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

Rabarberu Rausis (Rhubarb Cake With Streusel Topping)

Rhubarb Cake with Streusel Topping

Rhubarb is one of the foods that I can eat every day once their season arrives. And it seems like all of our family is sitting on a rhubarb diet. Ivanka in enjoying her daily rhubarb drink, Stano’s asking for more rhubarb cordial, my Mom is making a rhubarb crumble, and I have three different rhubarb cakes plus preserves in my plan. We’re a kind of a rhubarb family, aren’t we! :) Maybe this is just an effect of rhubarb being the first spring fruit plant that can be eaten as a fruit. I guess most of you are already enjoying fresh strawberries and other gifts of summer, but here up North, we’re still stuck in the rhubarb season (imported strawberries don’t count). And I love it! The tart stalks that turn so tender when baked or simmered, the bold play of green and red colour that turn amber and translucent when heated, the glossy skins and the firm, watery flesh. Oh, rhubarb!

This cake, topped with streusel, is my attempt to recreate the most common Latvian rhubarb cake - a simple, lovely, habitual cake. I’ve compared about half a dozen recipes (that sometimes were pretty controversial) and compiled them into one recipe with my own amendments included. First, I used 1/4 whole wheat flour, as I frequently do these days. It’s healthier, it gives extra taste, it provides pleasant moistness. Second, I used a mix of white and brown sugar for the filling, and I think I could have used brown sugar only. The original recipes called for plain sugar of course, but I thought brown sugar was a better match for the tart rhubarb. Third, I incorporated a little starch into the filling, just to prevent it from leaking. And that’s it. I thought of playing with walnuts in the streusel, but then I decided to keep it simple and traditional. Sometimes I succeed in holding back from too much tweaking ;-)
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Almond Cranberry Biscotti

Almond Cranberry Biscotti

The Italy issue of Bon Appetit was splendid. I’ve bookmarked about a dozen recipes and already made Pasta al Pomodoro twice. Now I know how to make a smooth and silky pasta sauce :)

From this BA issue, I also learned that making biscotti is a doable task. Biscotti are one of my favourite Italian sweet treats, but I’ve never thought of making them at home. I thought I would need tons of almond flour or other ingredients that I would have to hunt for all around the city, while all I needed was a dash of almond extract. And almonds :) The BA recipe called for dried cherries and pistachios, but I opted for dried cranberries and almonds instead, because the pistachios they are selling here at the moment look ugly.

Surprisingly, my own biscotti looked and tasted quite similar to what I usually get as a gift for Christmas and Easter! The blend of almond, citrus zest, and cranberry flavours was divine! The only thing I did wrong was slightly over-bake them. They looked too moist all of the time, and then suddenly oups! they got over-baked. Next time I bake biscotti I will remove them from the oven while they still retain moistness, for they will harden as they cool. I’d like to try to make them with AP flour next time as well. I couldn’t find unbleached flour so I used 3/4 AP flour and 1/4 whole wheat flour, which  tinted the biscotti golden brown. I guess with 100% AP flour, they would have been even crispier and airier. But anyway. I’m very content with this recipe, that’s why I’m sharing it with you (with my tweakings), even though it’s not Eastern European :)

Almond Cranberry Biscotti Read the rest of this entry »

Mini Rogaliki

Chocolate Applesauce Rogaliki

Rogaliki are small crescent rollls filled with jam, marmalade, Tvorog or even raisins. I think the most common filling for Rogaliki however, is jam/marmalade. I’m not sure we ever had them at home when I was a kid, but some of my friends’ mothers and grandmothers used to bake these very often. Rogaliki are very good with tea or coffee, and they are budget-friendly. It’s been my dream to have warm Rogaliki for breakfast for many years now, and today this dream came true.
I made the dough ahead and refrigerated it overnight. Chilled dough was very comfortable to roll and cut. The unsweetened dough made with sour cream and a pinch of baking soda is flaky and soft, even though my Rogaliki were tiny. I was in the mood for something petite and delicate, so these crescent rolls came out more like soft filled cookies. Of course this means you have less filling in the centre - just for flavour - and it takes you longer to make them. Classical Rogaliki should be larger in size, with more filling inside; the original recipe yields 3 times fewer rolls than I made.
At first I was thinking of filling them with dark, rich apricot jam made by Stano’s Mom, but then I remembered about three little jars of a wonderful chocolate applesauce she gave to us, and used it instead. I must ask Stano’s Mom for the recipe when we are in Slovakia in summer; chocolate applesauce is something amazing! First you taste the chocolate, then the juicy tartness of apples comes through; there’s a lot of surprise in it! It’s great on crepes, pancakes, ice-cream, whatever. As a filling for Rogaliki too. It smelt like a chocolate factory when the rolls were baking!

Mini rogaliki
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My Mom’s Paintings

Unicorn 2 by Natalia Petropavlovskaya
Unicorn 2

Some time ago I mentioned I was taking pictures of something beautiful, that I would show you later. Today I would like to finally present my Mother’s paintings that I’ve photographed. We had a kind of a catalogue with printed photos of her works before, but it was rather out of date. We have also opened a new Page on Facebook, so if you like the artworks, please give her a Like :o)

My Mother, Natalia Petropavlovska, is a professional artist. She studied Graphic Art in the Latvian Academy of Arts. The  techniques she has mastered include various Etching techniques such as Mezzotint, Aquatint, and soft ground etching, as well as Woodcut, which she has used for creating bookplates. Her favourite printmaking technique is Mezzotint, because the prints resemble pencil drawing that she likes so much. She has always enjoyed working with colour however, so soon she developed her own watercolour technique, which she uses nowadays. It involves vibrant, almost psychedelic palette with light highlights that add volume to shapes.

Speaking about classic art, she admires Gothic miniatures, Early Renaissance (Giotto and Botticelli in particular), and Pre-Raphaelites, especially Dante Rossetti. Her favourite Russian painters include Vrubel and Somov.

Here I am posting some of my Mother’s paintings from various years, including the Italian series from 2011. I’ve never been to Italy, but I’ve seen the photos and I believe these works really recreate the clear air and the tranquility of the Italian lakes.

The Sphinx series is one of her own favourites.

Lake Como
Lake Como

Lake Lugano
Lake Lugano

Sirmione
Italian Switzerland

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Sirmione
Sirmione

Natalia Petropavlovska | Summer Dream | watercolour, 26.8x18.9"
Summer Dream | watercolour, 26.8×18.9″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Winter Dream | watercolour, 26.8x18.9"
Winter Dream | watercolour, 26.8×18.9″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Palma Cathedral At Night | watercolour, 27.6x18.9"
Palma Cathedral At Night | watercolour, 27.6×18.9″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Mallorca Beach | watercolour, 27.6x18.9"
Mallorca Beach | watercolour, 27.6×18.9″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Still Life Under Palm Trees | watercolour, 27.6x18.9"
Still Life Under Palm Trees | watercolour, 27.6×18.9″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Sphinx And Anubis | watercolour, 26.8x21.7"
Sphinx And Anubis | watercolour, 26.8×21.7″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Egyptian Sphinx | watercolour, 26.8x21.7"
Egyptian Sphinx | watercolour, 26.8×21.7″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Evening In The Park | watercolour, 25.6x19.7"
Evening In The Park | watercolour, 25.6×19.7″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | A Morning In Balaklava | watercolour, 23.6x18.9"
A Morning In Balaklava | watercolour, 23.6×18.9″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | At Dawn | watercolour, 18.5x19.7"
At Dawn | watercolour, 18.5×19.7″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Still Life With Tulips And Herons | watercolour, 17.7x23.6"
Still Life With Tulips And Herons | watercolour, 17.7×23.6″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Still Life With Blue Chrysanthemums and Partridges | watercolour, 17.7x23.6"
Still Life With Blue Chrysanthemums and Partridges | watercolour, 17.7×23.6″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Still Life With Radishes | watercolour, 25.2x18.1"
Still Life With Radishes | watercolour, 25.2×18.1″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Still Life With A Vase | watercolour, 19.3x23.6"
Still Life With A Vase | watercolour, 19.3×23.6″

Natalia Petropavlovskaya | Hoopooe
Hoopooe

Natalia Petropavlovskaya
Natalia Petropavlovskaya in Venice

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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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