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

Simple Cottage Cheese Cake

Simple Cottage Cheese Cake
You should never reveal your talents or skills at work if you want to reserve some time for your hobbies. Your boss and colleagues will immediately find a way to apply them. I don’t belong to that type of people for whom career is synonym of happiness; I do my job for a living. That’s why I panic every time I get included in a new project, a working group or in a brainstorming team. I wish I had never said I could edit web pages or make banners. I wish I had never said I could use the computer. I wish I were tiny and invisible. But you cannot be invisible if you’re a press officer and it’s the pre-election period. You must be optimistic, fresh and bursting with energy and ideas. Which eventually brings me to a state of complete stupor, so when I come home from work, all I want is hide under my blanket, sleep, and dream about being invisible to co-workers. Over the last weeks, I’ve been eating frozen string beans and other type of meals you can prepare in 10-15 minutes. I haven’t even opened my last issue of Bon Appetit. I haven’t been checking Tastespotting and Foodgawker…

This is just a recipe for a simple cottage cheese cake my Mum makes. It’s good fresh from the oven or cooled, with crème fraiche or berry jam. One of its main advantages is that it’s very simple to make.

I’m thinking of making lemon&lime sorbet tomorrow – that’s the most complicated dish for me to handle at this time. Wish me luck.

Simple Cottage Cheese Cake

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Cranberry Semolina Mousse

Cranberry Semolina Mousse

I couldn’t imagine my life without cereals, porridge, and this mousse. I love it for its almost Barbie-pink colour, its airy texture and mild flavour. I love it because it’s another reason to have some milk for lunch or dessert, which is so healthy. Cranberry Semolina Mousse is especially good with baked milk. It’s a type of milk with a sweeter, creamier taste and a warmer colour, yet the same fat percentage as plain milk. “In rural areas, baked milk has been produced by leaving a jug of boiled milk in an oven for a day or for a night until it is coated with a brown crust” (Wikipedia), but nowadays it can be found in any large supermarket - in this part of the world, at least.

Semolina mousse can be as well made with fresh black or red currants, sour cherries, or any other berries or fruits that have a strong sharp taste. Latvians call this dessert Debesmanna, which means Manna from Heaven. I’ve also seen Latvian recipes for Debesmanna made with fresh pureed apples.

With no connection to this mousse, I’m posting a couple of shots of wilting tulips. They were so beautiful as they were dying that I couldn’t resist photographing this transformation of humble tulips into strange and exotic paper-like flowers!

Cranberry Semolina Mousse

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Tsar’s Blinis with Red Caviar and Other Fillings

Tsar Blinis with Red Caviar

This is the recipe for those exclusive Tsar’s Blinis that I promised you a week ago :) We had never made them before, but, since it was my Mum who kept things under control, the pancakes came out perfect from the very first attempt. (Compare to my miserable first-time experience with homemade tortillas!)

Of course these are not everday or every weekend pancakes. They are meant for special occasions only (unless you’re a Tsar or a Tsarina *cough*). To begin with, despite all myths, Russians do not eat red caviar every day. I’d rather say, being a Russian myself, I wouldn’t discuss recipes involving caviar with most of my friends, just as I wouldn’t parade a shampoo I bought for 30 EUR or anything else that costs above average. I haven’t bought 30 EUR shampoos ever since I got my first job and wanted to try what it feels like to spend money, but I still do like caviar… I’m a foodie after all! Besides, it’s more about the „public image” of caviar as a luxury product, rather than the price (at least here in Latvia). Anyway, with these pancakes we had one small can of red caviar (about 140g net I believe) plus other fillings, such as jam and sour cream. And nobody complained :)

Another important thing about Russian blinis (and I think myths say the truth here), is that nobody would bother to make 2 blinis per person. On Maslenitsa, you eat as much as you like/can, not to mention that pancakes look best when stacked in tall towers ;-) This recipe made with 1 litre milk and 600g flour is given for 6 persons. I think you can easily reduce the ingredients by half and it still will be enough for a normal meal. In both cases, it’s wise to bake the blinis on two skillets. Or else you might never meet your guests as you’ll be stuck in the kitchen until the end of the day. It’s a common problem with pancakes – you need to be paaatieeent… It takes a while to prepare this batter, but the pancakes themselves are extremely quick to cook though – maybe that’s because they’re so airy. Why wouldn’t they be airy – with whipped cream and whipped egg whites in the batter?!

Tsar Blinis with Red Caviar

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Almost Valentine’s Milk Shake

Banana Milk Shake

We didn’t really mean this banana milk shake as a Valentine’s Day treat. The idea was born because we had read that one should enter the Year of White Tiger with something made of milk on the table. So we thought of this sweet, lip-smacking banana milk shake with egg liqueur flavour, decorated with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. This looked pretty much like a Valentine’s Day cocktail too!

But, that’s not all. I mean, not all special occasions for today. This year, the great holiday of Russian Maslenitsa falls on February 14th as well!! Maslenitsa symbolizes the end of winter (*cough*… it’s still snowing here) or at least it gives you some hope that winter is coming to its end! - and it opens the long Lent which precedes the Orthodox Easter. On Maslenitsa, you eat loads of pancakes (blinis)! My Mum made a huge stack of Tsar blinis, which I’ve taken photos of and which I’ll be talking about in my next post. So, we had those exclusive Tsar blinis with red caviar and a selection of home-made jams, and crowned the dinner with a milk shake that should help us gain the White Tiger’s favour.

Let’s see what the Tiger brings us!

Banana Milk Shake
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Apple Crumb Cake

Apple Crumb Cake

In case you were wondering, I am still alive :) I’ve had no Internet at home for over a week however (no it’s not global crisis or heavy snowfalls, it’s just… the situation). That’s the main reason why I haven’t written anything for so long again. As a kind of compensation for being offline on evenings, I’ve received my first Bon Appetit issue!! Yay! I couldn’t imagine they’d ship it to Latvia, but they did! The magazine arrived via Switzerland. I can’t wait to read every article in it!

My 26th birthday was nice. First I celebrated it at home, with family, and then we had a small birthday party with friends, also at home. I did make those Italian cookies with white wine, as well as quesadillas with sweet corn, red beans and garlic (I’m afraid I overcooked the tortillas though) for my friends, but I was stupid enough to forget my camera at my parents’ so I never took any photos. The cookies were extremely easy to make – all you have to do is combine the ingredients and form little rings of pastry. Tortillas were a little more of a challenge. The main problem was that the tortillas came out a little bit too chewy; I kept them under a wet towel as recommended, but I still had to sprinkle some water on them before baking the folded quesadillas. So this was my first experience with home-made tortillas!

And this apple cake is yet another easy recipe from our family. All you need is some patience while you chop the chilled margarine mixed with flour, turning it into tender creamy crumbles. A great alternative to apple filling is good cottage cheese blended with sugar and vanilla. This is my favourite variation of the cake. Cottage cheese slightly melts while baking, which makes the crust extremely moist, I would even say juicy.

Store the cake in a cool place, covered with a towel or baking paper, and it will be just as good even three days later.

Apple Crumb Cake
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Honest Scrap Award

Minced Lemons

I haven’t written anything for ages - in fact we haven’t cooked any new dishes either, because I’ve been swamped with work and minor (yet annoying) troubles. Sometimes I feel like I’m a type of person who-does-everything-in-the-wrong-time. I mean, one and the same thing can be considered good or bad, depending on the time when it happened. Say, you recieved a gift - a piece of jewellery you’d been dreaming of. That’s good. But if you received it the next day after you finally bought it yourself… that’s bad! So I feel like I need to synchronize my chaotic activities with the flow of time. And then I’ll be back to my Tao :)

Honest Scrap AwardAnyways, I’ll be certainly cooking this weekend. In the meantime, I’m excited to tell you about the Honest Scrap Award I received from Spicie Foodie! Nancy is Mexican, currently living in Europe - I guess somewhere in the Eastern part of it, as she wrote a perfect recipe for Czech Knedliky, and recently she posted a wonderful recipe for Beef Pepper and Mushroom Barley. Thank you so much for the award Nancy! And I enjoyed reading your 10 honest things - I actually share your 1st one! ;-)

According to the award rules, I now have to tell you 10 honest things about myself and pass on the award to 10 fellow food bloggers who are honest in their approach to blogging.
So,

10 honest things about myself

1) I work as a Press Officer, and Mum is a graphic artist.
2) I am the only person in the family who does a 10 to 18 job. Everyone else is self-employed or has a flexible schedule. Well, my schedule is not that strict anyway ;-)
3) I’ve always brought foods from all my overseas trips, instead of “normal souvenirs”.
4) When I read a book and a book character eats an apple, I rush to the kitchen and grab myself an apple too.
5) My favourite sweets are Italian. I love them all!
6) Coffee means absolutely nothing to me.
7) I strongly prefer milk chocolate to dark (which is probably mauvais ton?)
8) I have eaten fermented shark in Iceland. The trick is to eat it outdoors, in the frost, and wash it down with Icelandic vodka.
9) Mum and me like to hum to ourselves while cooking.
10) I’m always worried about my English, so Cambridge Dictionaries Online is one of my Top-10 resources.

And I would like to pass on this award to bloggers behind the following blogs:

Sunny-Side Up Recipes
Cooking With Thas
Vegetable Matter
Newly Nutritional Britt
The Colors of Indian Cooking
P.Tsaldari
J. Christina Huh
My Fabulous Recipes

Of course I understand if, for some reasons, you cannot accept the award. But I really do think you deserve it!

Update: Okay I found out some of the bloggers I mentioned have already received this award, and some don’t participate in awards, so I listed 8 bloggers instead of 10!

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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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