On Wednesday I got back to work from vacation and was reading my email and the New York Times was like, you should make broccoli rabe lasagna this weekend, and I was like, YES IN FACT I SHOULD. I very impressively went grocery shopping after work the next day in the middle of a polar vortex or whatever it is this time (it WASN’T THAT COLD, PEOPLE. You all need to spend a winter in Estonia). (Or Siberia, I guess. But I got there after January and it wasn’t that cold. Only like -10°C. I once told my teacher I was cold and she gave me this very pitying look and said, “This is very warm for us.” But now I know that she was doing that thing where you try to seem cool by pretending you’re not cold. I have embraced it, as you see. But it’s really not that cold here though. The inside of your nose doesn’t even freeze.)
Anyway, I decided there was no need to leave the apartment all weekend, since I had to finish copyediting (I want to link to the book but I can’t decide if I shouldn’t???), and also use the cold as an excuse to have a much-needed two full days without talking to anyone. I had stocked up on baking and food things, so in between copyediting I made toasted rye molasses chocolate chip cookies (we hate Chris Kimball now, though, right? oh well) and pear bread and watched Good Behavior, this show I became obsessed with on the plane back from Shanghai and which caused a rift in my friend group because I said the main guy was the hottest guy of all time and none of them agreed. Anyway, a lot of exciting things happened on the show, so I made extensive mistakes in the baking processes, but it’s fine.
So beautiful cookies. They taste like normal cookies.
Here commences the Great Soviet Experiment (or perhaps, that is, the second Great Soviet Experiment). I will be cooking something from each former republic, in order, because I am back in America and have nothing to do and miss the Soviet Union (historically and geographically).1 (That is, I will do this one and then probably forget about the whole thing.) I’m starting with Azerbaijan because it comes first in the Russian alphabet, and I’m doing this from a Russian cookbook.
It’s called Cuisines of the Caucasus and Central Asia, by William (or Vil’yam) Pokhlyobkin (Вильям Похлёбкин)—he’s also done cookbooks on the Slavic countries and the entire Soviet Union, which I thought was what I bought, but I guess it was too heavy so I got this one instead. It was a while ago in Bishkek, I don’t remember anything. (Important note about Pokhlyobkin, whose name is impossible to spell in English: it seems like he’s an expert on Russian cuisine, and just sort of decided to branch out into Central Asian and other former Soviet, so we should maybe not trust him too heavily. But it is nice to use the Russian-language cookbooks that one has bought. Also, apparently he once got into trouble for writing a book about tea.)
Anyway. For Azerbaijan, we are doing a chicken plov (#plov), because most of the other dishes were much meatier (mostly lamb), and no. Plov is basically a dish of rice and meat from Uzbekistan/Turkey/many other places that they eat all over the former Soviet Union because, at least in Russia, they are obsessed with the food of their culinarily better neighbors/take-over-ees. There are literally entire books about plov, which is something I would like to own, so I will not go into more detail on it here. It is very complicated.