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Enjoy this selection of recipes I've collected during my travels in Spain, France, Germany, the Balkans, Russia, and Mongolia. Recipes are listed in order from starters to desserts. You'll also find many of my other recipes in the links to published articles listed on this site.

Click on the recipe titles below or scroll down to see each of the recipes printed in full.

If you want to publish any of these recipes, in any form (such as on the Web or in print), please contact me for permission.

Spanish Gazpacho

Russian Garlic Cheese

German "Obazda" Cheese Spread

Russian Beet, Walnut, & Prune Salad

Mongolian Spicy Beef Salad

Russian Shashlyk

Balkan Djuvech Rice

German Red Fruit Pudding

Vanilla Custard Sauce

French Mixed Berry Gratin with Foamy Wine Sauce

 

 

 

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SPANISH GAZPACHO

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Gazpacho was originally a simple peasant soup, consisting only of bread, garlic, salt, vinegar, oil, and water, made by farm workers for their midday meal in the fields. After Spanish explorers brought tomatoes and peppers to Spain from Central and South America 500 years ago, these ingredients gradually came to be used in Spanish cooking, too. This is my own favorite recipe for classic chilled tomato gazpacho, which I've eaten many times in Spain. The Spaniards also have many other soups called gazpacho—thick or thin, red, white, green, or yellow, made from a wide range of ingredients.  

  • 6 medium-size ripe red tomatoes, coarsely chopped*
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled bread (country-style, chewy-textured white bread, crust removed)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mild/sweet Spanish paprika
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Garnishes (see below)

*If fresh tomatoes aren't available, use best quality canned tomatoes, draining off the juice to use later in the recipe.

Combine the chopped tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, peppers, garlic, and crumbled bread in a very large bowl, tossing them all together to mix. Purée these ingredients, 3 cups at a time, in a blender. After each batch is thoroughly puréed, pour it into another large bowl and continue this process until all those ingredients are puréed.

Whisk the tomato paste into the tomato juice in another bowl, until the paste is completely dissolved. Whisk in the olive oil, wine vinegar, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and cumin. Add this to the puréed vegetables, whisking until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate the gazpacho for several hours, or overnight, before serving. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

Serve the gazpacho very cold, in individual soup bowls. Pass around small bowls of various garnishes (see below) so each diner can sprinkle some on top of the soup. Offer a selection of at least 4 garnishes.

Makes approximately 11 cups (8 servings).

GAZPACHO GARNISHES:  Separate bowls of 1/2 cup EACH of these vegetables, cut into 1/4-inch pieces: onion (or spring onions sliced into thin rings), green bell pepper, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, peeled cucumber; 1/4 cup chopped parsley; 1/4 cup chopped chives; fried croutons (recipe follows).

FRIED CROUTONS:  Trim the crusts off 4 or 5 slices of country-style, chewy-textured white bread and cut the bread into small cubes (about 2 cups of cubes). Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a small skillet and fry the bread cubes until they are crisp but not brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.

 

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RUSSIAN GARLIC CHEESE

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This spicy cheese is a popular appetizer in Siberia and the Russian Far East. Restaurants often serve it as a stuffing for ripe red tomatoes or as a spread for densely textured Russian rye bread. Plenty of garlic provides the kick. (You can also add some cayenne pepper or hot paprika to make the cheese even spicier.) Russians make this dish by putting the cheese through a meat grinder—but you can shred the cheese with a box grater or even in a food processor.

  • 1/2 pound medium-sharp white cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 1/2 pound Emmentaler cheese, finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup full-fat mayonnaise
  • 8 to 10 large garlic cloves, put through a garlic press
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or hot paprika (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Toss the shredded cheeses together by hand in a large bowl. Whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, pressed garlic, hot pepper (optional), and salt in a small bowl, then add to the cheese, stirring to mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (and preferably overnight) to let the flavors meld. Let the cheese mixture come to room temperature before serving. Use as a stuffing for small firm ripe tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, as a topping for baked potatoes, or as a spread for dark bread.

Makes approximately 3 cups.

 

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GERMAN "OBAZDA" CHEESE SPREAD

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This classic cheese spread comes from Bavaria where it's a popular accompaniment to good German beer, especially at Munich's annual Oktoberfest.

  • 1/2 pound Camembert (or Camembert-type) cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika (mild or medium-hot)
  • 2 hard-cooked egg yolks (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons pale lager beer
  • Paprika and finely chopped onions for garnish, if desired

Put the softened cheese and butter into a medium bowl. Use two forks to pull the cheese and butter apart, then mash them together coarsely. Add the onion, paprika, and (optional) egg yolks, and mash together until blended, using the beer to moisten the mixture to a spreadable consistency (but still thick and chunky). Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, or preferably overnight, for the flavors to meld. Before serving, let the Obazda sit, uncovered, at room temperature until soft enough to spread. Mound on a small serving platter or in a stoneware pot and garnish with additional chopped onions and a sprinkling of paprika, if desired. Serve as a spread for rye bread, crackers, or soft pretzels.

Makes 2 cups.

 

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RUSSIAN BEET, WALNUT, & PRUNE SALAD

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This richly flavored salad is often served as one of several zakuski (appetizers) at the start of a Russian meal. Even people who say they don't like beets are seduced by this dish. (Watch them sneak back for second helpings.) I first ate this popular salad on the dining car of a Trans-Siberian train and it's been a favorite of mine ever since.

  • 3 pounds fresh beetroot (without stalks and leaves), unpeeled
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 16 pitted prunes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup full-fat sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Wash and dry the unpeeled beets and rub them lightly with vegetable oil. Bake the beets on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, depending on the size of the beets, until they are tender when pierced with a fork.  Let the beets cool completely.

While the beets are cooling, reduce the oven temperature to 350° F. and toast the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet for 8 minutes. Slice the prunes lengthwise into thin strips (julienne).

Peel the cooled beets and grate them coarsely (about 4 cups of grated beets). Combine the beets, walnuts, prunes, garlic, salt, and pepper, tossing them together to mix well. Gently stir in the sour cream, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving. Serve chilled. This salad is even better when made a day in advance.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


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MONGOLIAN SPICY BEEF SALAD

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I ate this spicy salad at a camp in the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park outside of Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.The recipe shows the influence of northern Chinese and Russian ingredients (pickled vegetables) on traditional Mongolian cuisine (which emphasizes meat and milk dishes, not vegetables). 

  • 2-1/2 to 3 pounds boneless chuck roast (choice grade), roasted until well done, then cooled*
  • 1 cup bottled pickled mushrooms (12-ounce net weight bottle), rinsed, drained, and dried
  • 1 large sour dill pickle
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1/2 large fresh red bell pepper
  • 10 to 12 large fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 to 2  teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Garnish: 1/2 cup fresh green onion tops, thinly sliced crosswise into rounds (measured after slicing)

*Or any other cut of boneless beef suitable for roasting

Trim the fat and any heavily charred areas off the roasted beef. Cut the beef across the grain into thin pieces, then slice the pieces across the grain into thin strips (about 3 to 4 cups total of beef strips). Julienne (slice into matchstick-size pieces) the mushrooms, dill pickle, onion, bell pepper, and spinach leaves. Put all of these into a large bowl with the beef strips and toss together to mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together the sunflower oil and vinegar until the mixture becomes cloudy and a bit thick. Whisk in the cayenne and salt. Pour over the beef and vegetables, tossing them together until all the pieces are well coated with this dressing. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, to let the flavors meld.

Before serving, let the salad sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then toss the ingredients together once more. Garnish each serving generously with sliced green onion tops.

Makes approximately 6 cups (6 large servings or 8 to 12 side dish servings).

 

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RUSSIAN SHASHLYK (Skewered Grilled Meat)

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The smoky smell of shashlyk makes every Russian's mouth water. Yours will, too, when you inhale the aroma of marinated meat cooking over an open fire. An ancient dish well known to nomads and herders across a wide swath of the Caucasus and Central Asia, shashlyk became popular in Russia in the mid-19th century after Georgia, Azerbaijan, and part of Armenia were absorbed into the Russian Empire. Cubes of skewered, grilled meat—slightly charred on the outside and still juicy inside—are now a featured main course at many Russian restaurants, from upscale eateries to little hole-in-the-wall cafés that specialize in this savory fare. Shashlyk is also a favorite food for picnics and weekend outings at dachas, the country cottages where many urban Russians escape the stresses of daily life. And even in the depths of the Russian winter, you'll find street stands serving up skewers of hot pork, beef, or lamb grilled over charcoal.

  • 2 pounds boneless pork or beef, trimmed of most of the fat and cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (or 1/4 cup sour dill pickle brine)
  • 1 large onion, sliced crosswise into thin rings
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 to 6 whole cloves or whole juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the meat 2 or 3 times while it marinates.

Thread the meat cubes directly from the marinade onto metal skewers (don't pat the meat dry before skewering it), leaving a small space between each piece of meat. Discard the remaining marinade. Cook the meat 4 inches above very hot coals for approximately 15 minutes, turning the meat 2 or 3 times, until it is no longer pink in the middle.

Serve hot, accompanied by chilled vodka or a hearty red wine. Traditional side dishes include onion quarters, chunks of bell peppers, and whole fresh red tomatoes or pickled green tomatoes, all skewered-and-grilled. A Russian summer favorite is new potatoes—whole, small, firm potatoes, first boiled and peeled, then skewered and reheated over the fire to give them a smoky flavor.

Makes 4 servings.

 

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BALKAN DJUVECH RICE

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Pronounced DYOO-vech, this colorful, richly seasoned rice is a popular side dish throughout the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. There are many varieties of this casserole, including main-dish versions containing cubes of meat. Surprisingly, the use of New Mexico chile powder (pure ground chiles) gives this recipe an authentic Balkan flavor. It's a great dish for backyard barbecues and potluck dinners.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 medium onions, chopped medium-fine
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips (2 inches long, 1/4-inch wide)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips (2 inches long, 1/4-inch wide)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons New Mexico mild chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon New Mexico hot chile powder or ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 2-1/2 cups raw medium-grain rice
  • 3 to 4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed but not cooked (optional)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 medium tomatoes, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • Garnish (optional): Crumbled feta cheese

Heat the olive oil in a 5- or 6-quart Dutch oven or heavy stovetop-and-ovenproof casserole, over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the onions and bell peppers until they are very soft (about 25 minutes). Reduce the heat to low and stir in the garlic, chile powders, salt, pepper, and thyme. Immediately turn off the heat under the casserole, leaving it on the stove. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Stir the raw rice into the casserole until all the rice is coated with the seasoned oil. Gently stir in the zucchini slices and (optional) peas. Mix together the chicken stock, wine, and lemon juice, and pour into the casserole. Stick the bay leaf into the mixture. Arrange the tomato slices in an even layer on top of the other ingredients.

Cover the casserole tightly and bake at 350° F. for 1 hour. Then uncover the casserole and continue to bake for 15 minutes more. Remove the casserole from the oven and stir the tomatoes (on top) into the rice.

Serve hot, as an accompaniment to grilled, roasted, or pan-fried meats. You can also garnish the rice with a sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese over the top. 

Makes 12 cups (12 servings).

 

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GERMAN RED FRUIT PUDDING

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This popular pudding from North Germany is known as Rote Grütze. It's the perfect cool dessert for a warm summer day.

  • 6 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened red berries (raspberries, strawberries, red currants, or any combination of these, with some pitted red cherries if desired)*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Garnish:  Light or heavy cream, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or vanilla custard sauce

* Thaw frozen berries before using them. Some recipes include a few blueberries, blackberries, black currants, or dark cherries, but the primary color should be red.

Stem and wash the berries; shake them dry in a colander. For a smooth Rote Grütze, process the berries in a blender, 2 cups at a time, until they are completely puréed. For a chunkier version, purée 4 cups of berries in a blender and coarsely chop the remaining 2 cups. Or process all 6 cups in a food processor, using the chopping blade and pulse button, until the mixture reaches the consistency of chunkiness you want. If you want a Rote Grütze without seeds, press the puréed berries through a fine strainer or sieve.

Combine the processed berries and sugar in a medium-size non-aluminum saucepan. Dissolve the cornstarch in cold water in a small bowl.

Bring the berry mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir the cornstarch in the bowl again to make sure it is dissolved, then slowly stir it into the berry mixture. Reduce the heat and let the Rote Grütze simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching—just until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla extract.

Pour the Rote Grütze into a large serving bowl, individual dessert bowls, or stemmed wine glasses. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Serve cold, garnished with heavy cream, whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or vanilla custard sauce (see recipe below).

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

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VANILLA CUSTARD SAUCE

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This rich, sweet, silky-smooth sauce is easy to make, although it requires a bit of patience. You can make it up to two days in advance and refrigerate until needed. Use as a garnish for puddings, cobblers, compotes, and other desserts. 

  • 2 cups whole milk or half-and-half
  • 1 strip of lemon peel, yellow part only (about 4 inches long and 1-inch wide)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon brandy, rum, or sweet sherry (optional)

Combine the milk and lemon peel in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Set aside. Beat the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl until the mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Remove the lemon peel from the milk, and slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the foam subsides and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Don't be tempted to turn up the heat. This sauce doesn't like to be rushed, and if it gets too hot it will curdle. 

Immediately pour the sauce into a glass bowl and stir in the vanilla. (If the sauce did get too hot and has tiny lumps in it, just blend it on high speed in a blender for 10 seconds.) Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the sauce (to keep a "skin" from forming on it), and refrigerate until needed. The sauce will be thin enough to pour, not thick like a pudding, but it will thicken up a bit as it chills.

Just before serving, stir in the (optional) brandy, rum, or sweet sherry. Serve chilled or at room temperature, in a pitcher for pouring.

Makes approximately 2-1/4 cups of Vanilla Sauce.

 

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FRENCH MIXED BERRY GRATIN WITH FOAMY WINE SAUCE

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In France this spumy sauce made of eggs, sugar, and wine is known as sabayon. The Italians call it zabaglione, and the German version is Weinschaum. The secret of these sweet sauces is constant whisking and attention to temperature control. 

  • 8 cups (total) mixed fresh or frozen raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries (or any combination of berries)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet white wine, at room temperature
  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • Garnish: Confectioners' sugar

Wash the berries (or thaw frozen berries) and set them aside to drain in a colander. (If using strawberries, stem and slice them into halves or quarters.) Place on a large baking sheet 8 ovenproof shallow dessert bowls (glass or ceramic), soufflé cups, ramekins, or individual gratin pans, each with a capacity of at least 1 cup (8 ounces) or preferably a bit more.

Put about 2 inches of water in the bottom of a metal double boiler.  Set the top of the double boiler over the water to make sure the water does not touch the top pan.

Separate the top and bottom pans. Put the bottom pan on the stove over medium heat, to bring the water to a simmer. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and sugar in the top pan. Beat vigorously with a wire whisk until the mixture is pale, very creamy, and forms a "ribbon" that folds back on itself when you lift the whisk out of it. (This takes a lot of elbow grease and plenty of wrist action, but you can also use an electric mixer to make the job easier.)

Fill a large bowl halfway with cold water and several ice cubes; set aside. Set the top of the double boiler with the egg mixture over the bottom pan containing simmering (not boiling) water on the stove. The hot water must not touch the pan containing the egg mixture. Adjust the heat, if necessary, to keep the water just at the simmer point. Slowly add the wine while beating constantly with a whisk. Continue beating constantly, in one direction only (for maximum volume), for about 10 minutes, until the mixture at least doubles in volume and forms soft mounds on a spoon. Don't let it become too hot or it will curdle.

When the mixture forms soft peaks, remove the top pan from the stove and set it in the bowl of ice water. Continue whisking constantly until the sauce has cooled completely. Preheat the oven to 450° F.

In another large bowl, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled wine sauce.

Divide the fruit and berries evenly among the 8 dessert bowls. Ladle the sauce on top, dividing it evenly among the 8 bowls, covering the fruit and filling the bowls up to 1/2-inch below the rim. (Refrigerate any leftover sauce for another use, or eat it yourself as a reward for all that whisking.) Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated oven, and bake for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce just begins to turn golden brown on top and forms a light crust. Serve hot or warm, garnished with a light dusting of confectioners' sugar on top.

Makes 8 servings.

 

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