Although I love watching all of the Olympics, the closing ceremonies are my favorite part. I am so proud of the American athletes who win medals of any metal, I need to celebrate their success in front of my television.
Sometimes I invite friends over to enjoy the entertainment and parade of athletes. But I’m just as happy sharing the festivities with only family. No matter what, I serve a menu typical of the country that hosts the Olympics.
With the Olympic games taking place in Sochi, Russia, I will start with a typical Russian appetizer: smoked salmon resting on black bread and topped with dollops of sour cream and a sprinkle of minced dill. Chilled Russian vodka presented in shot glasses is a must.
I suggest eating dinner in the dining room. But it is fun to serve dessert on the living room coffee table. On Feb. 23, as the closing ceremonies begin, you will find me seated on my sofa, mesmerized by the television. I will be sipping black tea and eating a baked apple drizzled with brandy — both very Russian.
Because beets gush a garnet-colored juice, it’s advisable to use disposable, surgical-style gloves while handling them. Peel and dice the beets, carrots, parsnip, turnip, potatoes and onion. Place them in a large pot and add the remaining ingredients.
Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce flame to a fast simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, or until soup reduces slightly. Meanwhile, boil the eggs, if using. Drain and cool to room temperature before chopping fine. Serve borscht hot with chopped eggs or dollops of sour cream.
Cut the potatoes into slices, no more than 1⁄4-inch thick. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium flame. Slide the potatoes into the oil and fry without turning over, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt while frying.
Turn the potatoes and add the onion and garlic to the pan. Sprinkle again with salt. Fry for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the bottom sides turn golden brown.
Place paper towels on a platter and move the potatoes and onion to the paper towels to drain. Move to a bowl and serve immediately.
Cut the roots off the bottom end of the scallions and discard. Rinse scallions under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Starting at the bottom end, cut scallions into thin slices, until the green part becomes coarse. Reserve.
Rinse fillets under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Reserve.
Place flour on a plate 1⁄2 cup at a time, adding more as needed. Beat the egg in a flat-bottomed bowl.
In a large skillet, melt the butter on a low flame. Meanwhile, dredge fillets in flour, dip in egg and then dredge again in flour. Place the fillets in the skillet and raise the flame to medium. Fry until the bottom side of fillets turns golden. Add more butter, if needed. Then turn the fillets over and fry the other side until golden brown. Move to a platter and arrange the lemon slices around the fillets.
Place the scallions into the frying pan and sauté briefly until wilted, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle scallions over the fillets and serve immediately.
In a small bowl, soak raisins in brandy for 1 hour.
Select a baking dish to accommodate 4 apples and coat it with butter. Preheat oven to 350˚.
Place a sieve over an empty bowl, and pass raisins and brandy into the sieve. Reserve the brandy. Cut the cores from the apples and discard.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the raisins, walnuts, cinnamon and honey. Stuff this mixture into the apples’ cavities. Place the apples inside the prepared baking pan.
Pour enough water between the apples so it is 1⁄2-inch deep. Drizzle reserved brandy over the apples’ stuffing. Place 1⁄2 tsp. of butter over the top of each apple.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until apples soften. Add more water to the pan if it evaporates during baking. Cool to room temperature and serve immediately with whipped cream, if desired.
Linda Morel is a writer based in New York City. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org .