Culinary Corner

Russian cruise ship fare: blinis, caviar and vodka

Special to The CambrianOctober 30, 2013 

Blinis, caviar and vodka aboard the M/S Maxim Litvinov.

CONSUELO MACEDO

“Pluviophile (n.) a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.” Well, if you weren’t before, you certainly are after Monday’s brief but temporarily satisfying showers. May we continue to be blessed.

I found that note among others in my collection of definitions and aphorisms when I gathered my thoughts and ideas for this week’s column, the third in a series about my September trip to Moscow, St. Petersburg and points in between. Way too much material to share, even illustrated by my 500 digital photos.

Rite Aid serendipitously had a coupon special for printing them at a dime apiece, saving me a trip to Costco. While there, I saw the premier Stolichnaya vodka on special, $18 instead of $26. We had sampled that on the boat along with four other kinds, following the custom of quaffing each ice cold shot in one gulp. Fortunately we had snacks with it, including red and black caviar during a verrrry nice afternoon.

The historic architecture of the Hermitage, Catherine’s Palace and Russian Orthodox cathedrals in St. Petersburg can only be described in superlatives — magnificent, opulent, breathtaking. Painstaking reconstruction after the scorched earth policies of Napoleon and the World War II Nazi bombings have preserved an important heritage for all the Russian people, and for us. Thanks to my friends at Cambria Physical Therapy I was physically prepared to enjoy the tours.

Thanks to the 100 crew members, of whom 50 prepared and served the meals, our 198 passengers were well fed with traditional meals, if not haute cuisine. I am happy to share Cambria resident Bev Praver’s family favorite, which was comparable to shipboard fare:

Cheese Blintzes

Batter:

  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup milk or water

Sift flour and salt; mix eggs with liquid. Stir in flour; mix until smooth to form a thin batter. Pour onto a lightly greased 6-inch skillet enough batter to form a very thin pancake, tilting the pan from side to side so that batter spreads evenly. Cook over a low heat on one side only until the top of cake is dry and blistered. Turn out onto a clean cloth, cooked side up. Allow to cool. Stack between sheets of wax paper. Repeat until all batter is used.

Makes about 10 blintz pancakes.

Filling:

  • 1 lb. cottage cheese, drained (Use low fat or non-fat cottage cheese for a lower calorie blintz)
  • 3/4 c. ricotta cheese (Option: substitute 1-½ lbs. of farmer cheese and ½ cup of ricotta)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tblsp. melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tblsp. sugar
  • Cinnamon to taste

Drain cottage cheese by lining a sieve with a paper towel or a coffee filter and placing cottage cheese on the paper towel. Place sieve over a bowl, cover top with plastic wrap and put into refrigerator for two days; change paper towel each day.

(Bev says that if you use the farmer cheese — a dry cottage cheese — you don’t have to drain it.)

When cottage cheese is drained, mix all ingredients and fill crepes with approximately two tablespoons of filling on the cooked side of each one. Fold the ends in and roll up with the uncooked side out. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, place blintzes seam side down in lightly buttered frying pan. Gently brown on both sides. Serve with sour cream and/or strawberry jam.

Fills about 16 blintzes.

Bev adds, “This is as close to my grandmother's recipe as I was able to get it. The rest of my extended family feels that I got it right! I use my grandmother's sauté pan to make the crepes just like she did, and it is not used for anything else. You can buy farmer cheese at Whole Foods markets, and in our area New Frontiers carries it."

Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. It appears on the second, fourth and any fifth Thursdays. Please send recipes and ideas to Consuelo, c/o The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or email to cambrian@thetribunenews.com.

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