Tag Archives: Dill

A Saturday Russian Feast!

22 Nov

This will be a 4-in1 post–four recipes in one post!  I’ve never shared so much cooking fun in one day!  My Russian friend Ksenia invited me and a few friends to her host family’s house for a fabulous Russian feast.  What a terrific day for food and drink!  There were four courses to this meal, so this post may prove to be long…..But the common theme of the day is that everything we made has only a few simple ingredients with simple preparation.

From left to right, Ksenia, me, Michelle, and Sarah

I made borscht, a bright magenta soup made of beets, potato, cabbage, carrots, onion, dill, and vegetable broth, topped with plain, whole milk yogurt.  Michelle brought a simple Russian salad she ate often while she lived in Russia, and Sarah brought vodka, Kahlua, and cream to make White Russians, which is probably a very un-Russian drink.  Except that it contains vodka as a key element.  Ksenia made crepes using her grandmothers batter recipe.  So authentic!

Let’s start with the borscht.  There seem to be a million ways of making borscht–the only common element seems to be that all borschts are made with beets.  Ok, fair enough.  Borscht=soup containing beets.  I got it.  Here is the recipe for my borscht:


(Makes about 6 servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium beets

3 medium carrots

1/2 large onion or 1 medium onion

1 russet potato

1 or 2 cups cabbage

8 cups of water or vegetable broth (I used a few tablespoons of Better than Bouillon organic vegetable broth paste, mixed with 8 cups of water)

3 tablespoons dill (it’s really, really hard to get too much dill)

Salt and pepper to taste

A few splashes of red wine vinegar


Peel and chop the vegetables into roughly the same size.  Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, and stir to coat the onion in the oil.  Cook just a few minutes, then add the beets, carrots, and potato.  Stir to mix and coat in the oil.

Fill the pot with the broth or water, turn up to high, add a few teaspoons of salt, and grind some pepper into the soup.  When you soup comes to a boil, turn down to medium, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, add the cabbage and cook for 10 minutes more.  Make sure the beets are tender to test if the soup is done–they will be the last of the vegetables to finish cooking.  Once the cooking is finished, get out your blender.  Strain the vegetables using a slotted spoon (big spoon with holes in it), and add them to the blender.  Add a few ladles of broth.  Puree.  Dump your newly pureed soup into a separate large bowl and set aside.  Repeat this process until all the vegetables are pureed, and you’re left with some broth in the pot.  Only fill your blender about 2/3 full, because hot soup in a blender can be a dangerous thing.  Once all the vegetables are pureed, add them back into the pot of broth, and stir.  Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary–you may need additional salt at this point.  Stir in the dill.  Ladle your soup into bowls, top with more dill if you want, and spoon some yogurt over the top.  Yum!

Russian Salad


3 medium tomatoes

2 cucumbers

1 red bell pepper

1/2 cup fresh dill

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt to taste

Chop the tomatoes and bell pepper and add them to a large bowl.  Peel the cucumbers and chop, and add to the tomatoes and peppers.  Chop the dill, and toss it with the vegetables, olive oil, and add some salt to taste.

Of course, the White Russians!  Sarah mixing some up:

Sarah’s White Russian formula for two servings:

2 shots vodka

1 shot Kahlua

4 shots half-and-half


Mix and drink.  Repeat.

Last, but certainly not least, Russian crepes!  Ksenia making the inaugural crepe of the afternoon:

Ksenia’s Russian Dessert Crepes


2 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

a few pinches of salt and baking soda

2 cups of flour

2 cups of water

1 cup hot milk



Heat a crepe pan or skillet over medium heat.  When I make crepes, I just use my stainless steel skillet and coat it in butter between each crepe to keep them from sticking.  Crepe pans don’t require butter.  Heat the milk in the microwave for about a minute and a half.  Add to a mixing bowl, and beat in the 2 eggs, add the water and the rest of the ingredients.  Mix using a whisk.

Once the pan is hot, use a ladle and spoon a ladle-full of batter onto the pan.  Immediately pick up the pan and move it around to spread the batter around.  The crepes will only take a minute or two to cook, and don’t really require flipping.  They are so thin that they cook on both sides at once.

For fillings, we used apples, strawberries, ricotta cheese, honey, and sour cream….not necessarily all together!  I spread some ricotta on my crepe, added apples, and a bit of honey.

Wrap up, and enjoy!

What a fun afternoon!  Thanks ladies!


Sunday Challenge: Greek Zucchini Pie

26 Aug

This vegetable pie is the first of a series of “Sunday Challenges” I will feature on The People’s Gourmet.  Sunday is the day of the week when I normally attempt more complex or time-consuming culinary endeavors I don’t have time for the rest of the week.  This pie is very much worth the effort, and it’s a really great way to get a lot of vegetables into one dish.

This recipe is also from the New York Times, as were my bean tacos but I altered this dish a bit.  Here, I use parmesan cheese instead of the feta because that’s what I had on hand, and I reduced the cooking time.  The recipe indicates a cooking time of 40-50 minutes, but I cooked my zucchini pie for just 25-30 minutes.  Phyllo dough burns easily, so I think 40-50 minutes is too much.  I also did not grate my zucchini, but cut it into coins instead.  During the winter, I like making pies like this one, except with winter vegetables, like kale or swiss chard.  This pie will take a bit of time, but an hour of it is inactive.

Here’s what you need:

Time:  About 2-2.5 hours total

Special equipment:  brush for brushing olive oil onto phyllo dough (see picture below), 8 -10-inch pie pan or quiche pan

3-4 medium zucchini

Salt to taste

About 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauteeing onion, garlic, and zucchini, plus extra for brushing phyllo dough

1 medium or large onion

2 or 3 cloves of fresh garlic

2/3 cup fresh dill

1/3 cup fresh parsley

2/3-1 cup feta cheese or parmesan cheese

3 eggs

Freshly ground black pepper

10 sheets of phyllo dough (phyllo dough usually comes frozen, so make sure you leave it out to thaw several hours before you plan to use it)

Step 1: Slice the zucchini.

zucchini coins

zucchini coins

Step 2: Place the zucchini in a medium bowl, toss with about 2 teaspoons of salt.

Salted Zucchini

salted zucchini

Step 3: Place zucchini in a colander or strainer, and leave for about 1 hour.  The salt will extract a lot of water from the zucchini. You want to do this step so that the water in the zucchini will not make your crust soggy.

zucchini in a strainer over a bowl

zucchini in a strainer over a bowl

water collected after a half hour

water collected after a half hour

Step 4: Press zucchini between a few paper towels to remove any excess water.  Set aside for a moment in a bowl.

pressing the zucchini

pressing the zucchini

Step 5: Preheat oven to 350.  In a pan large enough to hold your zucchini with onions and garlic, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Chop the onion and garlic.  When your pan is hot, throw in the onion, and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.

chopped onions and garlic

chopped onions and garlic

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Step 6: Add zucchini and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

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Step 7: As the zucchini, onion, and garlic cook, chop the herbs and the cheese (I used a small block of parmesan that I chopped, but you can grate if you want or use pre-grated cheese), and beat the eggs.  Add freshly ground black pepper, then, combine with herbs and cheese.

dill and parsley

dill and parsley

beaten eggs with freshly ground pepper

beaten eggs with freshly ground pepper

herbs, eggs, cheese, and pepper

herbs, eggs, cheese, and pepper

Step 8: Mix about half a cup of the zucchini, onion, and garlic mixture into the egg mixture to heat up the eggs so that rest of the hot zucchini mixture will not produce scrambled eggs.  Then, mix in the rest of the zucchini mixture.

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Step 9: Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a bowl.  Get out your brush.  My phyllo dough was a little large for the quiche pan I used, so I cut the sheets in half.

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sheets of phyllo dough

sheets of phyllo dough

Step 10: Assemble the crust.  Brush each sheet of phyllo with a bit of olive oil, and layer 5 of these sheets in the bottom of your pan.

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Step 11: Fill crust with zucchini/egg mixture.

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Step 12: Brush 5 more sheets of phyllo dough with olive oil, and layer on top of the pie. When done, tuck in the sides of the dough.

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Step 13: Bake for about 30 minutes.  Your pie will look about like this:

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