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

Slovak Christmas Baked Goodies

Slovak Christmas cookies

As I already wrote, we have guests from Slovakia for Christmas. Stano’s Mom brought us tons of homemade cookies, gingerbreads and mini cakes that all look and taste delicious. My favourite are Parižske rožky (Paris Horns), petite walnut meringues topped with chocolate cream and dark chocolate glaze. I would never have the patience to make them, and we got two (!) boxes of these cakes. I also love tiny pig- and flower-shaped crispy shortbreads. Orechove Kolieska (Walnut Rings) are made with the same walnut shortbread dough and then each is dipped in dark chocolate. Then, we got Slovak gingerbreads - golden-brown and glossy Perniky, and also Kokosky - beautiful coconut meringues on a chocolate-coated pastry base. These coconut meringues can actually be made as a standalone dessert, and then they’re called Kokosove Pusinky (Coconut Kisses).

Our kitchen is crammed with food from Slovakia. There’s ham, butter and cheese in the fridge, honey, tea, and spices in the pantry, beer, mineral water, and homemade preserves under the kitchen table, plus we have fruit and sweets in large bowls all around the house. Oh and I finally got rosemary in a pot, so we’ll always have fresh rosemary now!

I’ll be posting new Slovak recipes one at a time, now as the grandparents are looking after the baby and I have more free time. But, we’ll be busy cooking as well: we’ve got to prepare traditional Slovak cabbage soup, potato salad and (hopefully) cottage cheese and peach buns. I’m pretty excited about all these new culinary experiences, the more so because it’s the first Christmas that we’ll host as a new family. After two years of travelling all around Europe to see each other, we finally have our own (okay, rented) apartment and our own Christmas tree…

Slovak Christmas baked goodies

Slovak cookies and cakes for Christmas

Parižske Rožteky (Paris Horns)

Parižske Rožky (Paris Horns)

Kokosky (Slovak Coconut Meringue)

Kokosky (Coconut meringues)

Slovak Christmas shortbreads

Walnut shortbread cookies

Perniky (Slovak gingerbreads)

Perniky (Slovak gingerbreads)

Orechove Kolieska (Walnut Rings)

Orechove Kolieska (Walnut Rings)

Korbačiky (Slovak String Cheese)

Korbačiky

Korbačiky (Slovak string cheese)

Garlic or Cheese Crescent Rolls for Midsummer (Slovak-Latvian fusion, sort of)

Garlic/Cheese Crescent Rolls for Midsummer

Midsummer (Līgo/Jāņi) is probably the most favourite and significant holiday for Latvians. It’s celebrated on 23/24th June when the night is so short that there’re only a couple of really dark hours. It’s not as evident as the famous Saint Petersburg’s “white nights”, but still enough for birds to confuse day and night: sometimes you can hear them sing or make noise after midnight. I’d say it’s even a little bit disturbing that the sky almost never turns black in June – I keep waking up at night because of that eerie blue glow coming through the curtains.

On the shortest night of the year, everyone heads out to the countryside, drinks gallons of beer, barbecues, eats traditional caraway cheese (Jāņu siers, see picture), makes (or tries to make) bonfires and almost certainly soaks in the rain, because it typically rains on Midsummer. The cities become absolutely deserted! All guys named Jānis wear heavy oak leaf wreaths and all ladies named Līga wear wreaths of flowers/oak leaves. If you see an oak leaf wreath on a car – there’s certainly a Jānis in it! Oh and there’s also that ancient tradition of searching for the mythical fern blossom, which is believed to have magical powers. Actually the fern blossom quest means more than just that – to give you a hint, a lot of children are born 9 months after Midsummer night :)

Latvian Midsummer Cheese

Even though I don’t celebrate Midsummer, I couldn’t miss the chance to buy some of that special caraway cheese and use it for some crescent rolls. I first saw garlic crescent rolls on a Slovak Christmas table and copied the recipe from Stano’s Mother. With some tweaking and the addition of some fresh dill this could make a lovely Midsummer snack, I figured. And with caraway cheese these rolls turn into a truest Midsummer treat! They pair perfectly with beer, cider, and fresh vegetables, and they’re easily transportable, in case you’re going to have a picnic. For the garlic version, there’s a lot of garlic odour while baking, but ready crescent rolls are just slightly garlicky. And they look so plump and appetizing!

Slovak Garlic/Cheese Crescent Rolls

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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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Parene Buchty (A Recipe From Slovakia)

Parene Buchty

Last night we cooked a dish which I first tried this summer in the beautiful Slovakia. The dish is called Parene Buchty (pronounced bookhti). These are a sort of large steam-cooked dumplings with a filling inside, which makes it quite a heavy food, but we tried to adapt the original recipe by taking fine flour instead of coarse flour and making the dumplings smaller in size (I think ours were about twice as small).

I also spent some time at the supermarket choosing the right plum jam for the filling, as I needed a very thick, yet not gelatinous jam. If it is jelly-like, it will melt too soon and may start leaking, you know. Finally I discovered a jam I had never tried before, which turned out to be pretty good. And it never bubbled or leaked.

So, if you want a substantial, folksy Eastern European dessert, here is the Parene Buchty recipe.


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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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