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

Chocolate Paskha

Chocolate Paskha

This Paskha recipe that I adapted from March edition of a Russian magazine “Moy Rebyonok” is quite different from what we make every year. Our traditional Paskha is super-mega-extremely rich and loaded with intense flavours of dried fruit, nuts, and boiled egg yolks. In comparison with it, the Chocolate Paskha I made last night seems to be something light and delicate. But it’s just an illusion, muahaha. Because the Orthodox Easter table sets the end for the 40-day long Lent with its restrictive menu. And an Easter meal must be rich and satisfying. So, my first suggestion for making this Paskha is to use Tvorog (or closest alternative) that contains 15% milk fat. Another tip is to use high-quality dark chocolate such as Lindt, 70 to80% cocoa. A very dark chocolate is less likely to get mushy while you grate it and it won’t melt when incorporated into the Paskha mix. The original recipe, however, suggests that you stir grated chocolate into whipping cream until the chocolate dissolves. I chose to keep those tiny crunchy crumbs of chocolate in my Paskha rather than just flavouring it with chocolate. With a little bit of extra texture to it, not overly sweet, moist and rich, this Paskha is pretty flawless. Happy Easter!

*The XB letters on top of Paskha ar for Христос Воскресе - the traditional Russian Easter salutation that translates as Christ is Risen.

Chocolate Paskha

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Happy Easter, Friends

Rose Flowers

There’s not going to be a lot of baking or cooking in my house this Easter. I’m busy chasing and catching Ivanka all around the house as she is always leaning like the Tower of Pisa. She started to crawl some time ago and she now gets up on her feet, however she doesn’t know a safe way to get out of this position except for simply releasing her hands and falling down on her back - ouch! There’s no safe place at home to leave her alone for a single moment, so I like to go to someone else’s place and let the baby explore a new space - this distracts her from trying to get up on her feet for some time. So, I’m looking forward to visiting my parents this Sunday and enjoying a happy baby and a family meal with all the traditional Easter treats.

I am hoping to make a new kind of Paskha this time though - please ask Stano to help me with the baby on Saturday! ;-) This is going to be a pretty unconventional Paskha, while Mom will be making the traditional kind.If I succeed, I will post about it after Easter. For now, I just wanted to refresh the two recipes we use every Easter. I don’t usually advertise our recipes, but if you’d like to make something Russian this Easter (why not - Orthodox Easter coincides with the Catholic holiday this year), both of these are really worth trying! 

Kulich - Russian Easter Bread

Russian Kulich

Russian Paskha

Russian Paskha

Happy Easter!

Cottage Cheese Bars

Cottage Cheese Bars

I can barely live without these chocolate-glazed cottage cheese bars that are sold in every supermarket in Riga. They make a perfect lunchtime snack, or you can grab one in the morning while you’re making your breakfast (personally I always wake up super-hungry!). They are not a diet food though, with their 12 to 26% fat and 24 to 32% carbohydrates.

Cottage Cheese bars (Tvorozhnie Syrki in Russian, Biezpiena Sieriņi in Latvian) have a dense texture and are normally coated in dark chocolate. They may as well be coated in colourful fruit glaze, but to my mind this looks and tastes way too artificial. The “forefather” of cottage cheese bars is the vanilla-flavoured, chocolate-glazed cottage cheese bar produced under the “Kārums” brand since 1994. In fact, cottage cheese snacks have been produced in Riga since 1949, and until 70’s, they were handcrafted!

Chocolate Glazed Cottage Cheese Bars

The choice of cottage cheese bars in Latvia is huge nowadays. The best are still produced under the “Kārums” brand name. They also boast a nice thick chocolate glaze that doesn’t crack or melt. My absolute favourite is triple chocolate - chocolate-glazed, chocolate-flavoured, with chocolate chips. Another flavour I love is coconut. I like it straight from the fridge, it tastes almost like ice-cream when chilled! Some other Kārums flavours include candied orange, blueberry, hazelnut, as well as larger, round-shaped cottage cheese snacks: Tiramisu/Cherry/Orange Marmalade/Cranberry Marmalade with biscuit. Other manufacturers offer cottage cheese bars with berry jam filling, caramel, or even ground rye bread:

Rybe Bread Cottage Cheese Bar

My favourite cottage cheese bars

Cherry Cottage Cheese bar

And, as usual, I’m curious to know if you have anything similar in your countries? Or can you buy some cottage cheese bars in your Eastern European supermarkets?

Sour Cherry Vareniki

Sour Cherry Vareniki

We’ve been running this blog for a year and a half and still haven’t posted anything on such a staple of Eastern European cuisine as Vareniki. Strange, isn’t it? One of the reasons for this might be that Vareniki are pretty laborious to make (to my mind, that is). I guess both me and my Mom are bad at repeating the same thing for 50-60 times. The success of our favourite dishes relies on generous quantities of soul-warming ingredients like eggs, whipping cream, or butter (alternatively, mushrooms, cheese… butter again) , and on the simplicity at which these components can be merged into something yummy. Rolling out several batches of dough, cutting it into uniform shapes, filling and sealing each item? That’s something we are  incapable of doing more often than once in a month. Preferably two months.

But on the other hand, who doesn’t like Vareniki? Slippery from melted butter, dipped into thick sour cream, hot filling oozing out of the centre… unhealthy? Come on, they’re not fried at least! (although that can be done too).

There’re various ways of making dough for Vareniki, I would like to try the one with Kefir next time. This time we used a variation which I think is pretty classic. And of course I chose sour cherries as a filling - my favourite! I added a pinch of ground nutmeg, just because I love it with cherries. And a pinch of cinnamon to jazz them up even more. Everything else is very simple. Flour, warm water, milk, an egg. A dash of vegetable oil to make the dough more plastic. Half a teaspoon salt to pull out the flavour of the dough. Sugar to sweeten the sour cherries.  And of course some patience. Here we go!

Sour Cherry Vareniki

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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

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