Russian Season


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

Vyprážaný syr (Slovak Fried Cheese)

Vyprazany syr
I’ve been going to post this recipe for ages but never had any decent photos! Today I finally wasn’t in a hurry (you know, Vyprážaný syr is a very quick dish to make, so it’s good to make when you’re short on time) so I made some shots for our blog!
Vyprážaný syr is probably my favourite recipe from Slovakia. I had eaten it a few times in my hometown before, but it was Slovakia where I first tried it as a main course – accompanied by pommes frites and vegetables. I have to say there is quite a limited choice of main courses for vegetarians in Slovak restaurants, so I always opted for fried cheese – and never regretted that, as it was equally delicious in all towns I visited. This summer I learned how to make it at home, and even though I haven’t yet mastered the technique of frying cheese so that it never leaks out of the crust (tips and suggestions are welcome!), I have made some useful notices about the process in general. The first one is to use a harder sort of cheese with few holes – Gouda cheese is pretty perfect in this respect. Another thing I consider crucial is the breadcrumbs. Do not use any store-bought breadcrumbs; make your own for an extra-crunchy, extra-flaky crust. The smell of fried home-made breadcrumbs mixed with eggs is so cosy and warming!

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Russian Blini with Beef or Mushrooms

Russian Blini (Pancakes)

Blini, or pancakes, are an essential feature of Russian cuisine. Served with melted butter, sour cream, berry jam, honey, or the most luxurious option - caviar, they are made and eaten in gigantic batches during the Maslenitsa week that precedes the Lent. But they are as well eaten all year round – sweet or savoury toppings and fillings change with the seasons. For me, Blini symbolize all the warmth and coziness of home, and I love to cook some pancakes filled with cottage cheese and vanilla for a late Sunday breakfast as a sort of morning meditation.

This time, Mom made Blini with two different fillings: beef and chanterelles. I didn’t take part in making these, so I’ll just write about her method. But be warned: this is quite a time-consuming recipe, as you have to boil the rice, and fry the mushrooms, and of course cook the pancakes. Making pancakes in two skillets at a time is a nice idea therefore.

Let me also remind you that every cook has their own recipe for pancakes. So we’re not calling this recipe anything like “True Russian Blini”, “The One and Only Recipe for Russian Blini” or anything like that – this is just one of dozens of possible options.

Please note that the recipe suggests a choice between beef and chanterelle filling for 12 pancakes, meaning you will need to make 24 pancakes to try both fillings. The more pancakes you make however, the easier it is to calculate the right amount of filling, especially rice. Alternatively, you might use some leftover boiled rice from another meal.

Russian Blini with filling

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Chanterelle and Spinach Omelette

Chanterelle and Spinach Omelette

This is just a quick and simple omelette we made the other night with leftover chanterelles. Actually we’ve been frying and freezing a lot of chanterelles to be able to make some soups or those lovely Chanterelle Turnovers after the season is over. I guess I’ve already mentioned that these mushrooms are one of my favourite ingredients – I’m sure I could stay on a chanterelle diet for weeks and weeks! Another ingredient I love is lemon and lemon zest. But a lemon zest diet would be more challenging, I suppose.

You might notice that we didn’t add any spice to this omelette. In fact, I don’t support the overuse of spice at all. Yes I love the warm and mild flavour of vanilla in sweet pastry, or the exotic flavour of curry in sautéed vegetables, or those balsamic, piny notes of fresh rosemary that are so perfect for roasted salmon. But, eggs should taste like eggs and spinach should taste like spinach, to my mind. That’s why this omelette does not contain any spice.

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Stuffed Peppers a la Romaine

Stuffed Pepper

Stuffed Peppers is one of those old good recipes which we adapted from a kind of family relic – a gorgeous Romanian cookbook. It’s packed with irresistible recipes of fruit pies, berry pastes and jams, sweetcorn&cheese casseroles, and other meals I drool over. Of course it also includes a variety of poultry and meat recipes – not as exciting for me, yet useful.

While stuffed peppers are a basically simple dish to prepare, this might be pretty time-consuming as you’ve got to prepare all vegetables separately - and also spend some time seeding and stuffing the peppers, of course. But it is definitely worth the wait – also because you can store the peppers in fridge for 2-3 days no problem.

One of the key points here is to blanch the peppers before stuffing them, as a couple of minutes in boiling water makes them much more elastic. It’s also important to choose peppers that are not too thick and fleshy, otherwise you will feel like “hmm there seems to be too much sweet pepper in this dish!”. On the other hand, they should not be very thin, as thin peppers are easy to overcook, especially if you’re going to reheat them afterwards (I accept no microwaved food, just in case).

Everything else is really simple. In this post, we’ll tell you our method of cooking stuffed peppers in two variations: with and without meat. The vegetarian version is for me and it uses eggplant instead of meat.

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Curry Rice With Eggplants and Peppers

Everybody in our family loves risotto, which we make with or without mushrooms, adding zucchini and white wine. Aww that creamy, tender texture of risotto rice, saturated in olive oil and Parmesan cheese. And yes, we know this is not at all a Russian dish :)

But, sometimes you just don’t have all the necessary risotto components at hand. For example, this time we didn’t have any Arborio rice or Parmesan cheese. So, we decided to cook white rice with vegetables and mushroom stock instead. And it tasted good! The flavourful mushroom stock paired perfectly with eggplants. And fried carrots lent a cheerful warm colour to rice. The day was saved!

Curry Rice with Eggplants and Peppers

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Are you curious to learn more about Eastern European cuisine? 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!
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