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Russian, Eastern European and international cuisine brought to you by a mother and a daughter

Honest Scrap Award

Minced Lemons

I haven’t written anything for ages - in fact we haven’t cooked any new dishes either, because I’ve been swamped with work and minor (yet annoying) troubles. Sometimes I feel like I’m a type of person who-does-everything-in-the-wrong-time. I mean, one and the same thing can be considered good or bad, depending on the time when it happened. Say, you recieved a gift - a piece of jewellery you’d been dreaming of. That’s good. But if you received it the next day after you finally bought it yourself… that’s bad! So I feel like I need to synchronize my chaotic activities with the flow of time. And then I’ll be back to my Tao :)

Honest Scrap AwardAnyways, I’ll be certainly cooking this weekend. In the meantime, I’m excited to tell you about the Honest Scrap Award I received from Spicie Foodie! Nancy is Mexican, currently living in Europe - I guess somewhere in the Eastern part of it, as she wrote a perfect recipe for Czech Knedliky, and recently she posted a wonderful recipe for Beef Pepper and Mushroom Barley. Thank you so much for the award Nancy! And I enjoyed reading your 10 honest things - I actually share your 1st one! ;-)

According to the award rules, I now have to tell you 10 honest things about myself and pass on the award to 10 fellow food bloggers who are honest in their approach to blogging.
So,

10 honest things about myself

1) I work as a Press Officer, and Mum is a graphic artist.
2) I am the only person in the family who does a 10 to 18 job. Everyone else is self-employed or has a flexible schedule. Well, my schedule is not that strict anyway ;-)
3) I’ve always brought foods from all my overseas trips, instead of “normal souvenirs”.
4) When I read a book and a book character eats an apple, I rush to the kitchen and grab myself an apple too.
5) My favourite sweets are Italian. I love them all!
6) Coffee means absolutely nothing to me.
7) I strongly prefer milk chocolate to dark (which is probably mauvais ton?)
8) I have eaten fermented shark in Iceland. The trick is to eat it outdoors, in the frost, and wash it down with Icelandic vodka.
9) Mum and me like to hum to ourselves while cooking.
10) I’m always worried about my English, so Cambridge Dictionaries Online is one of my Top-10 resources.

And I would like to pass on this award to bloggers behind the following blogs:

Sunny-Side Up Recipes
Cooking With Thas
Vegetable Matter
Newly Nutritional Britt
The Colors of Indian Cooking
P.Tsaldari
J. Christina Huh
My Fabulous Recipes

Of course I understand if, for some reasons, you cannot accept the award. But I really do think you deserve it!

Update: Okay I found out some of the bloggers I mentioned have already received this award, and some don’t participate in awards, so I listed 8 bloggers instead of 10!

Mimosa Layered Salad

Mimosa Layered Salad

Doesn’t this salad look like a work of abstract art?

The name Mimosa (wattle) comes from the colour and texture of this salad. Bright orange carrots and egg whites with mayonnaise are topped with small yellow grains of egg yolk, which look exactly like fluffy mimosa flowers. Yes, yes, I know mayo would put off many of you. But, there are solutions. Use light mayonnaise that is low in fat, or make your own! I haven’t tried preparing my own mayonnaise yet, but I’ve seen the process of making it and that didn’t look like anything too complicated!

We also like our Mimosa salad with canned saury fish instead of tuna. It’s not as fancy as tuna, but it has a richer, smoky flavour and it’s more salty.

Oh and I am already thinking of a menu for my birthday, which is at the end of the month (I wonder how many Aquarians are reading me by the way?!). I’ve found these Italian White Wine cookies which I might try – they look very simple and light and airy. I don’t feel like baking any great pies or cakes (like we did for New Year’s), rather something petite and feminine. But I really don’t know what… I mean I can’t choose. I have so many bookmarks of fantastic recipes I’ve found online, that I guess I’ll have to close my eyes and click on two or three random recipes!

Speaking about bookmarking recipes, how do you manage your online culinary archives/discoveries? Do you use your RSS reader, or your browser bookmarking system, or an external social bookmarking service? I’m curious as it’s been only half a year and I’m already desperate to keep my favourites in order…

Mimosa Salad with Tuna fish and carrots
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Apple Pancakes with Burnt Sugar Sauce plus More Winter Pictures

Apple Pancakes with Burnt Sugar Sauce

I’ve always loved burnt sugar. I love the simplicity and rusticity of those hard, translucent lollipops that you can make by chilling burnt sugar syrup; they’re golden-brown like amber and smooth like ice. We found this recipe of burnt sugar sauce in our old Rumanian cookbook (I’ve mentioned it before). I’m used to trusting their recipes, but the first attempt with the sauce resulted in a very runny, thin substance, so we had to considerably reduce the amount of water and milk. Also, I found out that the sauce needed to be cooled well before serving: it’s still too runny when warm. The sauce tasted of milky caramel with a hint of bitterness – that mild kind of bitterness that you find in, say, coffee.

I’ve always loved apples as well. Tart or honey-sweet, green or red, almost any kind, as long they are hard (can’t stand those mushy sorts) and as long as they smell like apples. Not like apple candy, apple shampoo or apple bubble gum, but like real, organic apples! The smell of fresh apples is charming and modest, it’s delicate like silk and melancholic like autumn; it’s one of Nature’s greatest, basic perfumes.

These pancakes are made with local apples that smell of rainy days, and kefir* – sour fermented milk drink. That’s why the pancakes are pleasantly sour-ish.
*If you cannot find kefir, try using buttermilk or a sour thin yogurt instead!

Apple Pancakes
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Dietary chicken broth with dumplings

In a winter like this…

Winter

Blackbird

…can there be anything more soothing and comforting than a bowl of warm soup? For me, those creamy blended vegetable soups are the best; but if you like poultry – what about some translucent chicken broth with petite dumplings and tender carrots? To make the broth as clear and healthy as possible, we quickly boiled chicken in some water first and poured off that water.

Make this soup immediately before meals and do not leave it overnight: flour from dumplings would diffuse into broth and make it cloudy.

(Below you will also find some more winter pictures that Mom took from the window today. We always feed sparrows in wintertime, and only when it gets really cold, the cautious blackbirds visit us too).

Chicken broth with dumplings

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Mushroom&Rice Balls with Sour Cream Dill Sauce

Mushroom and rice balls

That’s amazing how quickly I’ve turned into a true, obsessive foodie. It’s also interesting how I manage to turn almost every conversation to food. For a lot of people, cooking and eating is just a part of daily routine, so I try not to be annoying, but somehow I always find myself discussing a new recipe, or a rare kind of spice, or a favourite dish.

Today as I visited my Granny, I managed to restrain my „foodie bug” for exactly 2 hours but then I finally asked Granny to show me her recipe notebook :) I borrowed the notebook from her for a couple of weeks. It’s packed with proven, time-tested recipes. I’m especially drooling over those potato recipes, like home-made potato chips.
I can’t wait for the next weekend when I’ll be able to try some of Granny’s best recipes. I won’t be cooking next Friday night though, because we’re going to see The Nutcracker. It’s a beautiful show, an absolute must-see for anyone who is new to ballet and classical music. I can’t wait!

And here’s a recipe for mushroom and rice balls that we made this weekend. They pair nicely with a sour cream sauce that we adapted from an old Polish cookbook. The sour and milky flavour blends perfectly with the freshness of dill leaves, and the creamy texture is just what we wanted.

Mushroom and rice balls with rocket salad

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Russian Vinegret

Russian Vinegret

Russian Vinegret is a type of salad made with beets, potatoes, carrots, pickles and onions. The word derives from the French vinaigrette. This might be because a typical Russian salad dressing is made with sour cream, while for Vinegret you use vegetable oil (which relates to vinaigrette). This is just my guess, however.

Like anything containing beets and root vegetables in general, Vinegret is a healthy salad. It’s also very easy to prepare, but of course you’ll have to be patient about boiling beets. Or, you can find packaged boiled beets in the supermarket.

Vinegret goes along perfectly with salted or smoked salmon.

An important note is to combine the vegetables right before you serve your Vinegret, and toss the beets with oil first. This will prevent beets from staining the other veggies. Potatoes turn red almost immediately anyway, but at least carrots, onions, and pickles will be saved. So be sure to cool your vegetables well before you dice and mix them together.

Russian Vinegret
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Are you curious to learn more about Eastern European cuisine?
RussianSeason.net is a food blog run by two Russian-speaking women - a mother (Natalia) and a daughter (Alina) - living in Latvia. Natalia is a professional artist and Alina is the co-owner of a web directory of Russian-speaking businesses in Europe. We both cook and Alina writes posts and takes photos.
In our blog you'll find a range of (mostly tweaked&adapted) recipes from Russia, Eastern Europe, the Baltics, and former USSR. But we can't restrain ourselves from experimenting with other cuisines too :)
Stano is the guy behind the Slovak version of this blog. He is currently living and working in Latvia and is also known as the Man Who Makes Alina Eat A Lot Of Cakes, because he hardly ever eats cakes or pies she bakes. He doesn't have a sweet tooth, you see. Stano also provides us with traditional Slovak recipes - such as Halušky that he's been promising to make for 7 months now :) Just be patient - we're sure he will eventually do it!
Ivanka is the largest cross-cultural project Alina and Stano have been ever involved in:) We hope she will be a foodie too when she grows up!
Our email address is: russianseason@gmail.com

Priyatnovo appetita! (Bon appetit!)

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