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

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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Italian Style Haddock with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Italian Style Haddock with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Perhaps cooking will someday become just a part of the boring daily routine for me, but right now there’s nothing more relaxing than spending a couple of hours tinkering with a fascinating recipe, taking photos, and tasting the result of our culinary adventures. I couldn’t go to the seaside today because I had to work on a website design (it started to rain in the afternoon anyway), but the time I spent cooking dinner with my Mom was a perfect break from work. We tried Italian-style fish from a book titled “Fast, Fresh and Delicious: 150 Quick and Healthy Family Favorites”. The directions given in the book were very straightforward and correct – we just substituted fresh basil leaves for dried and added one extra tomato for a “tomatier” version. If you use haddock fillets, this flavourful, rich dinner can be made in no time – the slices of zucchini turn tender in 10 minutes and the small pieces of fish cook in another 10-15 minutes. I loved the strong and bold smell of basil leaves and garlic in the sauce, and of course the mild taste and texture of haddock. Haddock is definitely a type of fish where quality exceeds price; I can’t wait to try it in a Russian Ukha!

Oh and guess what we have? Rhubarb! Finally! It’s here! Something tells me we’re going to have a rhubarb dessert tomorrow ;-)

http://www.russianseason.net/index.php/2010/04/redwhite-ukha-russian-fish-soup/

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Cheese&Onion Chicken Rolls with Vegetable&Dried Plum Salad

Cheese&Onion Chicken Rolls with Vegetable and Dried Plum Salad

I haven’t eaten meat or poultry for many years now, and even when I HAD to try some chicken recently (I really HAD to), I was surprised how different the taste and the texture were from what I had in my memory… Perhaps I had some idealistic impression about chicken meat in my mind, which didn’t match my current sensation. So I’m not going to become a carnivore in the nearest future… expect for fish, which I can’t resist. But, there’re things you can know and feel even if you can’t try them. I’m talking about these chicken rolls now. Stuffed with mild cheese and golden-brown onions, they’re so simple and appetizing – even to me. Like most chicken dishes, they’re quick to prepare and attractive. This recipe has been one of our family favourites for many years now. Mom also used to make similar rolls of beef, but nowadays my parents prefer poultry. Besides, thanks to that golden crust chicken rolls look much much more attractive than meat rolls.

While the rolls were cooking, we quickly made some a salad with fresh vegetables, apples, and dried plums. Who doesn’t love dried fruit in a salad? I’m convinced that adding a handful of chopped dried plums, dried cranberries or even figs is the easiest way to add some special twist to a mix of fresh vegetables and greens. I also love some pine nuts in this salad, but we didn’t have any at hand this time.

And hey, we have first strawberries from Spain here already. They taste almost like local summer strawberries. First strawberries are such a delicacy that you don’t even want to cook anything with them, they’re perfect alone. Weeks pass before you start thinking of some strawberry parfaits or shortcakes or crumbles… and then there’re endless possibilities… I can’t wait to cook with strawberries this summer!

Cheese&Onion Chicken Rolls with Vegetable and Dried Plum Salad

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Cheese Pancakes and Celery and Walnut Salad

Cheese Pancakes and Celery and Walnut Salad

These cheese pancakes are one of our family recipes – I loved them when I was a kid, and not just because they were quite a rare treat on our everyday menu – yes there were times when eggs and cheese were considered expensive products that couldn’t be wasted just like that.

While some magical childhood memories about certain foods die as you grow up and try those foods (my Grandmother, for example, cherished memories of beetroot leaves soup that she once had during the war, until she finally made it many years later and… the dream got ruined: the soup was not too edible), but I have to say these cheese pancakes taste just as good now as they did in my childhood. They look good, too – golden brown on the outside, fluffy and yellow on the inside. The eggs in the batter make them taste a little bit omelet-y. Well, I think there are some flavours that are just impossible to resist – the flavour of melted/fried cheese is one of them, to me.

But, obviously you will want a counterbalance to these pancakes - something green and fresh and preferably crunchy on the side. From the limited choice of fresh greens and vegetables that we have in this time of the year, celery looked like the perfect candidate. Green, fresh and crunchy. We added some chopped parsley leaves and tossed it all with some minced walnuts and garlic. The walnut-garlic-oil paste is close to what you could find inside Georgian eggplant rolls. I found out it could serve as a standalone dip for crackers/tortillas as well.

The salad came out so good that we thought we’d make it next time we have guests. As for the pancakes… isn’t it great we always have enough cheese and eggs to make them nowadays?

Celery, Parsley, and Walnut salad
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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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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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