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

Happy Birthday to Ivanka and Roxana’s Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake with Fresh Berries

Ivanka has turned 2. Times flies? Just the opposite, it feels like she’s always been here with us, and I can hardly remember life without her. And compared to little Milena, Ivanka seems so grown up and clever that I probably expect too much from her. But she really does a lot! She can draw a face with eyes, nose, mouth, and a funny tuft of hair on the forehead. She watches the Swan Lake ballet every single day (!) and dances along (sometimes I just can’t fall asleep at night as the music keeps on playing in my head - I guess I know the entire ballet by heart now). She says funny things, for example ipk for the Russian word chleb (bread). She loves “totik” - “cake”!

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake with Fresh Berries for Ivanka's Birthday Read the rest of this entry »

Slovak Bread Fondue

Slovak Bread Fondue
As soon as I saw this recipe I knew Stano would love it. There was a lot of cheese and a lot of bread in it, and bacon and spring onions - and it was baked (his second favourite after fried)! So I made it on a Saturday while the children were sleeping, and we even managed to watch about 1/5 of The Artist while munching on this delicious and flavourful fondue. Then the kids woke up and the same old story began… it took us 3 evenings to watch the entire movie!

And yes, you read right - there’re now four of us! Our little Milena was born in late April, she is a Dragon by Chinese horoscope (which I think is pretty cool), she has dark hair and is a little copy of her father - again! I was sure our second baby would look more like me, but no - she’s another tiny clone of Stano.

Milena

I’ve missed food blogging so much, so I’ll try to post new recipes every now and then. Not sure I’ll be able to reply to all the comments that have been added ever since though! Sorry - and a huge thankyou for your feedback, your suggestions and your questions! And here’s the recipe for this brilliant fondue cooked and served in a loaf of bread. There will be no dishes to wash after the meal, as the “spoons” are made of bread too!

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Apple Coconut Vanilla Lattice Pie

Apple Coconut Lattice Pie

When it comes to buying fruit, I always give preference to fruit that originate from a nearer country - local farmers produce being the perfect option of course. In January, when supermarkets run out of Latvian apples, I choose Polish because they look the worst. I mean, you will never convince me that apples that keep until May are actually edible. No no no. So, while I’m always tempted to buy some of those crisp, green, glossy Granny Smiths, I opt for the slightly bruised, smaller apples from Poland.

Red apples

Bruised apple

If you take a look at these apples I brought from Slovakia, you will notice that they are imperfect. Their shape isn’t perfectly round, their colour isn’t perfectly even, their skins are bruised. These are real apples from Stano’s Grandmother. And I had to use them up urgently while they still were juicy and firm. And I had a block of margarine that also needed to be used up. So I started with these two ingredients, whipped up a flaky and a not too sweet dough, and tossed the apples with freshly scraped vanilla seeds (you can’t always use cinnamon with apples after all). Something else was missing. A layer of creamy and sweet coconut paste! Somehow I’ve never thought of pairing apples and coconut in a cake before, but surprisingly, they made a gorgeous couple! The sweet smell coming from the kitchen warmed up the chilly August evening, and the fact Stano had two (!!) pieces of the pie made me think it was pretty good. Of course he said he would have preferred it without coconut (he always chooses the right words, you know), but he ate it! So, let me introduce you my first lattice pie - you will notice that the lattice pattern isn’t perfect either, I made an error at a certain point, but this didn’t make the pie taste any worse. I love it the way it is. And the lattice - I will certainly do it the right way next time. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Post: Chocolate Chip Cookies

American Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello Russian Season readers!

This is Amanda. Since Alina’s been busy these days with redesigning her other website, I offered to do a guest post for her. Before I go any further, let me introduce myself: I am 15 and live near the American capital – Washington D.C. I have a huge passion for food too. Whether it’s baking, cooking, eating, or anything else that deals with food, I love it (okay, maybe except for dishwashing). I also have my own food blog – softandstiffpeaks.blogspot.com.

Without further ado, let me introduce what I’ll be blogging about today: the chocolate chip cookie. Yes, this usually is not found in Eastern European cuisine, but Russian Season also covers international foods as well. The chocolate chip cookie is the quintessential American comfort food. These are extremely popular – grocery stores sell different varieties and brands of this cookie (original, double chocolate chip, chewy, etc.); they can also be bought during lunchtime at my school. Also, they are enjoyed as an after-school snack for many school children. Perhaps what makes it so popular (besides how delicious it is) is that it is commonly associated with grandmothers, family, and warmth. It is common for young children to bake this cookie with their grandma over summer vacation or during the holidays. To some, these cookies evoke nostalgia.

Chocolate Chips

A bag of chocolate chips

The story of how these popular cookies originated goes like this: Ruth Wakefield was baking chocolate cookies for her restaurant, but she ran out of baker’s chocolate. So, she substituted chocolate pieces in. However, the chocolate pieces did not melt and incorporate into her cookie like how the baker’s chocolate would have. Instead, the chocolate pieces stayed intact. This was how the chocolate chip cookie was born. From an accident. A yummy accident, I might add.

Creaming the butter and sugars together

I have used this recipe (found below) for several years now. It is originally from my middle school Family and Consumers Science (also known as Home Economics) teacher. Every time I make these, they come out perfectly. It’s slightly crisp on the edges, and soft and chewy in the center. Studded with chocolate chips, these light brown cookies are delish! And when the cookies are baking, your entire house will fill with a glorious, glorious smell. Chocolate, brown sugar, sweet oatmeal, and vanilla all combine together to form a wonderful aroma. Best of all, after you have popped these in the oven, you can lick the remaining cookie dough off the bowl and whisk. (Of course, there is the risk of salmonella from the raw egg, so do what you think is safe. You may use pasteurized eggs as an alternative or forgo it all together.)

Shaping and flattening the dough with plastic wrap

After they are baked, let them cool a tad bit before biting into them. These cookies can be enjoyed both warm or at room temperature. Whichever way you choose to enjoy the cookies, make sure to dip them in a glass of milk – it is simply the best way to eat these. Read the rest of this entry »

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake (Post by Stano)

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Hi, let me introduce myself. My name is Stano, you can read about me on this blog from time to time. Alina is busy these days… weeks… months, because we are preparing for holidays in Slovakia plus of course she has to take care of our little Ivanka. Our plan is to come to Slovakia, relax and do nothing, just visit new places, swim and eat :) I hope we can take some photos of my Mum’s dishes, and Alina can learn more about our traditional Slovak recipes.

I have to let you now that I am cooking every weekend, and yesterday I made Bryndzove Halusky. I have some friends here in Latvia and I made them 2 servings of Halusky and they were very happy. I came to their home as a courier from food delivery, wearing a red T-shirt, a red bag and a red cap. They laughed, but then they had their Halusky and they said they were tasty. If you would like to know more about Bryndzove Halusky, visit our blog later. In short, it is a traditional Slovak meal made of potatoes, egg and wheat flour cooked and mixed with bryndza, and on the top we put bacon :) I also made garlic soup, but we don’t have a photo of them either. I promise I’ll make it in the future and we will publish it on this blog.

Alina made this cake I think two weeks ago, but she was too busy to publish the recipe. She loves rhubarb and is making beverages, cookies and everything that’s possible to make with rhubarb all the time. These cakes and cookies are so yummy, a little bit sour, so it fits very well in the summer season.
Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

 

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Strawberry Sponge Cake

Strawberry Sponge Cake
It’s been a while since I last viewed my own blog - been working on my primary website day and night again! Two to three times per week, Stano drives me to my parents’ place, which gets divided into a “home daycare area” (where my Mom plays with Ivanka) and a “home office area” (which is actually a desk with a PC in the centre of the daycare area). I get some chance to work, still staying within reach for Ivanka - good for both of us. Of course it’s a little bit difficult to concentrate on things like testing and adapting new plugins or translating European Commission press releases,  so the hardest tasks are left for late nights. Yesterday however, Ivanka got up at quarter past midnight to “dance” and “sing” in her crib for almost an hour. So, late nights are not always mine either :)

The daycare/office facilities I’m using provide free dinners as well:) My Mom has become a true Babushka who always has something yummy in her pantry. At home, I’ve been making lots of rhubarb preserves: compote, jam, and frozen rhubarbs. I actually came to conclusion that freezing this wonderful plant is the most rewarding option, because I don’t like the extra sugars you’ve got to add if you want your jam to keep until winter.And what can be simpler than cutting rhubarb stalks, freezing them on a large plate, and then transferring into a plastic container… that’s it!

One of the main culinary delights I’ve indulged in recently is my Mother’s strawberry sponge cake. She made me two cakes already and I hardly shared them with anyone. It’s made without butter, so it doesn’t leave a heavy feeling. It’s simple. It’s summery. Fragrant strawberries sinking in a fluffy sponge cake under a sugary, crisp, thin crust - that’s what the first steps of a cool Latvian summer taste like.
Strawberry Sponge Cake
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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

Priyatnovo appetita! (Bon appetit!)

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