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

Sour Cream and Summer Berry Jelly for RS’s 1st Anniversary

the Piglet

Meet the Piglet – he’s a part of our team as well. He really supports me when I’m upset or tired. He loves wild strawberries, thick cream, and cottage cheese

 

Today RussianSeason turned 1.

A year ago, on a hot and sunny summer day, my Mom and I took the plunge and started a blog on foods that we were grown with and that were hardly well-known abroad: Russian, Soviet and Eastern European. We felt like we had to tell the world more about Blinis, Kulichi, Ukha and other basic dishes of traditional Russian cuisine. We also needed to share some good old Soviet recipes such as Vinegret, Anchovy Stuffed Eggs, and Custard with Kisel. We thought you’d be surprised to hear that one of the most delicious Latvian desserts is made with rye breadcrumbs and cranberries, that Filini pasta can be eaten with milk and sugar, and that you can make jam-filled buns in a steamer.

Our first post was about a mushroom soup. Why mushroom soup? Maybe because I love chanterelles and could have them every day. Or maybe because mushrooms are an essential ingredient of Russian cuisine. Later, Stano (my husband-to-be, hehe) joined us and translated his favourite recipes into Slovak, so we have a Slovak version too (okay it’s a little bit out-of-date but that’s because the Chief Translator is currently very busy).

As we moved on, we couldn’t resist the temptation to cook and write about foods from other corners of the world, so the blog became more “international”. And the more we cook, the longer our huge to-do and to-try list grows. In fact we still haven’t even made very basic Eastern European foods such as Pelmeni and Vareniki, but I’m sure we will. It’s just Foodgawker, Tastespotting, and our blogroll that are too distracting! :) We discovered hundreds of inspiring blogs and made a lot of wonderful virtual friends. I never knew that foodie world was *that* huge and friendly.

To celebrate out first anniversary, we made a festive jelly/panna cotta type of thing. We’ve already made this with yogurt, grapes, and canned peaches before and it looked (and tasted) very pretty. This time, we tried to stick to the most natural, seasonal ingredients: thick sour cream and local strawberries, wild blueberries, and raspberries. I really liked the sour cream jelly for its very milky taste and its soft, silky texture (I’m not sure if Panna Cotta can be made with sour cream, so in order not to hurt anybody’s feelings, I’ll call this just sour cream jelly). And the assorted fresh berries scattered in the jelly just scream summer, don’t they? It’s such a shame strawberry season is almost over though; it was untypically short this year, perhaps due to the heat. But, there’re still blueberries, currants, plums, and all the gorgeous summer recipes we’ve yet to try.

Sour Cream and Summer Berry Jelly
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Russian Paskha

Russian Paskha

This year all Christians celebrate Easter on the same day, which is perfect to my mind: not only because we kind of unite on this Sunday, but also because I have a few days off :) It’s unexplainable how in a country where the Orthodox tradition is second most widespread religion, none of the Orthodox holidays are officially recognized. But that’s how things are in Latvia (tolerance is not our forte). So I’m glad that at least this year I had a day off on the Great Friday and we had the time to get ready for Easter.

We spent all Saturday in the kitchen together with my Mom – whipping, beating, chilling, melting, kneading enormous lumps of heavy dough, worrying about the dough rising slowly (which is no wonder as it contains 15% of dried fruit and nuts; I would even say it’s our Easter tradition to worry about the dough – same story every year); then finally baking and topping the Easter cakes with smooth and glossy icing. Phew!

A post about the result of this great cooking day – Kulichi – is on its way; in the meantime, I will tell you about another very traditional Russian treat, an Easter table essential, which is much easier to prepare. This dessert made of fine-grained cottage cheese, whipped cream, and boiled egg yolks, is called Paskha (which actually means Easter). We also like to add in plenty of diced dried apricots, golden raisins, and walnuts. I love the sweetness and creaminess of Paskha, chilled and airy, right from the fridge, with the fruity bits of dried apricots in it. Here I’ve got to remind you that in Orthodox tradition, Easter is preceded by the Lent, which allows only a very restrictive list of products. That is why all Easter dishes are packed with calories and made with lots of eggs, milk, cream, and butter. I have to confess however, that while our family menu is mainly vegetarian all year round, we don’t feel strong enough to give up dairy products and eggs for Lent :-p

P.S. This is how we like to prepare Paskha – if you check the traditional, original recipes, Paskha is always placed into a special pyramidal mold. We prefer to keep it moist and airy!

Russian Paskha

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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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Tvorozhniki

Tvorozhniki

Tvorozhniki, aka Syrniki, is a very typical Russian/Ukrainian dish. It’s great for breakfast or evening meal, quick, healthy, warm and sweet. And I’m sure you will love the homely and cosy smell of cooking Tvorozhniki!!

The name of this dish derives from Tvorog, which means curd/quark/cottage cheese, or alternatively from Syr – which simply means cheese. Cottage cheese is the key ingredient here – and the most problematic one, as its texture and taste varies SO greatly from country to country! Whenever I go abroad, I always know that it’s going to be difficult to find the right sort of cottage cheese there. In this post we provide some pictures of what OUR cottage /quark cheese looks like, so please try to find something as close as possible to it. The basic rule is to opt for the largest grains and the minimum of salt added (or else this might turn to a savoury treat). The larger the grains, the more fluffy and thick your Tvorozhniki will be.

I think we can now go to the recipe itself, as it is just so simple and quick! 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

Priyatnovo appetita! (Bon appetit!)

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