Russian Season

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

Heart-shaped Cookies and Happy Orthodox Christmas

Heart-shaped cookies with pearl sugar

I really wanted to bake something Russian for Orthodox Christmas, but I couldn’t think of anything simple enough. I knew I’d be alone with Ivanka all day and I just couldn’t make yeast dough AND make dinner AND then bake. Mom is making her traditional cabbage Pirozhki for our family dinner, while I had no other choice than think Scandinavian. Why Scandinavian? Because their recipes are always simple and precise, focused on convenience, time-saving, and often thrifty. Lagom är bäst. This cookie recipe can be found on any Dansukker pearl sugar package. I only altered the cookie shape - I had absolutely no time to make four baking sheets of pretzels, so I armed myself with a heart-shaped cookie cutter and soon I had 200 crispy hearts sprinkled with beautiful snow-white sugar. They’re lightweight, they’re flaky inside, they’re lagom sweet and they’re utterly easy to make! Margarine, flour, sugar, and some whipping cream are four ingredients that are always at hand. In fact these are shortbread cookies with margarine in place of butter.

Now I’m wondering why I had never visited Dansukker page before to see their recipes?! Just have a look at their collection of citrus marmalades for example. They’re minimalist and economic, and they’re all about pure, bright, basic flavours - flavours of our childhood, of a sunny winter morning, of a grandmother’s pantry. They’re inspiring!

Last but not least, I would like to wish a happy Christmas to anyone Orthodox who’s reading our blog, and I will also try my best to finally write about those Slovak cookies soon. I couldn’t have a more supportive baby than Ivanka, but still - a baby is a baby :)

Heart-shaped cookies with pearl sugar

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How I didn’t make Choux Puffs

Christmas tree

For the New Year’s Eve, I wanted to make choux puffs. I have to say I had never made them before, but I googled for the recipe and it sounded like something pretty easy to make. Choux puffs are so beautiful and perfect on a New Year’s table! So, I decided to go for it and asked my sister to come over and babysit for a couple of hours (while Stano was chilling out at their corporate NYE party). I made vanilla cream filling with one of my precious vanilla beans. The filling came out flawless - fluffy, glossy, and richly flavoured with vanilla, but that was apparently the last thing I made right. Every recipe I found called for 4 eggs in the batter, but I felt like my batter was too loose already after the third egg, so I didn’t beat in the fourth. The batter didn’t hold its shape at all, but I still decided to pipe it onto the baking sheet and see how it would behave in the oven. I had read that the batter balls (or in my case - batter blobs) had to be around 1 inch in diameter. So I placed my tiny blobs into the oven and waited. After 7 minutes the blobs got pretty brown in colour and puffed up a little bit, but they still were tiny. They looked like real choux pastry inside, though. Ugly little brown dwarfs :) I still had some batter left and thought I’d make larger blobs and see what would happen. This time I got a batch of small flying saucers… I was devastated! But that was hilarious too - all those baking sheets with miserably flat “puffs” stacked around the kitchen..

Now can anybody tell me what I did wrong? What didn’t I read between the lines when I was reading the recipe? It looked very simple at a first glance. I need to learn to make choux puffs!!

So, as you could have guessed, we had no choux puffs for New Year. Which actually didn’t make our family get-together any worse - it was still very generous and very international, you could hear Russian and Slovak and English and Italian and Spanish languages, there were Italian and Latvian sweets on the table, and the jewel in the crown - Mom’s cranberry and whipped cream trifle cake, decorated with Christmas trees of kiwi and fireworks of coloured sugar.

Aaaand I know I’m late as always (this year I have an excuse though), but I’d like to wish all my fellow bloggers a very happy, cheerful and delicious New Year. Cin cin!

Winter view

Winter view

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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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