|To match a Russian Feast...
The Limited Theory of Russian Cooking
Elimentarnaya Teoria Rusko'i Kuhni
how to trust yourself in the face of a traditional recipe
- I n g r e d i e n t s -
- T o o l s -
- T h e B i g P i c t u r e -
- T h e P r o c e s s -
- T o T h e A p p e t i z e r T a b l e -
These are the headings I use to format the recipes we have collected for a Russian Feast.
And as much as formating, rules, tradition, and protocol come to bear,
I would always like to suggest rule #1...
And do that particularly when you feel trustworthy. For many of you a recipe is just a
narrative guide... you know what tastes best. And for others, this will be an adventure
into 'traditional' recipes where the recipe will be your 'white cane'.
In any event, trust yourself and call for help if you need it.
For the feast we have given the couples and individuals a recipe.
Those recipes are adapted from the book, "At the Dacha, Russian Home Cooking"
It was published in the 80's and written by Darra Goldstein. It is out of print, but must be
well-loved, because I couldn't even find a used copy of it. My advice is to go to Amazon.com
and type in Darra Goldstein in the search box. Several of her in-print books will come up
and you can have your shopping urge taken care of nicely. In the meantime, from her older book,
we have adapted her recipes trying not to lose the Russianality. And we appologize if the updates
are taken as an erosion of the traditional. Really good traditions can be quietly updated,
and with Andy Zaharoff's watchful eye, that is what we have tried to do.
As for the Feast at hand -- Please go to the webpage that has your suggested recipe and
figure out when it is time to start your cooking. Some of the recipes require starting
as much as two weeks prior to the Feast, so I think we are about to master slow cooking.
Only a few of them need to be prepared the morning of, and the majority
are best if made the day before the Feast.
As with all recipes, read through the whole thing before starting and paint a picture
in your mind of what is going to happen when, and how it will look.
We don't have pictures of the dishes, but we will when you bring them.
If you have ever written or adapted recipes, you know that Betty Crocker's test kitchen
is what we need. That iconic kitchen produces the foolproof of foolproof recipes,
but we don't have the luxury to have her test kitchen available to us.
But we do have YOU !
So regarding your recipe, please make notations on what didn't make sense, what could
make it easier without losing the traditional touch, what could make it taste better,
what ever you think could improve your result and fun in the kitchen.
Notations on the printed-out recipe will be the most reliable way to communicate them to me,
or by an e-mail. Mentioning something on the day of the Feast may not take your input
to the level that it should obtain.
These recipes do not have fancy ingredients. There is no lobster, caviar, and they don't rely on
butter and cream. So it is the quality of the ingredients that you do use that will make the
difference. This is true of all recipes, but particularly true with these.
In terms of the Russian-ness of the recipes, let me say this: try to stick with the ingredients
that you see in your recipe. Under certain circumstances you might want to use another
ingredient, but if you can't find it in one of the other recipes, than resist that urge to use
that ingredient. Resist the urge to use the traditions of the Hungarians, Bulgarians, Germans,
Italians, French, Americans, Etc. For example, don't add paprika or shalotts,
even though you know it will make the dish taste 'better'.
However, do trust yourself with adjusting to taste the ingredients that are listed.
Myself, I think most of the recipes are salted properly, but... Russians love salt.
I will always remember a Russian telling me, "For a Russian, salt isn't salty enough!"
If you want to research your own recipes to bring an extra dish,
you can search on Russian Recipes.
The site that I thought was the best was RusCuisine.com
There are a bunch of great recipes there, and as long as it's juicy, I'm sure it will fit right in.
If you find any other sites or cookbooks, please include that in your notes on your recipe.
You have good luck, so it would be redundant to wish it to you.
Now, get thee to a kitchenary.