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.
Here’s the (ever so) simple recipe below…
Smoked salmon slices
Green and black olives
Juice of one lemon
Fold then roll the slice of salmon to form a nest and arrange on a plate
Tea, for the English and Russians alike is the highlight of the day. I love tea too. I’m quite partial to Whittard’s Caravan Russian Black Tea, served with a slice of lemon. And while all manner of biscuits or cakes may be great to eat while enjoying your favourite warm beverage, there is nothing better than a simple Russian cheesecake. A true afternoon delight…
2 slices of white bread, blitzed to breadcrumbs
500g ricotta cheese
(unless you are lucky and live near a Russian supermarket which sells proper cottage cheese)
90g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 tbsp semolina
1 tsp vanilla extract
Soak currents and lemon rind in lemon juice and vanilla extract
Separate the eggs
Beat egg yolks with caster sugar, ricotta and semolina
Add currents and lemon rind to egg yolks
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks are formed
Gently fold in egg whites using a metal spoon
Grease loose-bottomed cake tin with butter
Generously apply breadcrumbs to the tin
Pour mixture in to tin
Heat in oven on 175 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes or until golden brown on outside and set inside
Serve dusted with icing sugar and garnished with assorted berries such as blueberries, bilberries, strawberries or raspberries (or a mixture of any of those mentioned)
After an exclusive promotion with Virgin Atlantic, Akvinta will be introducing their sensory set to Harrods. The Akvinta Sensory set provides the consumer with a unique experience to bring the senses together and set the scene to enjoy this luxurious and distinctive tasting drink.
Akvinta has a light lemon nose, appealing sweetness, luxurious round mouth-feel and a gloriously smooth finish. Delightfully moreish when drunk neat or over ice, its round, luxurious structure adds quality to cocktails and makes a first class Vodka Martini. It has organic certification from both Europe and the United States, and is also under Kosher supervision.
The beautifully presented coffret, produced in partnership with Arran Aromatics, contains specially developed fig scented candles, a massage soap, and a grapefruit room spray.
Customers will receive a complimentary coffret with the purchase of a 70cl bottle. Additional kits may also be purchased for £18.00.
A good old fashion roast chicken is a staple to many a Jewish meal, particularly across Eastern Europe. This is my take on Biblical Chicken, combining several elements to traditional Jewish recipes and a few of my own personal touches.
This super light cheese cake has a sponge base and top and has a creamy filling with just a hint of ricotta. It makes a great little dessert after a heavy meal and goes well served with a few seasonal berries such as blackberries, cherries or strawberries, soaked in a little cherry brandy (marsaka).
This family recipe combines flavours from the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Europe. Variations of the recipe are popular in Romania, Bulgaria and in the East Adriatic region. It can be made as a starter, or as I did, for as a hearty main course. It is ideal for using up all your leftover vegetables. It’s the ultimate in one pot cooking; serve it with some crusty bread and hey presto – a delicious meal!
This recipe is perfect for a quick but super healthy meal and requires just seven ingredients (and that’s counting salt and pepper as two!) If you don’t want to use salmon, trout is a reasonable alternative, or mackerel could be used but I would imagine that could produce quite a different taste.
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!
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
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
Add the grated beetroot to the pan and fry, stirring all the time, for 5 minutes
Add tomato puree
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
I am a real advocate of the breadcrumb. If it wasn’t for the breadcrumb, I’d have never consumed cauliflower. The first time I tasted cauliflower was in Kranjska Gora. Mira, the Grandmother, would gently heat florets of cauliflower in some simmering water, then remove them from the water, let them cool, coat them in egg and breadcrumbs and fry. Perfect!
Kranjska Gora was also the first place I ever tried veal. Being thirteen the first time I visited (in 1999) I was actually a bit confused as to what veal was. I am not ashamed to say this. However, once I tasted it, I knew I would always be a veal lover. It is not as unkind as most people think due to media campaigns from previous decades. British veal in particular is very humane and, I’ll have you meat eaters know (cannot argue with the vegetarians and vegans among you, you have morals, I do not) that when you tuck into some lamb, it is actually killed at a younger age than veal.
A popular dish in Slovenia and Croatia, and no doubt other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, is veal escalope in a breadcrumb crust. This is such an easy dish to make!
Plain flour (with seasoning: salt and black pepper)
Put plain flour on a plate
Beat eggs and put in bowl
Put breadcrumbs on plate
Make sure veal is sufficiently flat, if not, beat with a meat hammer
Coat veal in plain flour
Dip veal into beaten egg
Dip veal into breadcrumbs
(For best results: double dip! No nothing to do with British MPs’ expenses!)
Re-dip into beaten egg
Re-dip into breadcrumbs
Heat olive oil and butter in frying pan
Put veal into pan
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on one side
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes maximum
Serve on a bed of watercress, spinach and rocket, drizzled in olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and black pepper
This is my take on a popular Croatian veal recipe. I had something similar during a holiday a few years ago in Split at a large restaurant at the end of the Riva, toward the bus station. The large restaurant/cafe/bar has different sections depending on what you want. The waiters were very friendly and helpful and the food, whether it be ice cream, pizza, or something more substantial, was fantastic.
The veal is quickly pan-fried and then a wine and citrus sauce is made and poured over the meat. Served with some Milanese rice (saffron-infused risotto) it is just delicious with really fresh flavours.
Thin veal escalopes
A cup (about 100ml) of chicken stock
2 tbsp dry white wine
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
Juice and zest of half a lemon
2 tbsp of freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of half an orange
Olive oil for pan-frying
Plain flour for coating the veal
Coat veal in plain flour
Heat olive oil in frying pan until quite hot
Put veal in frying pan
Cook for two to three minutes on one side, then turn
Cook for another two minutes
Remove veal from pan and place on plate to rest
Put white wine in pan
Add lemon and orange juice to pan
Add stock to pan
Heat until thickens slightly to consistency of a syrup
Add in parsley and stir
Plate up veal, pour over sauce and serve with saffron rice
(To make saffron rice: Heat risotto rice in olive oil/butter, pour on splash of white wine, stir. Add stock, chicken or vegetable, and saffron, slowly to pan and stir, as if making risotto. Keep adding liquid and stirring constantly for 20 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of parmesan and serve.)
It is also nice to serve a side dish of gently wilted spinach with the veal and rice.