Friday, December 23, 2005

Tvorog

Tvorog is one of the most ancient and popular Russian dishes.
It was known in ancient Rome too, and one of philosophers, Columella, said that it is a favorable dish on a rich and poor table.
Tvorog is a well-balanced and useful dish, containing proteins, necessary amino acids, microelements, and vitamins. It is allowed-for-all dish, and it is absolutely necessary for children, because it contains plenty of calcium, and 14%-22% of protein. For a long time, Russians called tvorog "syr", which means "cheese", and even still pancakes with tvorog are named "syrnik".
People in villages, who had cows, eat tvorog and dishes containing tvorog, almost daily.
The sour milk, where proteins have already curdled, was product for preparing of tvorog.
Pour sour milk into an oven-safe dish (in old times – large pot), and place the dish into a not very hot oven (traditionally – in Russian oven).
After a few hours, take the dish off from oven, and pour its contents into fabric bag.
Place fabric bag in a colander, and let buttermilk to stream down.
After that, put press (any clean heavy staff) on the bag.
Tvorog left in the bag.
You can eat it with salt, sugar, and sour cream, or use it in different dishes.
The only disadvantage of this tvorog is that you cannot keep it more than 3 days in a refrigerator, or it will turn sour.
To prolong its storage time, you have to dry it.

The technology of draining tvorog is next:

Place fresh tvorog (after pressing) in an oven-safe dish, and put the dish in a not very hot oven once more, and put under press in a fabric bag once more.
After 2-3 times, you will have very dry, crumbly tvorog.

To keep it for a long time (up to half a year), put it in a clean pot, pour melted butter (Russian style) over it, and keep in a cold dry place under a tight lid. People took such tvorog on long trips.
Peasants traded with such tvorog, and the dryer the tvorog, the more expensive it was.
Modern technologies of tvorog preparation are not far from ancient ones:

Ingredients:

¼ h whole milk
1 cup plain yogurt

Method:

Boil milk in glass or enameled saucepan. Add yogurt, and mix.
Turn off heating, and let sit. After it turns warm and curdles, put any uncolored clean fabric bag in the colander, and pour the semi-finished product into a bag. Let drain. That means let the buttermilk stream down.
To make dryer tvorog, place a press over it.
Tvorog is ready.

Note:

Hundreds of recipes using tvorog are in Russian cuisine.
The most famous dishes from tvorog are "syrnik", "vareniki with tvorog", melted cheese, "zapekanka", "cheese balls with potato", or "cheese-potato cakes", and "Paskha" – Easter cake.
I will give these recipes later.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Forrester Kasha

Ingredients:

1/3 lb buckwheat
2 cups water
1 large shallot onion
2-3 fresh or frozen porcini mushrooms
1 egg
½ tsp salt (optional)
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Method:

Whip egg. Mix egg and buckwheat thoroughly.
Place the mix on a heated skillet and cook, stirring thoroughly.
After 3 minutes, or when the cereals dry, put it in boiling salted water.
Boil with low heating for 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed by the cereals.
Let sit for 15 minutes.
Stir the cut onions and cut mushrooms with vegetable oil
Then, add mix to the kasha, and stir well.

Note:

This kasha is good as a standalone dish, or as a garnish to meat or poultry.
Or, it can be a condiment for meat or poultry soup.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Pearl Kasha with mushrooms and carrots

Ingredients:

2 cups pearl barley
2 large carrots
¼ lb pork fat (or 5 bacon stripes)
½ lb mushrooms

Method:

Wash pearl barley, put in a large saucepan, then add 6 cups of water.
Bring to boil, and boil for 15 minutes.
Cut pork fat into small cubes, fry on a skillet under lid until cuts will transparent.
Grate peeled carrots, and add them to the skillet.
Simmer mushrooms separately for 15 minutes with a few drops of melted fat.
Add fat with carrots and mushrooms to the saucepan with pearl barley.
Mix thoroughly. Optionally, add salt, and mix.
You can cook kasha in an oven, in an oven-safe dish, or on a stovetop until the cereals are ready.
Add water, if necessary.

Note:
You can make any other kasha (I mean, with any other cereals) by this recipe, but cooking time will vary. Pearl Kasha with mushrooms and carrots was a favorite dish of Russian Emperor Peter The Great.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Winter salad

Ingredients for 4:

¼ lb herring fillet
1 large potato
2 eggs
1 shallot onion
2 cucumbers
1 sweet red pepper
¼ lb canned sweet peas
2 medium carrots
Mayonnaise or mayonnaise mixed with sour cream
Cut dill, green onions – for decoration

Method:

Boil potato, carrots, and eggs separately, until ready.
Cool and peel them.
Cut herring fillet onto small cuts.
Grate eggs, cut potato, cucumbers, and carrots into small cubes.
Clean pepper (remove stem, seeds), cut into cubes.
Peel shallot onion, then cut into thin half-rings.
Cut green onions.
Mix all ingredients, except dill and green onions.
Add mayonnaise, and mix well one more time.
Put it in salad-dish, and decorate with greens.