Russian-style salmon cake with caviar
Have you even heard of the Listserve? It’s a daily newsletter sent by strangers to strangers. Basically, it’s a chance to email 22K subscribers about anything you want. Very often people write useful tips about random things in life, and sometimes they not only catch your attention but inspire you. Yesterday I read such email about the idea to make an Immigrants’ Cookbook. Here are some quotes I want to share:
I love food. I love everything about it. I love planning meals, shopping for ingredients, growing vegetables, searching for recipes, pottering around the kitchen, cooking, baking, eating, experimenting, reading, watching, sharing… I love it all.
Until recently though, I didn’t really understand how important food is to me — and my life. To make a long story very short, last October I ended up in hospital literally unable to eat. Over the past six months I have learned a lot about my relationship with food — and its role in my immigrant identity. I am from Canada, but now live in the United Kingdom. While food has always played a big part in my life, it has become increasingly important since living away from family, friends, and the familiar. I use food as a connection to home. And I know that I am not alone in this.
I grew up in Odessa, Ukraine. As I was born in Lviv, in the western part of the country, I never considered Odessa my home, although I lived there for more than twenty years. Lviv was in my childhood memories, as well as in my dreams. I truly love this city but never was serious about moving there back.
I believe, many people call home the place where they lived when they were kids. I don’t have such place, we not only moved to another city when I was six, but also moved a few times from one apartment to another in Odessa. There’s no room or apartment with lots of memories for me there. I always felt that an important puzzle was missing because I didn’t have my real ‘home’.
Later, when I started traveling a lot, a realised that Berlin for some mysterious reason feels like home. And now I’m in New York, my second home, a city I couldn’t even dream of. It’s strange that I call home cities that I don’t have a real connection to. I mean I built this connection from scratch.
To make a long story short, food plays a comfort zone role, and the idea of an Imigrants’ Cookbook relates to me a lot. If you cannot cross the ocean anytime you can cook a go-to comfort food to get the ‘right feeling’.
“I use food as a connection to home”. I’d even say that some particular dishes make you travel through time, and to different places. Moreover, with food you can explore other cultures. It’s especially easy in New York where you can find anything you’ll ever need.
This year we explore Portugal in our kitchen (check out the recipes of light and sweet orange cake and incredible tomato soup with poached eggs!). But today, I want to tell you about my go-to comfort food, while you can explore Russian/Ukrainian culture by cooking these paper-thin crepes.
Here’s what you need to make 8–10 crepes:
- 2 eggs
- 170 ml of warm milk
- 1/2 glass of flour (add 1 tbsp if needed)
- 20 g of butter
- 10 ml of vegetable oil
- zest of lime or lemon
- 3 tbsp of sugar
- pinch of salt
Crepes can be filled with just about anything. For this rendition, you will also need:
- cream cheese
- 200 g of salmon
- red or black caviar for topping
Mix the flour, sugar and zest. Beat eggs, one after another, then add melted butter and oil. Mix all together and then pour the warm milk in it while stirring constantly. Let it sit for 30–40 minutes.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour a scant 1/4 cup batter into pan; swirl to form an even layer. Cook until bottom is lightly browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Using a heatproof spatula, flip crepe; cook 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter.
While your next pancake is cooking, put the layer of cheese and randomly place boneless pieces of salmon. Repeat with the new crepes. Finally, put the caviar on top of the cake :)
It’s a typical dish for Butter week, Maslenitsa in Russian. I’m not a religious person but I definitely enjoy celebrating this holiday by eating crepes!