Need ideas for a slow food dinner party
I am not sure where you live, but Kulebiaka, or cabbage loaf, has a very simple ingredient list that might allow you to use locally sourced items. The main ingredients are cabbage, onions, and eggs. In the recipe I used, I omitted the dill and parsley, since I find the sweetness of the cabbage more than enough flavor. For the dough, try whole grain flour, and a plant based shortening other than Crisco. http://www.centre-consul.ru/engrussiacuisine14.html
This recipe is actually from the Time Life Foods of the World Series.
My son's girlfriend Is a first generation US citizen. Her Russian grandparents, who were based in St. Petersburg, came to live in the States when she was born. Miriam asked me to make Kulebiaka for her, and told me that cabbage as a main ingredient was the only version of the loaf that her grandmother ever made, both in Russia and here in the States.
So slow cook is essentially using local ingredients? Isn't that farm-to-table? Or must it include local ingredients in addition to replicating a specific cuisine?
Also, check out Kukla, who is a food52 cook. She has a repertoire of Eastern European and Russian inspired dishes that you can look over and reverse engineer to come up with slow food variations.
I would love to read Kukla's input on this question. Her recipes are so familiar and resonate so much with me from a geographic and religious perspective.
A really fun new book is MASTERING THE ART OF SOVIET COOKING by Anya Von Bremzen. This is less a cookbook than a memoir of food from the point of view of Russian emigres. Von Bremzen's mother purportedly hated everything Soviet and wanted to recreate the Czarist classics. Her recipe for kulebiaka is not a cabbage loaf but an elaborate pastry and fish dish. Her mother blames the French for corrupting it (cf. coulibiac).
Von Bremzen is also the author of PLEASE TO THE TABLE which actually is a Russian cookbook.
Pardon my ignorance on the slow food philosophy, but doesn't it mean that you would concentrate on re-creating dishes from a specific town or city of Russia and the history behind the ingredients? Russian food is so broad and encompasses so many different things. If you choose to do a slow food party, it okay to pick a country and prepare dishes that represent the country, in general. Just curious. I've been reading articles about the philoshy, and its sounds wonderful - just not sure of the core beliefs and guidelines. One side of my family are Russian Jews and our traditional foods are based on the town/area they come from and prepared during the high holidays.
If you're looking for a general overview of traditional Russian dishes, you could try browsing through a site like Ruscuisine.com: http://www.ruscuisine.com/.
Second pierino on the Anya Von Bremzen books! I just read her memoir which is terrific and does have a few recipes in it but Please to the Table is a gem which is sadly, very expensive used right now. I was able to get a copy at my library.
I third Pierino on Please to the Table--it’s a classic. I love sauerkraut soup (Kapusniak) and blini with sour cream and caviar. My Russian teacher introduced me to Syrniki, a slightly sweet pancake. Other favorite dishes are kasha varnishkes, pirozhki, stuffed cabbage. You see a lot of sorrel, pickles, mushroom, beets, horseradish and root vegetables, plus salmon and herring.
Not a recipe, but may be of interest re this topic - a fascinating New Yorker article from a couple of years ago about the work of Maksim Syrnikov, a culinary historian who's exhaustively researching the deepest roots of Russian cooking, and recreating lost dishes/techniques: http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=2012-04-16#folio=056
Also worth mentioning - Joan Nathan's fantastic book Jewish Cooking in America contains not only recipes, but much history of the origin/evolution of culinary traditions long before they were brought here - with quite a bit about Russia.
Alan, with the provided family anecdotal information, the books and links mentioned above, and Kukla's recipe archive on this site, you should be in good shape! Good Luck.
Don't know Russian, but I wish I watched my Ukrainian mother more when she made traditional dinners.