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

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?

Churchkhela - A Sweet From The Caucasus

Georgian Churchkhela

Today I’m going to tell you about a  Georgian sweet that a relative of mine recently brought us from the Caucasus. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the church; it is a sausage-shaped sweet that (to my mind) looks a little bit gross yet tastes good.

Churchkhela is made by dipping strings of nuts or dried fruits into thickened grape juice with addition of flour; then Churchkhelas are dried in the sun or in a dry ventilated place. The grape juice that coats the filling is rubbery and very dense; it has a mildly sweet flavour and a subtle fruity smell.

This sweet is also made in Armenia, I’ve eaten it in the Crimea, and I’ve heard that they have an analogous sweet in Turkey. The variety I’ve had in the Crimea had a thinner coating of juice and was coloured into bright yellow, red, or purple. The Churchkhela I got from Georgia looks more natural, and the thickened juice is more tender. This variety has walnuts inside: Read the rest of this entry »

Zephyr - A Sweet From Post-Soviet Countries

Zephyr

Zephyr is a very common sweet produced in Post-Soviet countries. Outwardly it’s similar to marshmallow, but it’s made with pureed apple (or other fruit), egg white, and pectin. It’s considered to be very healthy, as it contains a lot of pectins and almost no fat (the varieties of Zephyr I’m showing you today contain 0.2% fat). You can see that it’s recommended by the Latvian Dietitian Association:

Zephyr is a sweet recommended by dieticians

Read the rest of this entry »

Petushok Lollipops

Petushok Lollipops

No, no, I didn’t make these, but I just wanted to tell you about one of the oldest Russian candies - Petushok (Cockerel) lollipops. It’s an all-natural candy made with just sugar, water, and a drop of vinegar essence. Plus maybe some honey (like the ones you can see in the picture). You can also buy cockerel lollipops at almost every craft or food fair in Latvia - they’re called Gailitis here. They taste of burnt sugar and are rustic-looking, amber golden in colour, and irregular in shape. No artificial flavourings, no colouring agents - if you come across a red or yellow lollipop, it’s not a right one.

I don’t basically like lollipops, but these I can’t resist. They’re so natural, they taste of childhood, and they’re beautifully translucent. I’m even thinking of making some Petushki at home, if only I find matching lollipop moulds!

Petushok Lollipops

P.S. I’ve just discovered this lovely site Bloglovin and added my blog there:
bloglovin
Now I’m trying to find out who else is on Bloglovin - leave a comment if you are!

Two Chicory Drinks

Chicory Coffee

You might have noticed that I often complain about food diversity/availability here in Latvia. That’s why we decided we’d occasionally write about our favourite Latvian or Eastern European products. Some of them are also available overseas; some are specific to Latvia. Just to let you know there are good foods here too :) Because despite all criticism, there are plenty of local foods I’ll miss when I move away. And, with all the travel collapse in Europe, we will soon have to turn to domestic produce, hehe. Which would look, however, quite miserable, as I went to buy some greens the other day and found out that the spring onions were from Cyprus, the dills were from Israel, and the rocket salad had arrived from Sweden. Why can’t we grow our local dills and onions?.. Okay okay enough of this… I was actually going to write about chicory root extract!

Chicory root extract

This thick and dark liquid made of roasted chicory root is produced in Ukraine. I had tried ground chicory root drink before I discovered this, and I can say that liquid extract is much much better. A huge advantage is that you can easily dissolve it in cold water. It is made of chicory extract (70%) and water (30%). No sugar, and 45% natural inulin, which is great news for diabetics. And of course chicory is a good caffeine-free coffee substitute. I hardly ever drink coffee – unless I need to stay awake for 24 hours in a row, yelling at others, feeling stressed, irritated, and awkward. No thanks; I’d rather have a cup of fake coffee made of chicory root :)

I’m sure most of you have heard of chicory root coffee, yet there’s another chicory drink you might not have tried before. It’s made with cold water and fresh lemon juice and makes a refreshing, bitter-ish drink, slightly resembling Kvas. And again, just think how healthy it is!

Do you have any other chicory drink suggestions?

Refreshing chicory drink
Read the rest of this entry »

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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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