Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kotleti the story of the Russian hamburger patty

Photo by Jessica Raytselsky
In the article Adding citrus fiber to meatballs improves nutritional quality, does not affect taste from the Science Daily it explains how by adding citrus powder to meatballs can improve the nutritional value of the meatballs without changing the taste or texture. I happen to agree with this article and have my own rendition I'd like to share with you. I have the perfect recipe to contribute to this article. 

There is an Eastern European Kotleti or cutlets, which is a Russian version of a hamburger patty except we eat it without a bun. It's usually ground meat with onions that is formed into little flat and round patties. You can add nutritional value to this recipe by adding all sorts of veggies into it. You can add spinach, carrots, mushrooms, kale, parsley and so much more and even if you wanted to add citrus powder you could and according to this article it’s proven that it won't change any flavors or textures. 

I'd like to argue that Kotleti are way better than American hamburger patties. It is way better than a boring, bland hamburger patty because it is more flavorful-that's garlicky, crispier, and moister than a typical American patty. Plus Kotleti has fewer calories since there is no bun used when eating the patties while American hamburgers usually are eaten inside of a bun. 

The difference between Russian Kotleti and American Hamburger patties first is it has onions, garlic and bread crumbs. Second, Russians don't eat it inside of a hamburger bun like Americans do. Third, it is golden and crispy on the outside and juicy, moist and more flavorful in the inside.American patties tend to be over cooked, dry, flavorless, and way too greasy. The Odessa style, which is the Ukrainian style, is made with mayo as the binding agent rather than the usual egg. I make these Kotleti usually for a lunch or for dinner served with mashed potatoes or salad. 

Have you ever smelt the aroma of Kotleti cooked by a Russian Babushka (Russian grandmother or older lady)? If you haven't had the privilege of smelling this wonderful aroma you are truly missing out and can't miss out on this delicious recipe to recreate the aroma in your kitchen. I love cooking this recipe because this dish is very sentimental to me because my grandma would always make them for me when I was younger. It was the first Russian food I learned to make. 

According to another blog written about Kotleti the author talks about a book called Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, the blog author explains how the author of the book says that the USSR lived off Kotleti because they were cheap and easy to make. Apparently a trip to America in 1936 the Yankee burger inspired the cutlet but some how the bun got lost in translation. If you want to learn about Soviet cooking you can read more about it in a New York Times article titled Beyond Borcht Sara Wheeler. It's actually incredibly interesting to learn about and a lot I didn't know myself. 

Yield about 4 or 5 people: 

  • lbof ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey) whichever you prefer if you want a light option use ground turkey or chicken because they are very lean.
  • 1 onion grated 
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg or 2 tablespoons of mayo.
  • I usually use a piece of old bread and get it wet enough that it's falling apart and use the inside or you can use a cup or two of bread crumbs.
  • Optional add ins (you can add parsley, spinach, cheese, kale, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers or even orange powder.
  • Salt and pepper to your liking
1) Grate the onion and garlic. 
2) Combine the grated onions and the garlic with ground meat.
3) Add the egg or mayo to mixture.
4) Mix well!
5) Add breadcrumbs or old bread to mixture 
6) Add salt and pepper
7) Mix well again!
8) Form into balls that are about an inch or an inch in a half diameter, and then flatten into ovals.
9) Heat pan with oil.
10) Cook until golden brown on the inside and moist and soft on the inside.

Enjoy! :)

What are your experiences with hamburger patties? What is a memory you have of eating or making hamburger patties?

Spring Veggies & pancetta

photo credits: Jessica Raytselsky
People should eat more veggies and fruits. They are yummy and help contribute to better health. I personally love eating veggies and fruit. I find fun and creative ways to mix veggies and fruit into my diet. If that isn't enough for you. In the article, New evidence linking fruit and vegetable consumption with lower mortality from the University College London. The article explains how eating fruit and vegetables contribute to lower mortality. The studies conducted found that people were less likely to die at any age if they ate fruits and vegetable reduced death by cancer and heart disease by 25-31%.  Here is a fun recipe I have created on my own that makes eating veggies fun!

This week I would like to share with you a personal recipe that I came up myself without any help from a recipe. It is a wonderful spring veggie recipe to get your veggies in for the day. When I came up with this dish Just mixed it all together and it came out very delicious and fresh. It's sauteed spring vegetables & pancetta. Inspired by spring and all the yummy fresh vegetable you can use in spring or summer.

 I have made this with different veggies every time just to mix it up. In this particular recipe I used green beans, corn, broccoli, mushrooms, sweet onions, garlic and herbs like thyme and basil. Definitely feel free to mix up the veggies to your liking. For my vegetarian friends you can take out the pancetta and it will still be just as delicious!With this recipe you easily get your daily intake of delicious and fresh veggies. Plus, I bet even your kids with love it since it's so colorful and fun to eat.

This recipe I personally love because you can change up the vegetable to your liking as long as they all compliment each other. You can add peas, eggplant, carrots, and etc... Whatever green veggies you prefer. If you want more information about what kinds of vegetables grow in the spring visit this nice website.

You can also easily make this recipe in the winter with winter vegetable like with butternut squash, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli Rabe, cauliflower and many more if you want to see a list of winter vegetables.It's just as yummy and delicious with winter veggies. Don't skip out on your veggies just because it's winter!

 I suggest visiting this website: written by Molly Watson to give you more winter vegetable if you want to experiment and try new winter vegetables. Feel free to try new combinations of vegetable every time I make this I try and mix up the veggies for a little variety and fun.

Remember to feel free to have fun with this recipe this shouldn't be stressful to make and its super quick to make! I encourage everyone to play with this recipe add veggies you may like more than this recipe. Be creative and mix it up. It should be light, easy, simple, fresh and fun!


Serves about 3 or 4 people 

  • Half of a sweet onion, diced into 1/4 inches
  • A whole corn on the cob and cut the kernels off
  • A couple of cloves of garlic chopped very finely or put it through a garlic masher
  • A couple of handfuls of green beans and chop them into 1/4 of an inch
  • 3 or 4 mushrooms, chopped vertically
  • Half a head of broccoli, chopped into little pieces
  • Add about 1/4 a lb of pancetta
  • 1/4 of a cup of white wine.
  • A couple twigs of thyme and a couple leaves of basil chopped super fine
  • Salt and pepper to your liking
  1. Chop all the veggies before cooking and have them all ready.
  2. Throw in the onion and garlic into a hot pan, let cook until clear and brown.
  3. Add the white wine to the pan to cook out all the yummy caramelized bits. Let simmer until liquid is absorbed.
  4. Add pancetta cooked until crisp.
  5. Put mushrooms, corn and green beans in letting cook until soft.
  6. Add broccoli, cook until bright green and soft.
  7. Add herbs, salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Let simmer until everything is cooked and served
Super quick, tasty, fresh, fun and light!

What veggies are you going to add?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mushroom and barley soup

In the article, letter from France A Vegetarian and Gluten- Free Guide to Paris written by Elaine Scioline. She argues that in France being vegetarian is rare. You are an odd duck, she says if you are a vegetarian in France. As a vegetarian in France you are limited by your options because only about 2% identify as vegetarian. If you were to go to a restaurant looking for a vegetarian option the most you could probably find is brown rice and vegetables. The author explores the difficulties of finding vegetarian and gluten free options in France.

photo credits to flickr and Patsy
This article inspired me to think of some Russian/ Eastern European recipes to share with you all. I am also trying to be vegetarian and I have always loved eating veggies ever since I was a baby. I wanted to find some vegetarian inspired recipes that are still just as hardy and yummy as non-vegetarian recipes. It is really hard to be vegetarian when you come from an Eastern European family because Eastern Europeans are usually big on meat and almost all recipes consist of meat.

Today I am going to share with you a mushroom and barley recipe that's hardy, earthy, simple and delicious too. I usually eat this dish either for lunch or even with dinner. I also usually add sour cream when serving this to add a little creaminess and tartness. This recipe also would be a good way to introduce mushrooms to kids because of its hardiness. Kids will just think they are eating meat when its actually mushrooms and veggies.

My dad's girlfriend taught me how to cook this, so this recipe is also a family recipe. I always helped her make this recipe, but haven't had the chance to make it by myself quite yet. So feel free to experiment with this recipe to your liking and you can also make this recipe with beef if you really want meet in it but it's not necessary. Also, you can add even more veggies to it like cabbage, potatoes etc.. You can even add fresh herbs like parsley and dill on top. 

Also with this recipe you can either use dry mushrooms or fresh mushrooms, which ever you have at hand will work. Either way it pretty much turns out the same as far as flavor. In a recipe from Eastern European Food Russian Dried Mushroom Soup recipe - Sukhoĭ Gribnoĭ Sup in Slavic countries, it's a national pastime to gather and preserve mushrooms.

Yields about 3 or 4 people

  • 1/2 cup of barley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 a onion, diced 1/4 inches
  • 1 carrot, diced, 1/4 inches
  • 2 cups of chopped mushrooms, dried or fresh 
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A teaspoon of oil or butter
Fresh mushrooms
1) If you have fresh mushrooms add oil/butter and garlic and onions, mushrooms in a pan. Cook until brown and the mushrooms release their liquid. Cook for about 10-15 minutes.

2) Add the stock or water to a big pot, let boil and then add barley. Will take about 30-40 minutes. Cook until the barley is almost completely soft. 

3) Then add carrots, browned mushroom mixture, salt, pepper and bay leaf and cook until everything is soft and to your liking. Will cook for another 30-40 minutes until everything is done and flavorful. 

Dried Mushrooms:
1) Soak dried mushrooms over night in a bowl of water.
2)  If you have dried mushrooms only cook the garlic and onions until brown.
3) When cooking, add dried mushrooms to a pot of water to cook with the browned onions and stock or water and carrots.
4) Add salt, pepper and bay leaf. Cook until everything is soft and flavorful. Cook barley separately until soft should take about a half an hour to 40 minutes.  Add the Barley last to the soup. Will take about an hour to cook all the way.

Lastly, remember to add sour cream to add some creaminess and tartness to the hardy soup.


Do you prefer fresh or dried mushrooms why or why not?