Tag Archives: mushrooms

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.

Book Review: The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever

1 Dec

Cover of Casserole bookThe Best Casserole Book Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas

Reviewed by Chris Garbutt

The cover of this book goes against the usual “food porn” type – you know what I’m talking about. Photos on most cookbooks or food magazines are designed to make you slobber lustily after a perfectly staged dish. Here, we see a casserole almost empty, giving the feel of a meal well enjoyed.

It worked on me. My memories of casseroles are not pleasant. In my childhood, they were mushy excuses to get rid of leftovers – throw them all in a pot, maybe with some canned tomato soup or chicken broth, and bake. Ugh – I can still taste the canned peas and nearly dissolved carrots.

Times have changed. Beatrice Ojankangas defines casseroles as broadly as imaginable. I never really thought about it, but I guess a casserole is any meal cooked all in one dish. Here’s the Wikipedia entry.

I’m going to have to jettison my stereotypes. How about a Swedish Lingonberry Pancake Casserole? Or a Black Bean Tortilla?  This is not your mother’s casserole cookbook. The book brags more than 500 recipes, which means you could have a different comfort dish every day for the entire winter, and that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner (and dessert!).

For some reason I was attracted to the vegetarian chapter. I considered the Spiced Brown Rice and Vegetables, or the Black Bean and Red Pepper Casserole before finally settling on the Barley and Mushroom Casserole. There was little prep, and the joy of the casserole is that once its in the oven, you can go off and do other things while it bakes. The flavour of the mushrooms got a boost from homemade chicken stock (the recipe calls for vegetable stock, so it’s veggie-friendly), and a touch of white truffle oil, which I’d bought for another dish last week. And if you haven’t tried truffle oil, do it. It costs $10-20 a bottle, but a few drops will fill your mouth, and it’s amazing with mushroom dishes, or if you need to liven up a chicken breast or piece of fish.

It took a little longer than expected – either too much stock or not enough barley, so the liquid didn’t absorb the way I had hoped. But well worth the wait.

Comfort food is my default. If I’m stuck for what to cook, it’s usually a soup, stew, chili or maybe a roast chicken. But because of my particular past, casseroles were never on my radar. That has all changed.