Voices from Russia

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Three Delicious Meatless Meals for the Lent from KP

Everything in the image above is legit for Lent…


On Monday, 7 March, Orthodox Great Lent began, the longest and most rigorous Lent in the year. All who persevere until the end deserve honour, praise, and immense respect for their willpower. However, when we remove meat and dairy products from our bill of fare, many housewives shrug and say, “Well, what can we cook, then!? You can’t feed a family for almost 49 days only on boiled potatoes and sauerkraut”. Of course, it’s not easy to get through the Lent. What should I do? Yet, to concentrate only on this harms one’s health and psyche. In any case, the Church doesn’t lay overly harsh restrictions on us “lay folk”. Even though Lenten dishes shouldn’t contain meat and dairy ingredients, we can still serve balanced, varied, and tasty meals. By the way, priests emphasise that the main thing about the Lent isn’t whether we eat meat is not, it’s that we don’t “eat” each other.


Now, here’s an idea… serve your stuffed squid over spaghetti tossed with a little olive oil, or over rice, or over kasha or wheat pilaf… use your imagination… that’s why God gave it to you…




Кальмары в томатном соусе

2 servings


  • 2 squid
  • 1/3 cup uncooked rice (Arborio would be best for this recipe)
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
  • 0.5 medium onion (or 1 small), finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper


  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Cayenne and black pepper
  • Chopped fresh parsley or dill
  • 1 cup boiling water or vegetable broth


  1. First, wash the cleaned squid in cold water. Drop the cleaned squid into boiling water and pull it out after only a minute or two; then, place it in ice water for about a minute to cool it down rapidly and completely. Rinse it under cold running water; scrub off the top dark film.
  2. Sauté the chopped onions and grated carrot in the vegetable oil for 8-10 minutes, stirring them frequently, until they soften.
  3. Cook the rice in the usual manner; then, combine it with the braised carrot/onion mixture, add salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the squid with the resulting mixture.


  1. Drop the tomatoes for about 30 seconds into boiling water after cutting a shallow “X” on the bottom; then, immediately transfer them to iced water. Peel and finely chop them.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the halved garlic, and remove it when it has a golden colour (save the cooked garlic and use it in another dish… Nonna says so).
  3. In the resulting garlic oil, add the chopped tomatoes and simmer them over low heat until it becomes a sauce, stirring them frequently and mashing the tomatoes as you go.
  4. Pour the boiling water/stock into the tomato puree divorce and continue to cook it over low heat for another 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the stuffed squid into the pan with the tomato sauce and simmer it over low heat no more than 2-3 minutes, remove it from the heat, sprinkle it with chopped parsley or dill as garniture, plate it, and serve.


Err on the side of cooking the squid LESS rather than more… if you overcook the squid, it’ll be rubbery and impossible to chew.

One last thing… the Russian name for squid is kalamary… that’s almost identical to the Greek kalamaros or the Sicilian calamad (that’s how I learned it… if you don’t like that pronunciation, take it up with Roc n’ Dom, and with Big Vinnie and Little Tony). Did we get the name from Spiros or Guido? Perspirin’ minds wanna know (betcha that the recipe’s originally Sicilian… a Greek recipe would call for a little cinnamon and use chopped basil as the garnish)!


This is what lavash flatbread looks like… you could substitute flour tortillas or pita bread… I won’t tell anybody…




Мини-рулеты в лаваше

2 servings


  • 2-3 sheets of thin lavash, or a similar flatbread
  • 300 grammes (10 ounces) cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1-2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. Spread the lavash out on a flat surface and sprinkle it generously with water (don’t saturate the bread… you’re trying to make it more pliable). Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest as you prepare the vegetable stuffing.
  2. Bring the vegetable up to temp over medium heat. Add the cabbage and carrot, sauté them over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spread the stuffing over the lavash and roll it up. Let it rest, covered, for 1 hour.
  4. When the lavash has rested for the proper time, cut it into mini-rolls with a sharp knife, plate it, and serve.

This recipe is obviously Armenian in origin, as lavash is the Armenian national flatbread. Here’s a note for all the other lazy cooks out there… you could use cole slaw mix in place of the shredded cabbage and grated carrots. Hey, it’s one less thing to do… and that’s on the side of the angels.


Boiled potatoes… along with stewed prunes… the staff of life in Russian Lent…




Крестьянская закуска

4 servings


  1. 4-5 medium potatoes
  2. 6-8 Brussels sprouts, coarsely chopped
  3. 6-8 broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
  4. 200 grammes (7 ounces) fresh pumpkin (or other squash), coarsely chopped
  5. 2-3 cloves garlic
  6. vegetable oil
  7. Chopped fresh herbs


  • 1 litre (4 cups) water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 – 4 whole allspice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  • Pulverise the cloves, allspice, bay leaf, and cinnamon using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. By the way, an easy way to clean out a coffee grinder used for pulverising spices is to take a piece of bread to swab it out after rinsing it.
  • Bring the water to the boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and add the spice mixture, salt, and sugar to the water, stirring it well to combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Boil it for 2 minutes, then, add the chopped vegetables (except for the potatoes) to the boiling marinade. Cook it for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring continually.
  • Remove the pot from the heat (simply turn it off if you’re lucky enough to have a gas stove), add the vinegar, and stir it thoroughly to combine all the ingredients. Cover it with a lid, and let it cool to room temperature (don’t refrigerate it).
  • Peel the potatoes, chop into coarse pieces, and cook them in the usual way in salted water until they’re tender. Drain the potatoes well, then, pour over the vegetable oil (sunflower oil is traditional), and stir the potatoes carefully, taking care not to break them up. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Finely chop the raw garlic and sprinkle it over the potatoes, stir it in carefully to mix it in thoroughly.
  • Drain the prepared vegetables in a colander, stir them into the potato mixture with care, plate it, and serve.

10 March 2011

Oksana Kasatkin

Komsomolskaya Pravda

As quoted in Interfax-Religion


Remember… every meal is a sacrament… God created the food… the farmers grew it for us… someone cooked it for us… doya need any other reason to be thankful? Sheesh…


Editor’s Note:

Here are three good Lenten recipes… one apparently Sicilian… another that’s Armenian… and a third that’s obviously Russian. Why? Hey, if it’s got boiled potatoes or stewed prunes in it, that’s Russian Lent in spades (just like nothing says Greek Lent like BEANS).

Keep this in mind… many of the stricter Lenten rules floating out there are meant for monastics living in community under obedience. You get NO “atta boys” from God for following them… indeed, it’ll only lead you on the high road to prelest and ruin. I know of no better and faster route to Pharisaism and Satanic pride. Russian practise allows the use of olive oil… and most Russians interpret the rules to mean that fish is allowed too. The only definite no-nos in popular usage are meat, eggs, and dairy products. In fact, the Church reprinted a series of old recipes from Malokhovets (the author of a popular 19th century Russian cookbook, A Gift for Young Housewives… she’s the Russian Mrs Beeton or Fanny Farmer (but Mme Malokhovets was real)) in a Lenten brochure, many of them contained fish. Beware of all who urge you to a “pure” observance… it’s usually anything but that, and a fast track away from the Church’s actual customs and usages.

This isn’t from a “religious” source… it’s from KP… one of the leading tabs in Moscow (along with MK (Moskovsky Komsomolets))… it’s the equivalent of The Sun or the New York Post (or the Daily Snooze). It’s what you read to get all the low-down on the latest dirt and gossip… I know that you’ve got it hidden behind that copy of NG (The Guardian/New York Times)… tell Tyotya Vara the truth, now. That tells you that the revival is real… KP wouldn’t put it in the morning edition unless it knew that a good proportion of its readership was interested… and they are. Don’t listen to the loudmouthed konvertsy in Stokoe’s comboxes… look at this and know that the revival’s real… remember… the revival will not be televised… the revival will be live (I shamelessly stole that from Gil Scott-Heron, give me a break)… and, yes, the revival IS a revolution… just look and see for yourself!



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