The Food Lovers' Cookbook Collection
Classic Russian Cooking by Elena Molokhovets
Classic Russian Cookery: A gift to young housewives 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.
The edition 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: Soups Soup Accompaniments Sauces 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 read and a thought-provoking read made even better by copious footnotes and annotations by the translator.