Olympics are a fine excuse to explore Russian food


When Americans think of Russian food, it’s generally the cliches — the beet soup known as borscht, or caviar-topped pancakes called blini.

But here are a couple different Russian recipes to get you in the Olympic spirit.

Sbiten

Sbiten is a Russian mulled honey drink. Served warm, it is similar to mulled cider. It’s usually served without alcohol, but certainly is delicious with vodka added just before serving. We also found it delicious with bourbon or cognac.

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 8

1/2 cup honey

12 ounces seedless blackberry or currant jam

3 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon whole allspice

1 tablespoon whole cloves

Pinch salt

7 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, then serve warm.

Nutrition information per serving: 170 calories; 0 calories from fat (0 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 45 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 43 g sugar; 0 g protein; 0 mg sodium.

Lemon syrniki

Syrniki is a farm-style cheese pancake, sort of a cross between cheesecake and pancakes. It can be served for breakfast, tea, a light meal or a snack. We liked ours topped with sour cream and jam, or fresh fruit and whipped cream, but you could omit the sugar and go completely savory, topping it with sour cream, chives and chopped ham.

Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours

Servings: 12

Two 7 1/2-ounce packages farmer’s cheese

3 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dredging

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Zest of 2 lemons

Vegetable oil, for frying

In a food processor, pulse the cheese until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir together with the eggs, 1/2 cup of flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and lemon zest. The dough should be soft and somewhat sticky. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Form the dough into small rounds, the size of a walnut. Flatten into patties, then lightly dredge in flour. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat about 1/4 inch of oil. Working in batches, fry the patties for 3 minutes per side, adding additional oil between batches as needed. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 140 calories; 80 calories from fat (57 percent of total calories); 9 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 55 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 6 g protein; 160 mg sodium.