Friday, 7 October 2011

Grandma Russia


I've been brought up on Russian food, so I'm really used those tastes being the ones associated with feeling at home and happy. I really struggle to make most Russian dishes, because they involve mincing your own meat at home, which is difficult and.. Well it's a little gross.. But not borsh- it's warm, creamy and it just hugs you.

I love making these homey gorgeous meals at Ralph's house. I spend a lot of time here, and I really like to make it feel like a home, which to me means making it smell nice, and be full of warm food and treats. My grandma has been visiting for the past month, and whenever she visits she teaches me recipes when we spend time together. This time I was determined to actually make something besides a book full of recipes I've never tried.

I really struggle with the vague recipes that eastern Europeans tend to have. They tend to go something like "add some meat and then add spices until it tastes right". This one isn't that different (I've tried to make it more concrete), but there's no minced beef!

This recipe has every vegetable I have ever thought of, and some that I only imagined when reading stories about horrible witches who feeds kids horrible vegetables (or something like that?). I'm not gonna lie, it took a while, but it was SO worth it. This soup was AMAZING! Great feedback from Ralph- and enough for me not to have to cook for a couple of evenings. One thing though- it ended up being a bit more dense than soup should be, so perhaps dial down the veggies a bit. I'll update the recipe when I make it again though.

Oh I should mention- earlier this week we had leftover soup with these rolls that Ralph made- super yum!

From my super tiny grandma

500 g chuck beef
6 marrow bones

2 tblspn oil
2 onions
1 carrots
1 beetroot
1/2 celeriac
1 green pepper
2 small parsnips
1 tin tomato paste

3 medium potatoes
1/4 large cabbage

1 tsp salt - probably more
1 tsp sugar
3 - 4 bay leaves
1/4 tsp citric acid
freshly ground pepper
aromatic pepper (found in pickle mix)

fresh flat leaf parsley
fresh coriander
3 - 4 cloves garlic, crushed

sour cream
mustard (optional)

1) First, wash the meat and remove all the fat and sinews. Fill a pot with the beef, the marrow bones and water, and set on a medium heat. Remove foam forming before it boils with a tablespoon. Once it does boil, put it on a low heat and half cover with the lid. It's going to cook like this for 2 1/2 - 3 hours.
2) While the meat is cooking, clean the onions, carrots, beetroot, celeriac, green pepper and parsnips. Cut the onions into half moons, and slice the pepper into thin slices. The rest of the cleaned veggies get grated.
3) Put the oil in a large pan, and add the onion. Fry until the onion is golden. Now add the grated veggies and pepper. Put a lid on and stir occasionally. Cook until the veggies are soft. Now, add the tomato paste, mix through and continue cooking the mixture shortly.
4) Now, peel the potato (submerge in water to keep from browning) and shred the cabbage (it should make one full bowl, so you might not use all of it).
4) Once the meat is cooked and tender, cube the potatoes and add them. When the potatoes are cooked through, add the veggie mixture and the cabbage.
5) Now add (stir in between!) salt, sugar, bay leaves, citric acid, pepper and aromatic pepper.
6) Turn off the heat.
7) Add chopped parsley and coriander, and crushed garlic.
8) It gets better after standing for a bit, especially the next day.
9) Serve with sour cream, and on cold winter nights, add a teaspoon of mustard. Don't worry- it won't taste like mustard, but it will warm you up.

I feel like a really good cook having made this. Every Russian home must have their own version of borsh, and now I have mine! I've decided to learn to make some more Russian dishes, so expect more posts on those soon!

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