Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe: Grated Carrot with Horseradish

Russian zakuski dishes are small, introductory dishes normally served to guests on arrival after a long journey and prior to an indulgent feast.  Carrot is a popular and cheap base for many zakuski recipes.  This particular concoction is entirely that, an amalgamation of several recipes.  The taste may be a bit unusual but it is certainly pleasing.  Plus, it also makes a great alternative salad side dish.

Russian Grated Carrot with Horseradish

Here’s my recipe…

Ingredients

2 carrots, finely grated

200ml sour cream

50ml creamed horseradish

Juice and zest of one lemon

Cracked black pepper for seasoning

Instructions

Place carrot in a bowl

Drizzle over lemon juice

Mix the sour cream and horseradish

Top with cracked black pepper and lemon zest

Related Images:

Matevž Side Dish Recipe: Mashed Potato with Pancetta & Beans

This Balkan side dish is one of my absolute favourites.  I’m not a fan of mashed potato but this is so much more than that.  A mixture of potato, kidney and cannellini beans and pancetta this is simply truly delicious!  Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make and goes well with meat, sausages, fish and salad.

Matevž

Check out the recipe below…

Ingredients

600g maris piper potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

240g (1 tin) of cannellini beans

240g (1 tin) of red kidney beans

250g diced panetta

20g butter

150ml sour cream

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Instructions

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender (it should take about 20 minutes)

Meanwhile fry the pancetta until crispy

Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan

Add the butter and sour cream and mash until smooth

Add the beans and pancetta into the potato and stir

Place in bowl to serve

Related Images:

Russian Zakuski / закуски Recipe: Smoked Salmon with Olives

The tradition of the zakuski board dates back to the 18th Century.  On arrival guests would be greeted with a bountiful board of small dishes, a bottle of vodka, possibly a bottle of sparkling Georgian wine, and of course a bubbling samovar for tea.  What better welcome could one wish for?  Not all of the dishes are complex… one of my favourites is simply smoked salmon arranged decoratively with green and black olives.

Russian Zakuski Salmon & Olives Recipe

Here’s the (ever so) simple recipe below…

Ingredients

Smoked salmon slices

Green and black olives

Juice of one lemon

Instructions

Fold then roll the slice of salmon to form a nest and arrange on a plate

Place an olive into each nest of salmon

Drizzle over lemon juice and serve

Russian Shop near Waterloo, South Bank, London

I was recently told about a small Russian shop close to Waterloo train station on South Bank in London.  Just before Christmas, when I was in the area, I spotted a sign to the small shop, so thought I’d finally investigate.  The Russian Shop is quite hidden so you will have to look out for it.  Walk through the door and down a dark, narrow staircase and the shop is located on the right.  Granted this place is small, the smallest of small, but it is crammed with lots of my favourite Russian products including cheeses, meats, sweets, beer, vodka, and even delicious honey cake.

Russian Shop

If you’re in the area and want a taste of Russian, pop in!  But be warned, as expected, Russian is the only tongue spoken here!  If you are feeling particularly adventurous there is also a Russian hair salon nextdoor!

Russian Shop, Cornwall Road, London SE1

Related Images:

Slovene Pašta Fižol / Bean & Pasta Soup Recipe

This winter has been one of the most severe in recent years so it has been important to keep warm and eat plenty of hearty food.  One of my favourite recipes sure to warm you up and originating from Slovenia in the Balkans, is Pašta Fižol.  This bacon, bean and pasta soup is rich and has a touch of spice.  Plus, it’s incredibly easy and requires just one pot to save on washing up!  Simply serve with some chunky bread (preferably rye) to enjoy a fabulous winter warming meal.

Pašta Fižol

Ingredients

500g pancetta lardons (or smoked bacon)

1 tin of red kidney beans (240g drained beans)

1 bay leaf

1 small white onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tomato puree

20g plain flour

600ml chicken stock

125g small pasta shapes

2 tsp marjoram

2 tsp hot paprika

1 tsp cider vinegar

Instructions

Heat the bacon and onion in a large stockpot

Pašta Fižol

When the bacon and onion are thoroughly cooked, add the garlic and stir thoroughly

Stir in the tomato puree

Add the flour gradually

Pour in the stock and stir

Bring the boil (constantly stirring to prevent sticking)

Reduce heat to a simmer

Add pasta, marjoram, beans and bay leaf to pan and cook for 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked

Pašta Fižol

Stir in the paprika and vinegar

Season to taste and serve

Related Images:

Croatian Cheese Paški Sir Wins at 2010 World Cheese Awards

Paški SirAs most of you know I like to champion superb local produce from across Eastern Europe, especially the likes of Croatia where I have indulged in many a fabulous meal.  As you can imagine, I was thus excited to hear that Croatia enjoyed not one but several spectacular wins at the 2010 World Cheese Awards in Birmingham at the BBC Good Food Show. Paški Sir made it all the way through the 2636 international cheeses to the final 14 best cheeses of the world!

Sirana Gligora entered Paški Sir in the ‘sheep cheese cheese‘ category as well as ‘new cheese on the market‘ and ‘small producers cheese‘.  Sirana Gligora came top of each class, winning no less than three Super Gold Medals and three places in the best 30 cheeses of the world, an outstanding result and a great testament to the cheese makers at Sirana Gligora!

When you consider the new Sirana Gligora diary was only opened in January 2010 it is even more remarkable that such an outstanding cheese can be produced in its first year of operation.  In fact the cheese that was entered was eight months old having been produced in March 2010, just two months after Sirana Gligora started production.  No doubt expectations will be even higher at next years show.

Congratulations to everyone on the island of Pag in Croatia for their efforts!

Related Images:

Want to Know What Tito Ate? You Need Tito’s Cookbook!

While I was in Belgrade I visited The House of Flowers, Tito’s Mausoleum.  On entering the museum and while buying my entrance ticket I was excited to spy a copy of Tito’s Cookbook.

Tito's Cookbook

The book, written by Anja Drulovic is a compilation of Tito’s favourite recipes, alongside images of him meeting international dignitaries including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and the Kennedys, famous actors such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and even ruthless dictator, Saddam Hussein.

Tito's Cookbook

It’s certainly an interesting read, with some fantastic photographs.  Priced at 3000 Serbian Dinar I think it’s well worth buying for those with an interest in food and history.

Tito's Cookbook

Tito’s Cookbook by Anja Drulovic

Published by Laguna

Related Images:

Winter Warmer: Spicy Bulgarian Tomato Casserole

This recipe is traditionally eaten during the hottest days of the year in Southern Bulgaria. However, I like to use plenty of paprika so it makes a great hearty, warming side dish for those cold winter days.  Serve with a sprinkling of parsley as garnish and a dollop of sour cream.

Ingredients

40ml olive oil

Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

1kg of firm ripe tomatoes

1 tsp caster sugar

45g white breadcrumbs

1 tbsp paprika

Seasoning

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Grease a baking dish with 1 tbsp of oil

Sprinkle the dish with a generous helping of chopped parsley

Slice the tomatoes and arrange in the dish so they overlap

Thracian tomato bake

Sprinkle the tomatoes with seasoning and sugar

Mix breadcrumbs together with remaining oil and paprika

Sprinkle breadcrumb mix over top of tomatoes

Thracian tomato bake

Cover dish with foil

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking

Thracian tomato bake

Garnish with a sprinkling of parsley and serve with a dollop of sour cream

Related Images:

Recipe: Mackerel in a White Wine Sauce

I love this mackerel dish, it is really easy to make and you can serve it in individual dishes which makes it ideal for dinner parties.  Ensure the fillets have some bones in them otherwise the fish may fall apart.

Ingredients

4 mackerel fillets, with tails and butterflied

50ml olive oil

1 white onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 can chopped tomatoes

250ml dry white wine

Seasoning

Lemon slices and parsley to garnish

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180ºC

Dry the fillets with kitchen paper

Heat oil and gently fry onions until soft

Stir in the garlic

Spoon in the tomatoes and season

Add fillets of mackerel (it is best to do this one or two at a time to avoid overcrowding the pan)

Mackerel in Wine Sauce

Cook for 5 minutes on one side, remove and keep warm

When all the fillets are cooked, place them into individual dishes

Pour on the tomato sauce

Mackerel in Wine Sauce

Pour in the wine and cover each dish with foil

Cook for 25 minutes in the oven

Mackerel in Wine Sauce

Serve garnished with slices of lemon and parsley

Related Images:

Armenian Taverna in Manchester

The Armenian TavernaA few weeks ago I visited Manchester for the first time.  I was not entirely sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised to find it is a gastronome’s paradise with an abundance of fabulous restaurants.  When I arrived I was excited to spot the Armenian Taverna, located at 1-7 Princess Street.  Armenian cuisine is something special and this restaurant’s menu boasts all the traditional dishes you could desire including: yershig sausages, spicy lamb kufta meatballs, karides prawns in a rich sauce, and a variety of lamb, pork, beef and chicken kebabs.  For those with a sweet-tooth the ideal meal here can be finished with the most famed Armenian sweet, paklava – layers of pastry with a filling of walnuts, cinnamon, sugar, covered in syrup.  There are also several party menus, great if you and a big group of family or friends plan to visit.  So the next time you find yourself in Manchester, spend a night at The Armenian Taverna – you and your taste buds are sure to be pleased!

A meal for two with wine should cost about £45

Closed Mondays; open 12 – 2pm for lunch Tuesday to Friday; 5 – 11pm for dinner Tuesday to Saturday; and 5pm – 10pm Saturday

The Armenian Taverna, 1-7 Princess St, Manchester M2 4DF

Related Images: