Silly gadgets and Russian hash browns (kugelis)

*I am consolidating Russian Bites will Healthy and Sane. Russian Bites will stay alive as a (hopefully) great resource for Russian recipes so this post is reposted from Healthy and Sane to keep the database of recipes up-to-date. Thanks for being loyal readers!*

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So let’s get back to food, shall we? Actually I sort of wanted to talk about kitchen gadgets. Gimmicky kitchen gadgets. Do you own any? I’m talking about silly things like Slap Chops (I own one! It’s collecting dust.), avocado slicersmango splitters and the like. Basically anything that a good ol’ knife would do FASTER. And then there is a whole new level of ridiculousness with the likes of egg poacher + english muffin toaster combo, andmarinade express tabletop unit(it’s $300!!). The good news is that some gadgets are AWESOME… even if you can in fact use something simpler to get the job done.

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Braised sour cream cabbage

After using half of my NY cabbage in shchi and another quarter to make the red cabbage salad, I was ready to end its life. I had chicken braising on the stove and I thought, why not also make braised cabbage?

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[No, this is not chicken – this was how the leftover braised cabbage became a play on the Polish sauerkraut and kielbasa dish… more on that below!]

I called my mom to see how she makes it and discovered that after braising the cabbage she finishes it with sour cream. Hey, that sounds like something that my Russian Bites readers may actually enjoy! Smile

So here is what I did with the rest of my cabbage. It came together quickly and was ridiculously delicious. I wanted that slightly sour effect so I added a few pinches of citric acid to the mix but if you don’t have it, just leave it

Krasnaya kapusta (red cabbage salad)

Remember the shchi? I only used half a cabbage to make that soup so I hauled the other half from NY back to Boston… and then it sat in my fridge for 3 weeks until I finally had the time to do something with it! Yup…

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This 3 week break was certainly not for lack of imagination as to what to do with it. I love cabbage! The first dish that came to mind, though, was my mom’s red cabbage salad – it gets it’s gorgeous red pink hue from the beets (my other favorite ingredient).

I hear over and over the stereotype that Russian recipes are super heavy. While we love our meat and potatoes… and sour cream, oh yes, sour cream – there are plenty of fresh dishes made with simple ingredients. Like this red cabbage salad. The cabbage, beets and carrots are all shredded and finished with a light vinaigrette which sort of pickles them. It’s a salty/sour combo you don’t want to miss!

Ingredients

Perzzi (roasted peppers) and sinii (eggplant salad)

Ever since moving to the US and trying foods from all over the world, I’ve realized how much international influence there is over traditional Russian fare. There are so many parallels I make now that I know a bit more about different cuisines. Numerous variations of pelmeni, for example, exist in Asia (such as gyoza and potstickers) and Italians have their own versions of pelmeni, very well known as ravioli and tortellini. While my mom’s perzzi and sinii were one of the very first things that I wanted to learn how to make, I actually hesitated blogging about them because I realized that you’ve probably all had them before. You most likely just categorized them as Greek or maybe just… universal.

So yes, these are hardly “dishes” and aren’t particularly original, but both the roasted red peppers and sinii (translated as “blue” because eggplants are… purple?? yeah, go figure) are seriously requested at every family gathering by both me and my sister. So easy or not, I just had to share them! We used to eat both often as kids, and now that we’re older

Fried potatoes with wild mushrooms (kartoshka s gribami)

This is part II of the recipe recap of the very first full Russian meal prepared by me. The chicken Kiev was definitely the star of the show (and quite time consuming!) so I chose to keep the side dishes simple. Potatoes and mushrooms (finished with sour cream) are as traditional as it gets. The simple salad of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers… and yes, sour cream, again – is another dish that we ate almost daily growing up. It really added a great fresh component to the fried main dish. The key is to have simple, gorgeous ingredients that will stand up for themselves. Ready for the recipe? [If I can even call it that…]

Ingredients (serves 6):

4-6 medium potatoes (or more smaller ones) 1/2lb chanterelle mushrooms (any other wild mushrooms would work) 1/2lb baby bella mushrooms (these are a lot cheaper than chantereles, if you can afford it – go 100% wild) 2T butter 2-3T canola oil 3T sour cream

1. Peel potatoes, then cut them into matchsticks (fry shapes)

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