After Russia sold Alaska to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, waves of Russian immigrants fleeing religious persecution moved to the United States. These groups generally settled in coastal cities, including Brooklyn (New York City) on the East coast, and Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon, on the West coast.
Many of the city dwellers took jobs in factories, often as garment workers. Those who preferred rural living benefited from the Homestead Act and set up farms across the West, while still others worked in mills and mines in the Midwest. Russians contributed their diverse cultural traditions and devout faith (for some Judaism and for others Russian Orthodox) to the places they settled. Unlike immigrants from other countries, few returned to Russia—America had become their homeland.
Emigration was restricted during the Soviet era, however, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, immigration to the U.S. increased considerably. Some Ukrainian Americans, Belarusian Americans, Rusyn Americans along with Jewish Americans, German Americans from the former Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, identify themselves as Russian Americans. According to the Institute of Modern Russia’s 2011 report, the Russian American population was estimated to be 3.13 million.
In 2007 Russian was the primary spoken language in 851,174 homes, according to the U.S. Census. The New York City metropolitan area has historically been the primary place of settlement for Russian immigrants legally admitted into the United States. Brighton Beach, Brooklyn continues to be the most important demographic and cultural center for Russian Americans. However, as Russian Americans have climbed in socioeconomic status, they have moved toward more affluent parts of the New York metropolitan area, notably Bergen County, New Jersey.
Russian cuisine tends toward the starchy side, with plenty of pickling. Grains are a major crop, with rye, buckwheat, wheat and barley commonly used in cooking, especially for bread. Root vegetables like beetroot, potatoes, and onions are also popular ingredients along with mushrooms, sour cream, cabbage, and the ricotta-like “farmers’ cheese”. Classic Russian dishes include Beef Stroganoff, chicken Kiev, beetroot broth, blini, and cheese dumplings.
They prepare a variety of soups, which are almost always served with sour cream. Most famous is borscht, made from beets, cabbage, and meat. In the summer, borscht is served cold. Shchi, also made with cabbage, includes turnips, carrots, onions, and beef. Fish soups are popular, such as solianka, and include onion, tomato, cucumber, lemon, butter, and sometimes beef. Many soups also include potatoes or dumplings. Traditional dark Russian bread is made from rye and Russian meals are accompanied by vodka.
Beef Stroganov or Stroganoff (Russian spelling: бефстроганов befstróganov) is a Russian dish of sautéed pieces of beef served in a sauce with smetana (sour cream). Following its origin in mid-19th-century Russia, the dish has become popular around the world, with considerable variation from the original recipe.
Elena Molokhovets’s classic Russian cookbook, A Gift to Young Housewives, gives the first known recipe for Govjadina po-strogonovski, s gorchitseju, “Beef à la Stroganov, with mustard”, in its 1871 edition. The recipe involves lightly floured beef cubes (not strips) sautéed, sauced with prepared mustard and broth, and finished with a small amount of sour cream: no onions, no mushrooms, and no alcohol. Another recipe, this one from 1909, adds onions and tomato sauce and serves it with crisp potatoes, which are considered the traditional side dish for beef Stroganoff in Russia. The version given in the 1938 Larousse Gastronomique includes beef strips, and onions, with either mustard or tomato paste as an option.
After the fall of Tsarist Russia, the recipe was popularly served in the hotels and restaurants of China before the start of World War II. Russian and Chinese immigrants, as well as US servicemen stationed in pre-Communist China, brought several variants of the dish to the United States, which may account for its popularity during the 1950s.
The version often prepared in the United States consists of strips of beef filet with a mushroom, onion, and sour cream sauce served over noodles. In the UK and Australia, a recipe very similar to that commonly found in the United States is popular, but it is served over rice.
Make a Russian inspired dinner at home.
Serves 4 (or servings for 2 in parenthesis)
1 (1/2) pound filet mignon or mignon tips (cut into 2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide)
3 ( 1 1/2) tablespoons butter
1 ( 1/2) sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 ( 1/4) cup beef broth
1 (1/2) tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 ( 2 T) cup heavy cream
1/2 ( 1/4) cup sour cream
2 ( 1 ) teaspoons flour
2 (1) tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 (1) tablespoons minced parsley
Salt and freshly grounded black pepper
8 ( 4) ounces medium egg noodles, cooked
Heat a large non-stick skillet over high heat and sear meat on all sides, for about a minute. Work in small batches so the meat does not give off any liquid. Remove to a plate.
Add the butter and onions and saute until tender.
Blend broth, flour, mustard, heavy cream, and sour cream together. Lower heat, add the liquid mixture, and simmer, without boiling until sauce thickens about 5 minutes.
Return meat to the sauce and heat, without boiling until meat is warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper; stir in dill and parsley and spoon over noodles.
Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
2 pounds parsnips
1 pound carrots
2 large shallots
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the carrots, and parsnips into 2-inch sticks. Cut the shallots into 1/2 inch pieces
Place the cut vegetables on a sheet pan. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss well. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables, tossing occasionally until the parsnips and carrots are just tender. Sprinkle with dill and serve hot.
2 boneless loin pork chops, about 1 inch thick, all fat removed
2-3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large white mushrooms, quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Noodles, 3-4 oz uncooked
Pat the chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Mix the flour with the Italian seasoning. Coat the pork chops in the flour mixture.
Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to serving platter and tent with foil.
Add mushrooms and zucchini to the skillet and cook 5 minutes. Add garlic, cream, roasted peppers, and Parmesan cheese and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened about 5 minutes. Add the pork chops back to the skillet and heat.
There are many styles of cooking in China. Each style has a distinct taste and flavor. As a general rule, rice is a main staple food in southern China, as the warmer and wetter south makes it more ideal for its growth. On the other hand, dumplings and noodles are more commonly consumed in the drier, colder north.
Sichuan and Hunan cuisines are hot and spicy.
Anhui and Fujian cuisines include wild plants and animals from the mountains.
Guangdong (Cantonese), Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu feature sweet and light flavors with ingredients such as sugar, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, vinegar, scallions and sesame oil.
Shandong Cuisine is salty with a lot of seafood.
The recipe I created below is based on several Cantonese Chinese recipes that I like. I wanted to keep it on the healthy side and feature lots of vegetables in the stir-fry. I did not make it spicy so that the vegetables would be the star. Feel free to add more spice if you prefer hot and spicy Asian foods.
Coconut aminos is a sauce made from coconut sap. It is a dark, rich, slightly sweet, slightly salty sauce. It resembles a light soy sauce or tamari, but it is soy free and gluten-free – making it a perfect replacement ingredient. Arrowroot powder has less carbs than cornstarch and is a good substitute for thickening a sauce.
Egg Drop Soup
In Chinese cuisine, egg drop soups have a thinner consistency than most common Western versions. Depending on the region, they may be garnished with ingredients such as tofu, scallions, bean sprouts and corn.
Serves: 4 (1 cup servings)
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 clove garlic, finely grated
½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos
3 eggs, beaten
2 green onions, thinly sliced (for garnish)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt, to taste
In a medium pot, whisk together the chicken broth, cornstarch, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. When the soup reaches a boil, turn off the heat.
Slowly whisk the beaten eggs into the soup. Let the soup sit 2 minutes for the eggs to finish cooking. Return the soup to the stove and heat over very low heat. Do not boil. Taste the broth and add salt, if desired. Stir in the sesame oil and green onions and serve.
Chinese Noodle Stir-Fry
I used a combination of spiralized vegetables to decrease the amount of carbs in this recipe. You may use 8 oz of fresh Chinese noodles if you do not want to add the spiralized zucchini and carrot noodles. I used leftover pork roast in this recipe.
2 servings. This recipe is easily doubled.
2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch powder
2 tablespoons peanut oil or cooking oil, divided
1 medium zucchini
1 large carrot
4 oz fresh Chinese noodles
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 red bell pepper, thin sliced
1 cup sliced cabbage
4 whole scallions cut diagonally into ½-inch segments
½ lb cooked pork, chicken or beef, sliced into matchstick pieces
Bring about 3 cups of water to a boil and pour over the fresh Chinese noodles. Set aside while you cook the other ingredients.
Combine the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce and set aside.
Cut the zucchini and carrot into noodles with a spiralizer. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and add the ginger and garlic, cook until for 30 seconds.
Add the bell pepper, scallions and cabbage. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes.
Add the pork and the stir-fry sauce. Cook until thickened. Drain the fresh noodles and add them to the skillet along with the zucchini and carrot noodles. Stir-fry for a minute or until all the ingredients are hot. Serve in bowls.
World Pasta Day was brought into existence as part of the World Pasta Congress on the 25th of October in 1995. Experts from all over the world came together to promote the importance of spreading knowledge of the world’s numerous types of pasta. This organization uses World Pasta Day to promote the eating of pasta, along with its cultural and culinary importance.
Everything from encouraging consumers to try new pastas to providing important health information is part of their mission. Every country is encouraged to celebrate the day in their own way, while sharing the logo of the official organization and participating in the global strategy of World Pasta Day. One of the best ways to celebrate World Pasta Day is by preparing your favorite pasta at home. Here are a few of mine.
3-4 stuffed shells per serving.
6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (21-22 shells)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, white and light green portion, finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for salting the water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound (2 bunches) fresh spinach or Swiss chard, stems removed
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 16 ounces)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
2 cups Marinara or Basic Tomato Sauce
Wash the spinach or chard well, drain and spin in a salad spinner to remove most of the water. Cut the leaves into thin strips.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the leek and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the leek is softened.
Add the greens, oregano, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, tossing with tongs, until completely wilted.
Cover the pan and simmer until the leaves are very tender, about ten minutes. Pour into a mixing bowl to cool to room temperature.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta shells, stir, and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
Place a colander in the sink and drain the shells. Transfer the shells to a kitchen towels on the counter and set aside to cool.
Mix the ricotta, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the egg, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the cooled, cooked greens.
Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Evenly spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an oiled 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
Fill the shells with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture and place in a single layer, open side up, in the baking dish.
Pour the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the shells and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
Cover the dish with foil.
Tip: I always spray the side of the foil that will touch the food with cooking spray to keep the food from sticking to the foil during baking.
Bake the shells until the sauce just starts to bubble around the edges, about 20 minutes.
Remove the foil and continue baking until the sauce is bubbling vigorously and the edges of the pan have started to brown, about 10 minutes more.
Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage
1 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 pound lean Italian sausage, a combination of hot and sweet according to your taste, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1 bunch broccoli rabe
½ cups pasta water
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Wash broccoli rabe in several changes of cold water. Cut off the bottom tips on the stalks and cut each stalk into one inch lengths.
Heat oil and stir in garlic in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute until meat is brown.
Boil a large pot of water, add salt and pasta. Add the broccoli rabe during the last two minutes of the pasta cooking time.
Reserve 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water.
Add the pasta water to the cooked sausage and raise the heat and cook until the sauce is hot.
Drain orecchiette and broccoli rabe and add to the sausage sauce in the skillet.
Using a wooden spoon, toss together for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and pour into a large serving bowl.
Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese.
Creamy Zucchini Pasta
Salt to taste
8 ounces penne or other short pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small sweet onion
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
1 large zucchini, about one pound
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or a combination of herbs you like
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain.
Slice the zucchini into ½ inch circles and then cut each circle into little logs.
Cut the onion in the same manner, so that the pieces are about the same size as the zucchini.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the garlic, stir and, then, add the zucchini.
Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender. Do not let it brown.
Add the chile flakes and stir. Add the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook on low heat until thickened a bit.
Stir the basil into the sauce, add the cooked pasta and let the pasta cook in the sauce for a minute or two.
Turn off the heat. Toss with the Parmesan cheese and serve.
Eggplant Sauce Over Pasta
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 3⁄4″ cubes
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti pasta
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Fresh Burrata or Ricotta cheese
Heat the oven to 500º F.
Place the eggplant into a bowl and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the eggplant to 2 baking sheets and bake, turning occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
Transfer to a rack; set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, season with salt and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 9 minutes.
Drain the pasta and transfer to the pan with the tomato sauce. Stir in the roasted eggplant and basil. Toss to combine.
To serve, transfer pasta to a serving platter and garnish with the Burrata cheese.
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs lean ground turkey, beef or pork
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Two 28-oz containers whole tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
16 dried lasagna noodles
Two 10-oz boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed
Two 15-oz containers ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook another minute.
Turn heat to medium-high and add the ground meat, breaking it up with a spatula until the meat shows no sign of pink.
Stir in the Italian seasoning, then add tomatoes and salt.
Reduce heat to medium-low, stir, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring and breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions, drain and place the noodles on kitchen towels to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Squeeze all remaining moisture from the thawed spinach and place in large bowl.
Add ricotta cheese, eggs and a 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese to the bowl. Stir until combined
Spread 2 cups of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.
Lay a cooked lasagna noodle flat in front of you. Spread a tablespoon of ricotta mixture across the noodle and roll it up.
Place the rolled pasta seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
Spread remaining tomato sauce over roll-ups, then top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
Bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes.
I remember my years living up north and the wonderful Asian restaurants we had in our area. Missing those dishes, I have been tinkering with recipes and sauces to create some of the tastes I remember. This recipe turned out with the taste I was looking for, especially with the combo of grilled meat and deliciously seasoned vegetables and noodles. Give it a try. It has great flavor.
Asian Grilled Pork Kebabs
4 servings. This recipe may be doubled.
1 (12-ounce) pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch chunks
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon Sambal owlet chili paste
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a glass dish.
Add the pork and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
When ready to grill, thread the pork onto two 12-inch metal skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between pieces. Reserve the marinade in the dish.
Spray both sides of the meat generously with vegetable oil spray.
Turn all grill burners to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave the primary burner on high and turn off the other burners.
Clean and oil the cooking grate. Place the skewers on the hot side of the grill and cook the pork until well charred, 3 minutes.
Turn the skewers, brush with the reserved marinade mixture, and continue to grill until the second side is well charred and the meat registers 140 degrees on an instant read meat thermometer, 3 minutes longer.
Transfer the pork to a platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest while the stir fry vegetables are prepared
Stir Fry Sauce
1/4 cup sweet soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Combine ingredients for the stir fry sauce in a jar and shake to combine. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Asian Stir Fried Vegetables and Noodles
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cups Chinese fresh noodles
Stir Fry Sauce, recipe above
2 tablespoons water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
12 oz broccoli florets, cut into smaller florets
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
3 scallions, sliced
Place the noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Let sit in the hot water until ready to add to the stir fry.
Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger followed by the broccoli.
Stir fry until the broccoli florets are tender. Add the shredded carrots and stir for a minute or two.
Remove the skillet from the heat.
Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet. Stir in the stir fry sauce and water.
Return to the heat, gently toss for 1 minute to heat through the noodles and for the sauce to thicken. Add the scallions. Stir.
Pour onto a serving platter and top with the grilled pork to serve.
I know my kitchen is primarily Italian but every once in a while other cuisines find their way there.
I was inspired to consider making a Korean dish after reading a recipe for BBQ Korean Steak on a blog I follow, Back Road Journal. I decided on BBQ pork ribs and a stir fry noodle dish after assessing the ingredients I had in the pantry and freezer.
To make a Korean BBQ sauce, you need gochujang. Gochujang or red chili paste is a fermented sweet and spicy sauce made from red chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt powder and salt. Traditionally, it has been naturally fermented over years in an earthenware pot on an elevated stone platform, called jangdokdae, in a Korean family’s backyard. The making of gochujang at home began tapering off when commercial production came into the mass market in the early 1970s. Now, most Koreans purchase gochujang at grocery stores or markets, just like we can.
Korean Spicy Glazed Pork Ribs
1/4 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 pounds baby back pork ribs
Whisk gochujang, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, and oil in a glass dish until smooth.
Cut the ribs into smaller pieces, about two bones per piece.
Toss the ribs in the marinade. Cover the dish and chill at least 4 hours or up to 1 day ahead.
Place ribs in a baking dish to fit that has been lined with heavy-duty foil (for easy cleanup). Cover with foil.
Reserve any marinade in the glass dish.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake ribs, covered, for 1 hour. Uncover and increase oven temperature to 450°F.
Roast, turning occasionally and brushing with reserved marinade, until the ribs are deeply browned, glazed and fork-tender, 30 – 35 minutes longer.
Stir Fried Noodles with Vegetables
1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
10 oz package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
2 cups fresh Asian noodles
2 cups thinly shredded cabbage
Stir Fry Sauce (recipe below)
4 scallions, chopped
Heat oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and stir fry for about 10 seconds.
Add the broccoli and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cabbage, the noodles and the Stir Fry Sauce.
Return to heat, gently toss for 1 minute to heat through the noodles and for the sauce to thicken. Sprinkle with scallions and serve.
Stir Fry Sauce
This sauce is fantastic and very authentic tasting in stir fry dishes. Make a double batch and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick dinner.
2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese wine (or sherry)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Combine ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine.