Saturday, October 15, 2011

Russian Cooking Club

This month for cooking club, we took a culinary tour of RUSSIA! Emily hosted us this time. We all had to do a bit of research to figure out what kinds of foods they cook in Russia.

When we arrived, we snacked on pickled stuff!

Yumi made this appetizer called mushroom caviar. Four different types of mushrooms! It was delicious!

Emily made some other nibbles to get us started. This one had tomatoes, dill and roasted eggplant.

The classic smoked salmon on pumpernickel.

Mmm, appetizery!

We also sampled several vodkas throughout the night. Emily had frozen these in chunks of ice! JUST LIKE IN RUSSIA!


To cooking club!

When in Russia...!

Valerie couldn't make it tonight (she had a horrible excuse), so we had a special guest, Annah! She brought this Russian Imperial Stout for us to try. It was INTENSE! And 9% alcohol! Those Russians don't mess around.

In the kitchen, Emily got started on her next round of appetizers. Blini!

Summer baked Russian Black Bread. There were so many ingredients in this delicious bread. It was a flavor EXPLOSION!!

Slicing up that black deliciousness.

It was yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, YUM!!!!!

Another vodka to try! Although there is actually no sunshine in Russia, the vodka was good.

Blini with smoked trout, sour cream, and caviar!

Delicious! Next to my blini is a piece of pickled herring. Traditional! It was weird but okay. Kind of sweet. I liked my little piece, but wouldn't have wanted much more.

After we polished off the blini, Emily came out with ANOTHER ROUND OF FOOD!! These are pelmini, which are like little boiled pierogies. They have beef and lamb meatballs inside and DUDE. They were little pillows of JOY!!! I honestly believe I could eat forty of them if given the opportunity. I would move to Russia right now if it meant I got to eat these every day.

This next vodka was a fancy one. Made with only potatoes! As it SHOULD be!

It was very different. I liked it a LOT!

Then it was time to reveal the biggest experiment of the night. Not only did Summer bake her own black bread, but she planned way ahead and attempted another traditional Russian delicacy, Kvass. In the weeks before, she had baked a first round of the bread, allowed it to become stale, and then mixed it with warm water, yeast, mint, and raisins in a BUCKET IN HER GARAGE and left it to sit for several days. After several rounds of straining, she was left with a golden liquid. This is called Kvass, and is traditionally consumed in Russia as either a beverage or a soup base. It is "considered a tonic for digestion, an excellent thirst quencher and, consumed after vodka, an antidote to a hangover." Her research also warned her that it has the potential to taste terrible.


We each had a tiny glass. It definitely wasn't delicious but it most certainly wasn't terrible!

Convincing ourselves that the Kvass did indeed aid our digestion, we moved along to the next course. Ah, the potato course! The most important course of the night!

Mmm, potatoes!

To go with the potatoes, I made a big pot of beef and rice stuffed cabbage rolls. Mmm, aren't they appetizing?


Clearly, it was time for more vodka!

After one million courses of Russian delicacies, we were all ready for some dessert! And what do they eat for dessert in Russia? PAVLOVA! Nancy took on the task, and cooked up this bad boy:

Emily and I watched in awe as Nancy began to layer it with layer after layer of deliciousness. WE WANTED THAT.

First, a mountain of fluffy whipped cream! And pomegranate seeds!

Emily stepped up to help!

Raspberries and kiwis!

The finished product! A glorious masterpiece!

Nancy ushered the delightful treat out to the table.

Mmm! Slice it up!

It was light, fluffy and amazing.

As Annah declared, it was like eating a cloud with berry flavored raindrops. IT REALLY WAS!!

That's all for this round. I'm already looking forward to the next installment of cooking club!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Pumpkin Carving

Tonight, Ben and I went to Emily and Marc's annual Pumpkin Carving Party! Look at how pretty my pumpkin is. From the Farmer's Market!

First cuts.

That's a lot of pumpkins!

Ben getting ready to dig in!

Emily came by with a tray full of rum-spiked apple cider.

Pumpkins! Mine is the bunny, and Ben's is the stained-glass-looking one on the far right!