Constantin Korovin ‘At the Tea Table’

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Constantin Korovin

Constantin Korovin was born in Moscow on December 5th, 1861 into the family of businessmen. Constantin and his younger brother, Sergey, also a future artist, were brought up in an artistic atmosphere, they received drawing and painting lessons since their childhood. In 1875, Constantin entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 1881-1882, Korovin spent a year at the Academy in St. Petersburg, but returned disappointed to Moscow. In 1885, Korovin made his first of many trips to Paris and Spain. In 1896, Korovin designed, to great acclaim, the pavilion of the All-Russian Exhibition of Arts and Crafts at Nizhnii Novgorod. In 1900, he designed the decorations for the Central Asia section of the Paris World Fair; the same year he was awarded the Legion of Honour. In 1923, Korovin left Russia never to return. He spent the last 15 years of his life in France supported by Shalyapin, he worked for theatre as a stage designer. The artist died on September 11th, 1939 in Paris.

 

At the Tea Table

The full representation of the beauty of nature and a strive towards a “truth of vision” are two of the main points in the art of Korovin, devoted to Polenov in Zhukov, where Korovin spent the summer of 1888. His works of art, made during that time have a special feeling of a lot of natural sunlight in them and bring light to anyone who has the pleasure of observing them.

One of the central paintings from this cycle is the one titled “At the Tea Table”. The first thing in the painting we notice are the four figures sitting at the table. These are all close friends of Korovin and his family, however, neither they, nor their appearance are what concerns the painter in this work. It is the representation of the atmosphere, which cannot simply be pinpointed to a specific part of the painting with the eyes. To some extent this painting reminds us of the works of Renoir – it is filled with air and light. Korovin just as well managed to capture the beauty of the summer morning, those early hours when it is easy to breathe, to fill your lungs with fresh air.

The colour scheme in the painting remains extraordinarily clean, everything is shining, silver reflections bring light and air into the masterpiece. The general feeling is of warmth and comfort, which is even more so amplified when we take a clearer look at what is laid out on the table. The steam rising from the samovar gives us the impression of a slight summer breeze, which helps us feel the ever so slight rustling of the leaves of the trees in the background. All of that combined everything is brought together as one flawless harmony of colours.

 

Recipes:

  • Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 600 gm (1 ½-lbs) sirloin steak tips
  • 400 gm (14 oz) mushrooms (quartered)
  • 125 ml (1/2-cup) Worcester Sauce or soy sauce
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) dry mustard power
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) sugar
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion (chopped finely)
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) tomato paste
  • 20 ml (4 tsp) unbleached flour
  • 85 ml (3 fluid oz) white wine or dried vermouth
  • 350 ml (12 fluid oz) beef stock
  • 120 ml (4 fluid oz) sour cream
  • 15 ml (1 Tbl) parsley (chopped)

Directions

  1. Marinate the sirloin tips in Worcester Sauce or Soy Sauce at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Sauté the mushrooms in white wine and butter and set aside.
  3. Combine the mustard powder and sugar with 2 tsp of hot water until it forms a paste.
  4. Skim a 30-inch sauté pan with the oil and heat until smoking. Pat the marinated meat dry, and sear until brown on both sides. Set aside.
  5. Add the onions, mushrooms, ground pepper and ½ teaspoon of coarse sea salt and brown for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and flour and cook until vegetables are coated.
  6. Add the stock, wine and mustard paste. Bring to a simmer and scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen browned bits.
  7. Reduce heat and cook until sauce begins to thicken (5 minutes).
  8. Slice cooked sirloin diagonally, approximately 7 ml thick. Add meat and any juice to the sauce and cook until beef is warmed through.
  9. Remove the skillet from the flame and allow to cool until simmering stops. Add sour cream and 1 Tbls of wine. Serve garnished with parsley.

Note:

Classic Beef Stroganoff does not call for any additional spice, but you can take a leaf from the Chinese cooks, and add paprika or a dash of cayenne pepper to give it a slightly more exciting flavor. Correct seasoning to your own taste.

Serve with sautéed straw potatoes and pickled cucumbers, red wine, or, as Count Pavel would:  with a shot of icy cold vodka!

 

Kulebyaka – Russian pie

The yeast dough:

3tsp/5g instant dry yeast

100ml warm milk (or warm water)

2tsp white sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 tsp salt

200ml milk (or water), at room temperature

100g butter, melted

~600g all-purpose/plain/white flour

  1. In a cup, stir warm milk, sugar and yeast together. Let stand until foamy about 10 minutes.
  2. In a big bowl, crack eggs, add sugar, salt, milk, melted butter and stir together. Add sifted flour, yeast mixture and knead the dough until it’s smooth.
  3. Cover the bowl with wet cloth, put in a warm place and leave to rise for 1 hour. After the time, knead the dough again. Repeat this step one more time.

The quantity of dough is enough for kulebyaka and one big pizza.

The filling:

600g fresh salmon, cut into small cubes

100g basmati or jasmine rice, cooked

200g mushrooms, sliced and fried

1 big onion, sliced and fried

4 eggs, cooked and chopped

2+2 Tbsp finely chopped dill and parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The glaze:

1 egg yolk beaten with 2Tbsp milk, 1/2tsp salt and 1/2tsp sugar

Assembling:

  1. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to approximately 26cm*35cm rectangular and 6mm thick. You can roll the dough on a piece of baking parchement, thus it’ll be much easier to transfer the pie on a baking tray; moreover, you need to turn the pie upside down-the sealing should be on the bottom.
  2. Coat the rolled dough with the pancakes.
  3. Place the egg and herbs mixture lengthways down the centre of the dough.
  4. Then arrange the mushrooms and onion mixture on top.
  5. Next, arrange rice. And the last layer-salmon.
  6. Cover the filling with pancakes, shape it to make a rectangular.
  7. Then, fold the dough and seal the edges.
  8. Transfer the pie upside down to a baking tray.
  9. Decorate with pastry trimmings, and cut two slits in the top with a sharp knife.
  10. Keep for a proofing for 20 minutes. Brush the pie with egg wash.
  11. Bake in preheated 200C/400F oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden.
  12. Leave to cool slightly for 15 minutes before slicing.
  13. Serve with a glass of milk or a cup of freshly brewed tea.

Enjoy kulebyaka!

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