Tanya Zouev

As a kid, Tanya didn’t care much for her Mum’s take on this classic beet soup but now she’s grown to love it. Tanya asked her Mum to share the recipe with her (and us).

I have been admiring Tanya’s photographs for many years! Her work has been a source of inspiration for me. I was ecstatic when she agreed to cook for Who Does the Dishes. Here Tanya shares with us her mum’s Borscht recipe. While Borscht is usually a winter warmer, I can attest that it is still delicious when served on a hot summer’s day (It was a scorching 42˚c in Sydney on the day of the shoot).

When Tanya showed me her props cabinet in her garage, it made my day. I absolutely love the fact that these objects have their own history and now they make the rounds for others to use and enjoy. Tanya wrote a very good article about recycling other’s unwanted goods.

  • Who: Tanya Zouev
  • Home is: Northern Beaches Sydney
  • Family origin: Russia, Poland and China
  • I can’t live without my: Husband David and son Marc
  • Occupation: Food photographer, food blogger of The Cook Who Knew Nothing and mum
  • Dream job: I’m lucky enough to have been a photographer my entire career, though there are a couple of clients I’d love shoot for. I’d love to combine more photography with food writing, my two greatest loves other than cooking
  • Childhood taste: I had some strange tastes and as I was brought up on so many potatoes I loved crisps dipped in Dolmio pasta sauce. With my distinctly unsophisticated kiddy palate, I was crazy about lasagne, chocolate mousse and white bread chip sandwiches. My favourite crisps for the chip sandwich were Samboy chicken flavour. I also loved my Greek and Indian friend’s mum’s family cooking, especially kefthedes (Greek meatballs) and samosas
  • I will always have in my pantry: A packet of falafel mix for a quick nutritious dinner (I bake them), tinned chickpeas so you can make a hummus in a snap and rice crackers for my four year old who is addicted to them
  • The one place I must visit: Too many to mention and I can’t pick just one. India tops the list with Turkey following closely and Croatia
  • Go to meal: Rye bread with roast meat and pickles or smoked salmon, falafels with hummus, scrambled eggs with Indian tomato pickle
  • 3 Unforgettable meals: Incredible kokoda (citrus marinated fish) on my honeymoon in Fiji, chargrilled prawns on sugarcane skewers in regional Vietnam and funnily enough the best risotto I’ve ever eaten was in Moscow at the Grand Hyatt, it was asparagus and pea and was amazing
  • Perfect night in/out: These days it’s a bottle of wine with dips and crackers on the sofa with my husband after our son goes to bed. A bit boring I know but I had many many wild and crazy nights out before I became a mum so I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything
  • My piece of Sydney: My favourite part of Sydney still remains Surry Hills and East Redfern where I lived for seven years. I love the cosmopolitan nature of these areas, the diverse mix of people and the variety of restaurants and cafes
  • I do my groceries at: Locally in Dee Why and The Organic Food Network in Brookvale. My local fruit shop in Narraweena is a favourite as is the local Italian deli Rose’s Continental Deli where you can get great smoked meats and staples such as tinned beans and tomatoes. Also the Frenchs Forest Organic Markets though I do tend to spend too much money when I go as there is so much great food there
  • Guilty pleasure: Ice cream, champagne and hot chips. Even better if it’s all three at once. Also Yalla chocolate mousse with the raspberry sauce in the bottom of the container. Man, that stuff is good
  • Who does the dishes: Me mostly because I cook so much

There is a certain kind of art to food styling and watching Tanya carefully arrange and prepare the dish for the photo shoot was like watching her painting with food. View the images of this dish Tanya has photographed for her beautiful and informative wheat-free food blog “The Cook Who Knew Nothing”.



Prep time: | Cook time: | Serves 4 - 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 2 medium to large beetroots, julienned
2 medium carrots, julienned
1 medium parsnip, julienned
  • 2 cups savoy cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small red chilli *
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns
4 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups water **
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, rinsed under water then further finely chopped
  • 2 small potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 tsp sugar or agave nectar (or natural sweetener of your choice)
salt to taste
  • sour cream and fresh dill to serve

* though not a traditional ingredient, I often use one small red chilli when cooking borscht as I love the little bit of heat it creates against the sweetness of the beets
** if you prefer a stronger flavour use six cups of stock and omit the water

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy based pot such as a Le Creuset and add the onion, carrots, beets, parsnip, savoy cabbage, bay leaves, peppercorns and garlic. Cook for approximately 5-10 minutes until vegetables have softened and cooked down.
  2. Add stock and tomato paste and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat down to low and simmer for half an hour.
  3. Add potato and sauerkraut and cook for a further half hour. Also add the teaspoon sugar or agave/natural sweetener of your choice. The borscht should be very slightly sweet.
  4. Serve in large bowls with a dollop of sour cream and finely chopped fresh dill if desired. (Though to get the full Ukraine/Russian experience of borscht you really should!)
Posted: Feb 5 2013
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