Tatiana Zalozh and her sister, Natasha Kozhukharenko, both of Sedalia, usually only cook lavish Russian meals for special occasions and weddings, but recently they prepared several dishes for guests.
The women come from a family of 13, including their parents Mikhail and Nadia Zalozh, who came to the United States 19 years ago from Izmail, Ukraine. The family moved to the Sedalia area 12 years ago.
“We have the best parents, we do,” said Zalozh.
They credit their parents’ long, successful marriage to their father’s helpfulness in the kitchen. He would always be there to help cook and clean.
He now raises sheep for the family and gardens on another sister’s land nearby. The sisters also enjoy vegetable gardening and grow their own beets for soup.
Traditional beet soup, borscht, was often served in the family’s home as a first course.
“We put a little bit of garlic in the bowl and serve it with sour cream,” Zalozh said. “We love it with garlic.”
“And Russians sometimes eat it with onions,” added Kozhukharenko.
“Especially the guys,” Zalozh said. “They take a bite of borscht and they take a bite of garlic or onion.”
Russian meatballs, with a subtle taste of dill, are popular served with mashed potatoes.
“We don’t call them meatballs, we call them kotleti,” said Zalozh. “It has gravy with it and most of the time you serve it with mashed potatoes.”
“Or rice or noodles,” added Kozhukharenko.
Plov, a rice dish, is made with beef, bay leaf, garlic, carrots, cumin seed and cumin powder. It has a taste and aroma similar to flavors found in East Indian cooking.
“It’s actually a Russian traditional dish, but part of Russia is Kazakhstan,” said Kozhukharenko. “That’s where it came from.”
The sisters sell meat pirogi, homemade pickles, chocolate truffles, green iced tea with lemon and other specialty foods at the Sedalia Area Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Fridays. They often get requests for a Russian salad made with potatoes.
The salad, prepared with potatoes, pickles, boiled eggs, carrots, peas, and meat, is a favorite for people who have traveled and eaten it in Russia.
“This is a traditional Russian salad called olivie,” Kozhukharenko said. “People would come to the market and ask for it and say, “It sounds like I love you.” It’s similar to American potato salad.”
Kozhukharenko also loves to make cakes and often made them while living in the state of Washington. One, called spartak, is made with eight layers.
“It’s really fatting,” she said. “It’s made with butter, cream cheese, Cool Whip, and condensed milk and chocolate layers.”
“It’s all the good stuff,” added Zalozh. “All the skinny girl stuff! It actually tastes better if it’s a day old.”
“The layers are not spongy,” Kozhukharenko added.
“They’re almost like a shortbread cookie, but they’re not,” said Zalozh.
“I notice American people call it torte,” said Kozhukharenko.
When needed, she bakes cakes for the Izmail European Food Market in downtown Sedalia owned by her sister, Lily Pitsul.
The women remembered canning as children with their mother back in Izmail. Canning was a job where the whole household participated. Eggplant is their favorite vegetable, and they canned it often and still use it when cooking.
“We did it all together,” said Kozhukharenko. “Speaking of canning, we only had canned, no fresh (fruits or vegetables) during the winter time. Whatever we canned, that’s what we ate. We eat a lot of eggplant.”
“We make salads with them and relish,” Zalozh added. “My mom, in Russia, pickled them.”
“We would eat them with mashed potatoes,” Kozhukharenko added. “Eggplant actually has a lot of protein.”
“You know what else we do, is slice it and fry it,” Zalozh said.
“And then we take a whole piece of bread with mayonnaise with garlic and put eggplant on it with one slice of tomato,” added Kozhukharenko.
The sisters also like to make a simple yet delicious, eggplant Parmesan with eggplant purchased from the farmer’s market.
“We actually don’t eat like this anymore. Now we make a dish like eggplant Parmesan and make a salad. But if we have a wedding we make all of this,” said Zalozh.
Zalozh and Kozhukharenko hope to share their traditional Russian cooking with others in the community someday by opening a tea room.
“We have been thinking about opening a cafe,” said Zalozh. “It’s been my dream for a while.”
(Recipes provided courtesy of Tatiana Zalozh)
2 pounds cubed beef
6 to 8 beets
2 large carrots
1 medium onion
2 1/2 cups cabbage, shredded
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
1 large can tomatoes, sliced finely
1 1/2 tablespoons dill weed
2 bay leaves
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 minced fresh garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Thinly sliced green onion
Simmer meat until tender in water to cover for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Shred or dice beets, carrots and onion. Braise in two to three tablespoons of butter. Add tenderized vegetables and cabbage to meat and broth. Add to above sliced tomatoes. Add spices, lemon juice and sugar. Simmer until done. Top with green onion and sour cream just before serving. Serves 6 to 8 people.
Russian potato salad “Olivie”
6 large potatoes
2 average carrots
1/2 pound of your choice of cooked meat (beef or chicken) or mushrooms (vegetarian version) or shrimp (seafood version)
1/2 can of sweet green peas
Salt and pepper
Mayonnaise or sour cream
Boil potatoes, carrots, and eggs. Peel and cut all the vegetables in small cubes; cut pickles. Chop your choice of meat, chicken, mushrooms or shrimp.
Mix everything together; then add peas. Season with mayonnaise or sour cream. Add salt and pepper for your taste.
Eggplant Parmesan Bake
2 tomatoes (you can add any veggie you want)
3 cloves of garlic
Fresh Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice eggplants, then lightly brown them on the skillet, layer them in the baking pan, on each layer put some garlic and sautéed tomato and onions. Top it with Parmesan cheese, Bake on 350 for about 25-30 min.
2 cups flour
1 cup milk or water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound beef
1/2 pound pork
Salt and pepper to taste
Grind beef and pork twice in meat chopper. Then add chopped onion, salt, and pepper. To make mincemeat more tender and juicy, add a bit of milk. Reserve.
Mix flour with eggs and milk, salt and oil until a soft dough forms. Knead on floured surface until dough is elastic.
Take some dough and make a “sausage” (1-inch in diameter). Divide into pieces (1-inch thick). Roll each piece so that each is 1/16-inch thick.
Take a glass or a cup (2-inches in diameter) and make rounds on the dough. Fill each round with one-teaspoon of the mincemeat, fold into half-moons.
Pinch edges together and connect the opposite sides. Pelmeni can be frozen to be cooked later (you can keep them in the freezer for a long time), or cook immediately.
To cook pelmeni, boil a large amount of water, as they can stick to each other. Salt water. Carefully drop pelmeni into boiling water. Don’t forget to stir them from time to time. Boil for 20 minutes.
Served with butter, sour cream or vinegar, and ketchup
1 1/2 pound buckwheat
4 ounces mushrooms
3 ounces butter
4 eggs, hard boiled
2 onions, chopped
Boil crumbly buckwheat kasha in salted water. Boil mushrooms until they are ready. Fry chopped onions in butter. Chop mushrooms and eggs. Stir all ingredients into kasha, add butter. Put kasha in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes.