Borscht

Traditional beet-based borscht is the quintessential Russian soup. While borscht can be served cold in the summer, this recipe delivers a steaming pot of hearty, winter soup.

Ingredients:

1 pound cubed beef stew meat
1 marrow bone or meaty beef bone
1 medium clove garlic, peeled
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 medium leek, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
12 whole black peppercorns
6 medium red beets
1/4 head green cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup minced fresh dill
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish

Directions:

Combine beef, bone, garlic, carrot, celery, leek, bay leaf, and peppercorns with two quarts water in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for two hours. Meanwhile, place unpeeled beets in a separate saucepan, cover with water, and cook over medium heat until soft, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly, then peel and dice.

Strain beef mixture, reserving broth and discarding solids. Return broth to the pot and add beets and shredded cabbage. Cook until flavors meld, about 20 minutes more. Season with salt as needed, and serve in bowls garnished with minced dill and a dollop of sour cream.

Servings: Serves six to eight

Khachapuri

This Georgian cheese pastry is served with every Georgian meal, including shashlyk (kebabs), lobio (beans), and lule kebabs (ground beef or lamb).

Ingredients:

Dough:
1/2 liter plain yogurt
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour

Filling:
4 cups soft white cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Directions:

To make the dough, mix together the yogurt, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well and knead to make a soft but not sticky dough. For the filling, mix together the cheese and the beaten eggs, mashing into a smooth paste. Set aside.

Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece on a lightly floured board into a 12-inch round. Divide the filling into four portions. Place one portion on the dough, smoothing out to about once inch from the edge. Fold over the dough towards the center to cover, rolling smooth with a rolling pin to seal the top.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Melt a generous spoonful of butter and place the khachapuri seam-side down, cover and fry until golden brown. Turn and fry the other side, adding more butter to the pan. Repeat with the remaining dough and fillings.

Servings: Serves four (one pastry per person)

Bliny

Bliny are Russian pancakes usually made with yeast, but this simple recipe uses baking soda instead. Serve with sour cream, jam, or caviar.

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon soda
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and sugar to taste
2-3 eggs

Directions:

Mix eggs with three cups of milk. Add salt and flour and mix thoroughly to eliminate lumps. Pour vegetable oil into a saucer. Peel an onion and cut it into two parts; take one part with a fork and dip it in oil. Use it every time for greasing the pan with vegetable oil. Heat and grease a pan. Pour thin layer of batter evenly (the thinner the better). Add more flour if you are not successful with thin bliny. Cook until light brown, about two minutes on each side.

Servings: Serves two to three

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