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Holiday Feast From Russia, With Love

This week on the Early Show we are taking a holiday culinary journey around the world. On Monday we visited France, and had some bûche de noel, and on Tuesday we had Spanish lobster and clementine mimosas. On Wednesday we are sampling a Russian holiday feast.

If you are looking for good Russian food in New York, you don't have to look any farther than the Russian Tea Room. The Russian Tea Room was founded by a Russian ballet company. It closed for a little while, but was reopened two years ago, revamped and a bit more glamorous. But the tried and true feeling of the Russian Tea Room has never changed. The deep reds and greens of the first floor, the antique clock at the door, the leather booths, the tunic-clad waiters.

When you think of Russian food, the first thoughts that come to mind are hearty and comforting. Creamy blintzes, buttery Chicken Kiev and ruby red borscht. Petrous Moldovan, Chef de Cuisine at the Russian Tea Room, visited The Early Show to prepare these classics.

RECIPES:

Borscht

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/4 pound onions, peeled and chopped
1/4 pound carrots chopped
1/4 pound celery chopped
1/4 cup potatoes
3 1/2 cups beef stock
1 pound roasted beets, peeled 1/2 julienned 1/2 diced, reserving liquid
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Garnish: light sour cream (optional) and dill sprigs

In a large heavy saucepan over moderate heat, add the oil, cabbage, onions, carrots, celery and cook until translucent. Stir in the broth, the reserved beet liquid, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes then add the beets and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped dill. Ladle into bowls, spoon a dollop of light sour cream onto each serving and garnish with the dill sprigs.

Blintzes

1 cup milk
1/4 cup cold water
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups crème fresh
4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 cups fresh cherries or cherry pie filling
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Melted unsalted butter, for sautéing blintzes
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Combine the milk, water, eggs, flour, salt and sugar (making sure they're all the same temperature) in a blender or use a hand-held blender. Blend on medium speed until the batter is smooth and lump-free. Pour in 3 tablespoons of melted butter, blend to incorporate, refrigerate the batter to let it rest.
Put an 8-inch nonstick crepe skillet over medium heat and add a spray of nonstick spray for added assurance. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl it around so it covers the bottom evenly; pour back any excess. Cook for 30 to 45 seconds, until the crepe batter sets. Lightly bang the edge of the pan to loosen the crepe; then flip it and cook another 30 seconds (use a rubber spatula to loosen and flip the crepe). The crepes should be pliable, not crisp, and lightly brown. Slide them onto a platter and continue making the crepes until all the batter is used. Cover the crepes with a towel to keep them from drying out.

Cheese Filling:
In a food processor, combine the crème fresh cheese, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla , and blend until smooth. Chill the filling to firm it up a bit so it doesn't squirt out of the blintzes.

Cherry filling
Combine the, cherries, sugar, cornstarch, in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring up to a low boil and stir gently until the berries break down and release their natural juices. The consistency should remain a bit chunky. It will thicken up when it cools down slightly.

Assembly: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Divide the crepes in two, one for cherry and the other for cheese filling. Spoon 1/4 cup of the cheese filling along the lower third of the crepe. Fold the bottom edge away from you to just cover the filling; then fold the 2 sides in to the center. Roll the crepe away from you a couple of times to make a package. Use the same for the cherry filling. Place the crepes on baking pan.
Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes till golden brown. Using a spatula, transfer the blintzes to serving plates, dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve right away.

Chicken Kiev

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon copped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
1-teaspoon chopped chervil
1-teaspoon chopped dill
Zest of one lemon and lime
1-teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning chicken
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 large whole eggs, beaten with 1-teaspoon water
2 cups Japanese bread crumbs (panko), crushed with a rolling pin
Peanut oil or canola oil for frying

Combine butter, parsley, tarragon, chervil, dill and zests with teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place mixture on plastic wrap or waxed paper and roll into small log; place in freezer.
Place chicken breasts, 1 at a time, between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Sprinkle chicken lightly with water and squirt the top of the plastic wrap as well. Pound to no less than 1/8-inch thickness. Season each piece of chicken with salt and pepper.
Lay 1 chicken breast on a new piece of plastic wrap and place 1/4 of the compound butter in the center of each breast. Using the plastic wrap to assist, fold in ends of breast and roll breast into a log, completely enclosing the butter; roll very tightly. Repeat with each breast. Place chicken in refrigerator for 2 hours, or up to overnight.
Place egg and water mixture in 1 pie pan and 2 cups bread crumbs in a different pie pan.
Dip each breast in the egg mixture and then roll in the breadcrumbs, then repeat the process with the rest. Place in the refrigerator for one hour then re-dip the chicken.
Heat oil in a pot or deep fryer heat until oil reaches 325 degrees.
Gently submerse each breast in oil, and cook until golden brown, 10 minutes approximately, until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees. If the chicken becomes too brown turn the flame down to lower the temperature of the oil. Remove to a cooling rack set in sheet pan and allow draining for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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