Russian Season is a food blog on Russian and Eastern European cuisine, run by a mother and a daughter. All recipes are illustrated with step-by-step photographs.
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Ivanka has turned 2. Times flies? Just the opposite, it feels like she’s always been here with us, and I can hardly remember life without her. And compared to little Milena, Ivanka seems so grown up and clever that I probably expect too much from her. But she really does a lot! She can draw...
Ivanka has turned 2. Times flies? Just the opposite, it feels like she’s always been here with us, and I can hardly remember life without her. And compared to little Milena, Ivanka seems so grown up and clever that I probably expect too much from her. But she really does a lot! She can draw a face with eyes, nose, mouth, and a funny tuft of hair on the forehead. She watches the Swan Lake ballet every single day (!) and dances along (sometimes I just can’t fall asleep at night as the music keeps on playing in my head - I guess I know the entire ballet by heart now). She says funny things, for example ipk for the Russian word chleb (bread). She loves “totik” - “cake”!
Speaking of cake, for Ivanka’s birthday I made a brownie bottom cheesecake that I found at Roxana’s Home Baking. It looks simpler than a traditional layered cake, but tastes like heaven! The brownie base stays fudgy and moist even if it seems like you’ve desperately over-baked it (it took me a while to get center to set). So it’s a pretty fail-safe recipe with fantastic outcome! Well, my cheesecake was not as fluffy as in Roxana’s pictures, but I have an excuse :) The oven in the apartment we are now renting is pretty old, and all control signs have been erased off it. Our landlady said she used to set the controls at 7 o’clock position for baking (lol), I did the same… other baking options are yet to be explored by experience. I’ve tried searching the web for some images of this oven, to no avail - perhaps it’s just too old or it was not popular outside Eastern Europe.
There’s no need to copy the recipe here, as I followed Roxana’s recipe to the word, just made the cake larger in size, substituted true vanilla for vanilla extract, and decorated the cake with fresh berries. The cake was surprisingly easy to make! Beat ingredients for the brownie layer, bake, beat ingredients for the cheesecake layer, bake, decorate, done. Chill the cake and enjoy compliments!
And yes, we have just moved to another apartment. It’s small, yet we like it even better than the one we previously rented. It’s located in a quiet place near forest, and we have lilacs and robinias in front of our windows (compare to just clouds and more clouds we could see from our old apartment on the 14th floor).
Pictures from our new home to come in the next post. In the meantime, take a look at this lovely self-made toy bedspread my Mom gave to Ivanka for her birthday :)
Isn’t it cute?
As soon as I saw this recipe I knew Stano would love it. There was a lot of cheese and a lot of bread in it, and bacon and spring onions - and it was baked (his second favourite after fried)! So I made it on a Saturday while the children were sleeping, and we...
As soon as I saw this recipe I knew Stano would love it. There was a lot of cheese and a lot of bread in it, and bacon and spring onions - and it was baked (his second favourite after fried)! So I made it on a Saturday while the children were sleeping, and we even managed to watch about 1/5 of The Artist while munching on this delicious and flavourful fondue. Then the kids woke up and the same old story began… it took us 3 evenings to watch the entire movie!
And yes, you read right - there’re now four of us! Our little Milena was born in late April, she is a Dragon by Chinese horoscope (which I think is pretty cool), she has dark hair and is a little copy of her father - again! I was sure our second baby would look more like me, but no - she’s another tiny clone of Stano.
I’ve missed food blogging so much, so I’ll try to post new recipes every now and then. Not sure I’ll be able to reply to all the comments that have been added ever since though! Sorry - and a huge thankyou for your feedback, your suggestions and your questions! And here’s the recipe for this brilliant fondue cooked and served in a loaf of bread. There will be no dishes to wash after the meal, as the “spoons” are made of bread too!
Slovak Bread Fondue
Adapted from the Dobre Jedlo magazine (Nov 2011)
1 loaf of bread (we had a 350g one)
100g shredded Parmesan
100g shredded cheese like Edam
100g cream cheese like Philadelphia
300ml whipping cream
1/2 red or orange bell pepper
3 spring onions
Pinch of dried oregano
Cut off top of bread so that you have a lid for your fondue pot.
Carefully scrape out the crumb and cut it into smaller chunks. Set aside.
Cut bacon in small cubes and fry for 5-7 minutes until golden-brown. Transfer bacon onto a small plate and leave the fat in the frying pan.
Preheat oven to 190C.
Dice bell pepper and spring onions.
In a large mixing bowl, combine whipping cream and cheeses. Add diced pepper, onions, bacon, a pinch of salt, and oregano. Stir well.
Transfer bread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Using fat left from frying the bacon, brush bread on the outside and the inside. Pour the cheese mix into prepared bread.
Bake for 25 minutes, then open the “lid”. Place chunks of bread we have scraped out onto the baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil. Return baking sheet in the oven and bake the fondue and the “spoons” for another 10-15 minutes.
Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and serve!
Ahem… That’s me :] It’s been half a year since I first thought I should write a short post saying the blog was going on a hiatus… but there was always a hope that the following week would not be as hectic as the previous and that I would finally have some time to post a new recipe and...
That’s me :]
It’s been half a year since I first thought I should write a short post saying the blog was going on a hiatus… but there was always a hope that the following week would not be as hectic as the previous and that I would finally have some time to post a new recipe and a few photos. What can I say - hopes remained hopes! We do eat
occasionally, I still do cook for my family (there’s been a lot of lemon curd, minestrone, and chicken curry recently in our life), but I desperately lack time to take photos (especially now as there’s so little daylight) and write for the blog. So, all of my latest culinary achivements remain undocumented :]
Huge thanks to everyone who has emailed me and asked why and where I had disappeared! Special thanks to the ladies who helped me with European recipes for a Christmas feature on my website: Nancy, Barbara, and Miriam. My apologies for all the emails and comments I didn’t reply to.
I have no idea when we’ll be able to revive the blog, but this will certainly happen someday! In the meantime, how about taking a look or even posting some gardening- or flower-related pictures at Gardener’s Day :) That’s a project I started because I searched the web and couldn’t find any online galleries to share photos of flowers, gardens, and floral crafts. And with spring approaching, I thought that creating one would not be a bad idea. This is just a pilot project so to say… I don’t have the time to seriously work on its promotion and development. Just thought some of you might be interested. Of course I wouldn’t mind a short tweet mentioning GD, a facebook status or even a link :-)
So… RussianSeason will be back… someday!! Wishing you a lovely weekend with delicious meals! There’s a hot walnut bundt cake resting in my oven right now :) What are you baking for the weekend?..
Yesterday Ivanka finally allowed me to go veggie-shopping to the farmers’ market. She is learning to walk and she refuses to stay in her stroller for more than 15 minutes. The farmers’ market, however, is located in a 25 minutes walk from our home. She can make a few steps on her own or walk...
Yesterday Ivanka finally allowed me to go veggie-shopping to the farmers’ market. She is learning to walk and she refuses to stay in her stroller for more than 15 minutes. The farmers’ market, however, is located in a 25 minutes walk from our home. She can make a few steps on her own or walk for a longer time holding my hand, but this distance is still too long for her. Besides, where would I put all my bags if not into a stroller? I missed the splendid farmers’ market so much. The small market we have across the street just doesn’t compare with it - giant carrots, stinky garlic (last year’s leftovers?) and wrinkled blueberries are some of my anti-favourites. So I was extremely happy when Ivanka graciously allowed me to take her to that further market! We bought as much fruit and berries as I could squeeze into the baby-stroller bags.
It’s pretty amusing actually that our daughter already has her own opinion on a lot of things. She thinks, for example, that food crumbs that fall on the floor are the best delicacies ever. I just can’t stand the sight of her digging a tiny clot of yesterday’s omelet from under the stove and trying to eat it. I even started to mop the floor every other day: Sisyphean efforts, as a true foodcrumb connoisseur will always find something delicious even on a freshly cleaned floor :)
Some other things Ivanka thinks are cool include eating toilet paper, destroying flower pots and chewing shoe sponges. But of course there’re also a lot of good, and beautiful, and exciting things she likes. We were surprised to note that she prefers cats to dogs. She does like dogs, but when she sees a cat… she sings serenades, she’s in love! She loves to listen to music and dance and sing along. She loves flowers. Her favourite colour is yellow. I just think that’s so tremendous to discover her new preferences, likes and dislikes!
The sea buckthorns that I bought at the farmers’ market are also yellow. So I hope Ivanka will enjoy the juice. I plan to make a few jars of concentrated sea buckthorn juice for winter - the oily and acidic juice rich in vitamins C and E is a true elixir for the skin and hair. I think that wild blueberry and sea buckthorn are two of the most healthful and nutritious berries that grow here in Latvia. This variety of sea buckthorn has larger, juicier berries than the wild one; each berry is filled with turbid, oily, astringent liquid that need to be be mixed with generous amounts of sugar and water to become edible (drinkable?).
I’m not going to call this a recipe, but my suggestion is to use almost equal amounts of berries and sugar for a concentrated juice. Just a little bit less sugar - like minus 1 tablespoon for each 1/2 cup. A good idea is to dissolve sugar in a small amount of warm water before adding it to berries. I mash berries and put them through a sieve to get rid of skins and seeds. Then combine them with sugar - and that’s it. Note that this is a very strong and thick juice that just makes you gasp as you drink it. It’s an elixir, don’t forget. So of course you will need to add water - I find the 1:4 proportion pretty perfect (1 part juice and 4 parts water).
Now I wonder if these berries are available in your country?
When it comes to buying fruit, I always give preference to fruit that originate from a nearer country - local farmers produce being the perfect option of course. In January, when supermarkets run out of Latvian apples, I choose Polish because they look the worst. I mean, you will never convince me that apples that...
When it comes to buying fruit, I always give preference to fruit that originate from a nearer country - local farmers produce being the perfect option of course. In January, when supermarkets run out of Latvian apples, I choose Polish because they look the worst. I mean, you will never convince me that apples that keep until May are actually edible. No no no. So, while I’m always tempted to buy some of those crisp, green, glossy Granny Smiths, I opt for the slightly bruised, smaller apples from Poland.
If you take a look at these apples I brought from Slovakia, you will notice that they are imperfect. Their shape isn’t perfectly round, their colour isn’t perfectly even, their skins are bruised. These are real apples from Stano’s Grandmother. And I had to use them up urgently while they still were juicy and firm. And I had a block of margarine that also needed to be used up. So I started with these two ingredients, whipped up a flaky and a not too sweet dough, and tossed the apples with freshly scraped vanilla seeds (you can’t always use cinnamon with apples after all). Something else was missing. A layer of creamy and sweet coconut paste! Somehow I’ve never thought of pairing apples and coconut in a cake before, but surprisingly, they made a gorgeous couple! The sweet smell coming from the kitchen warmed up the chilly August evening, and the fact Stano had two (!!) pieces of the pie made me think it was pretty good. Of course he said he would have preferred it without coconut (he always chooses the right words, you know), but he ate it! So, let me introduce you my first lattice pie - you will notice that the lattice pattern isn’t perfect either, I made an error at a certain point, but this didn’t make the pie taste any worse. I love it the way it is. And the lattice - I will certainly do it the right way next time.
Apple Coconut Vanilla Lattice Pie
200g margarine, softened
2 1/2 cup AP flour
4 tbsp whipping cream
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp home-made vanilla sugar
Pinch of baking soda
- Apple filling:
8 medium-sized apples, peeled and cored
1/2 cup sugar or less if using a sweet variety of apples
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean, freshly scraped
1 tbsp starch (we use potato starch here)
- Coconut filling:
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp AP flour
Rub margarine with sugar and vanilla sugar. Beat in the egg and cream. Add flour and baking soda and knead the dough until smooth. Allow to chill.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Cut the apples into fine cubes (I used a potato cutter). Toss them with vanilla seeds, sugar, and starch. Set aside.
Combine coconut, sugar, flour, and whipping cream, and stir until well-blended.
To make lattice crust, I suggest following the instructions at Simply Recipes. I divided the dough into two slightly unequal parts however, and used the bigger part for the pie shell and the smaller part for the top crust. Spread coconut filling over the pie shell and then fill the shell with apple filling. Then, top the pie with lattice crust.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Cabbage with egg, sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs, is one of my childhood foods. Mom used to make it quite often, as it’s very quick to prepare and makes an interesting alternative to fresh salad. These days I have started making cabbage with egg again for Ivanka - and for us too. Ivanka eats in micro...
Cabbage with egg, sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs, is one of my childhood foods. Mom used to make it quite often, as it’s very quick to prepare and makes an interesting alternative to fresh salad. These days I have started making cabbage with egg again for Ivanka - and for us too. Ivanka eats in micro portions (where does all this energy come from?!), so now as she’s 10 months old and can eat a lot of things, it hardly makes sense to cook for her separately (you can always add more salt later). Cabbage is not something I’d like to have more often than once a week, but in summer, when it’s firm and green, there’s no reason to ignore it.
Cabbage With Egg
1 small head cabbage
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (or more)
3 tbsp butter
Fresh dill, fresh chives
Start by melting 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet and toasting the breadcrumbs with butter until golden and crunchy. Season breadcrumbs with salt as you toast them.
Halve the cabbage and cut each half lengthwise once or twice. Chop the cabbage into thin strips (the thinner the better, I believe).
Transfer cabbage to a large saucepan and add hot water to cover the cabbage. Bring water to a boil, add salt, and cook cabbage on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Strain water from the cabbage, return it into saucepan, and switch heat to low. Crack two eggs into the saucepan and stir well with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring over a low heat until the cabbage gets uniformly coated with egg (about 2-3 minutes). Stir in a spoonful of butter. Optionally, stir in some diced dill right before the cabbage is done.
Serve warm, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and chives.
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