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Tropical Lagoon Soup,
with Seaweed and Mung Beans

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Inspired by the smell of the Pacific and by Japanese cuisine, this light soup smells and tastes (well, almost) like the sea. On Kauai, where we are spending our vacation, black volcanic rocks jut over the clear water, the mountains and the sky of ever changing hues defy description. Alas, beauty is not enough to feed the body!

Grocery stores here bear a mark of Japanese influence: dried shiitake mushrooms, wakame seaweed and mung beans are an easy find. Mung beans are tiny dull green beans, almost as small as lentils. Japanese use them to make desserts, but to my mind a bean is a bean and belongs just as well in a soup.

Restaurants on the North Shore of Kauai close early, so I've been cooking simple dinners for us. This soup is one of them.

What you need:
(all measurements very approximate; use your best judgement)
6-12 medium dried shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup dried wakame seaweed
1/2 cup dried mung beans
~2oz dry maifun rice noodles
water for desired soup consistency
salt to taste

How to do it:
1. Wash and boil the shiitake mushrooms for 5-10 minutes. If the mushrooms are whole, let them cool, slice and throw back into the water used for boiling. Let soak at room temperature for a day (about 10 hours is enough).

At dinner time:
2. Bring the soaked mushrooms to a boil, add salt and cook until soft (~30 min).
3. In a separate pot, gently boil mung beans in plenty of lightly salted water until ready (~20 min). When done, strain and set aside.
4. When the mushrooms are cooked through, throw in wakame seaweed and let boil gently for 3 minutes.
5. Throw in the noodles and mung beans, adding boiling water if the soup is too thick. Make sure to taste for salt and add more if necessary. Wait just until the soup begins to boil again, take off the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes (meifun noodles should not be boiled).
6. Enjoy and imagine that you are sitting under a palm trea with the ocean at your feet.

Ideally, meifun noodles should be cooked separately and added individually to every bowl. This prevents the noodles from expanding too much after soaking for a day in the left-over soup. If you plan to eat all of the soup right after it is prepared, cooking the noodles right in the soup (as I have done) is fine.

When making a soup with so many ingredients that soak up water, it's good to keep a kettle of boiled water handy. Whenever the boiling beans or soup need more water, just pour in boiling water from the kettle.

Christmas Morning Pancakes

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On Christmas morning the house is quiet, all are asleep after yesterday's celebrations, the gifts are waiting to be opened, and you want to treat your crowd with something special. This time I had a recipe in mind that was inspired by the one found on Dr.Oz's website, but modified on the go. These pancakes are just what is needed for a holiday family breakfast: puffy, aromatic, surprisingly good, they soften and unite souls at one table. Breakfast was planned and turned out perfect this Christmas, and here's the recipe.

Fish Soup - Ukha

Saturday, November 26, 2011

When you buy fish at a fish market they usually ask if you need it to be trimmed, beheaded, scaled, skinned, and filleted. Well, if you need just pieces of flesh for a main course - yes, but not when you intend to make a fish soup. Ukha (Russian fish soup) is made out of a whole fish, it only needs to be scaled, and the insides must be cleaned out. Fish bones is what makes a perfect fish broth, and a good broth is the key to a good ukha. So, heads and fins go in there! I remember very well the surprise on the face of that guy at a  Florida fish market, when I asked to take all bony fish parts with me. He just didn't get it. The woman is crazy, he probably thought. To me, it was surprising that people who lived at the ocean couldn't get a proper use of all the goodness they had access to.

There are many recipes of ukha, and every fisherman in Russia has his own recipe (unlike American amateur fishermen, Russian guys eat what they catch :). Recipes are created on the fly on a river bank or a sea shore, where everything is cooked in an open fire. Today's recipe is the simplest one we used in my family, the one I remember from my childhood. This recipe calls for just three main ingredients and a few spices, but the result is a hearty soup with a mouthwatering aroma.

Fireplace Cooking in the Storm

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Strange as it is, this sudden October snow freed me of a lingering writers block, hopefully for a long time. It was a fortunate coincidence (though she may disagree!) that Masha came to visit that Saturday, October 29. After a trip to Tower Hill Botanic Garden to see Ikebana arrangements that were magically enhanced by the first snow in the background, we were struck by power outage in the evening that lasted two days and two nights. Candles helped some, and then the fireplace was brought to life. As cell phone batteries drained, the crank radio kept our little window to the world open. When you don't expect the outage to last that long, it is fun. Fun it was. The first day... We talked and we laughed and, of course, we cooked.
How about cookies baked in the heat of a fireplace? Follow me to my dark house to see the fun of that evening...

Roasted Chicken Thighs to Die For

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This roasted chicken thighs recipe was inspired by Jamie Oliver's TV series. This English guy is an extraordinary chef.  I adore his unpretentious way of cooking, and I love him for his efforts to change school food and end mental retardation and sickness among children. He cooks as if he is playing a fascinating game. His style reminds me how I "cooked" for my dolls: a few leaves and a few flowers, a pinch of this and a dash of that, and voila! - you have a fabulous dinner. I never saw Jamie measure things, he goes by his instinct and taste. Most of the ingredients he uses come from his garden, and he touches them with heart while cooking.  His food is rustic, but captivating. After watching him one would like to never leave the kitchen, and cook cook cook.
I was so inspired by one of episodes that made a trip to my favorite organic farm to buy chicken thighs. Alas! - I couldn't get freshly dug young potatoes that were part of the recipe, and actually I changed the recipe a bit, but in spite of this the result was phenomenal.

Open Fish Pie

Monday, August 29, 2011

Baking fish pies in winter was a tradition in our family. Fish was abundant and readily available, thanks to my father's rewarding occupation. He was a pilot of a small meteorological crew, and brought sacks of frozen fish and many other goodies from his flights to the north. The Soviet food industry was near to nonexistent, so all those things were very handy during harsh Siberian winters.

Looking back, now it seems unreal how we lived in those days. In our free-standing metal garage outside the apartment building we used to store a sack of frozen fish, a barrel of sauerkraut made in our kitchen, a bucket of northern cranberries, and other food that could stand the frost and retain its taste. We also stored meat and poultry in netted bags hanging outside the kitchen window, because our three fridges didn't have enough space to hold everything we needed to live through the winter. To survive nicely we had to stock up. And nice it was - I remember my childhood winters as full of delectable viands.

Now back to fish. Since we had plenty of fabulous fish of different kinds (pike, sturgeon, sterlet to name a few), mama made various fish dishes - ukha (fish soup), fish jelly, and certainly fish pies. The fish pie was the winner among all. After eagerly waiting as the wonderful aroma of the baking pie spread from the kitchen, - what joy it was to finally land at the table and indulge in this winter treat!

Classic fish pie is a closed kind of pie, where dough laid on top covers the filling. Today's fish pie recipe was actually the result of a mistake that often leads to a discovery. The plan was to make a traditional closed pie, but I suddenly realized that there was not enough dough (I used store bought dough). I thought what the heck, and made an open pie variation. Surprisingly, it turned out very tasty: not too much dough, with juicy delicate filling. Mama would approve. :)

Cocoa Raspberry Bread

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene is shuffling its way into New York City, and it's been raining like cats and dogs since yesterday afternoon. In anticipation of power outages, I decided to make a good use of my electric mixer and bake a cake. Raspberry puree with cognac, brown sugar and cocoa powder is what came to mind. I did not use an existing recipe for the dough, but concocted my own. The result is a delicious rustic cake with a rough bread-like texture.

Seeking a home remedy for the bad weather blues? Come along!

Shiitake and Lentil Pilaf

Friday, August 26, 2011

Today's recipe is a vegetarian pilaf as satisfying and rich in flavor as mom's Lamb Pilaf. Imagine the aroma of mushrooms and garlic, the rich taste of lentils and the nuttiness of wild rice punctuated by tiny nuggets of spice stored in the green peppercorns.
You have to pay for this richness, though, by using every one of the four stovetop burners, because mushrooms, lentils, white rice and wild rice all have to be cooked separately (else, you'll get mush). Cook and prep time? About 1 hour 30 minutes.

This recipe is all my own, and I'm proud to present it. Give it a try!

Red Radish Salad

Thursday, August 25, 2011

An advocate of minimalism in life, which unfortunately is possible mostly theoretically in our world of consumerism, I adore simple dishes that do not involve many ingredients. Some of those dishes come from my childhood in Russia, where minimalism was dictated by permanent deficit. Our memory carries on all our life impressions including food, and these simple things we experienced in early years are remembered as good. What could be better than bread and butter and a green onion with coarse salt? You might be surprised, but this is one of my favorites since I remember myself. Mama used to give this  to her starving kids waiting for dinner to be ready. And what would you say about steaming boiled potatoes with dill and butter? It comes from the same land of my past experiences. When I am tired of fancy stuff, I eat my childhood simple food with real pleasure and gratitude.
Red radish salad is one of those dishes. To me, it's mostly a summer salad when radishes are in season, sweet and juicy, without a tinge of bitterness...

Black Currant Ice Cream

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Buckets of free black currants is what we were used to. Every summer we picked them in our own garden, ate them with relish (until our tongues ached) and preserved them to last through the long Siberian winter. In America currants are not easy to find, and when you do find them be ready to shell out. This unfortunate scarcity was caused by a national ban on black currants that lasted nearly a century and came about through no fault of the berry. Black currants are not only lush, extremely aromatic and unique in taste, but are also loaded with antioxidants and an array of vitamins.

This weekend, after 14 years of estrangement we got to have some. The Russian supermarket we went to happened to have tiny containers filled with black currants still holding on their fragile clustered pedicels. What a find! We grabbed one at almost $6, and hurried home in anticipation of nostalgic treat.

Fried Smelts

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Do not panic - this fish will not eat you. Just kidding...:) But you will definitely eat it with great pleasure, nibbling on crunchy tails and fins, savoring the tender meat drizzled with lemon juice, and following all this by a couple of cherry tomatoes and a sip of chilled white wine... Sounds good? I hope so. The best part - it's pretty easy to do. See how...

Stuffed Tarragon Mushrooms

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer calls for salads, frosty drinks and fruit, but sometimes the body craves grilled cheese and protein, no matter the heat outside. These are easy-to-make, delicious stuffed mushrooms, with a couple of unique touches and the intense flavor of tarragon.

Craving melted cheese? Here is your chance...

Beet Smoothie Soup

Saturday, August 6, 2011

This recipe has been brewing in my mind for awhile  - a smoothie and a cold soup in one. The best part - it is almost no-boil, where most of ingredients are fresh vegetables. And the best best part is - the proportions are quite arbitrary, just flow with your desires and you will be good. Rich and cool magenta of beets came at rescue on a muggy August day in Boston suburbia.
Ready for a summer detox super food? Come on down to my kitchen...

Ah... Sangria

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's Saturday. I sip ice-cold sangria, and outside it's hot, hot, hot. The heat is so unusual, that the streets of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn are blissfully empty.

A few passerbys, perilously close to the melting point, saunter on the shady side of the street, looking lost. I wish I could take a long walk and enjoy the uncrowded streets, but alas my Siberian composition is not resilient enough... so, I give up and make sangria.

There are as many recipes for sangria as there are women in Spain. There is no proper, authentic sangria. It is meant to be playful, improvised, lighthearted. Still, it does not always come out well without a recipe. It took a few attempts to get this recipe, which to my taste has the perfect balance of acidity, sweetness, alcohol and refreshment.

Don't wait. Summer will be over before you know it!

Lazy Ravioli with Cheese

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It is 95 F today in Boston. Feels like Florida. Even more so since our portable a/c has not arrived yet. So, what's for dinner today?.. Well, something simple with minimum cooking. I happened to have a package of farmers cheese in the fridge, and something lazy came to mind. I have omitted the most time-consuming and boring part of making ravioli, that is making them per se. :) Basically, today's recipe is pasta with farmers cheese and greens. It took me about 30 minutes to prepare, and it  turned out really good.  Here's how I did it.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Okroshka is a traditional cold Russian summer soup that doesn't need to be boiled. It is usually made on hot days when nobody wants to move, let alone cook something serious in the kitchen. This soup contains mostly raw vegetables, boiled eggs, and fermented drink kvas. It makes a quintessential healthy food. This soup is special, and I was not a great fan of it when I was little, but today I was quite satisfied with the outcome. Wanna try something different? Follow me...

Classic Tiramisu, with Blackberries

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Oh, who has not heard of Tiramisu, the modern Cesar of Italian desserts? It has conquered its native country in a storm, taken over the rest of Europe, made its way into the US. Indeed, Tiramisu has an empire of its own, though the recipe itself is at most 35 years old. Once, when I made this at a party, a coworker of mine said staring into space with dreamy eyes: "I think I am in love". Indeed, that about sums up the charms of this indulgence.

There are countless variations of tiramisu, but this one has never failed me even when I was a novice in the kitchen. There is no baking involved, and it takes about 1-1.5 hours to prepare (but ideally you'd want to keep it in the fridge for 4-5 hours more). It is summer, so I add berries. Blackberries, the most luscious of berries, are the best addition in my opinion, but you can go without if you like.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Prague Food Adventure

Friday, June 24, 2011

At the end of May we took a mother-daughter trip to Prague, where Nadia had visited at the time when she was pregnant with the other chef of this blog. Of course, she couldn't have any famous Czech beer then, so we had to correct the situation, half her lifetime later.

Czech Cucumbers Stuffed with Meat

Sunday, June 19, 2011

This is the final, and probably the most peculiar dish in our Czech series: thoroughly cooked stuffed cucumbers. I found this in several cookbooks on Czech cuisine, so it most likely is traditionally Czech. As usual, I make a few additions to the recipe, but nothing drastic to detract much from its classic taste.
Attempt this only if you are adventurous, and do not own a conservative palate. The taste of cooked cucumber is quite bland, and my 2 "guinea pigs" did not like it for that reason. However, I find that the neutral taste of the cucumber and its incredible juiciness complement the strong flavor of seasoned veal and bacon very well.
Dare to try?...

Kolache - Czech Pastries

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Funny enough, we couldn't find kolache, one of traditional Czech pastries, in any Prague bakeries that were on our way. Maybe we just didn't know the right place... or maybe they became one of those things people make at home. Anyway, I decided to bake them on return from our trip, armed by a recipe shared by Stania (our guide, remember?). Stania's husband is a great home chef (what a nice hobby for a man!), and the recipe she gave us is probably what she saw her husband cooking. I changed the recipe a bit, but the result was a tasty, delicate and heart-warming creation.

Knedliky - Czech Dumplings

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What could be more Czech than knedliky! They are often served as a side dish to meat with gravy, but there is also a sweet fruity variation that was introduced to us by Stania, one of our guides in Prague. Sweet Knedliky can make a nice breakfast, lunch or even dinner, they are very nutritious and rather heavy, but despite of this they make your stomach happy. Today's recipe is a compilation of a few, including a Czech cookbook that Masha mentioned in a previous post. Want some hearty Czech food? Follow me...

Czech Meat and Cabbage Loaf

Monday, June 6, 2011

The recipe for this meatloaf, sekaná in Czech, is adapted from the Czech cookbook (Česká domácí kuchařka díl 1.) mom and I bought while in Prague. To a Russian speaker, translating the ingredients from Czech is rather trivial, and the combination of cabbage, bread and milk in a meatloaf immediately struck me as original and interesting. The union of cabbage and meat reminds me of mom's Golubtsy, traditional Russian cabbage rolls, but by contrast the taste of cabbage in this meatloaf recipe is much less pronounced. Cabbage mostly makes the texture of the meat tender, but does not assert itself. Translating instructions from Czech is a much more involved matter... so I am not entirely sure what I have done differently. Be that as it may, the result is an unusually tender meatloaf that is flavorful, fulfilling and almost, if not quite, traditionally Czech.

Hard to get wrong, tasty, satisfying... ready to try it yourself?

Fiddlehead Fern Salad

Monday, May 16, 2011

This recipe is another experiment with fiddlehead fern salad. The first one was a complete fiasco. This time it was dashed off intuitively, with Asian cuisine in mind. To my taste, it turned out quite well. If you are in this particular mood, follow me...

Slightly Chocolate Coffee Cake

Sunday, May 15, 2011

This coffee cake has a rich and crumbly chocolate crust and a fluffy inside with a hint of chocolate and nuttiness. The basic recipe for the batter comes from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, a book with amazing photography and recipes that are as good as they look. But the crust invention and the flavorings are all my own :)
Actually, I was not planning on baking this weekend, but my good friend (also named Masha) who was visiting said: "Masha, cook something sweet." So I did, with lots of help from her, and even more giggles from both of us. As much as I enjoy cooking, doing it with somebody else is infinitely more fun. But alas, I only got a chance to take a picture of the final product.
Is your sweet tooth aching yet? Let's see how it's done!

Quick Olady - Mini Buttermilk Pancakes

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Olady (pronounced [aladyi]) is one of many Russian traditional flour treats, usually served for breakfast. There are classic and simple olady. Classic are made with yeast, and simple are made with baking soda and buttermilk or sour cream. Today's recipe is fast and simple, the final product is light and airy, and just begs to be eaten. Sounds good? Let's go!

Ginger and Shiitake Pork

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mushrooms, ginger, and pork - a perfect combination of flavors with an Eastern twist. This recipe is inspired by Japanese cooking, but does not require any rare ingredients (because I was too lazy to travel to Manhattan for a visit to a Japanese grocery). And I don't regret it, because this pork dish lacks absolutely nothing. It is also not difficult to prepare and requires only 30 minutes to marinate the meat. After this dinner, I am sitting here for once utterly satisfied with myself and life.
All in all, it is rewarding to be a carnivore.

Ready to join me in my kitchen?

Korean-Style Steak

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

After 40 days of veganism during the Russian Orthodox Lent, I am a true carnivore again! The idea for this recipe - a steak with a marinade that includes pureed fruit - comes from my boss, who has spent some years in Japan and is more in tune with Asian olfactory sensibilities than me. Pureed fruits are traditionally used in Korean marinades and for good reasons. They add the characteristic tinge of sweetness to the meat, and the acidity present in some fruit can help tenderize the meat.

This recipe includes my improvised take on a Korean marinade. No doubt, there are many ways to skin a cat, but I found this particular combination of ingredients to have the right balance of salt, acidity, sweetness and character. Ready for some meat?

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter, folks! May Peace, Love and Prosperity follow you at all times. I love Easter: winter with its snow aggravation is behind, the sun shines more, and people look happier. Today we had a lovely Easter branch with painted eggs, buns, and a variation of no-bake cheese cake Russian style that is traditionally prepared at Easter. It is called Paskha (Easter in Russian). Follow me to see how it's done...

Golubtsy - Cabbage Rolls with Meat

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Russian golubtsy that are known in America mostly as Polish golabki, are simply cabbage rolls with meat and  are  popular in many European countries. I consider golubtsy one of Russian traditional and loved dishes. It takes some effort and patience, but the payoff is just great: steaming hot rolls with most delightful meat filling accompanied with a dollop of cold sour cream. One couldn't wish for a better Sunday dinner. Ready for a challenge? Then follow me to my kitchen ...

Octopus's Garden Salad

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Today the sun is shining again in Brooklyn. My local wine store put out a sign: "Weather, make up your damn mind!" Indeed, yesterday was windy, menacing and wet, and today Beatles' "Octopus's Garden" comes to mind:
We would be warm below the storm
In our little hideaway beneath the waves
Perhaps due to this association, I suddenly craved some octopus amid a green paradise of green cauliflower, canned peas, pickles, celery, parsley, capers and a few other things. ...Wanna try?

Solyanka - Meat Soup with Pickles

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

After battling with the snow on our roof and driveway, we had a little break of warmth and sunshine. Not for long! The weekend was disappointingly windy and cold. Our aching bodies begged for a proper fuel...
Browsing through famous Cookbook by Elena Molokhovets, I suddenly remembered this soup: loaded with different meats, cucumbers, olives, cabbage, and mushrooms. Sounds good, doesn't it? So I thought, and made it for the first time in my life. It was just what we needed at this time of winter stress...

Charlotte - Easy Apple Pie

Monday, February 21, 2011

Apple coffee cake with a crispy pink crust.
This is a Russian favorite (pronounced Shar-lot-ka), and also probably the easiest cake you will ever bake. It requires hardly any preparation and only the most basic ingredients. And yet... the distinctive pink crust and lovely tartness of the apples make it a perfect home-made companion to tea and coffee.
Ready to try?

Mushroom Soup Russian Style

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The first rays of the sun are piercing the crowns of Siberian pines...  A mооsе family trotted afar, and disappeared in the morning fog... An early lizard darted onto the stump, and froze, catching the sunshine... The air is fresh and brisk...  I am walking along the path overgrown with blue moss... I am looking for something. I am hunting, without a gun or a bow, armed with my eyes, a knife, and a basket. Here! Here they are! I see the brown velvet caps of my prey!
Some of you might think, is this woman going nuts today, but this is how I remember our trips to the forest to pick up porcini mushrooms (also king boletus) that are known in Russia as white mushrooms (bielye griby). It was a real hunt, with all the excitement and passion of the game. The reward was a few baskets of one of the best mushrooms.
We dried them for winter use, mostly for soups. You can also make a soup of fresh porcini, but dried mushrooms acquire a unique scent, and these two soups are quite different in taste and flavor.
Today's recipe is for dried porcini mushrooms. To me, this soup  holds the second place after borsch in Russian cuisine. It is rich and aromatic, and can thoroughly warm up one's body and soul on a cold winter day.

Spiced Lamb Chops

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spices were never used a lot in my cooking, with the exception of black pepper and salt, which I do not even consider spices. That's how I grew up - in my mom's kitchen where wonderful things were cooked, we didn't use unusual stuff. Spices like coriander or cumin could be bought only at the farmer's market (bazaar), where numerous merchants from Asian Soviet republics brought a lot of interesting exotic things. Only in America I learned many new things about international cooking and many new exciting  ingredients (Martha was my first great teacher).
Recently, on our trip to an Indian store we bought a lot of spices, the packages were so big that Masha and I shared them. Now I have a few glass jars of different spices in my pantry, so last Sunday I decided to be bold and used a lot of them. It produced a beautiful result: spices being in abundance did not overpower the lamb, just added to the richness of its aroma. Now... please follow me to the kitchen.

Cookie Cake

Monday, January 24, 2011

Exhausted by two major storms last week, I was not inclined to stand long hours in the kitchen on the weekend. But the cold weather and snowy surroundings called for something sweet. When shopping at my favorite Russian market, I glanced at a shelf with plain Russian cookies, cookies that I remember since my nursery school days. Indeed, there are some products that live decade after decade, and their popularity doesn't wither... Looking at these cookies, I remembered a simple recipe of a desert that I offer to your attention today. Let's get started...

Cinderella Almond Pear Tart

Monday, January 17, 2011

This weekend I got to enjoy a glorious event that only happens once in a blue moon: my parents drove over to New York to visit me. This was a perfect occasion to seek out the imaginary pear tart that has been haunting me. I exploited my imagination and several cook books at once, and lo and behold - the tart of dreams rests on my plate.
The idea here is a simple one: a pie shell is covered with a custard-like almond topping that prevents the liquid from the fruit from seeping into the dough. The pears themselves are fried with sugar and rum to create a lovely burnt sugar taste. Complemented with crème fraiche, this is as close to a perfect dessert as I can imagine.
I named this tart "Cinderella" precisely because it locks you up in the kitchen for a while. So I must warn you: if you are out for an easy victory, this tart is not for you. It is time-consuming (takes about 4 hours), and will satisfy only those cooks craving cooking itself in addition to something sweet.
Read on, brave chef...

Beer-Braised Lamb

Monday, January 17, 2011

Do something new with your porter: succulent, flavorful, lick-your-fingers lamb... Ladies and gentlemen, I have done it: beer-braised lamb on Monday night. Yes, braising does take about an hour and a half or more. Vacation must have left me with some extra energy, or hunger, or desire to stay up later... Whatever it was, I invited beer to my kitchen, and it graciously accepted.
Cooking with beer has a long tradition, but for some reason appears less often in the kitchen than wine. Just like wine, beer works well as a deglazing agent for a pan sauce and is also a great liquid for braising because it has a degree of acidity that helps tenderize the meat.
Braising is a technique that involves first searing the meat and then letting it simmer in liquid for a long time. As the result, even the toughest meats taste tender when braised. When picking meat for braising, the less expensive cuts will likely taste just as well. Ready to try it?

Cloaked Herring

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This Holiday Season was marred for me by a nasty flu that has been keeping me disabled in terms of elaborate cooking. Alas. I will see better days... Only Masha's presence and inspiration made it possible to create something worth mentioning.  The herring dish I am sharing with you today  is one of the favorite and  ever-present viands on a Russian festive table.
Today I am sitting at home since our house and driveway  is cloaked with 15" piles of snow brought by a major storm of the East. Hence I got a suitable English name for the dish, which literally translates from Russian as herring under fur coat. And what a colorful "fur coat" this is...