Category Archives: Recipes

Interview with Chef Mukhin about IKRA Festival and the Future of Russian Cuisine

 

The second IKRA international gastronomic festival sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna will take place in Sochi, Russia, from 31 January to 4 February 2018. Designed to promote Russian gastronomy and gastro-tourism, the event will feature a host of big name Russian and international chefs who will be gathering at the Black Sea resort for a series of workshops, dinners and masterclasses focusing on Russia’s culinary heritage and new culinary landscape. See the line-up and find out how to buy tickets here.

The chef ambassador for the event is none than other than Vladimir Mukhin, who is at the forefront of the new wave of Russian chefs looking proudly to the country’s culinary traditions to craft a contemporary cuisine using local products, and whose Moscow restaurant White Rabbit currently sits at number 23 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

We caught up with Mukhin ahead of the event to find out just why Russian gastronomy is so exciting right now.

How important is an event like IKRA to Russian gastronomy?
IKRA is not a gastronomic festival; it’s a platform on which we will build the future of Russian gastronomy. Books, collaborations, professional communities – talented people want to share their experiences, their energy. IKRA will help us to develop gastro-tourism – it highlights regions rich with food, recipes, and traditions. We can show the world what no one has seen. IKRA expands.

How greatly does the cuisine differ from region to region?
Very. In France each region has its own face, and we have regions that match France in size. I’ve made a gastronomic map of Russia. My goal is not just to come up with a menu for White Rabbit; I’m curious to find unique products in each region and I’m fascinated by the variety of recipes. How does Tula gingerbread differ from that in Vyazemsky, or Moscow kalach [a type of bread] from Kolomna kalach? How did mincemeat get into our country? It’s necessary for our generation to understand. The thread is almost lost. We need to find answers and pass them to the next generation, before it’s too late.

How then would you/can you define Russian cuisine today?
There are no ‘old’ and no ‘new’ Russian cuisine. It’s evolving. White Rabbit evolves, but it is built on the foundation of tradition. Russian cuisine lives in the stove, in pickles and sauerkraut that you can buy in any market, and grandmothers’ recipes. Russian cuisine has a heart – where is it? God only knows. Our goal is to keep digging. [At the restaurant] we use new technologies; build laboratories and libraries, travel and study. But White Rabbit is not only I – it is a huge team of people who care. And each brings something. It is a strong movement, which will popularise Russian cuisine around the world.

Do you think there is a gap between outside knowledge of Russian cuisine and the reality? How could that gap be overcome?
People, who come to us from abroad, are shocked by what’s happening here. The experts from Gault&Millau, who came to Russia this year, were surprised by the amount of good restaurants in Moscow. We don’t eat pancakes every day; we have no bears. We have developed and are an interesting country. My goal is to tell everyone about it.

Are Russian diners’ tastes changing? What trends are you seeing right now?
People began to travel, to discover new things. First, we copied Europe, but, fortunately, it quickly became boring and we returned to the roots. We started making Russian dishes with local products – a new wave of chefs has helped the return to our traditions. For the guests of the Moscow restaurants, it’s really interesting.

The embargo on Western produce is set to continue through 2018 – what does it mean for Russian chefs in their daily work?
The embargo is already part of our history – weird, in my opinion, a political move. I don’t want to brag, but it helped us to apply to our products, our traditions. If it hadn’t happened, we would have been preparing Caesar salad. This is an opportunity for farmers to rise and to revive Russian products, and for chefs to address these products and begin to cook them.

Tell us about some of the ingredients that you enjoy working with that people might not be aware of outside of Russia?
Black bread, pike caviar, Black Sea rapana, herring milt, pickled garlic, horseradish (sauce), tkemali [sour plum sauce], adjika [a spicy Georgian dip], baked milk, cottage cheese from boiled milk, black sea fish (grey mullet, red mullet, turbot, all of which are found nowhere else), lake fish – perch, tench, bear, grouse, berries, pickled mushrooms.

Which other chefs/restaurants are exciting you in Russia right now?
Serial young guys who are developing: the restaurant Severyane and George Trojan; Gastrobar, Tehnikum and Vitaly Istomin; Dmitry Shershakov, Dmitry Zotov, and Sergey Eroshenko.

What’s next for you? Any plans you’d like to share?
To continue to develop, to share knowledge with our guests, and to build a platform from IKRA and develop gastro tourism. This job is very exciting!

What IKRA Gastronomic Festival
Where Sochi, Russia
When 31 January – 4 February 2018
Tickets and programme ikrafest.com

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22 Comforting Winter Drinks From Around the World

 

Fend off the colder winter days with a selection of our warming winter drinks.

Choose between comforting cosy drinks offering a perfect excuse to curl up on the sofa or alcoholic punches designed for entertaining.

So whether you decide to stay warm at home or kick up your heels with a festive alcoholic punch these drinks should have you covered for any occasion you need flavourful winter drinks with international flair.

Hints of cinnamon and nutmeg make Mexican hot chocolate the perfect warm beverage for chocoholics. Get this winter drink recipe here.

This non alcoholic punch infuses all the best things about winter. Cranberries, star anise, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are all designed to give you a lift in this warming holiday season punch. Click here for this winter drink recipe.

Done well an Irish coffee is delicious way to end an evening as a nightcap. Capturing Irish whisky inside hot coffee with brown sugar amd loosely whipped cream floating on top it combines the bitterness of coffee with the whisky kick. Click here for this winter drink recipe.

One of the easiest and most loved of winter drinks mulled wine is a sure crowd pleaser. Make sure you use decent quality red wine to avoid headaches the next day! Find this winter drink recipe here.

This alcoholic punch blends red wine with rum and a number of festive spices. Perfect for giving a party that celebratory touch. Click here for this winter drink recipe.

Swedish Glogg makes for the perfect winter drink warming you from the inside with spice infused red wine and a hit of brandy. Find this winter drink recipe here.

This non alcoholic punch is a great party option for nominated drivers capturing the festive season in a glass without the alcoholic kick. Click here for this winter drink recipe.

This traditional Swedish alcoholic drink is sure to keep the cold out. Containing egg yolks, sugar and brandy and coffee, it’s almost like a drink and a dessert in one. Find this winter drink recipe here.

Warm up with a cup of South African rooibos tea – it is a great caffeine-free alternative to black tea. Here’s how to make it.

Here’s a nice thick and creamy winter drink that comes to us all the way from Fruili in Italy. Find out more.

You’ll enjoy cozying up to this festive yet comforting eggnog laced with brandy and cinnamon. Here’s the recipe.

13 More Winter Drinks From Around the Globe

Below you’ll find an interesting array of warming winter drinks and recipes to keep you cozy all season long. Cheers!

““Thanksgiving

Infographic via Crystal Ski Holidays

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Chef Dominique Crenn to Open Wine Bar in San Francisco

Chef Dominique Crenn is to open her first wine bar in San Francisco, with a menu that pays homage to France’s best chefs.

Bar Crenn, which opens on 20 February in the adjacent building to her two-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn restaurant, will be, the chef announced in an Instagram post, a “sensual and intimate space” to enjoy “the great wines of France” and “a small low-proof cocktail selcetion with a nod to old-style French aperitifs,” from producers that “channel [a] shared philosophy of environmental responsibility, where vignerons and domaines are showcased that prioritise traditional methods of viticulture, as well as careful and thoughtful stewardship of the land.”

All that drinking is bound to make one peckish, so Crenn has gathered together recipes donated by an assortment of top French chefs, including Alain Ducasse, Yannick Alléno and Guy Savoy, which will be served alongside her own interpretations of French classics.

This will be Crenn’s third spot in the city, alongside Atelier and the bistro-style Petit Crenn.

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21 Lessons Learnt in the Kitchen

The lessons you learn in the kitchen can be lifelong, just ask Paul Sorgule. The chef and writer, who has spent nearly five decades working in professional kitchens, is better placed than many to reflect on their invaluable teachings.

In fact, he’s listed the 21 most important lessons he’s learnt in the kitchen in a new blog post, which we’re sharing with you below.

Don’t forget to check out more of his fantastic writing over on the Harvest America Ventures blog.

21 lessons learnt in the kitchen

1. CIVILITY and RESPECT ABOVE ALL ELSE

Respecting employees, fellow workers, and customers is paramount to building a cohesive, productive team. Failure to do so is the demise of many restaurants. Hire for civility above all else.

2. THE IMPORTANCE of ORDER

Kitchens only function well when order is the predominant rule of thumb. How cooks dress, organise their stations, follow standard cooking methods, handle their tools, follow directives, and even plate their food is absolutely essential in a well run operation.

3. WE VS. ME

It is never about the individual when a kitchen is charged with serving the public and helping to run a successful business. Every restaurant worthy of notice and respect operates as a unified team with common goals.

4. FEAR NEVER MOTIVATES

The old Machiavellian style of management through fear no longer has a place (if it ever really did) in an organisation. Fear breeds dissent and instability, places individuals in a position to look out for themselves rather than the team, and sets the stage for missteps. Chefs need to inspire and set the example for collaboration rather than survival. Angst separates – it never unifies.

5. PLAN FIRST

Thinking things through, anticipating what might go wrong, leaving no stone unturned, and building action scenarios where the unexpected suddenly becomes expected allows the ship to sail on stable waters and curve balls to meet the anxious batter. Take the time to think things through and plan better.

6. RHETORIC is DANGEROUS

The chatter of opinion at the expense of others can drive a huge wedge between the individuals on a team. This wedge divides a kitchen into ‘us and them’ and will always lead to problems. Put the rhetoric aside and insist on the same among your team members.

7. YOU NEED to DEPEND on OTHERS

Chefs, in particular, who feel that the kitchen revolves around them, are missing the real meaning of team. Chefs need to hire civil individuals, train them well, respect them for their abilities, treat them as equals, support their efforts with the right resources, correct them when they are wrong and compliment them when they are right, and allow everyone to realise how important they are to the success of a kitchens mission.

8. WORDS are IMPORTANT

The right words, crafted to fit the right moment, established as a support mechanism or positive action foundation can help to inspire others to exceed expectations. The wrong words will set the stage for disaster. Words are powerful – choose them wisely.

9. COMMUNICATION is KEY

Let people know. Let them know what is going on, what their role might be, what is not going well and how to correct it, and engage them in the operation as if they really are essential – because they are. 

10. WHEN it COMES DOWN to it – WE are ALL THE SAME

One of the most important things that the kitchen taught me is that regardless of views or beliefs, in spite of orientation or cultural backgrounds, putting aside age, gender, size, and colour – everyone in the kitchen is equal. We are all people hoping to do a good job, in love with cooking, and appreciative of the opportunity to learn something from each other. Chefs need to be the example of this inclusive approach.

11. RESPECT MOTHER NATURE

Whenever I felt, as a chef, that I was in control – Mother Nature would demonstrate her superiority. Chefs can control staffing, equipment, ingredients, cooking process, and even the financial operation of the kitchen, but when Mother Nature chooses to throw in a storm, flood, snow, bitter cold, or an extended heat wave – we are all begging for her mercy.

12. TRUST is EARNED

At the core of a successful relationship between employees, ownership, the chef, and the guest is a level of trust. When any stakeholder loses the ability to trust another then all is lost. The irony of trust is that it is never a one shot deal. Trust must be earned every moment of every day. It only takes a moment to lose all that is gained in this regard.

13. PAY ATTENTION

Watch what is going on – know what is going on and understand how to address challenges when they arise. Chefs need to pay attention to the mood of employees and the cause of fluctuations in their mood, the daily costs associated with operation, waste and spoilage, changes in customer habits, the every day quality of ingredients passing through the receiving door, and the trends that may have a short or long term impact on how the restaurant functions.

14. TAKE CARE of YOUR TOOLS

Tools in the kitchen allow a cook to be efficient and successful. Never lose sight of how important it is to care for your own and respect the tools of others. This is an individual and a group effort.

15. EXCELLENCE is a HABIT

If excellence is the goal of the kitchen than excellence must be the rule, not the exception. Excellence in how the dishes are washed and stored is as important as excellence in how a cook follows a procedure, how taste and flavour are addressed, and how the customer is served. Peel the carrot with an attitude of excellence and the stew will draw applause.

16. WHAT YOU DO as a COOK REALLY MATTERS

Ours is far more than a job. Cooking is an opportunity to stimulate all of the senses, to convert a bad day into a joyous one, to bring sunshine to all involved, and to celebrate the skill and pride of the cook who arranged ingredients on the plate. Cooking matters.

17. LISTEN MORE – TALK LESS

When people know that you listen, they understand that you care. When you are open to others ideas, concerns, and observations then that freedom will unify a team and build a positive brand for the restaurant and the chef.

18. LEAD, FOLLOW, or GET OUT of the WAY

The most sinful act in the kitchen is apathy. Apathy will cause the operation to stumble and one apathetic player will bring even the most positive, progressive, goal oriented kitchen team to its knees. Lead, follow or move on.

19. OPTIMISM is MORE FUN than PESSIMISM

The old cup half full example is always pertinent. Pessimism is a drag on the culture of a kitchen just as it is with a sporting team, the military, or any other business intent on winning. Weed out pessimism and reinforce optimism.

20. KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

Don’t pretend – if it is beyond your current ability or base of knowledge then accept it, learn how to improve, or hire reinforcements with the skills to fill in the gaps.

21. EVERY DAY is an OPPORTUNITY to LEARN

A day spent without learning something, regardless of how large or small, is a wasted day. Start every day with the question: ‘What can I learn today’ and end each day with an assessment: ‘What have I learned that can be added to my bag of tricks?’

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Bangkok Street Food Chef Wants to Return Michelin Star

Jay Fai, the septegenarian who’s revered street food spot Raan Jay Fai made headlines when it was awarded a Michelin star in the inaugural Guide to Bangkok, says she wishes she could “give the star back already.”

Speaking to Eater, Fai, real name Supinya Junsuta, said that since the news of the star was announced, “Many people come just to see and take pictures and not necessarily to eat.” People presumably want to get snaps of Fai in action, cooking in her own unique style complete with ski goggles and the odd hairdryer to fan the flames under her spitting woks.

However, there is plenty of demand for Fai’s famous crab omelettes and spicy noodle dishes, though it has always been one of the most expensive street food spots in the city, with the former costing around $25. Lines outside the restaurant in the city’s old town can stretch up to two hours. Fai’s daughter, Varisa Junsuta, says her mother, who works 11 hours day, is “getting tired more easily” as a result of all the extra attention.

She is the latest in a line of chefs wanting to relinquish their Michelin stars. Last year, three-Michelin-star chef Sebastian Bras wrote to Michelin asking not be included in the next Guide, as he felt the pressure of maintaining Michelin standards was stifling his restaurant’s creativity, while more recently another French chef, Jérôme Brochot, requested to return his restaurant’s star because he couldn’t afford the costs of maintaining a Michelin-starred restaurant.

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Indian cauliflower rice and coriander pesto

To make cauliflower rice, place cauliflower florets in a food processor and process until finely chopped and resembles rice

Heat ghee in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until cauliflower is tender and light golden

To make coriander pesto, place the coriander, garlic and cashews in a processor and pulse until just chopped

Mix in the parmesan, lime zest and juice. Slowly add oil in a steady stream until well combined. Season to taste

French salted caramel ganache tart

Shortbread tart shell

To make the shortbread, place the flour and cocoa in a mound on your work surface and make a well in the middle.

Place the butter in the well and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour.

Once the butter, flour and cocoa are mixed well, add the sugar and egg yolk and mix together by pushing the dough on the bench with the open palm of your hand until the pastry is homogeneous.

Shape into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Once the shortbread has hardened, break it up and mix it up by hand on your work surface until homogeneous.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 3 mm thick. You will need to move the dough constantly to stop it from sticking.

Use a fork to punch a few holes into the dough -this will allow for any air trapped at the base of your tart to escape without bubbling up the base of your tart.

Line the base and sides of a 22 cm tart ring or tart tin with removable base with the pastry, trim the excess with a knife, then place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Filling

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Line the tart shell with foil or baking paper, then fill with uncooked rice. Bake the tart shell for 10 minutes, then remove the rice and foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the pastry is dry. Allow to cool before removing from the ring.

To make the salted caramel ganache, place the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and stir continuously over medium heat until the sugar melts and turns into a blonde caramel.

Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring until the caramel begins to foam.

Add all the cream at once, keeping your hand well away from the pan as it will bubble up and create a lot of steam.

Remove from the heat and stand for 15 minutes or until slightly cooled. Place the chocolate and vanilla bean seeds in heat-proof bowl, then pour over the hot caramel and stir gently until combined.

Using hand held electric beaters, beat the mixture until thick and emulsified. You will notice that the ganache will go from a split, oily texture to a beautiful creamy viscosity.

Fold the salt in and the ganache is ready to use

Pour the ganache into the tart shell, allow to cool for 15 minutes or until the ganache thickens.

Decorate the top with raspberries, sprinkle with pistachios, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Remove the tart from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving. Serve with creme fraiche or ice-cream.

Japanese sweet ginger meatballs

Meatballs

Put the chopped spring onions (reserve a handful of the green part for the garnish) in a bowl with the beef and pork mince, grated ginger, egg, sesame oil and pinch of salt and white pepper.

Start adding the cornflour, little by little, kneading the mixture well for a few minutes until doughy and elastic.

Scoop portions of the meat mixture with a teaspoon to make bite-sized balls.

Make sure all the meatballs are the same size to ensure consistent cooking times. Dust them lightly in cornflour.

Pour enough oil to come up to about 1cm deep in a large frying pan and set over medium heat.

Once the oil reaches about 160 degrees C, drop the meatballs carefully into the pan. Shallow-fry them by turning them in the oil until they are just cooked — 3 to 4 minutes depending on the size of the meatballs.

Alternatively, for a healthier option, bake the meatballs with a drizzle of oil in an oven preheated to 180° C for 12-15 minutes on a try lined with scrunched baking paper.

Sauce

While the meatballs are cooking, squeeze the juice from the grated ginger into a small bowl along with the other ingredients for the sauce and mix well until there are no lumps.

Heat a large frying pan and add the cooked meatballs. Once the pan becomes very hot, pour in the sauce mixture, shake the pan from side to side to coat the meatballs well and let the sauce thicken, about 1 minute.

Transfer to large shallow bowls, sprinkle with the finely chopped spring onion greens and finish with the toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on the top.