Tag Archives: toast

soviet cuisine

23 Mar

  
World history has never been my forte. Art history? Sure. Food history? Heck yah. Political movements? Not so much. It is not that I don’t get concepts-it is just that I am terrible with names and dates and I have a sneaking suspicion that what I am taught has been passed through a misogynist and Anglicized filter.

Oddly, I can recite recipes for chocolate chip cookies and umpteen cocktails, complete with amounts. And yet I cannot for the life of me remember years that things happened and then I get historical events out of order. Save remembering that WWI was before WWII. Got that one down.

So I’ve been gravitating towards cookbooks that teach me a bit of history too because where there is food involved I am more likely to remember. The CCCP Cook Book: True Stories of Soviet Cuisine deals with Soviet cuisine which is fascinating. The regime in power tried to promote an official cookbook and way of cooking for the all of the Soviet Union’s restaurant and catering businesses in order to get everyone serving exactly the same food everywhere, I suppose. That “official” cuisine seemed to veer towards Russian dishes, but the Soviet Union (aka USSR or CCCP) was pretty vast. The recipes that represent Soviet cuisine found in people’s homes ranges from Russian to Georgian to Tatar.

It is also interesting how much the the economics of the time drove the dishes. There is a reason for all those breadcrumb coated dishes. Meat at the time was scarce and the quality of what was available was poor. Crumbs disguised mystery meat. The lack of meat is the same reason there were so many canned fish, and varying patties of chopped meat.

Scarcity can also lead to remarkably good dishes. Eggplant “caviar” for instance. I’m not making it to replace real caviar. I’m making it because it is pretty dang delicious. Which I found shocking because rarely do I care for eggplant dishes.

The book is full of stories of dictators being jerks (to put it mildly) and the government being corrupt. The stories are alternately funny and sad. For instance the regime would champion eggs as not being so good for you when eggs were not readily available. When eggs finally were available in some abundance the government “realized” that eggs were in fact delicious and nutritious. Mmm, the tasty tales of executive power. By the time I finished reading and cooking through this book, I will be nourished both in body and mind.

As I mentioned, there are quite a few chopped meat recipes. There are some classics like sauerkraut, chicken Kiev, borscht and stroganoff. The recipe I am sharing is a sweet and spicy beet broth eaten with a toasted cheesy bread. Think of it as a variant of the classic pairing of grilled cheese with tomato soup. The topping on the toast is positively addictive. If you don’t like spice, you may wish to cut down the cayenne but being a nut for heat, I went all in.

The story behind this dish is about a chatty lil’ supper meeting between Stalin and Mao. Stalin steered Mao towards the soup because Mao grew up in southeast China, where the Hunan cuisine was full of the spicy flavors. Apparently at this dinner there was some wine drinking too, and Mao asked why Stalin liked to mix red and white wine. Stalin’s answer was that he liked creating his own bouquet of wine flavors. Now, I don’t recommend being like Stalin in general, and I REALLY don’t recommend mixing your red and white wine. But should you be into historical reenaction feel free to pop a couple of bottles open to wash down this meal. Just don’t reenact anything else the dictators might have been up to.

Borschtok with Spicy Toast adapted from The CCCP Cook Book by Olga and Pavel Syutkin

For borschtok:

2-2 1/2 liters meat stock (being veg, I substituted vegetable stock)
400 g (around a pound) beets
3 Tbsp. vinegar
1 egg white
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sugar
For the toast:

2-3 slices white bread
25 g (almost 1 oz.) butter, plus some extra for frying
200 g (around 1/2 pound) semi-mature cheese (I used cheddar)
2 eggs
50 g (almost 2 oz) tomato puree or ketchup (I used tomato paste)
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
For the broth:

Add the beet, finely chopped, and the vinegar and egg white to the stock. Place over low heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. Add the cayenne and sugar and simmer another 5-7 minutes. Skim off any fat (if using meat stock) then run through a sieve (I lined mine with cheesecloth).

For the toast:

Heat the oven to 180 celsius or 360 Fahrenheit. Cut the bread into rectangular slices and fry in some butter. Grate the cheese and mix it with the tomato concoction of choice, eggs, butter and cayenne. Spread on the fried bread and bake in oven 10-12 minutes. Serve with the broth. Dip it. Dip it good.

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Triple Your Everything

29 Jan

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Except nipples. Stick with two. If you have three, that’s all well and okay, but I’d only pierce the principle two.

Just to clear up any confusion I only have two nipples. And piercings.

So I’ve been pretty busy. My improv team has been booking more gigs outside of our weekly performance.

Auditions are back up and running.

I’m harloting around to casting director workshops like crazy in the name of ye olde pilot season.

Still reading and writing like a maniac for Hello Giggles.

AND most importantly Alice and I are planning our next pie party and boy is the theme of it this time a doozy. Let’s just say that my inner goth cook is hard at work.

So I’m busy. Ergo I am presenting you with a simple sandwich. I have a lot of random thoughts about/inspired by this recipe:

I’m not sure if it is an amazing recipe so much as fun. Maybe not amazing but WORTH IT.

I think everything is better with butter.

There are people who like grape jelly and people who like strawberry.
Of course I prefer blackberry or raspberry because I am persnickety. But will always take grape over strawberry. I think what you are raised with will always be the preference.

I was skeptical as to whether a slice of toast would do much for a sandwich, but then remembered how Bill Cosby used to put potato chips in his sandwiches, so I thought maybe crunch would be good.

It was. But I wanted to double the creamy to play against the crunch. So I did. Double the amount of PB and J initially called for. I adore the looks of this sandwich. It is so…architectural.

PBJ Triple from the allrecipes app
1 piece of bread toasted and cooled
2 slices untoasted bread
4 Tbsp. Peanut butter
4 Tbsp jam
Spread jam on one side of untoasted bread. Spread pb on either side of toasted. Make a sandwich. I hope you are capable of figuring it out.

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Tomato toast

24 Oct

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I cannot say much more than that this is not a recipe you should put off making. And don’t leave out any of the required elements. This toast is delicious in flavor but rises to new heights by the interplay of contrasting yet complementary textures.

My, that was a lot.

La di da.

I really am a snob. It’s true. I listen to Bach and act in Shakespeare plays and read big books n stuff.

But I was talking about texture. The crunch of the toasted crumbs, the crisp bread becoming tender (and if you are me PURPOSELY soggy) bread. Lilts of butter.
Optional: nutritional yeast
You can sprinkle it on, just for cheezy vegan kicks.

Although I doubt Marion Cunningham was big on the nooch.

But if you are vegan use vegan margerine for butter and if you are gluten intolerant use gluten-free bread.

Tomato Toast from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham

1 c. Skinned chopped tomato
6 Tbsp. fresh bread crumbs
2-3 Tbsp. butter
1/8 tsp. dried sage
Freshly ground salt and pepper
2 pieces toast
Melt a bit of butter over medium heat, brown bread crumbs whilst stirring. Set aside and stir in sage.
Melt some more butter, stir in tomato. Add salt and pepper and cook, stirring til it is fairly dry and spreadable as a whore’s legs. Don’t spread those. Spread on buttered toast.

not meh!

25 Feb

Yummy, in fact! I had some cream cheese that needed using, and had been craving cinnamon toast-in LA toasts are the new cupcake, by the way-so I decided to make these Mini Cinnamons from “Texas Cook Book” from Golden West Publishers’ Cooking Across America Cookbook Collection. Now, there is nothing particularly Texan about these little delights, but I like em’ just the same.
I cut the recipe way down. To start you mix vanilla, and egg, 1/2 cup of sugar an 8 oz. of cream cheese, then spread on 16 slices of bread. The recipe specifies crustless, but that’s a waste an I love crust. You roll up the bread then freeze a couple hours. Slice the rolls into individual rolls. Dip in melted butter. The recipe says margerine but what decade are we in, the 70s? Then roll in a mixture of 1 cup of sugar and 2 Tbsp. of cinnamon. At this point you can freeze them to use later which I did, or go ahead and bake them. Just pop them in a 350 degree oven for around 10 minutes, turning them over halfway. When they are brown on both sides they are ready for munching! Mmmmmm, munch-y…