• Friday, November 27, 2020

Russian Recipes

Back in the U.S.S.R.
By , CYJ Contributor
September 11, 2013

The vodka-fueled White Nights of St. Petersburg’s short summer insist on plenty of breaks for meals, so our menu is straight from the Cold War kitchen. Whether you’re delving into Dostoyevsky, watching reruns of the 1980 Olympic hockey win, engaging in general spy tradecraft, or taking bets on whether Putin will ever return that Super Bowl ring, these dishes will bring you back to the U.S.S.R. in no time.

Horseradish Vodka


1 cup fresh horseradish root, peeled and grated
1 (750 ml) bottle high-quality vodka


After enough shots of this, differentiating between St. Petersburg, Florida and its Russian counterpart might become, well, challenging.

Add horseradish and vodka to a large, airtight container. Allow mixture to stand at room temperature for 2–3 days. Strain mixture through cheesecloth, return to airtight container, and refrigerate. Vodka will keep for 2 months in refrigerator.

Pickled Vegetables


3/4 champagne vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 cup carrots, peeled and cut into half-inch pieces
1 cup cauliflower, cut into half-inch florets
1 cup red pepper, seeded, cored, and diced
1/2 cup shallots, peeled and sliced thin


These bright, crunchy vegetables are a welcome counterpart to the rich dishes designed to sustain diners through St. Petersburg’s long, cold winters.

Bring vinegar, sugar, water, peppercorns, and mustard seeds to a boil in a small pot. Remove from heat. Add carrots, cauliflower, red pepper, and shallots to an airtight container. Pour vinegar mixture over vegetables, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Pickles will keep for 1 week in refrigerator.

Halibut with Borscht Sauce


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup leeks, washed well and chopped
1 lb beets, peeled and chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
sour cream
1 tablespoon dill, chopped fine
1 tablespoon chives, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (6 oz) skinless, boneless halibut fillets
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


Inspired by St. Petersburg’s role as Window to the West, we’ve added a contemporary twist to a classic.

Yield: 4 servings

Add butter and leeks to a pan on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add beets and vegetable stock. Add 1–2 cups of water, until beets are totally covered by liquid. Bring to a boil. Cook beets until a knife can pierce through easily, about 20 minutes. Strain, reserving cooking liquid. Add beets and 1 cup reserved liquid to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree beets, adding additional liquid if needed. Return beet sauce to pan, and add sour cream, dill, and chives. Mix well, and keep warm.

Pat halibut dry, and season with salt and pepper. Add oil to a pan on medium high heat. Sear halibut until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with sauce.

Beef Stroganoff


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup yellow onions, diced
2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced thick
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup cognac
1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 lb beef tenderloin, sliced into thin, 3-inch long strips
2 tablespoons chives, minced
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


After a piping hot bowl of this decadent dish, all that needs to be said is spasiba (thank you).

Yield: 4 servings

Add 1 tablespoon butter to a pan on medium heat. When foam subsides, add onions, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft, 8–10 minutes. Remove from pan, and reserve. Add 1 tablespoon butter to pan with mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are golden brown, 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and reserve. Add 2 tablespoons butter to pan. When butter is melted, add flour. Stir mixture, and cook 1 minute. Add stock and cognac to pan, whisking constantly. In 3–4 minutes, when mixture is thick and smooth, add sour cream. Whisk well, and remove from heat. Add reserved onions and mushrooms to pan with sauce, and mix.

Pat beef dry, and season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a pan on medium-high heat. Add beef, and cooked until browned on all sides, 3–4 minutes. Add beef to sauce. Top with chives, and serve.

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