Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Culinaria Russia

I received the cookbook, Culinaria Russia, for Christmas from our oldest son who has been living in Moscow.  In addition to tempting recipes, the cookbook provides gorgeous photos and background information highlighting the various lands and the foods that are typical of Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

The Culinaria series reports on every aspect of a country's cuisine within the context of the people who created it. To highlight the diversity food historically served in the former republics of the Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan were chosen due to their very different geographical , climatic and cultural situations.    The foods most foreigners associate with the Soviet Union, such as caviar, piroshki, borscht, and vodka, came mostly from Russia and the Ukraine.  Ukraine also had grain, sugar, and orchards.  Georgia produced subtropical fruits and wines.  Azerbaijanis created exotica dishes from meat, fruit, and spices.

Our son has become fond of kasha, a favorite Russian side dish, made from whole or shredded buckwheat, which he managed to hunt down when he was last visiting.  The Russians value buckwheat highly, because it is tasty, easily digestible, cheap, healthy and very filling. The seeds contain a lot of protein with useful amino-acids which would appeal to our son. They contain lecithin, B vitamins, rutin, (vitamin P), minerals, irion, calcium, and phosphorous. We'll have to give it a try ourselves.  Culinari Russia recommends serving if as a main course or an accompaniment to meta, fish, poultry, or suckling pig.


1 3/4 lb. (750g) buckwheat grits
8 1/2 T.  (125g) butter

Put the buckwheat with twice the quantity of water in an earthenware pot or other heatproof container and bring to a boil. Remove the lid and allow the kasha to swell for about one hour in a preheated oven at 340-350 degrees F (175 C) without stirring.  Stir in the butter and salt.  

The centrality of kasha in the traditional Russian cuisine is expressed in the Russian proverb: 

"щи да каша – пища наша", (shchi da kasha – pishcha nasha)
 literally "shchi and kasha are our food", 
or more loosely, "cabbage soup and porridge are all we need to live 

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