The wind is blowing in Médoc. It’s one of those unusually cold December months when you wake up to frosted trees and even the dogs don’t fancy going out. The weather (and the ice-cold stone floors) make me feel raw and in need for big shawls, hot cups of tea and gentle music. I find it romantic to sit by the window, watching the bare trees and glazed blue-grey grass. The wintery view opens my appetite to a whole new level. Not only do I want comfort, but color, joy and warmth.
I am fascinated by Russian cuisine, especially during winter. It symbolizes a culture I admire, filled with rich colors and different tastes I appreciate so much. I have always loved a borscht soup, and have fond memories of going to a very unusual restaurant in Hong Kong called ‘Queen’s café’. It was the very old one that closed down decades ago (there are new ones now but the atmosphere is modern and completely different). It was small and dark, the waiters were old Shanghainese men, dressed in white jackets and matching gloves. They were extremely grumpy. Queen’s café served Russian food, like borscht soup, potato salads, marinated chicken wings, nougats and delicious biscuits you could buy at the deli. There was an element of old-school Shanghai, influenced with Russian culture. I loved it. It was like a movie, so authentic and original. It’s one of those unforgettable moments linked with food. Ever since then, borscht soup has a special place in my food memoirs. Years later, during all my pregnancies, borscht was the food I craved most. Some of my favourite Russian places in Paris are ‘La maison du caviar’ (21 Rue Quentin-Bauchart 75008 Paris), Pétrossian (18 Boulevard de la Tour-Maubourg Paris 75007, and the Rachmaninoff conservatory in Paris where they have a very authentic Russian canteen-style restaurant in the basement (complete with a karaoke too!). The one I make at home is also very satisfying. The colour, the sweetness, the acidity that I crave, it’s all there.
Last week, inspired by the chilly air and the Slavic look of the landscape, I wanted to create a small Russian inspired feast, with home-made blinis, salmon, crème fraîche, dill, lots of borscht soup and a succulent beef Stroganoff. I usually make a lot of borscht so I am sure I can keep some for the next day. As for desserts, I served the Sarah Bernardt cakes (see previous post). They are all about Christmas, and it feels like a pleasurable duty to have one after each meal this month!
On another note, we made a few changes to Manger today, making it a bit more accessible and incorporating the new logo and icons, illustrated by the wonderfully talented Anna Bond from Rifle Paper Co. Merci Anna! The logo was inspired by a beautiful ceiling wreath from a nearby château in ruins we discovered this fall (see ‘From quail to quince’). Many thanks to Mr. Ingvi Guðmundsson for helping me with all the technical stuff and putting up the new site. Takk Takk. I am so grateful for working with such talented people!
450 g/1 pound beetroot, peeled and diced (save half a beetroot to grate)
50 g/ 3 tbsp butter
1 small onion (diced)
1 shallot (diced)
1 small leek (diced)
2 small carrots (diced)
1 stick of celery (diced)
1.5 l beef or vegetable stock
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
½ small cabbage, shredded
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp allspice
1 bay leaf
2-3 tbsp cider vinegar
Salt & pepper, for seasoning
Crème fraîche or sour cream, to serve (1 tbsp each)
Large handful of fresh dill, to serve
Prepare all the vegetables. Dice the potatoes, beets (keep one beet for later/grating), carrots, celery and finely chop the onion, shallot and leek. Coarsely shred the cabbage. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter on a low heat and fry the onions and shallot for 6-8 minutes. Add all the remaining vegetables, bay leaf, garlic and spices. Continue frying for 5 minutes so they are coated with butter. Add stock, mix gently and bring to a soft boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes, then add cabbage. Grate remaining beet in soup. Add a bit of water if needed. Simmer for a further 20 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Add vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve with crème fraîche/sour cream and dill.
Blinis: (makes about 50-60 small blinis)
80 g/ 3/4 cups buckwheat flour
160 g/ 1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp clarified butter
2 eggs (separated)
1 tsp baking powder
350 ml/ 1 1/2 cups full cream milk
80 g/ 1/3 cup unsalted butter (clarified)
1 tsp salt
For the clarified butter:
Heat unsalted butter on a low heat in a saucepan until melted. Let it simmer until it starts to foam. Skim off the foam and white parts and keep the clear ‘clarified’ butter.
Sift the buckwheat flour, plain flour and baking powder together. Whisk milk, 2 tbsp clarified butter and egg yolks together in another bowl. Mix dry ingredients with egg/ milk mixture, mix gently. Whisk egg white till stiff peaks, and gently fold in to batter.
In a large pan, heat a tbsp clarified butter and fry approx 1 tbsp of batter for each blini. When the blini starts to bubble (under one 1 minute each side), flip over. Serve with crème fraîche/ sour cream, smoked salmon/trout and fresh dill.
500g-700g/ 1-1&1/2 pound beef filet steak
300 g/ 2/3 pounds button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, ground
30 ml/ 1/8 cup cognac
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp mustard
2 tbsp plain flour (for dusting the beef)
80ml/1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream (you can add less if you prefer)
A large handful of parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper, for seasoning
Slice the beef into thin slices, across the grain, approx. 1cm/0.5inches wide. Dust beef with plain flour, salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil, fry the onion and garlic on a low heat for 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue frying until they turn slightly golden. Set aside.
Scrape off any bits in the pan, add 1 more tbsp of oil, and start frying the beef on a medium heat until all sides are brown. Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms, paprika and mustard. Stir, pour the cognac and let it reduce for 2 minutes. Simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes (you can add a bit of water if you find the beef too dry). Take off the heat, stir in the crème fraîche or sour cream. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with tagliatelle or rice.
53 thoughts on “Borscht, Blinis & Beef Stroganoff”
As usual a beautiful post.I love that you use filet for the stroganoff and cognac- I’ll try that next time instead of red wine.
Thanks Kim! I love using Cognac in my recipes, there’s an extra twist with the malty sweetness. Happy holidays! Mimix
YAY! new site looks fabulous, I love Anne Bond’s work and of course she did a great job on the logo.
Thanks Jennifer! So happy to have this logo! Have a lovely and happy holiday! Mimix
As much as I enjoyed reading your culinary blog, Mimi, I felt as if I needed to protect the real Russian Borscht recipe, as the one you’ve shared with us today is not authentic. Sorry, but we never use butter to fry the vegetables, nor do we dice beets or use vinegar. Cabbage is the last vegetable that goes into the Borscht followed by the tomato sauce. Adding beans is optional, but I think it makes Borscht taste so much richer.
Dear Olena, Thank you for your comment. I am very respectful of authentic recipes and cultural traditions. I have no doubt that what you are describing is the authentic Russian borscht, this is simply my personal version of borscht, perhaps with a French touch:) Mimix
Perhaps there are different versions of borscht? I have had one without beets, with a little meat, and clear, almost like a consommé. Your version looks delicious, Mimi, and a French twist is always welcome at our table!
I am with Olena on borsch. There is no celery in authentic borsch either. But some people add different vegetable roots, like parsley root. Actually, borsch is a Ukrainian dish. My maternal grandma was a Ukrainian and had a small farm. In spring when the chicken were still chicks, so no bird to slaughter for borsch, she would add fried fresh water fish at the end. That borsch was delicious and I still remember its taste. I’m sure, Mimi your version of borsch is wonderul! I would also like to add that blinu is an authentic Russian food and can be cooked with different kind of flour. They are thin and in shape look (and taste) just like French crapes. Those in the photo are called olad’ie (оладьи).
Love how hearty and perfect for winter all the recipes are. Thanks! Also I totally dig the new blog design. So pretty x subtle.
Merci Joy! I love the colors of this meal and it certainly brings comfort to the table. So glad you like the new blog design. Happy holidays! Mimix
Congratulations on the redesign – it looks fantastic! I’ve always been a fan of Anna Bond’s work. Her illustrations perfectly complement the Manger aesthetic!
Thanks Meredith! I was so happy to discover her work earlier this year – I am a fan too. Happy holidays! Mimix
Keep those wonderful stories, tantalizing recipes and dreamy images coming! I’m enjoying every bit. And the new design is simply beautiful. The little pheasant, the artichoke.. and not to forget the fox terrier in the logo. Very nice.
Thank you! I am so happy you to hear that you enjoy the new ‘look’. Happy holidays. Mimix
I love the new look of the site. And your Russian feast is just spectacular. Very authentic and makes me crave for stroganoff and a bowl of borscht.
Happy holidays for you and your familiy!
Thanks Svetlana! Wishing you a happy holidays! Mimix
I’m friends with Claire Hoffman who sent me this blog post. It’s lovely. Can you sign me up to receive your wonderful recipes and posts?
We have a Conan daughter from Claire.
So glad to hear from you! We also have a daughter from Conan (she’s the little black and white puppy in the photos) and her name is Honey Bee. To sign up to ‘Manger’, you have to click on the ‘follow’ icon on the bottom right corner of the window.
Congratulations on the new site design! I love the illustrations. They’re perfect and so whimsical. The heartiness of Russian food is something I crave in the winter months, too. And since we’re suppose to get snow on Wednesday, you’ve inspired me to make beef stroganoff again. I can’t wait! Wishing you and your lovely family a very merry Holiday season!
i am a new follower of yours and though my cooking days are in hiatus for now, I truly believe it is not my forte.
I actually love your blog for the gorgeous photos. I always appreciate to see what your Dogs are up to and love that you have so many .
I had 2 smooth fox terriers, the breed is so roguish and they do such memorable things. Much love to your pups, I miss my Toby and Moo.
Beautiful logo, love the whimsical photography and the food looks delicious and hearty, perfect for the cold season!
We’re expecting a big snow here in Colorado tomorrow night, and I was just thinking of making beef stroganoff! The meal looks wonderful, and so do the changes on your site!
Hi, Mimi) i’ve recently discovered your site and i really love it. I’m from Ukraine and my dad is Russian therefore i’m very familiar to Russian cuisine. And i cook the same borsch at home (without meat), but Russians cook it with beef and they say that ‘borsch is always better the next day’ – so you do the right thing cooking a bigger bowl))
I am going to try the stroganoff, which sounds simply lovely. But it does seem to me that the reciped doesn’t have enough liquid to “simmer…for 15 minutes.” Perhaps some beef stock added before the simmer?
The stroganoff is a delightful dish, it’s simple and so delicious. If you find the beef to be a bit dry, you can add a bit if water or if you prefer beef stock, then let it simmer. Adding the crème fraîche gives this dish a nice consistency. Bonne soirée! Mimix
Bonjour Mimi, fidèle de votre blog je découvre la nouvelle “haut de page” et ces jolis dessins très délicats. Bravo pour ces recettes que je teste parfois et qui font partie de notre patrimoine. Félicitations au photographe qui par son talent sublime tout cela et met en valeur les produits. A bientôt
Merci Lila! Je vous souhaite de très bonnes fêtes! Mimix
Beautiful entries, as usual. So visually delicious I have to make them, esp. the Sarah Bernhardt’s! And I love seeing the dogs. Have a joyous season.
Hello! I found your site about a month ago and I am just so in love with everything you do. In fact, it makes me sick because I want to live your life so bad. It is a bit of a problem because I end up being angry, only because I am so jealous. In any case, keep up the gorgeous pictures and the awesome food. I have yet to try a recipe but it looks like this might be the one!
The new crest is charming! I finally made the paris-brest ( though I used Tumbador caramel in place of the praline) It was lovely and garnered many compliments. Thank you, for sharing your stylish yet comfy recipes.My family is looking forward to the Sarah Bernhardt cakes on New year’s Day. Happy Holidays!
I love your blog and love the sweet changes you have recently made to it, especially adding the profile of one of your little dogs in the logo!
Dear Amy! Thanks for your sweet comment. Dogs are such a passionate part of our lives, they had to be part of the blog’s crest! Happy holidays! Mimix
Wonderful layout – I’m verry impressed about your specific kind of pics and your way of description. Very, very lovely and it always makes me dreaming of Medoc.
Wish you joel noel and I am happy to be able to read your blog.
Your photos are GORGEOUS and the recipes look fantastic. Cannot wait to make the Beef Stroganoff for my family – a perfect, cozy meal for a snowy evening!
Your blog is beautiful and the updates appear to have addressed a problem that I was having. Your lovely photos were showing as elgonated for me, and now they look great.
thank you for the lovely recipes. i can just imagine the perfect weather to go with borscht. i also love the drinking glasses that you use!
I don’t know which I like better, your words or the pictures–I love reading your blog and the dogs are adorable! :0) The new design is very pretty. Question: I never have cognac around, so would marsala work? I love beef stroganoff and am anxious to try your recipe. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
Merry Christmas from Médoc! Thank you so much for your kind words:) I think marsala would work – but I would add less since it is so sweet. Happy holidays! Mimix
Merci pour le conservatoire Russe. Je vais visiter leur “cantine” au plus vite. Joyeux Noël !
I remember our visits to Queen’s Cafe so fondly, and always think about it when in HK…..so sad that it’s gone x
Fond memories indeed! Merry Christmas Georgia!xxx
These photos are so achingly beautiful! Wishing you and your family a gorgeous and joy-filled new year! xo – Maia, Mike & Flynn Q
Mimi, I love your blog & discovered it through Roseline at this is glamorous. This recipe looks delicious! I’m wondering if you could tell me the maker/ brand of the plates in this post? I’m guessing they are vintage.. Thanks & keep the lovely posts coming!!
When you posted your blini and borscht recipes back in 2012, a friend and I immediately placed them on our “must make” list. This finally happened on Oscars night, and needless to say we very much enjoyed both. They made the evening that much more special, and we hope that you will keep posting such wonderful recipes.
Queen’s cafe HK relocated but is v much still alive!
In the stroganoff receipe, is the mustard dry or the prepared condiment type?
Bon jour, Mimi,
I’ve had this recipe in mind to make for some time and finally made it last Sunday for guests after church. Everyone really enjoyed it, including my children ages seven and four. (One guest especially noticed and loved the cognac.)
I had some roasts I needed to use, so on Saturday I browned and roasted the meat separately for a few hours in a Dutch oven, reserving the browning juices in the bottom of the pot. I also made the stroganoff sauce the day before minus the cream. I was a little concerned at the amount of paprika, it smelled too strong at first, but it was a perfect amount – it tasted wonderful! I added the juices from the roasted meat and topped the meat and sauce on pasta. It was tres bon!
The next day when the meat was gone, we used the remaining sauce on top of turkey tartine sandwich of sorts.
Thank you for your recipe! I would love to make a foie gras terrine next (for Christmas) and for during the week, the steak and mushroom Guinness pie.
From cold and frosty Minnesota
I happened across your blog just today while looking for truffle recipes 🙂
I see you are from Hong Kong – how wonderful! I, too, was born and bred there however am a lot older than you! I left HK in December 1974 and have not been back apart from 2 weeks in 1980.
I was blown away by your comment of Queen’s Cafe here! My parents were White Russians who lived in China, especially Shanghai, after the Revolution and who came to HK in 1937.
They used to have a New Year’s Day party every year and Mischa, who was the head honcho at Queen’s Cafe, used to make all the Russian dishes for the buffet!
My mother also used to go to get our kulich every Easter from Mischa, as did I when my parents’ left!
So … I just wanted to let you know that there is someone else who remembers that wonderful restaurant 😀
Love your recipes and I wish you great success with your cookbook!
You warm my heart – thank you for sharing these beautiful memories. I just wish I had more photos of that place. It was so special. My favorite meals there: the borcht, the russian potato salad. My father loved buying the salad and chicken wings for a take-away, do you remember the deli next door? They also had the best bread buns as well as nougat. What wonderful memories! Mimi x 🙂