Salmon and caviar blini cake

A really indulgent and admittedly slightly old-fashioned dish, this salmon and caviar cake reminds me of some prosperous years our family enjoyed in the 1990s, managing to recover from the blows of the collapsed Soviet regime. While the cake was the star show at most family gatherings, I remember really clearly the very first time I tasted it at my uncle’s and aunt’s dinner party. My adult self is pleasantly surprised to think that as a child I seemed to have really enjoyed the rather sophisticated taste of smoked fish and caviar. Risking living up to the cliché of wealthy Russians gorging on pancakes with caviar, I chose to include this recipe here simply because it is undeniably delicious. I mean what’s there not to like about a cake made entirely out of thin lacy crêpes, layered with fresh herbs, cucumbers, cream cheese, salmon and caviar! Of course, as any cake, it should be made for a very special occasion and treated with real awe. You can go retro with the decoration if you’d like to relive the 90s, or opt for a more contemporary minimalist look, as I did here. 


Makes 1 cake, 8 slices 

For the pancakes 

300g of plain flour 

2 pinches of salt

4 tbsp of melted butter 

1 egg

350ml of whole milk

300ml of boiling water 

50-70g of butter for frying 

For the filling 

400g of thick Greek yoghurt or sour cream

1 lemon, juiced and zested 

1 medium bunch of dill

2 tsp of pink peppercorns in brine 

4 tsp of capers 

2 tsp of jalapeños 

1 large cucumber, thinly sliced 

200g of smoked salmon 

200g of poached salmon 

50-100g of red caviar 

180g of cream cheese 

In a large bowl, whisk together plain flour, salt, melted butter, egg, whole milk and boiling water until you get a smooth runny batter.
Heat up a frying pan and melt a teaspoon of butter to grease it. Pour 1/2 a medium ladle on the pan and swirl around till you have one thin even layer. Fry on one side for about 40 seconds to a minute. Flip and fry on the other side for another 30 seconds. 

Stack the crepes on a plate and continue to fry until all the batter is used up. The mix yield around 30 crepes. 

To prepare the filling which will go between the layers of buttery pancakes, mix 400g of Greek yoghurt with juice and zest of 1 lemon, dill, pink pepper corns, capers and jalapeños, all finely chopped. Taste for seasoning and add a small pinch of salt if you like. 

To assemble your cake, add the yoghurt mixture between every two pancakes, and then alternate the layers of smoked and poached salmon, cucumber and caviar. Keep staking them up until you’ve run out of ingredients. You might have a few pancakes leftover, which is never bad news! 

To finish your masterpiece cover the entire cake with cream cheese before serving it proudly to your guests. Make sure they all take a moment to admire your creation and only then cut into it to reveal the beautifully coloured layers. 

A winter warmer classic

Every winter I get addicted to one ingredient and use it as widely as possible. Last year it was shallots cooked in butter, wine and herbs, this year it’s chicken! I’ve been pescatarian first about 20 years but after a year of breastfeeding my daughter my body demanded animal protein and chicken was happy to oblige. The daughter in question also influenced not only what but how I cook – mainly one pot or tray dishes that are easy to throw together (quite literally) with one hand. So a chicken soup / stew of sorts became my new staple. It really ticks all the boxes: a perfect winter warmer, it has all the nutrients my family needs, full of simply yet delightful flavour & it keeps for days!

I’ve made different versions of it so feel free to add your stamp. Mine is mainly dictated by what’s in the fridge and needs to go first. So it’s pretty green too in every sense of the word!


Makes 4-6

1.5 litres of chicken stock (home-made or cubes)

2 chicken legs or breasts

1 celery stick

1 broken onion

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons of capers

1 small bunch of parsley stalks & leaves

Splash of white wine

1 large yellow potato

1 tin of beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Lots of greens of choice – cavolo Nero, kale, Savoy cabbage

1/2 lemon

Salt and fresh pepper to taste


Heat up the stock in a pot and boil the chicken until tender and falls off the bone easily if using legs. Strain and pull the meat. Set aside.

Heat up some olive oil in a pan fry the celery, onion, garlic, capers and fund it chopped parsley stalks with some salt and Italian herbs for 10 mins until it starts to catch. Add a splash of white wine and increase the heat till the alcohol evaporates.

Add the fried stuff into the pot with the chicken along with peeled and cubed potato and beans.

Bring to boil and cook till the potato is soft. At this point add the greens and give them a few minutes only so they don’t lose their colour.

Take off the heat and squeeze half a lemon.

Season more to taste and serve with some cracked black pepper.

It’s a great way to use all sorts of greens that might be getting tired sitting around in the fridge. You can also swap potato for orzo or any other pasta which works just as well!

Salt&Time recipe: Buckwheat mushroom risotto

An old Russian saying goes: ‘Shchi da kasha pishcha nasha’
(good luck trying to pronounce that one!), which simply means
that Shchi soup and porridge are national staples. With buckwheat and mushrooms being amongst the most ancient ingredients of Slavic cuisine, dating far back into the Middle Ages, porridge with fried onions, mushrooms and soft herbs is an indisputable classic. Indeed, nothing can beat the combination of sweet, earthy and woody flavours that these ingredients produce when mixed together. Thinking of ways to elevate this simple dish,
I felt that all these flavours could be highlighted even more if cooked together as a risotto, with the addition of garlic, white wine, pine nuts and a pungent tarragon pesto. Having served this dish at one of my supper clubs, I received the best feedback from a guest who compared eating the dish to a walk through a Siberian wood. Well,bon appétit and enjoy your promenade!


20g dried wild mushrooms 100ml boiling water
2 tablespoons sunflower oil 1 small onion, finely diced 400g chestnut mushrooms,chopped
2 pinches of salt
4 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon finelychopped thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley, plus extra
150ml dry white wine
splash of soy sauce
400g roasted buckwheat
600ml vegetable stock
knob of unsalted butter
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
50g toasted pine nuts, to garnish

Soak the wild mushrooms in 100g of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oil in a medium pot and fry off the onions for a few minutes until they are translucent but not yet caramelised. Next add the chopped chestnut mushrooms, two generous pinches of salt and cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes.

Drain the wild mushrooms and chop them roughly. Reserve the liquid and add the chopped mushrooms into the pot, along with garlic and the herbs. Cook for another 5 minutes before adding the white wine and a splash of soy sauce. Turn up the heat for 5-8 minutes to let the alcohol evaporate, and then add the buckwheat. Lower the heat to a medium and stir well until the buckwheat soaks up all the liquid. 

Start adding the mix of mushroom stock and the reserved liquid in which the dried mushrooms were soaking, 100ml at a time, stirring constantly. Let the liquid get absorbed before adding the next 100ml. Continue until all the stock is used up. The buckwheat should be almost cooked by that point. 

Add a knob of butter and a pinch of salt, close firmly with a lid and let rest for 10 minutes. 

Serve with a sprinkle of pine nuts and some fresh dill and parsley leaves.

Order a copy of Salt and Time here

Salt and Time: Recipes from a Russian Kitchen

I’ve never been more excited about anything than being finally able to share some pretty amazing news! At the end of last year I have signed a contract with an incredible publisher – Octopus – and since then have been working on my first cookbook! Entitled Salt and Time: Recipes from a  Russian Kitchen, the book explores the culinary heritage that I grew up with, delving into the intricate history of Russian, Siberian and Soviet cooking. It will feature dishes dear to my family, recipes that I’ve discovered in Soviet and pre-Revolutionary Russian cookbooks as well as my own contemporary takes on classic flavour combinations. It’s been an absolute dream come true to work with an incredible team at Octopus, my agent, Zoe Ross as well as with a group of most talented women in the industry – Lizzie Mayson, Tamara Vos, Louie Waller and Charlotte Heal. 

Yes, I am particularly proud that this book has been created by an all-women crew! 

The beauty will be out on 7th of March 2019 but you can already pre-order it on Amazon.

Somebody, please pinch me! 

A woman’s place is in the kitchen?

For many of us, nurture is associated with women. From mothers’ first milk to our grannies indulging us with weekend treats, our caregivers while we grow up are most likely to have been female.

I was raised by three women in Soviet Russia during the 1980s, when a small apartment often housed several generations. This made for a powerful connection between me, my parents, grandparents and great grandmother. I learned from them; sometimes I felt that I too had lived through the Russian revolution, war and Stalinist terror, so vivid were their stories.

My home education also included rich culinary traditions encompassing Russian, Ukrainian and Jewish cuisines, and my earliest and strongest culinary influence was my great grandmother, Rosalia. A Holocaust survivor, she fled Nazi-occupied Ukraine in 1942 and settled in Siberia where she lived until her death in 2003. She’d witnessed grave atrocities and great deprivation, but Rosalia was one of the gentlest and most generous people I’ve known. For most of her life, she worked as a cook in Soviet canteens – so while I would hesitate to call her a chef, she was definitely a feeder who continued to cook until her very last days.

This love of sharing food was passed on to me. I hadn’t considered a career in cooking until four years ago. At the time I was working for London’s Russian film festival (I’d studied film before), but often found myself down the rabbit hole of Instagram looking at food. I saw people – including my Ukrainian friend Olia Hercules – making waves with their cooking. Having noticed the trend towards less formal dining experiences, I wondered whether there might be a niche for a cinema-inspired supper club, and KinoVino was born.

We are all familiar with the paradox: acts of feeding are associated with women, but remain limited to the domestic realm, while professional cooking is dominated by men. But that is changing. The internet and social media have helped blur the boundaries between the private and public, and while the implications of this can be mixed, it’s definitely for the better when it comes to food – and to the visibility of women cooks. Look no further than Mazi Mas in Hackney to see a venture that’s training refugee women in London to put their home cooking to work in order to find employment and make a living.

Meanwhile, Britain’s food scene, once defined by high-end dining, now includes supper clubs and street food, which offer opportunities for homely meals and, often, recreate the intimacy of a family dinner (and let’s not pretend these aren’t usually prepared by women around the globe). This is certainly what I try to achieve with KinoVino, which usually features women guest chefs. A very special energy is created when women make a meal and lay the table together. It allows us to establish a symbolic link to those who fed us at the same time as making our mark professionally.

It was in this spirit that chef Romy Gill asked me to take part in her all-female charity dinner The Severn Sisters Feast in Bristol last year, in aid of Action Against Hunger. Rather than making a political statement, Romy wanted this dinner to be both a celebration of female talent and an opportunity for women in the industry to cook together. Each chef was invited to create a dish meaningful to her. The food that decorated the tables reflected the mixed backgrounds of the cooks in the kitchen: Ukrainian dumplings with British spuds, Siberian pickled mushrooms beside an Indian curry. The feast will visit London’s Borough Market on 4 October, adding Ghanaian and Greek cuisines to the repertoire.

Inclusive, diverse, non-hierarchical, and seamlessly blurring the line between professional and domestic cooking: these are the hallmarks of women who work together in kitchens. Everyone is as uniquely qualified to cook and have an opinion about food as they are to eat it. My great grandmother would never have called herself a chef, but I think that if she’d lived in the food culture that I do now, here in London, she’d feel more proud of cooking to earn her keep than she did.

Some 50 years separate Rosalia and me as two women making a living as cooks. She never had the chance to eat at a restaurant. So when I’m peeling onions with my kitchen comrades in Borough Market next week, she’ll be firmly in my consciousness.

Originally published in

Return of the Magnificent Severn

Supper club pioneer Alissa Timoshkina explains how a team of extraordinary female chefs came together for last year’s Severn Sisters Feast and why she’s so excited that the gang is getting back for a repeat at Borough Market.

On a chilly November night in 2016 a group of women with a huge passion for food gathered at Bristol’s Yurt Lush to put on a feast for 75 guests to raise money for the charity Action Against Hunger. So began the exciting journey of the venture that is the Severn Sisters Feast. The project was not conceived by chef Romy Gill with a specific gain in mind—nor was it envisaged from the start as an annual event. All Romy wanted to do was to raise awareness about the important work of Action Against Hunger and create an occasion for so many wonderful women working in food to meet and cook together.

As one of the least experienced chefs, still relatively new to the world of food, I was humbled, slightly terrified and extremely excited by Romy’s invitation to take part. And boy, am I glad I said yes to her offer. The Severn Sisters Feast in Bristol was one of the most special events of last year, not only for me but for so many of my fellow ‘sisters’.

Together with our guests we raised over £3,000 for the charity, and many wonderful new collaborations were inspired that night. Having received great coverage in the press, the evening was also the subject of Sheila Dillon’s BBC Radio 4 Food Programme, after which we all knew the Severn Sister Feast must happen again. And so it will, on 4th October 2017 in the beautiful setting of Borough Market’s Market Hall.

Original sisters and new faces
Headed once again by Romy, the line-up will include most of the original sisters, including Rosie Birkett, Elly Pear, Xanthe Clay and Olia Hercules, and we are thrilled to welcome some new faces, like Maria Elia, Paula McIntyre and Zoe Adjonyoh. Our behind the scenes team is equally brilliant and includes such talents as Joey O’Hare, Maxine Thompson and Henrietta Inman.

Bigger in scope and ambition, the feast this year will be hosted by Mina Holland (Guardian Cook) and Kate Hamilton (Suitcase Magazine) and is set to attract over 100 guests. What can I say, we do like a challenge! While the menu is still top secret, you can get a taster of things to come during a series of sessions in Borough’s demo kitchen from some of the chefs: Olia, Zoe, Xanthe and me. For her demo on 28th September, Xanthe will team up with a microbiologist to explore the fascinating phenomenon of fermentation, while on 14th September I will draw on my Jewish-Siberian heritage to present some of my favourite dishes and drinks, adapting them to the produce available at the Market.

The magic of the special energy that is created when people gather around a long dinner table adorned with candles and flowers is beyond words. So is that special buzz that oozes from a busy kitchen where talented women conjure up a feast. Do come along on 4th October for this one-off experience!

Book tickets for the Severn Sisters Feast

Originally published on Borough Market blog



My re-constructed borsch

Borsch to Eastern Europe and Russia is like hummus to the Middle East. We all eat it, we all love it yet we simply can’t imagine that the other country does it better or is the ‘mother of borsch”. Some say it was invented by Russian Cossacks, other, more trustworthy sources, like Pokhlebkin, have confirmed that it is of a Ukrainian origin. I would say, let’s embrace all of these stories and celebrate our shared love of this simple beetroot soup. Here I am taking a bit of a creative license offering my own take on this iconic dish, which in fact, does embrace a few different cooking traditions, like the Ashkenazi and the Ukrainian ones, and offers a few alterations. Lovers of traditional borsch recipes, look away, this one is pretty iconoclastic!



Makes 4

1 large yellow onion

1 medium red onion

1 carrot

6 small-medium beetroots (raw)

2 red bell pepper

1 tbsp of tomato paste

1 medium red cabbage (fermented)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tin of red kidney beans

a bunch of dill

a bunch of parsley

salt and pepper to taste

black pepper corns

coriander seeds

bay leaf

unrefined sunflower oil

sour cream


Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a medium pot. Finely dice the yellow onion and grate the carrot. Fry in oil until slightly golden (5 minutes). Meanwhile, grate 4 beetroots and thinly slice 1 red pepper (removing the seeds). Add the beetroot and pepper to the pot together with the tomato paste. Season with salt to taste. Fry for another 5 minutes.

Top with 1 litre of water and add a bayleaf as well as some black pepper corns and some coriander seeds. Bring to boil.

Lower the heat and add 1/2 of the fermented red cabbage with the brine. Bring to boil again.

Chop the herbs and grate the garlic. Stir through the soup and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes.

Take off the heat and let it sit for 30 minutes to let the flavours develop more (this soup, like any other Eastern European classics involving fermented vegetables taste even better the next day).

While the soup is resting prepare the vegetables that will go into the final version of the dish.


Peel and chop in wedges. Dress with oil, salt and a dash of pomegranate molasses.

Kidney beans: if using tinned, drain and rinse. Dress with oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika.

Red onions: peel and chop in wedges. Dress with oil, salt and a dash of brown sugar.

Red pepper: deseed and chop in thin strips. Dress with oil and salt.

Arrange in small baking trays or oven friendly dishes and roast until cooked and crisp.

To serve:

Drain the borsch, you will be only using the rich and tangy broth, while the vegetables can be discarded, as they have lost their crunch and given all the flavour to the broth.

In soup bowls add a handful of red cabbage kraut and divide equally all the roasted vegetables and beans, top with the hot broth and add a dollop of sour cream and a generous sprinkle of fresh dill. The intensity of the flavours and textures of this dish is beyond words!

An Irishman walks into a bar …

An Irishman reviving authentic Russian vodka-making techniques combined with elegant branding and an eco-concious mission – what’s there not to like? So when Patrick Ryan got in touch with me to chat about his new product –  Ishka – and to see how we can collaborate, I jumped on the opportunity straight away. Sadly cultural stereotypes are hard to shake off and the vodka-drinking culture is laced with so many cliches, propagated both in and outside Russia, that this business definitely needs a fresh, new, dynamic voice, which Mr Ryan undoubtedly has. Intrigued as to why an Irish man (who speaks perfect Russian, by the way), would like to take on a mission of making vodka relevant, elegant and eco-friendly, I couldn’t resist asking Patrick to do a little interview for KinoVino blog. 


Why vodka?
I spent several years working in the Irish whiskey business, where I developed an understanding of how spirits are made and marketed. I then moved to Moscow and worked in the Irish Embassy (trade department). I spent a lot of time sampling with the locals! On top of that, Russians kept coming to me trying to sell good quality vodka that was really badly branded. They have this amazing heritage, but they don’t always market it that well. It was all bears, AK47’s and ‘ultra premium’ written all over the packaging. I understood why there were so few popular Russian vodka brands – it’s basically an image problem. The market is controlled by American, Swedish and French brands. It’s pretty strange given the drink’s Russian roots. I’m really passionate about Russian culture – there is so much there that people don’t know about, in terms of food, art, literature  and history. I spent a lot of time showing friends and family how to drink vodka the Russian way, and they all loved it. I decided I could do a better job marketing it than a lot of the existing brands, so I set about making one. 

What’s the origin of the name?
The name is a nod to the deeply shared origins of distillation in Europe. In Irish Gaelic, uisce (pronounced ishka) means water. Uisce beatha, water of life, is the old Irish word for whiskey. The word vodka also comes from the Slavic root for water. They used to call vodka zhiznennaya voda – water of life. It felt like a great name for Russian vodka made by an Irishman. I’m a bit of a language nerd, in case you didn’t guess. 
What makes Ishka different?
Water is at the core of everything we do. We use 100% pure H2O and bottle at 43% ABV. This really allows the quality and flavour of our spirit to shine through. The spirit is made from Russian winter wheat. This is a bit pricier than things like rye or potato, but you get a much lighter finish and a better mouth-feel. The Russian government grades all spirits produced in the country by purity, and ours is Alpha – the top rank. We are also lucky to work with a partner that has over 100 years of experience making vodka – these guys really know what they are doing. Aside that, we reinvest 10% of our profits in innovative projects that help to protect and repair our oceans. My main focuses at the moment are plastic collection and aquaculture, particularly seaweed farming.
How did you come up with the idea?
I spent about a year researching and contacting distillers. I found a producer I was happy with and worked with them to perfect a recipe based on feedback from focus groups. I wanted something, clean, smooth and classically Russian, with the very best quality ingredients available. I knew what made a good base spirit from my whiskey days, so I had that as a starting point. Our partner’s head engineers are great, they really know their stuff and helped us create an absolutely mind-blowing vodka at a really honest price. In terms of the packaging, I just played around on Photoshop until I had something I was happy with. The artwork is by an Australian artist – he’s brilliant!
What are the Russians saying about an Irish man producing vodka?
To be honest, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Russians are very proud of their culture, and rightly so. Most of them like to see a ‘Westerner’ casting it in a positive light. I have a few friends in the Russian economic ministry from my days at the Irish embassy, and they’ve been really helpful. 
Russia needs to diversify its exports at the moment and reduce reliance on oil and gas. Vodka is something they do well, and having an Irishman selling it arguably makes the job easier – we’re pretty likable folks!

Do you drink vodka much?
I love vodka, but not exclusively – I also like beer, whiskey and gin. Anything well made. I go for quality over quantity – I think that’s a trend in alcohol generally at the moment, and it’s great. I would rather people buy a bottle of Ishka once every couple of months than five bottles of Smirnoff!

What’s your favourite way to drink vodka?
In Russia, you drink quality vodka ice-cold and straight, with some specific snacks on the side. It’s a really fun and sociable way to enjoy your vodka.
I like Borodinsky rye toast with salo (bacon fat) and mustard, or pickled mushrooms and gherkins.
Obviously in Europe, we have much more of a cocktail culture – I really like this sour twist with two very Russian ingredient (raspberries and cranberry juice).
I call it the Malina:
  • 50 ml of Ishka
  • 8 Raspberries, muddled
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Dash of cranberry juice and simple syrup
  • Egg white 
  • Shake, strain and serve with a dash of bitters.

What’s your favourite thing to toast to? Do you toast?
Of course! You don’t spend two years living in Russia without toasting! It’s something we have in British and Irish culture too, but it’s not so common. It depends on the occasion. Generally, I toast to friendship. Russians are deeply loyal people, and take their friendships very seriously. I respect that.

Who is this drink for?
Ishka is an authentic Russian vodka for people who don’t drink rubbish. It’s for people who want the highest-quality vodka available, but don’t buy into the marketing nonsense involved in charging £35 – £100 or more for a bottle. 

Is vodka essentially a Russian drink?
 Ah – that old debate! If we look at etymology, we can establish pretty clearly that it’s a Slavic drink. There are a lot of Slavic countries that make great vodka. Even so, it was actually Italians that first brought distilling apparatuses to the areas that correspond to modern-day Russia and Poland. Of course, anybody can make vodka, but the Russians have been perfecting it for a long time. They know what they’re doing. I’m open to trying drinks from anywhere, but generally I drink my whiskey Irish, my gin English and my vodka Russian.
If you like Patrick’s philosophy and ethos behind Ishka, why not get involved to support his campaign and treat yourself to this pure water of life. Click here to find out more. 

Screen Grub. An interview with Calvert Journal

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London has a lot to offer even for the most spoilt foodies: Michelin stars, celebrated chefs, cuisines from all over the world. But just when it seemed there was nothing new left to cook, along comes Alissa Timoshkina of Kino Vino. Simply put, Kino Vino is a combination of a supper club and a film screening, with menus created especially by guest chefs to reflect the fictional world onscreen. You could call it the next Secret Cinema — in which you are invited to experience the atmosphere of film through food.

For Timoshkina, food and film have been passions for most of her life. “I have been working with film for a while, and have a PhD in film, and I’ve been cooking and hosting parties for as long as I can remember,” she says. The idea of integrating the two came on a trip to Cape Town during a visit to local vineyards. “I was very impressed with how eloquently sommeliers speak about wine and how it pairs with food, and after a few tastings I thought, why not to try and put on an event where wine, film and food would be thematically connected. The name sprung out immediately as in Russian it’s a very cool rhyme”, she recalls.

Timoshkina’s first supper club was based on Peter Greenway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover: a classic roast dinner with a lot of red wine to reflect the deep and rich colours in the film. The following editions spanned a variety of film genres and countries: Ukraine with Olia Hercules and Soviet witch horror Viy, Greece with Despina Siahuli and classic romcom Shirley Valentine, Georgia with Russian Revels and Tengiz Abuladze’s The Wishing Tree, Oliver Rowe’s take on British food based on Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox.

Timoshkina admits that in London, oversaturated with restaurants, food events and supper clubs, it could be quite challenging to stand out. “In our post-modern culture you need to have a mix of everything, people are not interested to go and just eat, they go for an experience rather than the food, they want something unique. Keeping up in London is a great challenge because people can get bored very quickly,” she says.

“People are not interested to go and just eat, they go for an experience rather than the food” Yet the main concept at the foundation of Kino Vino lies beyond trends and is quite simple: people sharing a unique moment. “What’s important to me is the idea of a gathering, of people coming together, something almost intimate when you watch a film together in a small group of people, laugh together, share food and wine, it’s a nice bonding experience”, Timoshkina says. “To me that’s quite special”.

We asked Alissa Timoshkina to come up with menus for some iconic films — both new releases and cult classics.

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Interview by Anastasia Fedorova

Originally published in Calvert Journal 

A Russian ‘zastolie’ dinner in Brighton




The lack of courage and self-confidence are definitely the things a lot of us are familiar with, myself included. Having adored cooking and hosting dinner parties for the nearest and dearest ones, it took me ages to pluck up the courage to start cooking for the people I don’t know (not to mention the people who are paying money for my food). Starting KinoVino was a really magical moment as through this project I have found the perfect outlet for the more confident film curator and the very shy cook in me. After a year of working with some of the most incredible, talented and intoxicatingly inspiring chefs in the KinoVino kitchen, I have learnt a whole lot of invaluable practical skills and most importantly that it’s fine to take risk and sometimes just go with it! And with it I went, when my dear friends form Brighton’s Cafe Noor asked me to curate and cook a meal for their upcoming Russian-themed supper club. Having already helped out on a similar one dedicated to Georgian cuisine and music, I knew that the format works so well: people are treated to a feast of national dishes with each course being punctuated by a session of folk songs performed by a choir.

Hailing from Russia, I have never been the biggest fan of my national cuisine, always drawn to the Mediterranean shores or the Middle Eastern spices instead. But this was a good time to re-connect with my culinary heritage and of course to think how I could re-interpret it a little to reflect my own cooking style and taste. The challenge was on and I could not have been more inspired or excited to have take it. This was my 6th collaboration with the lovely couple of Cafe Noor, so I knew we were in (each other’s) safe hands. I chose a menu of true Russian classics (after all, taking a risk is a great thing up to a point) which included a twist on a traditional ‘bread and salt’ welcome nibble, a quint-essential summer soup ‘okroshka’, two types of buckwheat kasha, and an amalgamation of my two favourite childhood deserts, which resulted in an apricot tvorog stuffed blintzes.
The night was a real delight, filled with lots of vodka shots and singing, both from the choir and our merry diners, with just the necessary dose of the crazy service adrenaline. So that’s the thing about lack of courage – it does feel incredibly rewarding once you manage to overcome it! Oh, and did I mention that we ended up feeding 50 people?



Hleb da sol’: a take on a traditional bread and butter welcome snack

Serves 4

4 slices of Borodinsky bread or rye bread with coriander seeds
40 gr butter
a large budge of fresh dill
12 spring onions
4 radishes
+ a vodka shot (recommended dose a minimum of 2 per person)


Make dill butter: in a food processor blend butter, salt and fresh dill until a smooth consistency is achieved.
Grill the spring onions: brush with some oil and throw on a griddle pan until scarred and soft. Add some sea salt.
Cut the radishes in thin slices.
Arrange individual ‘sandwiches’ with butter, onions and radishes with a bit of dill to garnish.

Okroshka: a summer soup
with salty yoghurt and horseradish sauce

serves 4

1 medium cucumber
4 hard boiled eggs
8 radishes + 4 for decorating
1 small bunch of dill
1 small bunch of chives
1 small bunch of parsley
120 ml pouring yoghurt
4 teaspoons of horseradish


Peel and finely dice the cucumber
Boil eggs, cool, peel and finely chop
Top tail and finely dice the radishes // leave some whole with leaves and slice in half
Finely chop all the herbs
Mix all together in a large bowl, season with salt and black pepper
Make pouring yoghurt: mix 60 gr of yoghurt with 60 gr of water and salt to taste.

To serve
Arrange the dry mix of herbs and veggies in plates with a dollop of horseradish, edible flowers, radishes with tops on, pour yoghurt from little milk jars once on the table