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

Blackcurrant Cherry Sorbet

Blackcurrant Cherry Sorbet

As I’ve already mentioned, blackcurrants are not just a fount of vitamin C; they are supposed to improve heat tolerance. So in hot weather, it’s a good idea to include blackcurrants in your daily menu. Of course it’s a yet better idea to bake a delicious pie with them, but I chose the easiest way: pureed some fresh blackcurrants and sour cherries and made a sorbet. And it came out so good, I’ve got to say! As you know, I still don’t have an ice cream maker (I’m not ready to invest around $100 in a device I’d use 2 months in a year) and I’m always on the quest for ice cream maker-free frozen desserts. The pectin in blackcurrants helps the sorbet mix gel as it freezes, which results in a nice smooth texture. The ice particles in blackcurrant/cherry sorbet are so tiny that you can hardly feel them. It also melts gracefully, turning into a sort of smooth cold berry sauce. In a word, I’m quite excited about my new discovery! Oh and just to mention, I made it from scratch without any reference to existing recipes – so it’s totally the way I like it: sharp, tangy, concentrated, rich in colour and flavour.

Blackcurrant Cherry Sorbet

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Yogurt Summer Berry Muffins

Yogurt Summer Berry Muffins

I never stop wondering why everything is so disorganized in local kitchen equipment stores. I’ve been looking for a very simple thing – muffin tins with matching paper liners. As a result, I’ve got tins of three different sizes (and all of them are too shallow) plus two packs paper liners that match none of these tins. Great. I’m hoping that if I continue collecting mismatched moulds and paper liners, someday one of the liners will fit in one of the moulds. Until then, I managed to squeeze some very nice liners with floral pattern into my six medium-sized moulds. That looked far from perfection, but better than nothing. The rest of the forms I just greased with butter. So in the end I got a batch of cakes of assorted size and style… and I liked it! Looked kind of informal. A friend of mine once said that although I try hard to put things in order, chaos is my true element. So this time I was in my element, you know :) Now I’m thinking of baking this as one big cake. I think it should look lovely with that colourful marble pattern inside.

I’ve got to say huge thanks to Patricia of Technicolor Kitchen for her post on Apple Yogurt Muffins, which inspired me to make yogurt muffins with fresh summer berries. The recipe worked out great for me, I just substituted margarine for oil and added more sugar (the original recipe highlights that the muffins are meant to be not too sweet).

Aaand then I had fresh berries in my muffins. Two handfuls of tiny sweet strawberries, juicy blackcurrants and tender raspberries that swirled into a beautiful pattern of pink, red, and purple inside these moist, buttery cakes. I loved how the heavy strawberries sunk to the bottom of my mini muffins and coloured them fluorescent pink. The muffins tasted best about an hour after I took them out from the oven – still warm and spreading a lovable sweet smell all around the house, but they were also good this morning when I grabbed a couple before going to the swimming pool. I’m definitely going to bake this as a single loaf on the weekend, when my sister returns from her trip around Central Europe! Thank you Patricia for the great recipe and inspiration!

Yogurt Summer Berry Muffins

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Zephyr Strawberry/Cherry Mousse

Easy Zephyr Strawberry/Cherry Mousse

Strawberry season is in full swing here; soon Mom will be making her delicious strawberry jam. The freshest, local strawberries are finally here since last week, and we’ve been sampling different varieties almost every day. My favourite is called Zephyr. It’s a kind of strawberry that tastes much better than it looks. A real gem among strawberries, it’s so delicate and fragile that you’d better buy it in small batches (we usually take a kilo or two) and eat it on the same day. The small berries of irregular shape are immensely tender and have a brightly pronounced flavour of wild strawberries. They have no chewy core at all, and after you rinse them in water (with the most care of course), they will probably lose their shape completely, turning into luscious, sweet, fragrant morsels suffused with June sunshine. That’s why I love them. They are absolute summer.

With these Zephyr strawberries and with some cherries that arrived from Hungary I made a few glasses of light mousse. Unless you’re opposed to raw eggs, it’s a foolproof and quick recipe which might come in handy when you have unexpected guests. I believe it’s also a good way to have your daily protein, together with your vitamins. I just pick the freshest eggs of a trusted brand and wash them with a sponge and dishwashing liquid. As for the remaining egg yolks, why not use them in eggnog, omelette, or cookies?

It’s interesting how the texture of this mousse varies slightly depending on the type of berries. My cherry mousse came out very smooth, glossy and thick like a cake icing; after taking the photos I found out it was quite impossible to sip it through a straw, so sorry for misleading you. The strawberry mousse, however, was kind of airier, lighter, and runnier. I can’t wait to try this with blueberries and raspberries and see what the texture will be like.

UPD A cherry/raspberry mix works out particularly well!

Zephyr Strawberries
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Strawberry Apricot Semolina Pudding

Strawberry Apricot Semolina Pudding

I never count calories, so be warned: when I make something light and low-calorie, it is by pure accident. Because if I want something, I will have it. Be it healthy or guilty. But I think this pudding with fresh fruit counts as a low-calorie dessert… doesn’t it? It includes no cream, eggs or soft cheese, just milk. The percentage of milk fat can be adjusted to individual taste. I believe it’s also a fun and healthy way for kids to have their semolina. Food tastes so much better when it’s bright-coloured!

The pudding is very similar to Cranberry Semolina Mousse, but its obvious benefit is that it’s made with fresh berries and fruit – no heat treatment this time. The bright fragrance of apricot blends nicely with the classic flavour of strawberries, and semolina adds a pleasant grainy texture. All you really have to do is cook semolina and wash your blender after you puree the ingredients. Couldn’t be any easier!

Strawberry Apricot Pudding
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Strawberry Cake for My Sister’s Birthday

Strawberry Glazed Sponge Cake with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

My sister turned 21 on Saturday. Isn’t this a lovely age? I remember I graduated from University at 21 and went to Denmark for an internship. There I met all my new colleagues, while back home I had my wonderful family, my fun-loving classmates, and friends from University. Plus I had 30 penpals all around the world – from Lithuania to Indonesia. That’s so many people to love and admire! It felt absolutely like the whole world was in front of me… 21 - that’s when you’re a grown-up and yet very young, and your own achievements are making you proud and happy, and if anything ever goes wrong, there’s always another chance. I think 21 is one of the very best ages ever!

Of course a lovely occasion like my sister’s 21st birthday required something super-lovely for dessert. Something sweet, festive, and fluffy. Something like whipped cream and fresh aromatic berries between layers of a light and sweet sponge cake. Something that would smell of freshness and summer and would be candy to the eye, and would make that tiny “shhhhh” sound when you cut it with a knife, because it’s airy and fluffy like a cloud.

We thought all this pointed clearly to a strawberry&whipped cream cake glazed with strawberry jelly and decorated with fresh lemon balm.

The whole concept of this cake belongs to my Mom. I mean, I know this is not the first strawberry cake in the world, we just didn’t stick to any particular recipe – just our intuition and inspiration. We made a pretty huge cake (28 cm in diameter), because you see, we had guests. I’m quite sure that half as large would be enough for a normal dessert. This strawberry cake somehow reminded me of that gigantic Walnut Meringue and Chocolate Mousse Cake we made for New Year’s. When you make huge cakes like that one, at some point they start to live their own life – asking a pinch of this and a bit of that, more sugar here and less cream there, needing to be constantly under control, finally making you worry through the night – how will the frosting come out?! Haven’t you noticed this with your large cooking projects?..

Sponge Cake with Strawberries and Whipped Cream
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Cottage Cheese and Semolina Cherry Cake

Cottage Cheese and Semolina Cherry Cobbler

I have no idea of how this happens, but when I look through my blog archives I see we’ve been baking and cooking a lot of sweet dishes recently. I really have no idea why we’re doing this, because when I eat out, I almost never order a dessert these days. I used to have a super sweet tooth, but lately my food cravings have changed and I have eaten no chocolate bars since my birthday, which was in January. I didn’t try the chocolates my parents brought from Venice. I didn’t eat any truffles offered at birthday parties. The only thing I still like is hot chocolate, especially half-and-half dark and white. In fact, I just don’t see chocolates as something edible any longer. They just bring no emotion to me - I stay impassive even if I feel the smell of my one-time favourite milk chocolate. Strange, isn’t it? Instead, I’ve been enjoying savoury foods like pizza, lasagna, polenta, and huge bowls of fresh salads. Perhaps the organism is running out of vitamins and asking for something healthier than sweets. I drool over your rhubarb and asparagus recipes guys – I’m so impatient for fresh greens and berries.

But, while I day-dream about fresh vegetables, my hands do quite the opposite thing. They leaf through recipe books and magazines, pick sweet dishes and cakes, and cook them. Yeah… they lead a pretty independent life!

Today’s cherry cake was actually Mom’s idea. She found the recipe in her notes, it had been copied from some newspaper, the title of which, unfortunately, we can’t recollect now. The cake is something similar to cobbler or clafoutis; berries are covered with cottage cheese and semolina batter, but you don’t turn the cake upside down when ready. Of course I’d prefer fresh cherries to canned, but welcome to reality girl :) The weird thing about this recipe was that the cake baked for an hour and 20 minutes instead of 25 minutes!! The recipe didn’t mention how hot the oven should be, but we decided to cook it on a low heat so that the cherries wouldn’t burn… as a result the cake was ready in more than an hour!

Before I go to have a slice of this mild-flavoured, moist cake and a glass of milk, I just wanted to ask: what are your spring food cravings? I’m really curious to know!

Cottage Cheese and Semolina Cherry Cake

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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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