- Paperback: 688 pages
- Publisher: Workman Publishing (11 January 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780894807534
- ISBN-13: 978-0894807534
- ASIN: 0894807536
- Product Dimensions: 19 x 3.9 x 23.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.2 Kg
- Customer Reviews: 83 customer ratings
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
129,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #31 in Russian Food
Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook Paperback – 11 January 1990
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From the Back Cover
PLEASE TO THE TABLE encompasses the exhilarating pleasures of Soviet cooking-of robust Ukranian borschts and classic Russian cuisine, of healthy Georgian grains and yogurts and the delicately perfumed pilafs of Azerbaijan. Its 400 recipes are a revelation.
From the Baltic Republics: Cold Veal Meat Loaf with Horseradish Sauce. Pork Chops with Apples Braised in Beer. Carrot Baba. Estonian Rye Cookies. Black Bread, Apple, and Cherry Pudding.
From Russia: Sour Cherry Soup. Shchi. Chicken Cutlets Pozharsky. Steamed Salmon with Sorrel and Spinach Sauce. Fried Potatoes with Wild Mushrooms. Blini. Russian Cranberry Mousse.
From the Caucasus: Armenian Lentil and Apricot Soup. Grilled Chicken with Garlic and Walnut Sauce. Grilled Trout with Tarragon. Asparagus with Egg, Garlic, and Lemon Sauce. Saffron Pudding.
From Central Asia: Asian Radish Salad. Uzbek Lamb Kebabs. Spicy Carrots with Cumin Seeds. Chicken Pilaf with Nuts and Candied Orange Peel. Poached Quinces.
From the Ukraine: Borscht with Apples and Beans. Potato, Feta, and Scallion Salad. Chicken Kiev. Roast Pork Loin with Caraway Seeds. Vareniki. Almond Raspberry Torte.
Anya von Bremzen, a native of Moscow who emigrated to the West in the mid-1070s, is a food writer and food consultant. John Welchman is a travel and food writer who, like Ms. Von Bremzen, specializes in writing about the former Soviet Union. Together they spent three years working on PLEASE TO THE TABLE, traveling extensively through the former USSR, visiting professional chefs, touring markets, and sampling and gathering dishes.
About the Author
In addition to The New Spanish Table, Anya is the author of four ethnic cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-winning Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook, Terrific Pacific Cookbook, The Greatest Dishes!: Around the World in 80 Recipes, and Fiesta! A Celebration of Latin Hospitality, which won Anya her second Beard award. When she's not in Spain or traveling to some exotic locale to try a new restaurant, Anya lives in New York City.
John Welchman, who is also the co-author of Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook, is an art historian and travel writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Village Voice, The Economist, and Artforum. He is a professor of art history at the University of California, San Diego.
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Everything in it is mouthwatering, & it’s possibly one of the only books with introductory/contextual/personal anecdotes that I actually enjoy reading (I’ve read them and not even cooked!!). One of my favourite recipes has to be: Grilled Chicken with Garlic and Walnut Sauce from Georgia (p224). You marinate the chicken in lemon, garlic and tarragon for 6+ hours, then grill (over coal and vine leaves if you have them) & serve with this phenomenal garlic, coriander, lemon and walnut pesto, garnished with sprigs of fresh tarragon, mint and coriander - Oh My God. Want to eat healthy but feel uninspired by “healthy+recipes” on Pinterest.... this is full of things that would be both healthy and just plain scrumptious.
This book seriously deserves a reprint - don’t know why it every went out of print.
Top international reviews
Firstly the book is in need of a revamp... mentioning how difficult things are to obtain is not quite true anymore, and especially here in the UK. Take a ride between Leyton and Walthamstow (London) and if you haven't found at least a dozen Eastern Eurpopean Mini Markets, then you are really not looking. Most all of the ingredients, with the exception of some of the more exotic are available on this short stretch of road, so supplies are not a problem; I realise though that the book was written for the North American market, however the global village has expanded at a fast rate since this book was first published and a revamp could take that into account: Saying that, any book with a list of suppliers in it is going to be outdated very quickly and this book is no exception.
Secondly, the book could do with some pictures in it... anyone trying to make Pelmeni without having first seen the dish may be in a little trouble and end up making Ravioli... Any recipe book worth it's salt needs a photo or two and basically, without the inclusion of any photos, this book is almost reminiscent of a Soviet Era cookbook of the 50s.
Finally, the inclusion of some of the narrative adds nothing to the book, unless you hanker for the "Good Old Soviet Days" and standing in a queue for hours on end waiting for a chicken or piece of sausage.
On a final note and in spite of my last comment, the inclusion of some of the Russian (and other nationalities) customs around food and drink were interesting. But the cooking of food is just one part of enjoying cuisine from another country... to enjoy the cuisine fully it is so much better to get into the culture and let's face it, in Russia, food is a "culture".
In conclusion, if you are looking for something more than just recipes and want to know more about the culture of "Russian" food then this is the book for you, if you want just recipes and some photos of what the finished product should look like, you may be a little disappointed!
My grandmother had The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food, endorsed by Stalin , and I have been impressing all my friends with the Kulebiaka fish pie after reading the recipe again
The subtitle (The Russian Cookbook) is somewhat misleading: the recipes go far beyond Russian cuisine and cover as vastly different regions as the Baltics, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. I believe, the author attempted to incorporate too many recipes from the former Soviet republics, often at the expense of Russian dishes. For instance, I searched but couldn't find the Russian/Ukrainian classic holiday dish of kholodets, also known as studen, which is an astonishing omission.
As far as cooking is concerned, the book is not easy to use: the Contents has narratives instead of dish names, chapters are poorly organized and include Appetizers with dishes from various cuisines, then cuisines by the region. In the Russian Cuisine chapter I find Uzbek dishes. I could never figure out the structure of this book or where to look for Russian dishes.
The recipes are rather complicated and time-consuming, but then, most old country recipes are like that.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend it as a cookbook, but as a pleasant reading and a nice present for someone who is interested in the diverse regions of the former USSR.
The author went out of her way to make the recipes adaptable to Western grocery and produce selections, and she did a pretty good job doing that.
I happen to disagree with some of the reviews that claim that the book is poorly edited and is "stretching" the content by padding it with "useless notes" in margins and other things. I think that the authors made a very fine job adding quotes from Russian favorite writers, anecdotes, and humorous stories, representing common habits and ways of the Soviet era. After all, for many people a cookbook is not merely a list of recipes, but an exciting opportunity to learn about other peoples and cultures.
I made quite a few dishes following the recipes religiously, and they all turned out great. Sure, my mom probably cooked some of these things slightly differently, but I believe if you follow the recipes, you will get a very good idea of what they should taste like, even though the groceries you are using are different from those available in Soviet Union.
Where this book is thoroughly lacking, it's in complete absence of food photos of any kind, and somewhat chaotic organization. Chapters listed in the Table of Contents are merely general description of the content, there is no way to search by recipe, unless you know its exact name, in which case you use the Index. Also, it would have been nice if the short stories in margins had some kind of search mechanism as well.
Even with all its flaws, the book is an excellent reference, both culinary and cultural. I would definitely recommend it to my non-Russian friends as well as former compatriots.
One annoyance is that a printing error has left out about 25 pages. The recipes stop on page 612, which is in the midst of the “basics” section—kind of crucial info about how to make stocks, etc. Then, the book jumps to page 637—letter G in the Index—finishes correctly on page 659, and then reprints pages 637 to 659 again. Kind of a bummer.
In recent years I have gotten away from buying cook books because I don't use them enough. They seem to have only one style of food. This one still hasn't even made it to my shelf because I keep using it because it is great for everyday cooking and weekend cooking when I have more time and fits so many different moods.
I rarely buy or use cookbooks anymore, but I’m a bit of a slavophile and love to cook, and wanted to delve into Russian cuisine. I’ve made 9 different recipes from this book so far, and they’ve all turned out exceptionally well. You can tell the authors put a lot of time into testing the recipes, because each thing I’ve made has had such a perfect balance and depth of flavors. I’m that person who usually feels the need to tweak most recipes (add way more garlic, less sugar, etc) but I wouldn’t change a single thing about any of these recipes so far.
I disagree that the recipes are complicated or call for hard-to-find ingredients: they all seem quite simple, in fact, which is why I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by how flavorful and complex they all taste!
My favorite so far has been the pork and prune stew... but on the other side of the spectrum, the bulgar pilaf with garlic tahini sauce was also superb.
I also appreciate the lack of photos- it shows that it can stand on the merit of its recipes, rather than the allure of overly-romanticized, digitally altered food pics.
However, I do have 3 Big problems with this book:
1 - most of the recipies here are NOT for traditional Russian dishes. Former Soviet Union nations like Georgia and Armenia have really tasty food but it is very different from the type of things ethnic Russians eat. If you're looking specifically for Russian dishes, this book doesn't give that many options.
2 - this book is for cooks with A LOT OF TIME ON THEIR HANDS! Busy Russian women just don't spend all day to make borscht from two dozen ingredients. If you don't have all day to cook, you will get pretty frustrated with huge ingredient lists.
3 - many recipies require ingredients that aren't easily found in grocery stores. If you don't live in a major city where there many ethnic and specialty grocery stores, be aware, you may have to improvise or order things on-line