mix it all by hand, but many people use their food processor.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is the making it fresh always trumps a store-bought one. And this way, you can make it as hot or mild as you like.  The best way to add heat to your salsa is to remember that:

1.  the smaller the chili, the hotter it is

2. add a little at a time and taste as you go

The other thing I’ve learned is, salsas vary in Mexico, depending on the region.   Northern Mexico is known for its hearty grilled beef dishes, so you want something vibrant to stand up against the heaviness.

In The Cuisine of Puebla by Karen Hursh Graber, Northern Mexican “Drunken” Salsa is the perfect accompaniment.  And she says if you don’t have tequila, an extra 1/4 cup of beer will do just fine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 mulato chile, seeded and deveined, soaked in hot water until soft, drained
  • 3 pasilla chiles, seeded and deveined, soaked in hot water until soft, drained
  • 3 large garlic cloves, roasted on a comal or griddle, then peeled
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 3 tomatoes, roasted on a comal or griddle
  • ½ cup beer
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar or piloncillo
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

Grind the chiles, garlic, onion and tomato in a molcajete or blender. Add the beer, tequila, pineapple juice and sugar and blend to combine ingredients. Add salt to taste.

Made a few hours ahead of serving, this salsa develops a deeper flavor. Makes 2 cups

If you want to make something from the South, use a smoked jalapeño called Chipotle.  The Aztecs who lived in central and southern Mexico from the 14th to 16th Centuries, came up with the idea.

The only other thing I would suggest is a lot of napkins.

You’re going to need ’em.