Borscht

A colorful bowl of goodness

Mistakenly referred to the world-over as “Russian Borsch”, this rich and colorful soup was actually born in Ukraine.  Over the years it has, indeed, became a staple of the Russian cuisine as well.

This was a disclaimer about the origins of Borscht, now let’s get down to business!  One thing I should tell you from the beginning – while it does not take too long to make, is not that complicated, and does not require any exotic ingredients, Borscht needs A LOT of patience.  Simply because it is always better the next day.  Correction – it takes fucking amazing the next day!  So, my advice to all those attempting the recipe – eat before you cook.  And put your Borscht hopes off till the next day.  You are welcome!

Ingredients

  • 2 liters of water
  • 400-500 gr of “soup beef”, ideally with a piece of bone

Water and meat can be substituted with the canned beef stock, if you are too fucking lazy.  People who use powdered stocks should be shot on sight, and fucking deserve the shitty results they will get when cooking with it.  Just saying…

  • 2 medium-sized raw beetroots, or 1 big fucker, peeled and grated
  • 3 medium-sized onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 big raw carrot, peeled and grated
  • 2-3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-sized cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons of concentrated tomato paste
  • 300 gr of white cabbage, shredded
  • 4-5 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 dried laurel leaves
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • Salt to taste
  • Sour cream and parsley/dill to garnish

Cooking

First off, you need to make the stock.  If you are a classy dude/gal, you will get the soup beef off your local supermarket/butcher’s, and having washed it, will place it in the big pot with 2 liters of water to cook.  Bring the water to the boil, turn the heat down, add laurel leaves and peppercorns, and keep the broth simmering, taking off any impurities that raise to the surface.  Simmering your broth while you are preparing the rest (up to 30 minutes) should give it a nice, rich flavor.

If you are a lazy bastard or any gender, you will just empty 2 liters of canned beef stock into the pot, bring it to the boil, and leave simmering on medium heat.  You can still add laurel leaves and peppercorns to the canned stock – this might help a little with the taste.

  • Heat up a frying pan, add olive/vegetable oil until almost bubbling, and fry the chopped onion, until just golden
  • Turn the heat to medium, add grated carrot, and fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add grated beetroot, mix well, and fry together with onion and carrot for 5-10 minutes, mixing so that it does not stick to the pan.  Add a little bit of oil, if needed.
  • Sprinkle the fresh lemon juice over the mix – this will help preserve the bright color of beetroot, and make your Borscht look festive as fuck.
  • Add salt to taste, and mix well.
  • Add tomato paste, and mix well.  Simmer the mix for another 3-5 minutes.

And now – show time!  You need to bring all the ingredients together.

  • If you were making proper fucking stock, take the meat out, cool it a little bit so as not to burn your fingers, take all the viable meat off the bone, cut it into squares, and chuck back into the stock.
  • Add the onion-carrot-beetroot mix into the stock as well and stir well.
  • Add the shredded cabbage, stir well, cover the pot and leave everything simmering for 5-10 minutes.  Make sure your Borscht does not come to a boil, as it will make it loose color.
  • Take off the heat, and let your Borscht cool down at room temperature. Do NOT fucking touch it on the same day – you will be disappointed, if you do!

Serving

Store in the fridge overnight, and heat up the next day either on the stove, or in the microwave.  Serve hot with a hearty tablespoon of sour cream on top, and sprinkled with chopped dill and/or parsley. 

Connoisseurs also recommend to down a shot of ice-cold vodka before or during your meal.  This is the Russian touch to the Ukrainian classic. Cheers!

Kotlety (Meatballs)

Whatever you call them – Kotlety, Meatballs, Fleischpfanzerl (I shit you not – this is the German name for these yummy things!), they exist in pretty much every meat-eating culture.  They may vary in size, additives and condiments, but the main ingredient will always be MEAT.  Easy to make, filling and tasty, they are everybody’s favorite comfort food at its best (unless you are a fucking vegan, of course, in which case I am already condemned and burning in the version of meatless hell you made for me).

There are shitloads of recipes of how to make kotlety – some people add garlic, others don’t.  Some cringe at the mention of adding bread to them (good luck to those fuckers with trying to make them fluffy and tasty!), others don’t believe in eggs in their kotlety.  Whatever rocks your boat – I am not here to judge.  I am sharing MY recipe of kotlety, the tried and tasted way to make you happy on that cold and rainy day when you are feeling lonely. 

In my world, kotlety is a food equivalent of a hug.

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 gr of mixed minced meat (beef & pork).  Those shying away from pork can, of course, take just minced beef, but when your kotlety turn out dry as fuck, you will have no one to blame, but yourself!
  • 2 slices of toast bread, soaked in a little bit of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion, chopped and fried till golden.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

Making kotlety is easy-peasy, but there are several tiny tricks.

  • Chop the onion (if you don’t like crying your fucking eyes out in the process, get a mouthful of water and keep it there, while you chop.  It sounds weird, but it works!), and fry it in a little bit of cooking oil until golden.  Don’t burn the fucker!  Do NOT under any circumstances mix raw onion with the meat.  This will make your kotlety fucking disgusting.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the mined meat with the bread soaked up in milk.  This will ensure the fluffiness.  Fluffiness is an extremely important quality when it comes to kotlety, and this is what distinguishes them from meatballs, Fleischpfanzerl, and every other impostor.  Don’t get your panties in a wad, and mix the bread in.  Use your fucking hands for that – nothing else will work.
  • Mix the raw egg in – this will work as a binding agent, and will ensure that your kotlety don’t fall apart when you are cooking them.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and mix again.

COOKING

  • Heat up a big frying pan (the heavier, the better – cast iron skillet would be perfect!), add a little bit of cooking oil.
  • Wet your hands (this way the meat will not stick to them), and take a handful of meat mix from the bowl.  Shape it into a slightly flattened ball, and place in a hot pan.  Repeat until the bowl is empty and all kotlety are happily cooking in the pan.
  • Cook on medium heat, checking every now and then, and flip onto the other side, when one gets brown.  There is nothing more disgusting than pale kotlety – they look like malnourished children’s asses, and are a disgrace to any cook producing them!  Make sure your kotlety are evenly browned, and flip them over.  However, don’t get tricked – when the other side gets brown as well, your kotlety are NOT fucking ready!  They are still ass-raw inside.  Don’t worry, though – we are getting close to the finish!  Keep flipping them around, and when they look ready from the outside, fuck a big cup of hot water into the pan, and cover it with a lid to allow your kotlety to steam through.
  • When the water evaporates, your kotlety should be ready.  The easiest way to check their readiness, is to split one in half – if the meat is cooked through, you can start your feast!

SERVING

Serve with anything: potatoes (mashed, boiled or fried), rice, noodles, or even fucking polenta!  They are also delicious all on their own – turn on the TV, find a good film, put the whole frying pan in front of you and eat the fuck away!