Well, it finally happened! Nico and I domesticated! I keep having to explain this to everyone. What is a Domestic Union? Well, it’s not quite marriage, but its official! Nico and I decided we wanted to share our health insurance and be able to visit each other in the hospital, but weren’t quite ready to figure out how to do our taxes together. And we get to throw ourselves a party, but don’t have to worry about any crazy ceremony.
Yesterday, I shared our Bouillabaisse recipe, one of my favorite French soups. Today, it is time for a Russian classic! In fact, when you think about Russian food, this dish is probably what you are picturing an older lady with a handkerchief covered head stirring with a large wooden spoon. Yes, borscht. It may or may not be a stereotype, but it is definitely a classic!
I have eaten this soup from infancy and have tasted the varied versions that every home cook makes. Some omit beef to create a vegetarian version, which is fine, but I like the complexity of the broth with beef, sometimes I throw some bones in for good measure. My version omits potatoes and allows the beets, carrots, and cabbage to be shredded to a uniform size…really because I think it looks pretty! The grated beets add the quintessential purple hue to our soup which can be served cold or hot, but best served hot with a large dollop of sour cream and a bit of dill on top.
Everything we do here at Chez Nous is about bringing people together and building a community, last Sunday, we brought people together to celebrate our union, it was great! To commemorate our love of food and each other, we decided to cook French and Russian food, to reflect our heritage. We didn’t want to worry about courses and serving our 50 guests, so everything went on the table at the same time, an epic buffet, as if from those old Russian royal fairytale feast illustrations from my Communist-era books.
We served a lovely cheese array (Check out our Cheese Plate Guide here), and made a variety of pates including our our Baked Camembert with Porcini Mushrooms and Fig Jam, Duck Terrine with Shallot Jam, Olive and Almond Tapenade, and Sardine Riclettes. We served these beauties with some Olive Crisps and French Baguette.
We continued our celebration into the dessert course! We served our favorite Cannelés Bordelais, a traditional Russian Smetannik, our favorite Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting, and two extra large Crème Brûlées!
- 4 pounds beef, 1 inch cubes
- 16 cups water, more as needed
- 1 tablespoon or so of salt
- 3 beets, grated
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoons sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 14 ounce can of plum tomatoes (optional)
- salt and pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- to serve:
- sour cream
- Combine water, beef, and salt and boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 40 minutes or so. Skim off scum regularly until the water is free from foam.
- Add remaining ingredients. Cook for another 20 minutes or so.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Rest for as long as possible before serving, the flavors mature.
I like to cook it a day in advance and reheat to serve.
- To serve, add a dollop of sour cream and a bit of fresh dill.