Borscht Recipe

Hot, cold, Ukrainian, Russian, there are so many arguments had over this dish it’s not even worth listing them.  Ultimately, every family has their own version and this is mine.  It doesn’t quite meet the standard I consumed at Chernobyl but it’s a pretty good effort.  Though be warned, it isn’t a quick dish to prepare.

Borscht

Ingredients

5 to 6 beetroots

2 carrots, grated

1 cabbage wedge, grated

3 potatoes, cut into chunks

2 white onions, grated

3 cloves garlic, crushed

15ml tomato puree

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 litre beef stock

300g boiled beef cut into chunks

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

Instructions

Put the beetroot in a saucepan

Cover with cold water

Heat until boiling and once come to temperature, lower to a simmer and leave for 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes

Borscht

Remove the beetroot from the pan and allow to cool

Borscht

Keep the liquid for later

Peel and grate the beetroot

Heat oil in a large saucepan

Add the onion, cabbage, garlic, beetroot, tomato puree and carrot to the saucepan

Borscht

Stir together and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat

Add the potato to the saucepan

Cook for another 10 minutes

Add the stock and a ladle of the beetroot water

Borscht

Simmer for 30 minutes, add the lemon juice and serve

Can be served with a spoonful of smetana (sour cream), a sprinkling of dill and/or parsley and crusty bread

Borscht

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Ikra Iz Svekly

Ikra iz svekly
Ikra iz svekly

Ikra iz svekly (Beetroot Caviar to you and me) is a ‘poor man’s caviar’ usually served on rye bread.  It’s pretty simple to make, can be prepared in advanced which means it would make a good canape for a cocktail party.  Plus it caters to any potential vegetarian or vegan guests.  I found this recipe in The Food & Cooking of Russia, mentioned in a previous post last week.  However, I adapted it to be more Charlotte-friendly, in other words, I made it a little more interesting and a little bit easier.

Be warned, cooking with beetroot can leave you with pink hands, so if you want to avoid this, wear gloves.  If you, like me, dislike wearing gloves, keep a lemon handy, it is the best soap for getting rid of stains!

Ingredients

1 white onion

2 cloves of garlic

4 medium cooked beetroots

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

2 tbsp tomato puree

Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning

(To add an extra flavour I used smoked salt)

12 small pieces of rye bread to serve

Finely chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions

Chop the onion and garlic finely

Coarsely grate the beetroot

(I used a ricer to effectively mince the beetroot.

it worked well but was messy and due to not wearing gloves I now have very pink hands)

Heat the oil in a medium pan

Add the onion and garlic and fry for 5 minutes until softened and golden brown

b-caviar-2

Add the grated beetroot to the pan and fry, stirring all the time, for 5 minutes

Add tomato puree

b-caviar-3

Stir well and cover the pan

Simmer for 10 minutes

Season the mixture

Transfer to a bowl to cool

To serve pile the beetroot on the rye bread and sprinkle with chopped parsley to garnish

Serve!

Serve!

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Purger, Zagreb

White Wine Goulash Serving Bowl
White Wine Goulash Serving Bowl

I have visited Purger twice now, and on neither occasion have I seen a non-Croat there. One waiter speaks no English and the other only understands the basics which for me, is always a good sign. I tend to believe that if the locals like a restaurant and it is not full of tourists, you are probably guaranteed a good meal. With Purger, this is definitely the case. From the outside one may be hesitant to enter but on negotiating your way through the restaurant one is finally met with a secluded courtyard, the perfect city getaway. The only problem, and it really is not a problem, is that this restaurant’s menu is not merely vast, it is excessive. It is difficult to decide which type of the seemingly endless options of veal, pork, beef, fish, chicken to choose.

Naravni Samobor
Naravni Samobor

The portions at this restaurant are comparable in size to that of the menu. The Vinksi Gulaš, a veal goulash unusually made with white wine and less paprika than the traditional Hungarian or Transylvanian goulash. Served in a large metal bowl, it is easy to think it would be impossible to finish every morsel but, as is the case with the food served at Purger, it is simply too delicious to leave a mouthful. The goulash is served with potatoes but you will want to make use of the dense, cornmeal bread to mop up the excess thin sauce.

The Naravni Samobor is a thin veal escalope doused in garlic and grilled, apparently a tradition associated with the nearby village of Samobor. The veal was beaten incredibly thinly and required very little effort to eat and the meat simply flaked apart on entering my mouth. For a garlic lover, this platter is simply heaven.

The only slight disappointment was the Svinjski Kotlet, a grilled pork cutlet which while was rich in flavour, was unfortunately a little tough. Nevertheless, the great taste made up for the minor disappointment.

Pork Cutlets
Pork Cutlets

Side dishes include potatoes, french fries, rice, croquettes, and a variety of large individual salads which add a useful, refreshing element to one’s meal.  The beetroot is fresh and will make one never want to return to that pre-prepared from the supermarket, and the tomatoes are juicy with thick flesh and a truly wonderful taste.

The wine list boasted all the usual local wines including Vinarija Dingač, Pelješac, Kvalitetno vino, Vinogorje Pelješac, 2007.  The wine was heady, smooth and velvety, a perfect accompaniment to the rich meal.

Purger

Petrinjska 33

Zagreb

Tel: 4810 713

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