Russian Friday – Vegetarian Borscht

This beet soup would probably be one of the first items that pops up if you google “Russian cuisine”. However, being more of a pastry person while growing up, I skipped all the borscht hype.  Eight months ago our family was invited to a Russian dinner that completely changed my attitude.  A few… quite a few.. disastrous attempts later I am finally proud to present my vegetarian version of this famous Russian dish.

Traditionally borscht is made with beef broth and beets (of course), and there are a million different ways to prepare it.  I found my favorite recipe on another US blog written by a Russian mom.  Here it’s modified to fit our tastes.  Though, if you are looking for the original meaty version, I cannot recommend a better place than Sofya’s blog!

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VEGETARIAN BORSCHT

INGREDIENTS:

  • 7 medium beets, leaves removed
  • 5 liters vegetable broth
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and grated
  • 1,5 yellow onion, shelled, and finely cubed
  • 1 8-oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • ½ head of garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 small cabbage, finely shredded
  • 3-4 medium potatoes, cubed
  • Juice from 2 small lemons
  • 2 dry chili peppers
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400⁰F/200⁰C.  Wrap the beets in foil, punching a few holes in each bundle.  Bake the beets for about 1-1.5 hours.

Pour vegetable broth into a large soup pot, and let it come to a boil. While the broth is warming up, preheat a frying pan, melt the butter on it, and sauté carrots, turnip, and onion in it until the vegetables are very soft and juicy (for about 10 minutes).  Add tomato paste, and steer, letting it to melt and incorporate.

Once the beets are baked, remove them from the foil, peel, and shred.

Dump the sautéed vegetables, beets, cabbage, potatoes, chili peppers, bay leaves, cloves, and peppercorns into the broth, and let boil for another 10 minutes.  When the potatoes are cooked, add lemon juice, salt, and garlic. Your goal is to find the perfect balance between sweet and sour when putting together the final ingredients.  My babushka actually adds sugar, if the beets are not sweet enough.  It’s all about pleasing your taste buds!

Make ahead: the vegetarian borscht will keep well in the freezer for up to 6 months.  Cool it, pour it in freezer-safe zip lock bags, and let lay flat in the freezer.  The meat version should be ok for up to 3 months.

To serve: garnish the soup with sour cream and dill.

 

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:

Book clubs, kids, and nominations

 

My Mexican friend, Alma, finally picked the new book for our club! It’s Tear this heart out” by Angeles Mastretta.  The name sounds dreadfully depressing, so I cannot wait to start reading!  


On another note, I have a feeling that lately the kid-bragging was inadequate.  So, here are some new photos…

First and foremost, the new year starts with the new do.  What DO you think?  

Here is a fresh one of baby Pea.  We visited San Francisco famous Brian Wilson today.  Apparently, my girl expected to meet the “fear the beard” guy.  

Here is her puzzled look when she realized it’s just his namesake, the hippo.

 

 And lastly, a very talented photographer and blogger, http://barbaraelka.com/ noticed my online jabbering, and nominated it for a 7×7 award!  Thank you so much!  The rules are below:

1.       Share something about yourself that other bloggers don’t know.

Recently I’ve been working on this groundbreaking invention in the field of weight loss. 

So, I came up with this amazing dish.  I think if you eat it every evening for a couple weeks, you are guaranteed to shred some pounds!  I haven’t shared it with anyone yet due to limited research and potential side effects that may include but not limited to blurred vision, dizziness, and painful death…

It’s this baked fish recipe that tastes AWFUL! It’s so awful, you don’t even want to put anything else in your mouth after you ate it, so you are certain to loose extra fat!  As I mentioned earlier, it needs some work before I share it with public… but, I think I’m onto something here…

2.       Link 7 posts from your blog that you think are worthy.

Ohm.. I have only been doing it for two months… Let me see:

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/13/friands/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/31/mandarin-ginger-chicken/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/24/2011_instagram_pea/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/24/2011_instagram_fam/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/09/happy-friday/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2012/01/05/corn_casserol/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/12/sharlotka-with-cranberries/

3.       Nominate 7 other bloggers that deserve the award and haven’t received it yet.

I would really like to see author’s picks from all the blogs I follow, but here are the absolute favorites (in no particular order):

http://delacasa.wordpress.com/

http://comeduemaiali.wordpress.com/

http://savorysimple.net/

http://clarabelleblog.com/

http://daisyt13.wordpress.com/

http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/

http://deidraalexander.com

Ta-ta

Pho is too hard to make. Let’s bake some bread

The crab season started in San Francisco and last night our neighbor invited us for a crab-fest in his house!  Yeeeey!  The crab-fest slowly morphed into a wine-fest…  unfortunately with easily predictable outcome … severe dehydration…  Don’t worry, we are not 21 anymore!  We have our tricks, and by 10 this morning, we felt and looked like new!  The secret is in Vietnamese Pho!  Oh, it’s the best cure!!!! 

You think that would be the today’s recipe, but NO!  I cannot manage to make a dissent broth!  I just cannot!  I tried so many recipes online but none taste good enough.  The problem is – we are serious about our pho.  We traveled to Vietnam to eat Pho.  We tried it in every town and neighborhood we visited. Our favorite bowl could be found somewhere in the Old Quarter of Hanoi .  Our favorite US equivalent resides in Tenderloin (well, Little Saigon) of San Francisco, and it’s called Turtle Tower.  If you are ever in town, and if you are not afraid of… you know.. sketchy neighborhoods – it’s the place to enjoy. 

Here are some photos from our trip:

 

 

 

Anyways, even a night of… crab-fest-ing didn’t stop me from doing hot yoga tonight.  And oh… what a delight! Hence, I’m still on the right track to fulfilling my vein ambitions. The session even managed to suppress this Russian mom’s appetite for a not-so-light-dinner she started before the class! I was quite satisfied with a grapefruit and some raw veggies.  This yoga stuff is incredible!

Well, because of all this hard work, I deserve a reward: my family’s favorite bread!

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WALNUT-RAISIN BREAD

INGREDIENTS

1 Recipe of the Basic Country dough

1 tsp coriander

25 g molasses

1/2 cup of walnuts, slightly crashed

1/2 cup of raisins

DIRECTIONS

Soak the raisins in 1 cup of hot water for about 15-20 minutes, drain

Prepare the dough according to the basic country dough instructions until the point where salt and water are added.  Add salt, coriander, and instead of water add 25 g of molasses as well as the walnuts and raisins.

Incorporate the ingredients by squeezing them with your fingers into the dough.

Follow the directions of the Basic Country dough for proving, and shaping.  Once you shape a loaf and ready to place it into the proofing basket, pat the loaf with a wet hand.  Sprinkle it with some crashed walnuts, and place the loaf into the basket on a floured towel.

Follow the basic country bread instructions on the final rise and baking.

 

Trim your waistline with yoga and cabbage!

I got my calorie counter in place and ready to roll!  The first challenge on the way to skinny me – bribing my kids with ice-cream this morning to get them smile for the Christmas photographs.  Oh… that ice-cream looked so good!   

And the happy-smiley-looking-at-the-camera-shot:

“You wish, mom”…

Mommy stayed strong and didn’t touch the ice-cream!  The kids won yet another battle – I didn’t manage to get a single image of them both smiling and looking at the camera at the same time!  

So, tonight’s plan is to load the kids on the husband and let them enjoy Russian Story Time (heh heh heh!  With Dave’s 5-word Russian vocabulary it’s going to be interesting…).  Meanwhile I’m going to be making myself gorgeous for 90 minutes at Ocean Avenue Hot Yoga!  The best way to lose 2 lbs in 1.5 hours!   If you never did hot yoga, and interested in trying, here is my  advice.  First of all – drink a lot.  I usually have about a gallon of water throughout the day before the class.  One more tip – don’t eat anything for 1.5 – 2 hours before the session.  With these two tricks it’s almost guaranteed you will enjoy the torture!

Here is a light yet delicious dinner idea for tonight. By the way, I find that LiveStrong.com is an excellent (and free!)  way to help you track your calories!

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HEALTHY CABBAGE SALAD

  • 1 small cabbage, shredded
  • 2 mid carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 mid apple, peeled, cored, and shredded
  • Salt, pepper, sukanat or sugar to taste
  • 1/3 long English cucumber, diced
  • 1/3 bunch cilantro
  • ½ bell pepper
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1 lb chicken breast, diced
  • ¼ cup peanuts, slightly crushed
  • Chow Mein Noodles (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the first 3 ingredients with a little bit of salt, sukanat or sugar, and pepper in a large bowl and push with your fist for about 1 min to let cabbage juice.

Add the next 3 ingredients

Make a dressing by combining lemon juice, honey, sesame oil.  Taste it before pouring over to make sure it’s not to sweet or sour, modifying the quantity of ingredients to your taste.

Sprinkle the salad with sesame seeds

Separate the mixture in half.

Pour the first half over the salad and let stand.

Preheat a medium frying pan and grease it with sesame oil.  Sauté chicken pieces on it until browned, add crushed peanuts, mix on the pan for about 30 sec, and pour over the rest of juice/honey/oil mixture.

Serve hot chicken on top of the cabbage salad.

Sprinkle with Chow Mein Noodles if you wish.

Yummy and healthy!

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