Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook


From the robust foods of the Baltic states to the delicately perfumed pilafs of Azerbaijan, from borscht and beef stroganoff to the grains and yogurts of Georgia, Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman take Westerners on a spectacular tour of the many and varied cuisines of the fifteen former Soviet republics.

Anya von Bremzen, a native Muscovite, grew up on regional cooking and has traveled extensively throughout the former Soviet Union, visiting professional chefs, touring ...

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From the robust foods of the Baltic states to the delicately perfumed pilafs of Azerbaijan, from borscht and beef stroganoff to the grains and yogurts of Georgia, Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman take Westerners on a spectacular tour of the many and varied cuisines of the fifteen former Soviet republics.

Anya von Bremzen, a native Muscovite, grew up on regional cooking and has traveled extensively throughout the former Soviet Union, visiting professional chefs, touring markets, and sampling and gathering dishes. Covering eleven time zones and hundreds of recipes, Please to the Table brings to light the astounding culinary diversity of this corner of the world-and the similarities between the cuisines, too.

Here are Byelorussion Mushroom Croquettes, Armenian Stuffed Mussels, and dozens of other zakuski-the "little bites" that are the heart and soul of Russian meals. Soups from Armenian Lentil and Apricot Soup to Lithuanian Apple Soup with Apple Dumplings. Dozens of entrees including Uzbek Lamb Pilaf, Russian Salmon with Sorrel and Spinach, Azerbaijani Quail in Walnut and Pomegranate Sauce, Armenian Pumpkin Moussaka. And side dishes, salads, beverages, and desserts such as Russian Cranberry Mousse and an Almond and Pistachio Paklava. Plus vatrushki, pampushki, halushki, blinchiki, sirniki, and pirozhki. Winner of the 1990 James Beard Food and Beverage Book Award. Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club's Homestyle Books and the Better Homes & Gardens Family Book Service. 58,000 copies in print.

Priy.tnova Apetita-good appetite!

Discover the entire continent in this classic collection of 400 recipes. Please to the Table is the first book to interpret the joyous cacophony of Russian flavors, techniques, ingredients--even rituals. Winner of the 1990 James Beard Food and Beverage Book Award. Illustrations throughout.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Soviet cuisine has as many sides as the numerous nationalities and ethnic groups that comprise it in this fascinating compilation of regional recipes. The authors, a Soviet emigre pianist from Moscow and her British art historian husband, offer essays on the history of Russian, Baltic, Georgian, Central Asian, Ukrainian and Armenian foods, including the influences of climate, geography and conquest on the development of distinctive flavors. Classically Russian wild mushrooms and basic Ukrainian peasant borscht contrast with exotic Azerbaijani quail and pomegranate sauce and Uzbeki steamed lamb dumplings. Suggested menus also highlight the impact of other cultures on the vast U.S.S.R.: a Russian vodka party features French-inspired pate; an Armenian meze (appetizer) buffet with spiced feta and halvah is closer to the Middle East than the West; and a Passover dinner includes chicken pilaf with apples, raisins and quince, created by Jews of Bukhara, Uzbekistan, who now live in New York. Despite the chronic food shortages in Moscow that create a cuisine based more on processed food, vodka and frugality than on quality, the authors suggest that hospitality is the hallmark of the Soviet culinary scene. BOMC Home Style and Better Homes & Gardens Book Club selection. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Although this is probably the first of a wave of Russian cookbooks, until now there have been relatively few decent books in this area. The authors, a Muscovite who emigrated to the United States and a British writer, traveled all over the Soviet Union and throughout Russian communities in the United States to collect these 400 recipes. The dishes are amazingly diverse; in addition to the recipes, this ambitious work includes historical background, notes on special ingredients, and sections on specific cuisines. An essential purchase. BOMC HomeStyle and Better Homes & Gardens selections.
School Library Journal
YA-- This creative cookbook has a wide variety of recipes covering many aspects of Soviet cooking. All are easy to read and follow, and are accompanied by a short history of the area or region in which the food originated as well as descriptions of feasts from literary works and sample menus for all occasions. Pages are peppered with short quotes from Russian and foreign authors extolling the virtue of the food. There are proverbs and folk sayings, as well as a helpful list of sources for some of the exotic herbs and spices used in the recipes. A perfect opportunity to absorb some history and culture while cooking.-- Catherine Bryan, Jefferson Sci-Tech, Alexandria, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780894807534
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1990
  • Pages: 688
  • Product dimensions: 7.24 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Like most of the culinary world, food and travel writer Anya von Bremzen has Spain on the brain. But unlike those who have recently discovered Spain's sophisticated flavors and innovative charms, Anya has spent the last 10 years writing about Spanish cuisine and culture. A contributing editor at Travel + Leisure, she has pioneered Spanish cuisine in publications like Food & Wine, Departures, Conde Nast Traveler and the LA Times.

In her latest tour de force, The New Spanish Table, Anya reveals the Spain she knows and loves, peppering delicious recipes with historical tidbits, cooking hints and true Spanish hospitality.
In addition to The New Spanish Table, Anya is the author of four ethnic cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-winning Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook, Terrific Pacific Cookbook, The Greatest Dishes!: Around the World in 80 Recipes, and Fiesta! A Celebration of Latin Hospitality, which won Anya her second Beard award.

When she's not in Spain or traveling to some exotic locale to try a new restaurant, Anya lives in New York City.

John Welchman, who is also the co-author of Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook, is an art historian and travel writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Village Voice, The Economist, and Artforum. He is a professor of art history at the University of California, San Diego.

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Table of Contents




"You must make sure that your mind dwells on nothing but the wineglass and the appetizer," said Anton Chekhov. Accompany chilled shots of vodka with a glittering array of little dishes-Caviar Tartlets, Tiny Meatballs with Pine Nuts and Raisins, Swordfish with Zesty Tomato Sauce. A most inviting way to begin a meal.


Much more than borscht: fragrant Pomegranate Broth from Azerbaijan; hearty Byelorussian Wild Mushroom and Noodle Soup; Armenian Lentil and Apricot Soup-so gorgeous in taste and color; refreshing chilled summer coolers. Ingenious combinations of flavor and seasoning.

SALAD Salati

Cod garnished with cornichons, potatoes enhanced by Bulgarian feta and lots of dill, a classic Salad Olivier. Beautifully composed and mixed salads, simply dressed, as luncheon or first-course dishes.


BEEF AND VEAL DISHES Govyadina i Telyatina

Catherine the Great preferred her beef boiled with pickled cucumbers and a sauce of smoked reindeer tongues. Not to everyone's taste, perhaps, but here are perfectly marinated Georgian Beef Kabobs, a piquant Veal and Quince Stew, the classic Beef Stroganoff, and of course, boiled beef-no reindeer tongues, but with two savory sauces.


Enticing ways with lamb. Choice cuts combine with exotic spices and fresh herbs to create grilled kebabs from Uzbekistan, a warming lamb casserole from Georgia, and a yogurt-enriched Armenian stir-fry.


"Pork is the real hero of the feast," or so thought Nikita Vsevoldovich Vselolzhsky, a nineteenth-century gourmet. Garlicky sausages with pomegranate seeds from Georgia. Rich satisfying pork and sauerkraut from the Ukraine. Luscious roast suckling pig. Exquisite aromas fill your house as you feast.


Crispy Chicken Kiev; Grilled Chicken with Garlic and Walnut Sauce; and the classic Chicken Pozharsky, a dish immortalized by Alexander Pushkin. In Russia, when company is expected, a hostess turns to her extensive collection of Poultry recipes.


". . . There's nothing I'd rather do than fish," reflected Anton Chekhov. Sturgeon and smelts, carp, haddock, and the sweetest, most delicate-tasting trout; Baked Fish with Eggplant and Pomegranate Sauce; and an elegant Steamed Salmon with Sorrel and Spinach Sauce.



In the Soviet Union there is a simple reverence for an unblemished potato or a splendid, crunchy carrot. Unpretentious dishes are prepared from cabbage and beets. But there are also savory wild mushrooms, eggplant ragout, the quintessential fried potatoes. And a host of irresistible stuffed vegetables.



It is said that while swooping through Central Asia, Alexander the Great summoned a local soldier and bade him prepare a dish that would be proper nurture to a fighting man, an inspiration in taste. Of course, the soldier brought back his best pilaf.



Vareniki, Pelmeni, Haluski, Manti, and more. All the wonderful dumplings and their fillings-potato, meat, sauerkraut, sour cherry, and creamy cheese.


Together with salt, bread is the ancient symbol of Slavic hospitality. In fact, a Soviet house without it would be unthinkable. Riga Rye Bread, Steamed Cilantro Buns, Kulebiaka, Khachapuri, Pirozhki, and Pirogs-a selection of fragrant loaves and luscious savory pies.



An elegant table laden with tartlets, lovingly filled crepes, and delicate cookies. Accompanying all this, a beautiful samovar to keep the tea warm.

FROM THE PANTRY Domashniye Zagotovki

Jars of crunchy Armenian Mixed Pickles, Moldavian Red Pepper Relish, Sweet and Sour Beet Salad. No Soviet meal is complete without at least on tantalizing side dish.


Blini for Malenitsa (the Butter Festival; a sinfully rich kulich as well as a pashka for Easter; a unique gefilte fish for Passover; a festive, layered yeast cake for Christmas; Distinctive celebrations and traditional rituals.


A dense cup of Turkish coffee so popular in the Caucasus; tea, Russian style with jam; marinated compotes, sherbets, and other surprising fruit drinks. Plus a selection of beloved vodkas-and to avoid embarrassment when among Russians, an essential, step-by-step guide to downing a shot.


DESSERTS Sladkiye Blyuda

Lavish Chocolate Meringue Cake, Sweet Strudels, Charlotte Russe, pies, and custards-all handed down through generations of Russian babushkas. But also Almond and Pistachio Paklava, Poached Quinces, and Saffron Pudding for a touch of the East.

BASICS Osnovniye Retsepti

The essential stocks, pastries, and sauces.


A few words on some ingredients that may be unfamiliar.


A listing of shops that will mail-order harder-to-find ingredients.


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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    Delicious food!

    Got this cookbook to use for our dinner club. Great selection of recipes which were easy to follow and gave a lot of good background. Rave reviews from all the dinner club! Will definitely try some more recipes from this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2007


    I've taken an interest in Russian cuisine to keep my husband from feeling too homesick. He enjoys much of what I've made using the book, but the downfall is it makes him even MORE homesick. The stories behind some of the dishes as well are very fun to read, while looking for a recipe.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2006

    Another pretty good find

    I like cooking and enjoy reading anything that has to do with Russia. Pretty good book on the recipes from the Iron Curtain and beyond.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2004

    A Wide Variety of Russian Cuisine

    This book has many recipes to choose from.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2004

    Very nice collection

    I saw this one in the local Barnes and Noble. It is the only other book that was in the store, except for Tastes and Tales from Russia. The book is a nice combination of Russian Cuisine.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

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