The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2019
The 70th Anniversary
4th – 13th October 2019
Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina
I am delighted as part of The Times and Sunday Times 70th Anniversary Cheltenham Literature to bring you a little taste of Russia. For my part on the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Cheltenham Literature Festival I am bringing to the Blog Tour a Russian recipe from Salt & Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen by Alissa Timoshkina. Alissa will be appearing at the Festival on Thursday 10th October. Details can be found below on how to purchase tickets. My grateful thanks to Charlotte Cooper at Midas PR for this guest post by Alissa Timoshkina.
I don’t know about you but I love to experiment with recipes from different parts of the world, but I have to admit I have not tried any from Russia.
Alissa has selected one of the recipes from her book to share with you a little taste of Russia. I hope this inspires you to have a look at the book (details below) and may be try some of these in your own kitchen.
Borsch to Eastern Europe and Russia is like hummus to the Middle
East. We all eat it, we all love it, yet we simply can’t imagine that
any other country owns the rights to it. It has its origin in a hogweed
soup commonly consumed by the Slavs from the 15th–16th century
in territories occupied today by Poland, Ukraine and Russia. There
are so many variations of the soup, not only in each country but in
different regions within those countries, that borsch often becomes
synonymous with Eastern European soup. As much as I love a good
traditional borsch, and to me this means a passionately red beetroot
soup, cooked with a soffritto base as my Jewish–Ukrainian greatgrandma
would do, I sometimes struggle eating a plateful of chunky
discoloured vegetables that have given all their best to the broth.
So here I am taking a bit (okay, a lot) of creative licence, offering my
own take on the iconic dish, which consists of a rich red broth, raw
sauerkraut, roasted vegetables and baked red kidney beans. Lovers of
traditional borsch recipes look away – this one is pretty iconoclastic!
If you can make the broth 24 hours in advance, you will be
rewarded with an even better tasting soup, but a few hours of resting will also do the trick.
unrefined sunflower oil,
for frying and roasting
1 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
6 raw red beetroots
2 red peppers
2 tablespoons tomato purée
2 litres cold water
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
4 garlic cloves, peeled
bunch of dill
small bunch of flat leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, grated
500g Red Sauerkraut
with Garlic & Chilli
(see page 159)
2 tablespoons pomegranate
1 red onion
1 tablespoon brown sugar
400g can red kidney beans
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 tablespoons soured cream
Heat up a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a large pan and fry the
onion and carrot for about 8 minutes until golden. Meanwhile, peel
and grate 2 of the beetroots and core, deseed and thinly slice 1 red
pepper. Add the vegetables to the pan together with the tomato
purée and a splash of water. Season with salt to taste and fry for a
further 5–8 minutes.
Top with the measured cold water, add the bay leaves along with
the peppercorns and all the seeds, whole garlic cloves and half the
bunches of dill and parsley. Season with a tablespoon of salt and
bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the grated garlic and half the
sauerkraut with its brine and simmer, covered, over a low heat for
40 minutes–1 hour.
Turn off the heat and let the borsch rest for another hour, while
you prepare the rest of the elements.
So far, so good, but here is where the recipe starts to deviate
from the norm quite a lot: to prepare the vegetables that will grace
the plate and also add extra flavour and texture to the soup, you will
need to do a bit of roasting.
Start by preheating the oven to 160°C fan/Gas Mark 4.
Peel the remaining 4 beetroots, cut into wedges and dress with oil, salt and
the pomegranate molasses. Peel the red onion, cut into wedges and season
with salt and the brown sugar to bring out their sweetness and promote
caramelization. Place on a roasting tray with the beetroot and roast together
for 30 minutes. Drain the kidney beans, then dress them with salt, oil and the
smoked paprika. Core and deseed the remaining red pepper, then cut into thin
strips and dress with salt and oil. Roast the beans and pepper together, as they
will need only 10–15 minutes.
When ready to serve, strain the broth through a sieve or a muslin cloth,
discarding the solids. All we need is that rich broth! Reheat again if necessary.
Next, create layers of texture and flavour in each bowl by adding a heaped
tablespoon of the remaining sauerkraut to each, as well as a handful of roasted
beetroot, onion, kidney beans and red pepper. Top each bowl with the hot broth
and add a dollop of soured cream and a generous sprinkle of the remaining dill
and parsley, chopped. The intensity of the flavours and textures of this dish is
beyond words, while the look of the bowl will seduce the eye without a doubt.
Alissa Timoshkina will be appearing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on Thursday 10th October between 12 and 2pm. Tickets are still available at £30.00 plus a booking fee that include a two course lunch and a glass of wine. For further details: Flavours of Russia
Tickets for the 70th Anniversary Cheltenham Literature Festival are now on sale. But be quick some of the events are selling out fast. Cheltenham Literature Festival
Follow the Cheltenham Literature Festival Blog Tour