Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Swapper Profile: Olga Trusova + Borscht Recipe

I am so happy to introduce Olga Trusova with our next swapper profile! Olga is a one of our star swappers who has been attending our swaps right from the beginning. After our first event, she offered up her fabulous garden with an unbeatable view where she and her boyfriend Jim hosted our second swap last June. I'm always excited when I see her name on the registration list — not just because I will be delighted to see her again — but also because you can count on Olga to bring something that is both very unique and very delicious! Some of her past swap items have included Candy Cap Mushroom Sugar Cookies (foraged from an undisclosed CA location), Rugelach and Farmer's Cheese. Read on to learn about some traditional Ukrainian dishes including her recipe for borscht, what inspires her in the kitchen, and her biggest (yup, it's actually big) food surprise.

Olga showing off the latest in headwear
Name: Olga Trusova (@olga_t)

Home (+ hometown swap): San Francisco / SF Swappers

Profession: Designer

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago? 
I came to the very first food swap thanks to my neighbor, Chef Stephanie, who is one of the SF food swap organizers. Stephanie and I met in Bernal Heights last year and had an instant connection around our passion for food. I offered my house for the second food swap and it was a blast! Now I'm a regular.

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?
My mother and I made traditional Ukrainian dumplings ("vareniki") with potato-mushroom filling. We are both originally from Ukraine and decided to share one of the most popular winter dishes from that region of the world. Winter is actually one of my favorite seasons, in part, because of Ukrainian Christmas - the biggest holiday of the year for us. On Christmas Eve, twelve meatless dishes are prepared and served to family and friends with the first rising star (read more about it in my guest post on The Pickle Project blog).

Making vareniki, Ukrainian dumplings

Vareniki at the December food swap

Olga & her mom Luda at the December swap

What’s your favorite thing about swapping? Food, of course! And people :)

Who or what most influences your cooking? My heritage, but also traveling. A while ago, my boyfriend and I took a year off to travel around the world, and that has become an endless source of inspiration for our cooking. 

Have you tried Ca cuong?
What’s your favorite kitchen tool? Whisk. 

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession? Nutmeg.

Biggest food surprise? Ca cuong (I first tried it in Thailand): 

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be? Ice-cream!

When I'm not in the kitchen… I'm working on my startup: http://gratitude.is

Favorite local food experience: A small "no-name" taqueria on 24th St. (yummy horchata and freshly-made guacamole)

Recipe by Olga

Here is a recipe for borsht (you can make it veg or non-veg; I think beef-based borscht is the best :)


1-2 Russet potatoes
1 large onion
2 large carrots
2 medium size beets
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cabbage
1-2 tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
a few celery sticks
parsley, dill, cilantro
salt, pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
1-2 cans of vegetable or beef broth (if you want to make your own beef broth, rinse and boil a few chucks of meat on the bone, remove the meat and use the liquid, add small chunks of meat back into the borscht when ready to serve)

Saute onions, garlic, celery; add pureed tomatoes (without the skin), sugar, and tomato paste - mix well and add to a large stock pot. Finely slice carrots and beets like matchsticks, add to the pot. Fill the pot with vegetable or beef stock and water. Bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Simmer on medium. Peel and cube the potatoes, add to the soup. When beets and potatoes are almost done, add finely chopped cabbage. After the soup is ready (basically, when all the vegetables are cooked - but not overcooked!), add parsley, dill, cilantro. Serve hot with sour cream and garlic bread rolls (just brush warm dinner rolls with a garlic-oil mixture - 4 cloves of pressed garlic + 2 tbsp canola oil + salt). 

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