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

Sour Cream and Summer Berry Jelly for RS’s 1st Anniversary

the Piglet

Meet the Piglet – he’s a part of our team as well. He really supports me when I’m upset or tired. He loves wild strawberries, thick cream, and cottage cheese

 

Today RussianSeason turned 1.

A year ago, on a hot and sunny summer day, my Mom and I took the plunge and started a blog on foods that we were grown with and that were hardly well-known abroad: Russian, Soviet and Eastern European. We felt like we had to tell the world more about Blinis, Kulichi, Ukha and other basic dishes of traditional Russian cuisine. We also needed to share some good old Soviet recipes such as Vinegret, Anchovy Stuffed Eggs, and Custard with Kisel. We thought you’d be surprised to hear that one of the most delicious Latvian desserts is made with rye breadcrumbs and cranberries, that Filini pasta can be eaten with milk and sugar, and that you can make jam-filled buns in a steamer.

Our first post was about a mushroom soup. Why mushroom soup? Maybe because I love chanterelles and could have them every day. Or maybe because mushrooms are an essential ingredient of Russian cuisine. Later, Stano (my husband-to-be, hehe) joined us and translated his favourite recipes into Slovak, so we have a Slovak version too (okay it’s a little bit out-of-date but that’s because the Chief Translator is currently very busy).

As we moved on, we couldn’t resist the temptation to cook and write about foods from other corners of the world, so the blog became more “international”. And the more we cook, the longer our huge to-do and to-try list grows. In fact we still haven’t even made very basic Eastern European foods such as Pelmeni and Vareniki, but I’m sure we will. It’s just Foodgawker, Tastespotting, and our blogroll that are too distracting! :) We discovered hundreds of inspiring blogs and made a lot of wonderful virtual friends. I never knew that foodie world was *that* huge and friendly.

To celebrate out first anniversary, we made a festive jelly/panna cotta type of thing. We’ve already made this with yogurt, grapes, and canned peaches before and it looked (and tasted) very pretty. This time, we tried to stick to the most natural, seasonal ingredients: thick sour cream and local strawberries, wild blueberries, and raspberries. I really liked the sour cream jelly for its very milky taste and its soft, silky texture (I’m not sure if Panna Cotta can be made with sour cream, so in order not to hurt anybody’s feelings, I’ll call this just sour cream jelly). And the assorted fresh berries scattered in the jelly just scream summer, don’t they? It’s such a shame strawberry season is almost over though; it was untypically short this year, perhaps due to the heat. But, there’re still blueberries, currants, plums, and all the gorgeous summer recipes we’ve yet to try.

Sour Cream and Summer Berry Jelly
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Blackcurrant Cherry Sorbet

Blackcurrant Cherry Sorbet

As I’ve already mentioned, blackcurrants are not just a fount of vitamin C; they are supposed to improve heat tolerance. So in hot weather, it’s a good idea to include blackcurrants in your daily menu. Of course it’s a yet better idea to bake a delicious pie with them, but I chose the easiest way: pureed some fresh blackcurrants and sour cherries and made a sorbet. And it came out so good, I’ve got to say! As you know, I still don’t have an ice cream maker (I’m not ready to invest around $100 in a device I’d use 2 months in a year) and I’m always on the quest for ice cream maker-free frozen desserts. The pectin in blackcurrants helps the sorbet mix gel as it freezes, which results in a nice smooth texture. The ice particles in blackcurrant/cherry sorbet are so tiny that you can hardly feel them. It also melts gracefully, turning into a sort of smooth cold berry sauce. In a word, I’m quite excited about my new discovery! Oh and just to mention, I made it from scratch without any reference to existing recipes – so it’s totally the way I like it: sharp, tangy, concentrated, rich in colour and flavour.

Blackcurrant Cherry Sorbet

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Yogurt Summer Berry Muffins

Yogurt Summer Berry Muffins

I never stop wondering why everything is so disorganized in local kitchen equipment stores. I’ve been looking for a very simple thing – muffin tins with matching paper liners. As a result, I’ve got tins of three different sizes (and all of them are too shallow) plus two packs paper liners that match none of these tins. Great. I’m hoping that if I continue collecting mismatched moulds and paper liners, someday one of the liners will fit in one of the moulds. Until then, I managed to squeeze some very nice liners with floral pattern into my six medium-sized moulds. That looked far from perfection, but better than nothing. The rest of the forms I just greased with butter. So in the end I got a batch of cakes of assorted size and style… and I liked it! Looked kind of informal. A friend of mine once said that although I try hard to put things in order, chaos is my true element. So this time I was in my element, you know :) Now I’m thinking of baking this as one big cake. I think it should look lovely with that colourful marble pattern inside.

I’ve got to say huge thanks to Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen for her post on Apple Yogurt Muffins, which inspired me to make yogurt muffins with fresh summer berries. The recipe worked out great for me, I just substituted margarine for oil and added more sugar (the original recipe highlights that the muffins are meant to be not too sweet).

Aaand then I had fresh berries in my muffins. Two handfuls of tiny sweet strawberries, juicy blackcurrants and tender raspberries that swirled into a beautiful pattern of pink, red, and purple inside these moist, buttery cakes. I loved how the heavy strawberries sunk to the bottom of my mini muffins and coloured them fluorescent pink. The muffins tasted best about an hour after I took them out from the oven – still warm and spreading a lovable sweet smell all around the house, but they were also good this morning when I grabbed a couple before going to the swimming pool. I’m definitely going to bake this as a single loaf on the weekend, when my sister returns from her trip around Central Europe! Thank you Patricia for the great recipe and inspiration!

Yogurt Summer Berry Muffins

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Yellow Wax Beans and Cauliflower with Cashew Nuts

Yellow Wax Beans and Cauliflower with Cashew Nuts

So jam/preserve season in officially open in our house. We’ve started off with 9 liters of strawberry freezer jam and 5 liters of black currant. That’s just a warm-up before tons of strawberry, raspberry, and plum jam, black currant marmalade and maybe apricot confiture. Fruit preserves are eaten in enormous quantities in our family, while two or three boxes of chocolates we got for Christmas are still collecting dust in the pantry. Fruit preserves are so much healthier than candies, aren’t they? And making them is healthy too: my arms got some extra workout today!

Between hulling and pureeing berries, we sometimes make meals for the family too, although the air is hot and humid outside (our small Cambodia, as I call it), and nobody feels like eating a lot, let alone cooking or (God forbid) baking. As I’m writing this however, it looks like it’s finally going to rain, so if the rain brings us some freshness, I might finally test my new muffin forms tomorrow!

As a compromise with the heat and sultriness, we made these beans and cauliflower today – they may be served lukewarm and they don’t require a lot of cooking. Yellow Wax beans, or Butter beans as they’re called here, turned out to pair extremely well with slightly fried cauliflower. Toasted cashew nuts bring some pleasant crunch to the tender vegetables, and shredded Parmesan adds a sharp, salty note. It takes minutes to boil the beans, and then you just cook them and cauliflower in a pan until they’re as golden-brown as you like.

Yellow Wax Beans and Cauliflower with Cashew Nuts and Parmesan

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Cheese and Chanterelle Mini Omelettes (Baked)

Cheese and Chanterelle Mini Omelette (Baked)

The idea of making mini omelettes with cheese filling belongs to Mom. She invented the recipe when we were baking Rhubarb Meringue Tartelettes and she had to use up a leftover fresh egg. She slightly whisked it with a fork, added a slice of cheese, and baked it in a spare baking mould. I didn’t taste this spontaneous omelette, but it looked good! So today we made a more sophisticated version of it – with salty crumbly caraway cheese inside and tiny chanterelles on top. Provided you have some cooked chanterelles in your fridge/freezer, these fine little omelettes are made in 30 minutes from start to finish. Nothing too complicated or expensive, and yet this will definitely surprise your family or guests.

Oh and by the way, I’ve had another bowl of wild strawberries today. Life is better than I expected :)

Caraway Cheese and Chanterelle Mini Omelette
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Chanterelle Soup Revisited

Chanterelle Soup with Sour Cream

Chanterelles being one of my very very very favourite foods ever (they’re definitely in my Top5 favourite foods, even though I’m not sure what other 4 foods make the Top… I guess lemons and… what else..?), I couldn’t resist highlighting this recipe again. We wrote about Chanterelle soup as one of our first blog entries a year ago. We’ve already made it twice this summer, with a few tweaks, and I thought this lovely summer mushroom soup was worth mentioning once again.

Another super-addictive food I’ve had today was wild strawberries. I’m a wild strawberry maniac. Their scent, one of Nature’s sweetest and daintiest perfumes, makes me tremble. Unfortunately these tiny gems are quite expensive, so I don’t think I’ll have more wild strawberries this year… we’ll see. Perhaps it would be a sacrilege to, say, bake with them, but I’d love to try. I’ve had those delicious wild strawberry and cottage cheese tarts at a French bakery near my office, and they were oh so good!

Wild Strawberries

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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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