Gougères - French Cheese Puffs

Gougères – French Cheese Puffs

Gougères are classic French cheese puffs made with choux pastry and grated cheese (Gruyère / Comté). French they may be but it was in Russia that I really took a liking to them.

I blame it on the French bakery Volkonsky‘s, which was in dangerous proximity to Katya’s Moscow appt. A small bakery / café selling delicious pastries, sandwiches, breads and coffee not to mention gougères.

It was a lesson in how something so innocent can be so addictive … I could have eaten them by the handful.

In memory of  Volkonsky’s gougères, here is  my recipe (see link Gougères below):

Gougères Cheese Puffs

BEEF STROGANOFF

25 January 2010

Beef Stroganoff

BEEF STROGANOFF {Бефстроганов, Befstróganov}

A great Russian beef recipe!

“Don’t always listen to your husband but always listen to your BUTCHER!”

This is what I was told on Saturday after finding Olivier in the butcher shop. He had ventured in with our shopping list and ordered 350g of beef shoulder. The butcher put the meat on the chopping block and with his knife poised asked what we were cooking. “Beef Stroganoff” Olivier replied.

The knife went down and a knowing look came over the butchers face. “My friend” he said, “this is not the meat for you.  For beef stroganoff only beef fillet will do! You want the most tender meat, cut into ‘allumettes‘  (thin strips) and then quickly seared in the pan. It will melt in your mouth”.

And it did. The price was definitely not that of beef shoulder, but worth every penny.

Beef strogi as it’s known in our family comes with many variations on a theme. However I like a simple recipe, made with only beef, onions, paris mushroom and sour cream. A little salt & pepper, garnished with chopped parsley and you have a carnivores bit of heaven.

The name is likely derived from Count Sergei Stroganoff (1794-1881), a Russian official and gourmet! I bet you he was all over the beef fillet.

BEEF STROGANOFF

CREPE Recipe

14 September 2009

SP-Crèpes

Russian crêpes – I used to think that a crêpe was a crêpes was a crêpe. That was until Katya made me her Russian recipe. While the basic ingredients are the same – flour, eggs, milk and butter, the taste and texture are soooo much better! I am convinced that the secret lies in warming the milk and melting the butter, to which the dry ingredients are then added. The result is an unctuous wonderful batter that makes perfect crêpes.

The second key factors is to be one with your crêpe – out with the spatula and in with your fingers, just be careful not to burn them while slowly peeling back the crêpe to flip it onto the other side. This adds a whole new meaning to hands on cooking!

RECIPE

RUSSIAN BEETROOT SOUP

2 February 2009

sp-russian-beet-soup1

Russian Beetroot Soup

RUSSIAN BEETROOT SOUP – From Russia with love:

Not from James Bond, but from Katya – my gorgeous Russian friend, who definately passes for a Bond girl, but who prefers to spend her spare time in the kitchen rather than being a damsel in distress!

When I asked her about Russian cuisine, she said that ” it is traditionally based on peasant foods because of the extreme climate, and that it is very common for Russian recipes to include simple ingredients such as eggs, flour, milk, sour cream, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and beetroot.”

When I think of Russian beetroot soup the 1st thing that comes to mind is borscht – made with cubes of beetroot, a variety of other vegetables & served with sour cream.

The current recipe is a hand me down from Katya’s friend, a Russian chef, who gave it to her, she then passed it on to me & I am now sharing my version with you :) It is a delicious modern take on the traditional Russian beetroot soup. There are no potatoes or cabbage and the sour cream has been replaced by goats cheese.

The taste is surprising complex – as the ingredients work so well together that you cannot immediately distinguish one from the other. Only after a few minutes does each flavour take on its own persona. The goats cheese* is a nice contrast in colour, taste & texture to the soup, which is warming, rich & smooth, just perfect for the winter months.

RUSSIAN BEETROOT SOUP

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