Imperial Russian banquet
Marco Polo brought the first porcelain to Europe but it was not until 1744 that the first Russian porcelain factory was opened under the patronage of Empress Elizabeth. It is still in existence today.The importance of dining in grande style for Russians (even if only in the minds) is very obvious when you find on Ebay a Russian Imperial Dinner Service with a $17,000.000 dollar starting bid! State banquets were extremely elaborate and often lasted many hours requiring vast amounts of tableware.Translucent porcelain often lavishly gilded was highly valued for it's beauty and durability and the difficulty in manufacture demonstrated the Russian Empire's sophistication to outsiders. The porcelain was often presented as a gift to foreign state visitors.Dig deep into any Slavic background and you will find a hearty peasant who truly loves his food.Vladimir brought the elaborate Greek Orthodox Church calendar of feasts and festivals and the 'joy of Russia'..... drinking! ( It is said Vladimir preferred the faith of Islam until he found that alcohol was forbidden) The Mongols brought the Samovar and the bubbling pleasures of tea.
Ivan the Terrible, a man of violence and cruelty was also refined and had rich tastes. He tried to turn his nobles from their coarse and barbarous ways. The nobles, unimpressed by this, continued to eat with their fingers and throw gnawed bones on the floor consuming vast quantities of food from jewel encrusted golden vessels and wiping hands and faces on delicate elaborately decorated fine tablecloths they would all end up in a glittering pile of stupefied drunkards.This was the state of Russian high society until the close of the 17th century when Peter The Great came to the throne. Again a course and violent man but intelligent and curious. In France he sampled the soup of the soldiers and the excellent mouthful was all he needed to note the recipe and hire a french cook to come to Russia.
Peter adopted many tastes and flavours from Holland, even learning to make the cheese and breads himself.He brought the Dutch custom of serving friut preserves with meat to the Imperial Court.When ladies were finally allowed at court the age of extravagant balls and feasts incorporating every new and untried specialty, of glistening and ever more encrusted jewel bedecked tableware; along with silks and finery draped from every gilded corner, led the great Empresses, Anna and Elizabeth with the multitude of fawning courtiers and nobles, into great excess. Anna died at the table.Catherine the Great, being of hard working abstemious German origin had no influence over the acquired extravagances of her court, the Yousoupoff families' riches and extravagance visibly outdoing the wealth of the ruling Romanovs.From the early 19th century until the outbreak of World War 1 the upper class society settled into an era of all-pervasive snobbery. The Russian Language became a tool of the peasant and nobility and upper classes spoke French almost exclusively, using a very artificial accent if they had reason to use Russian at all. It was an era of German Tutors, Parisienne Governesses, English nurses and they all sent their washing to Western Europe to be laundered.The languid days of 4 elaborate meals a day did not change traditional Russian fare that much. The serving of them just got more and more splendid. The period is considered to be the finest era of Russian cuisine ever and the last meal of the day began with a feast of small dishes called the Zakuska accompanied by very cold Vodka in frozen glasses. or precious metal tumblers. They were not thrown into the fireplace as some believe!".....
"when you come in the table must be set, and when you sit down you tuck the napkin into your collar and you take your time about reaching for the Vodka decanter. And mind you, you don't pour it into an ordinary wine glass, you don't treat a sweetheart that way! No. You pour it into something antique, made of silver, an heirloom, or into a quaint pot bellied little glass with an inscription on it, something like this: 'As you clink,you may think,
Monks also thus do drink.'
And you don't gulp it straight off, but first you gaze nonchalantly at the ceiling, and only then, slowly you raise it to your lips, and at once sparks from your stomach flash through your whole body." -Anton Chekhov, The Siren
Great Golden cups for dipping graced the tables of the Tsars.
The menus were rich with cream and butter. Typical dishes include malossol caviar, shaslik of reindeer in a thick venison-stock gravy, and frozen cranberries with hot caramel sauce.
Zakuski, appetisers such as herring roe, pickled garlic cloves and mushrooms, game pâté, metaurst (bear salami), and pasties that are filled with rice porridge. The main courses can include bear dishes, a rare and expensive meat. Swords full of beef, lamb and bacon, served with black bread, potatoes, sauerkraut, sour cream and pickles. Plenty of roasted meat and game recipes: "The foods of the forest - game, mushrooms and berries - are all typical ingredients in Russian dishes."The oyster menu of Catherine the Great - a five-course shellfish feast featuring extravagances including oysters à la Moscow (an oyster gratin with hollandaise sauce). The fasting dishes such as pickled cucumbers with honey and sour cream.Traditional Russian tea was poured into porcelain cups from steaming samovars.
Other examples of uniquely Russian objects found on banquet tables were "kovshi". There were large ones from which punch was poured and miniature ones that were used as saltcellars.
In time this unusual-looking object became so identified with Imperial honor that it grew to be more desirable than any other ceremonial gift.
1867 At the Cafe Anglais Chef Adolphe Dugléré served the now famous 'Dinner of the Three Emperors,' for Tsar Alexander II of Russia, his son (later to become tsar Alexander III) and King William I of Prussia. The table service used for the dinner is still on display at the oldest existing restaurant in Paris, La Tour d'Argent.
Dugléré was a pupil of Careme’s and is always associated with the Café Anglais in Paris. The Café Anglais opened in the Boulevard des Italiens. It was named in honour of the peace treaty just signed between England and France., as he made it one of the most famous in the world. He also managed the restaurant at Les Freres Provencaux and was the Head Chef at the kitchens of the Rothschild family’s kitchenThis dinner was the inspiration behind the story by Karen Blixen-Isak Dinesen made into the infamous film 'Babettes' Feast
The dishes Dugléré is famous for creating are Potage Germiny, soufflé a la Anglaise, sole Dugléré and the renowned Anna Potatoes; named after Anna Deslions, a lady of high fashion at the time.
At an historic dinner, which became known as ‘the three Emporers’ due to the attendance of Alexander II, the future Alexander III, Wilhelm I of Prussia and Bismark, it was Dugléré who was the Chef Patron. The dinner on June 7, 1867 was an expensive and extravagant affair even for those times.You may be a bit shocked by the sheer imperial amplitude of this study in royal palatude. But you should know that Czar Alexander II left the table complaining that he hadn't been served a single bite of the very French foie gras. Chef Burdel, a true son and loyal servant of gastronomy, made no excuses, explaining to the Czar of All the Russias,
"Sire, in gastronomie française it is not the custom to eat foie gras in the month of June. If you will but wait until October, you will have no cause for regret." When fall came around, Burdel sent terrines of foie to each imperious guest.
As usual the ubiquitous soup is the opening gambit; Antonin Carême (1784-1833), chef for Talleyrand, Tsar Alexander I, George IV, and Baron Rothschild and acknowledged Monarch of the Kitchen, described himself as:
"The guardian and arbiter of superlative eating, with every meal an unforgettable experience in pleasure, starting with the soup, which he said, 'must be the agent provocateur of a good dinner"
Impératice and Fontanges
Soufflés a la reines
Fillet of sole a la vénitienne
Escalopes of turbot au gratin
Saddle of mutton with Breton purée
Chicken a la Portugaise
Hot quail paté
Lobster a la Parisienne
Duckling a la rouennaise
Canapés of ortolan
Aubergines a l’espagnole
Retour de l’Inde Madiera, sherry
Château -d’Yquem 1847
Château Margaux 1847
Chambertin 1846, Champagne Roederer
Today most stomachs are not capable of consuming
such quantities of rich food, however our own Russian Restaurant's
most popular order was the six course Russian Banquet !
The amount of time given to the Imperial dinners was far longer
than people wish to afford today up to nine hours have been recorded
for these events. The dinner conversation must have been
exceptionally sparkling and witty.
Pelmeni: Americans would look at these and call them perogies. Some might call them raviolis. Either way, they are small little stuffed dumplings, served in juice or soup. Tradition has it that they are Siberian, and supposedly the word comes from Chinese for "ear bread". Seeing their shape, one can easily imagine that. They are often made at home in large batches and then frozen. I've heard in Siberia, they would be made and placed on a large wooden board, set outside in the winter time to freeze them, and kept indefinitely in that fashion.
Shashlyk: Some would see this and call it shish-kebob without the veggies. Russians that I've said this too are greatly insulted, and point out all the differences. The meat is MARINATED, generally some vinegar-based marinade as near as I can tell. And you must cook it over wood coals ... very natural ... strictly speaking you shouldn't grill it over a gas flame, for example. Lamb (Fat Tailed Lamb)is preferred, but can be made with pork or rarely chicken.
Blini: Crepes. Or Blintzes if you prefer. Well, Russians will call them pancakes ... blini .... is a perfectly acceptable word in English. I've had them plain, with Salmon, with caviare and sour cream, with smetana and sugar, with apples, with jam, and with meat. There are even more styles than this. If you make them thin you can fill them with sweet cheese and fry them..serving with delicious sharp home made cherry jam..... Buterbrod:-This word is obviously borrowed from German, meaning literally "butter bread". A Russian might tell you that it is a sandwich, Buterbrod is more like open-faced sandwichs that might be served at as hors d’oeuvre at a party. Thick slice of bread, some butter spread upon it, cheese or caviar on top. I've had them with chicken liver pate (was excellent actually) and other toppings also. At Olinjkis Russian Restaurant we would fry large slices of home made bread 1 day old then cut a big ring from the centre and place a whole new laid goose eggin the circle...we then baked this slowly in the oven. It was a favourite Springtime dish. Just dipping the crusty fried edges into the red/gold of the fresh goose egg was the 'Dippy Egg' of all time.Sometimes we were asked for crisp peices of bacon to mix with the enourmous yolks when the bread was finished.
Plov: Uzbek-style, Big fragrant mound of spicy rice with lamb chops and very fragrant Juices!.
Suggested Menu for a Banquet in Dublin
ZakuskaWith Iced Vodka
Imperial Fish Soup
Ukha....with Cucumber Lime and Dill
Puree of parsnip,celeriac and carrot
Creamed Wild Mushrooms With Kasha
Tomaty Salat and Cucumber Salad
(The very famous Black Bread from the secret
recipe used by Olinjkis Russian Restaurant will be
with sweet fresh butter.
There is no other bread like this available!)
(Will give Russian names when finalised)
Platter of Specialty Russian Hors D'oeuvreIncluding Tsar cut Fillet of Smoked salmon, Caviar, pickled FishForshmak, Crevettes, Ikra (Vegetable caviars) Chatka Crab, PashtetMust be accompanied by many various pickles Especially Cucumber! Served with Iced Vodka.For Forshmack2 Schmaltz herring fillets
2 Tablespoons water2 tablespoons red wine vinegar1/½ white bread slices , no crusts1 Small green apple peeled cored and quartered1 Onion quartered1 hard boiled egg quartered1 Tablespoon Sour Cream1 tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice¼ teaspoon sugarSoak Herring in Milk 6-8 hoursOur water and vinegar over the breadPlace all the ingredients except the milk and Sour Cream into a food processor and wiz until smooth but not over pureed.Stir in the Sour Cream and stand for few hours.Makes 2 cups or about ten Zakuska size dollops. For IkraLarge AubergineBunch of Spring Onions including the green2 cloves of garlic2 Tablespoons olive oil2 tablespoons red wine vinegarSalt and black pepperCoriander leaves Prick the Eggplant and bake in the oven until soft
40-50 mins Turn over half wayScoop out the pulp into a blenderCombine with coarsely chopped spring onions and garlicWiz up and add the coriander and all other ingredients.Blend to a puree.Place in a dish and add more olive oils and some lemon juice
Pashtet is a Calf or Chicken liver pate, Quite rich with plenty of flavouring.The other Zakuska ingredients just need presenting not cooking.
Imperial Russian Fish Soup
with Lime and Dill
This soup was highly praised by Ivan the Terrible--who wasn't easy to please--and by Antoine Careme--who was even harder to please, at least gastronomically. As the oldest recorded Russian soup, ukha began life as any digestible food in a liquid, but by the 16th and 17th century lavish Russian courts, it was transformed into elaborate and diverse creations, served between pie courses. It was in the 18th century that it became associated exclusively with fish--and in the 19th century, under the influence of French cuisine, that it became the delicate creation that it is today. A light, clean first course; serve this Russian soup hot to 6 people. (adjust for numbers)
8 cups fish stock, made with champagne or sparkling wine (not too dry) clarify
1 pound white fish fillets, sliced into 6 serving pieces (salmon fillets are also excellent As are Sea Bass )
6 paper thin slices of lime
1 Tablespoon finely cut fresh dill leaves Bring stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Lower in the fish fillets and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 3-4 minutes--until the fish is just opaque. Carefully lift the fish out and put into flat soup bowls on top of a ribbon of cucumber. Pour hot stock on top, squeeze a little lime juice into each bowl, float a thin lime slice on top, and sprinkle with dill. Serve at once.
Cucumber grated into fine thin ribbons
Recipe 3(Imperial style)Per Person
1 Fine Chicken Breast skinned and boned and bashed thin
1 Collop of Lobster
1 slice of Pink Pickled Ginger and 1 Basil Leaf
Rich jus made with port and flavoured with basil (must be very dark)
coloured dried seaweeds to decorate ( soaked)
Method will be explained!
1 Fine Chicken Breast skinned and boned and bashed thin1 slice of best Foie Grass
Slice of Black Truffle
Rich jus made with port and flavoured with basil (must be very dark)
Pickled Ginger Nori (Black) melted Butter and various
coloured dried seaweeds to decorate ( soaked) Method will be explained!
Creamed Wild Mushrooms With Kasha
Imported wild mushrooms dried (Porchini best quality)
1 finely chopped onion
2 cloves Garlic
3 tablespoons fresh Parmesan cheese
teaspoon of all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and a little olive oil for the pan
2 tablespoons Creme Fraiche Pinch sweet paprika
Soak the mushrooms until soft in enough water just to cover.
Strain and set aside keeping the juice
Saute the mushrooms and onion add the flour stir and cook 1 minute.
Stir in mushroom liquid and simmer 2 minutes
Stir in Creme Fraiche simmer gently add the garlic and season with
paprika, salt and pepper. There should be plenty of creamy liquid so add more cream if needed.
The parmesan is to sprinkle at the end of assembling the dish and lightly
flashed with a blow torch.
Kasha Buy Plain Buckwheat Grains (not toasted)Heat in the oven but don't let them brown.
Melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a heavy pan and fry some
chopped onion until lightly golden.
Add the hot kasha grains and stir for a few minutes.over with hot chicken stock and allow to simmer and absorb.
Repeat this process.Mix 1 egg with some sour cream or creme fraiche and a little water. Quickly stir this into the Kasha and add more water to keep it very loose. Put into a casserole dish with a lid and place in the oven until needed. It should be fairly dry and crumbly but still creamy to taste.To serve place tablespoonful of Kasha make a well in centre. Place a smaller spoonful of the mushrooms and top with Parmesan and
flame lightly. Garnish with parsley.
Kotlety with Tomaty Salat 2 slices White Bread no crusts1/4 cup milk2 lbs of lean finely ground Beef Pork and veal (any quantity each)1 large onion grated clove of garlic minced1/4 cup shaved iced 1 Large egg separated 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper
Fine dry breadcrumbs/Matzo meal for rolling Kotlety Olive Oil and Unsalted Butter equal quantities for frying Kotlety
Soak the bread in the milk for 10 minutes and squeeze out. discard the milk.Add all the meats to the bread along with the ice, onion, garlic and egg yolk.Mix well with the hands.Beat the egg white until frothy carefully add to the meat mixture with the herbs salt and pepper. Knead until thoroughly blended and fluffy.Form into small patties (usual helping is 3 per person so keep small) Roll patties in the bread crumbs and slightly flatten. Set aside while you heat the oil/butter mix. Cook the patties until richly brown on both sides Wipe out the pan and add some rose wine and deglaze. Add tub of sour cream, juice fron chopped tomatoes and some tomato paste plus a good tablespoon of sweet paprika (not smoked!) Add some water to make a smooth sauce and pour over the patties. \decorate with chopped parsley
Finely slice Large ripe tomatoes arrange on the plate and add any simple French Dressing. Garnish with Fresh Dill and sprinkle with Chopped Dill Apple Charlotte
1 lb. Cranberries,and or any red berries
3 cups Water
1 cup Granulated sugar
2 Tbs. Cornstarch
2 Tbs. Orange Juice
Prepare this recipe early in the day or one day prior to serving. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine cranberries/red fruit, water and sugar. Simmer until the cranberries pop, approximately 15-minutes. Put cranberries in a food processor to mush. If desired, strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds.
Return the cranberry puree to the saucepan. Mix cornstarch and orange juice together and add to the cranberry puree. Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring frequently for about 5-minutes, or until noticeably thickened. Serve the pudding chilled, A little Pomegranate syrup swirled in make a very refreshing dditive.
Butter for greasing the form
Unflavored fine, dry bread crumbs for sprinkling the form
6 large tart apples (Granny Smith), cored, peeled, quartered, and sliced crosswise
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
3 large eggs
1 cup less 1 Tbls sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cup sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
Butter a 9-inch springform pan and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Add the apples; they should fill the pan completely. Toss with cinnamon, if desired. Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or a wire whisk, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted. Beat in the vanilla extract.Gradually beat in the flour. You will have a rather thick batter. Pour the batter evenly into the pan over the apples. The batter and apples should be level.Bake until the top of the charlotte is puffy and golden, 50-55 minutes. Serve at room temperature.
(Not to be confused with the awful commercial Russian Ice Cream!You can make this in a gelattierre The ingredients are what make it unique In a medium size heavey skillet combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, plus 3 tablespoons water. Cook until golden and dissolved. Add 1/4 cup of cream and cook only until there is a chance of turning light brown. set aside.
In a medium saucepan scald 2 and 3/4 cups of heavy rich cream add 1 and half cup of milk. let rise then set aside.Whisk 6 large egg yolks with 1 cup sugar and 6 drops pure vanilla over a double boiler until light and fluffy. Add the hot cream and the syrop mixture and stir constantly over the boiler until thick.Allow to cool then add to the ice cream maker and treat as normal vanilla ice according to makers instructions.This is not the type of ice cream you need much of. 1 very small scoop as an accompaniment is more than enough. Serves 8Other recipes to follow as and when menu decided
I am adding to this daily so more to come