Yesterday I hosted one of my book clubs at my house. For this particular book club the host usually chooses the book and then prepares food that is somehow thematically related to it. We’re doing a series on classics at the moment, so I chose Anna Karenina because it something I have always wanted to read but have never quite been able to force myself to sit down and do until now. Despite it’s length there wasn’t much talk of food in the book and looking through traditional Russian recipes did not leave me very inspired, so I got a little creative. Here is a picture of the meal just before we ate.
Clockwise from the back left corner:
- A simple salad of lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots. It is neither Russian nor something mentioned in the book but I decided we needed a vegetable given the rest of the menu. I briefly considered serving Russian dressing with it, but as it is both gross and not actually Russian I decided against it.
- Vodka to drink, of course.
- A strawberry tart and some whipped cream on the side, which is sadly very hidden in this photo. It’s a shame because it was probably the most picturesque thing on the table. They mention eating a raspberry tart in the book, but since strawberries are currently in season and abundantly available at the farmer’s market I made a strawberry tart instead. I used this recipe, but added a glaze made from apricot jam and Grand Marnier. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/strawberry-tart
- Pan fried halibut with a lemon butter sauce. In the book they mention eating turbot, but I was unable to find that particular fish. Recipes I looked at suggested halibut as an alternative. I used this recipe, but had to cook it much longer than indicated because halibut fillets are much thicker than turbot fillets. http://www.openfood.com/recipes/pan-fried-turbot-recipe/
- The wine glasses were for some white wine that does not appear to have made it to the table at this point. I couldn’t find a Russian wine, so I went for an Italian Pinot Grigio because Anna and Vronsky spend some time in Italy.
- Raspberry iced tea to drink because they mention drinking tea in the book and raspberry flavored because they mention eating raspberries. It was made with some raspberry tea I got on our Alaskan cruise a few years ago.
- Bread and goat cheese from Firefly Farms, which is a creamery in Accident, Maryland who sell their wares at my local Whole Foods. I’ve had several varieties of their goat cheese and can’t recommend it highly enough.
- Last but not least cheese blintzes with a blueberry sauce on the side, my one sort of real Russian dish. I used this recipe for the blintzes. It suggests having a helper to fill the crepes while you are cooking them. I’m sure I would have managed by myself, but must say that it was convenient to have my friend Alison there to help me assemble the blintzes. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pacificnw/2008766325_pacificptaste22.html I used this recipe for the blueberry sauce. It had a great flavor, but I’m not sure if I cooked it too long (I still cooked it for less time than the recipe suggests) or if I should use less cornstarch in the future but it wound up more like jelly than like the sauce it was supposed to be. No matter, it was still tasty. http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/homemade-blueberry-sauce-recipe/
I was trying all these recipes for the first time, but they’re all something I intend to keep in my arsenal for future use because everything turned out really well I think. Hopefully my fellow book club members thought so too.