Tag Archives: Russian

Beef Stroganoff

What other Russian specialty is known abroad as widely as Beef Stroganoff (беф строганов)? Perhaps none. So today we’re talking about dish that  makes all us Russians proud, even tho here and there you can find fierce discussions, generously seasoned with “And my mom never cooked beef stroganoff with mushrooms!”, “The size of the piece must be 5 cm, not 4!” and other vacuous remarks.

Vacuous they are because let’s face it — beef stroganoff is one of the most democratic meat dishes. Make it with mushrooms, make it with creme fraiche, even make it pork stroganoff — it’s all up to you.  After all, according to one of the versions, count Stroganoff’s chefs specially invented this dish for so called “open suppers”, which could be visited by anyone from the street (dress code was kept tho). This recipe you will read below is hardly original one — but it represents the thing I call “main idea of the dish”, no extras, all the chances for creation kept :).

So the main idea of beef stroganoff is to saute meat pieces in sour cream sauce. As simple as that. Let’s see what do we need to make it happen.

  1. Meat. Originally beef, easiest choice would be fillet steaks, about 600 g in total. The tricky part (the only one) will be to cut it, you need to do it across the grain. The size of the pieces should be roughly 5 x 1 x 1 cm, longer is okay, but not thicker.
  2. Flour — 1 tablespoon.
  3. Oil to fry in, about 5-6 tablespoons.
  4. Onion — 1, medium-sized, red or white. Peel it and chop it finely.
  5. Salt, pepper, herbs (I like to add oregano) according to your taste.
  6. Sour cream — 200 ml.
  7. Pan, which is suitable for cooking meat with sauce and has a lid. That’s it!

Advice: find time to cook your first beef stroganoff, not expecting that it will be great from the very beginning. Try this and that, find the way how YOU like it — falling apart or still chewy, a lot of sour cream or just the hint, with tomato sauce or without it.

Okay, let’s cook.

  1. Heat your pan, add oil and keep the heat high. Add chopped onion and fry it until golden (I prefer just make it transparent).
  2. Add sliced meat, fry it for 7-8 minutes, stirring often. While stirring, add salt and pepper. Actually chefs say that you need to stop frying meat when it looks “lacquered”. For me and my pan this takes mentioned 7-8 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add flour to meat, mix well, and add sour cream. If you want to add tomato sauce and/or herbs, this is the time. Stir everything until it simmers (but not boils heavily).
  4. Cover with the lid and saute 15 minutes. Time can vary from 15 to 30 and even more minutes (if you prefer falling apart kind of meat). I usually saute for 15 minutes and then try every 5 minutes.  Don’t forget to stir occasionally.
  5. Enjoy 🙂 Goes well with virtually everything — rice, green salad, french fries, mashed potatoes etc etc etc.

Apple Pie

Ok, “kartoshka” is done and seems like I have time to post this simple but very nice recipe. I know that Americans consider apple pies to be “their” stuff, but this kind of apple pie has been in the menus of Russian families for generations. In Russian the title sounds like “Yablochni pirog” (яблочный пирог, apple pie), another name you could hear is “Sharlotka” (charlotte; this particular recipe is known as Saint Petersburg charlotte). I changed original recipe a little: substituted 2 tablespoons of milk and some baking powder for extra egg, plus added cocoa powder.

So let’s see what do we need:

  1. Apples. 2 medium-sized Granny Smith would be perfect. Don’t peel them, just cut out the core part and cut the remaining into 3 x 3 x 2 cm pieces (there is no need to measure, of course, I’m just saying that so you don’t slice it too thin).  You might also want to try this pie with cherries, forest berries — everything goes as long as it’s sour enough. Sweet fruits do not work for this pie.
  2. Eggs — 2.
  3. Milk — 2 tablespoons (or, as you remember, 1 extra egg).
  4. Sugar — 3/4 cup.
  5. Flour — 1 cup.
  6. Melted butter — 1 tablespoon. I usually put vegetable oil instead.
  7. Baking powder — 3/4 to 1 teaspoon.
  8. Cocoa powder — 2 full tablespoons.
  9. Oil or cooking spray to grease 10. 21-24 cm baking pan.

Making the pie is really easy. Basically you just need to mix everything except apples until smooth, and then combine the mixture with apples — in a bowl or in the cooking pan right away. You might want to start from beating eggs nicely and only then adding the remaining components, but it doesn’t really change anything. Do as you want.

Bake the pie for 40 minutes at 175-180 C. You can sprinkle the ready pie with powdered sugar and/or cinnamon.

It’s very simple and the results are more than pleasing. Enjoy!

“Kartoshka” No-Bake Cookies

OK, so here we go — the sweet treat I’m going to make today. The title in Russian sounds like “Kartoshka” (картошка), which can be translated as “Potato”. The cookies got their name due to enormous fantasy of Soviet designers, who decided to make these cookies somewhat roundish and decorate them with “buds” of white cream. This is how it looks like:

Kartoshka No-Bake Cookies

Kartoshka No-Bake Cookies

Similar cookies are also popular at Balkans, they are called “Rum Kasato” and look much more decent — plain chocolate-glazed “fingers”.

This way or another, ingredients are pretty much the same:

  1. Bread crumbs — 400 g. Plain bread crumbs, but if you have dried buscuit or maybe ground almonds, feel free to improvise.
  2. Milk — 1/2 cup.
  3. Sugar — 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
  4. Raisins or chopped nuts — 1/2 to 1 cup. If raisins are chosen, soak them in rum (couple of tablespoons) for 15 minutes.
  5. Butter — 150 g. Margarine works fine, vegetable oil does not (unfortunately 😦 ).
  6. Grated chocolate or cocoa powder — start from 2 tablespoons. We like chocolate and sometimes add as much as 1/2 of the bar (which makes 50 g).

What else will you need? Perhaps disposable gloves, if you want to make cookies nice and firm. Some free space in the fridge. Let’s assume you have it all and begin.

  1. Combine milk, sugar and cocoa/chocolate in the pot. Cook over medium heat. When mixture starts to boil, add butter and stir until it melts fully.
  2. Take off the fire, let it cool for couple of minutes. Use the time to combine bread crumbs and nuts/raisins with rum in a bowl.
  3. Add liquid mixture to bread crumbs, mix thoroughly and give it some time. Bread crumbs will absorb liquid and you’ll get nice and easy-to-shape stuff.
  4. Time to sculpt 🙂 Ball-shaped, “kartoshka”-shaped cookies would be the easiest options at home. If  you want, you can roll cookies in cocoa powder, grated chocolate, or you can perform step 5 and after that glaze them with chocolate.
  5. Put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

I want you to pay attention to the fact, that proportions might not be correct all the time. Different bread crumbs absorb different amount of liquid. I usually start from listed amount and add more, if mixture doesn’t seem plastic enough. It’s very hard to totally ruin this recipe, so relax and try this time-proved treat.