Classic Russian Cooking by Elena Molokhovets

Classic Russian Cooking – Introduction

Classic Russian Cooking – A gift to young housewives by Elena Molokhovets is a significant book in the history of Russian cuisine and one of the great utilitarian cookbooks of the world ranking alongside Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion, Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families and La bonne cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange.

It was a ‘must-have’ book for every household in Russia in the 19th century. It was first published in 1861.

Classic Russian Cooking – The Book

The edition of Classic Russian Cooking that we have reviewed was translated by Joyce Toomre and published in 1992 along with a substantial explanation of the life and times and culture into which this book was launched. This introduction extends over almost 100 pages at the start of the book.

Chapters include:
Soup Accompaniments
Vegetables, Greens and Garnishes
Beef, Veal, Mutton and Pork
Pirogs and Pates
Mazurkas and Other Small Pastries
Pashkas and Colored Eggs
Filled Dumplings, Macaroni and Kasha
Preserved Meats
Preserved Vegetables and Greens
These are just some of the chapters amongst the 42 presented.
There is even a chapter on the fermented beer called Kvass which is very popular in central Russia.
The recipes are set out in meticulous detail with explanations of every part of the recipe as it is required. The first recipe in the book, for example is how to make a beef bouillon. This is deconstructed into sections with headings such as:

  • Utensils for bouillon – which describes the types of pans to be used (don’t use copper, do used enamelled pans).
  • The quality of meat – use freshly slaughtered meat and wash it carefully.
  • The quantity of meat – exact quantities in both pounds and grams are provided.
  • The quantity of water – this section calls for 40% of the liquid to be reduced and provides a simple method for determining when this has occurred.

And there are many more sections leading up to the final recipe.

The range of recipes is broad. They range from recipes to cook wild birds, to a recipe for the famous mazurkas those delightful pastries filled with dried fruit, preserves and almond paste to those strange fruit puree-based kissels that can be found throughout northern Europe.

This is an enjoyable and thought-provoking read made even better by copious footnotes and annotations by the translator.

Classic Russian Cooking has been included in our Foodtourist Top Fifty Cookbooks.

There is a good summary of her background and life on the Cook’s Info Website:

Elena Molokhovets

You can order this book from Amazon by clicking on the link below:

Classic Russian Cooking by Elena Molokhovets

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