Using the best of the fresh, local produce in Daylesford, Alla Wolf Tasker shares her version of a Russian tasting plate, also known as a zakuska.







Skill level

Average: 4.4 (10 votes)

"With such a range of small dishes, you’ll need a pretty flexible drink and one that can compete with the acid of the vinaigrette and the pickling. You could go for a really crisp, dry Riesling, perhaps, but so long as you have a Russian spread in front of you, why not take the opportunity to discover Australian-made vodka. There isn’t a huge amount of it about, but look hard and you’ll find some beauties. No point making rubbish when cheap imported vodka is so readily available! This beast manages to balance the pursuit of purity and crystal-clean flavours with a bit of personality as well. You can thank the famous Tassie water for the first bit and the artisanal copper pot still for the last bit. Drink it neat, slowly and straight from the freezer." - Dan Coward


Fresh goat's curd

  • 1 litre goat’s milk 
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar or lemon juice 
  • salt 
  • soft herbs for flavouring as desired (e.g. chives, parsley, tarragon) 


Russian salad

  • 200 g beetroot, washed, roasted in foil, peeled, cut into 1 cm dice 
  • 200 g steamed potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 cm dice 
  • 100 g good quality dill cucumbers, cut into ½ cm dice 


Mustard vinaigrette

  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard 
  • 4 shallots, peeled, finely diced 
  • 60 ml red wine vinegar
  • 80 ml quality olive oil 
  • 160 ml grape seed oil 
  • salt and freshly ground pepper 
  • 1 smoked eel, skin on 
  • 300 g mixed wild forest mushrooms 


Pickling liquid

  • 2 cups water 
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar 
  • 2 tbsp salt 
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns 
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled, whole 
  • 4 tbsp sugar (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Drink match 666 Pure Tasmanian Vodka, Burnie, Tas

To make the goat’s curd, heat the milk gently to around 90°C and allow to cool slightly. You need it to be around 85°C.

Slowly add the lemon juice or vinegar. The curds should begin to separate. If separation does not occur add a little more lemon juice or vinegar. Spoon the curds out from the saucepan and into a cheese cloth or muslin. Tie and hang for 1 hour.

Season with salt and add the herbs as desired. Refrigerate.

To make the mustard vinaigrette, place the mustard, shallots and vinegar into a bowl and combine well. Slowly drizzle in the oils to emulsify. Season to taste.

To make the salad, combine the diced vegetables and dress with the mustard vinaigrette.

Peel the smoked eel, cut across the bone, into approximately 2 inch-pieces or longer if desired. Using a small sharp knife cut through the skin along the spine. Use your fingers to peel the skin away from the flesh. Serve pieces of eel either on the bone or use your sharp small knife to remove the flesh from either side of the bone.

To make the picking liquid, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes, and then allow to cool.

For the wild forest mushrooms, we pick mostly slippery jacks and saffron milk caps here in Daylesford and the surrounding region. All mushrooms should be brushed free of dirt and trimmed. Large slippery jacks should be peeled.

Slice the mushrooms finely. Place into a pot of boiling salted water and return to the boil. Continue to cook for 15–20 minutes. Strain and discard the water.

Spoon the mushrooms into a sterilised 500 ml jar. Pour over the pickling liquid to cover. Seal the jar and store in a cool place.


• Do not pick wild mushrooms unless you are with someone who is an expert and can identify edible varieties.
• For creamy goat’s curd, hang the curd in the muslin for 1 hour. For a dry, ricotta texture, hang overnight or add ½ cup of extra lemon juice when separating the curds from the whey.