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

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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Large Cupcakes For Little Ivanka

Lemon Cupcakes for Ivanka

Ivanka has turned 6 months old! It feels like it was a week ago that we brought her home from the hospital, and yet it feels like she’s been here always. The first two and the most exhausting months have simply disappeared from my memory. I know there have been sleepless nights and tears and exhaustion, but I don’t really remember all that.  As we all know, that’s how a woman’s brain is designed. It erases all negative memories connected to giving birth and raising a child.

Ivanka's little foot

Ivanka has changed so much from a tiny orange-skinned creature to a lively baby interested in everything. She wants to touch our books, drink our tea, taste our food, and of course her biggest dream is to play with the notebooks, mobile phones, and electric cords. The sports programme is prevailing at the moment: she is more interested in learning to crawl and trying to stand up than to learn pronouncing new sounds… what she does love though is to spit with a loud bubbling “ppp” sound - she can do that for hours… *sigh* hope she will make us happy with some more advanced sounds soon!

Ivanka's clothes

To celebrate Ivanka’s little anniversary, I made some cupcakes. Well, strictly speaking these were muffins topped with cream cheese and whipped cream and they were too large to be called cupcakes, but anyway. Cakes, mini cakes, large cupcakes, whatever - I am proud that I have managed to bake and decorate them:) They are not as neat and beautiful as what I’d like them to be, but I believe they’re quite okay for a busy Mom :) I’ve never been a perfectionist, after all.

Decoration

I adapted the recipe for lemon muffins from here and topped them with cream cheese that I whipped with some maple syrup. I had baked these muffins before and I loved how well buttermilk and lemon paired, not to mention how fluffy the batter was thanks to the combination of acid and baking soda. For the other sort of cakes, I used the same proportions, incorporating some whole wheat flour, frozen sour cherries, cinnamon, and nutmeg. For some reason I love the combination of nutmeg and cherries. These muffins/cupcakes came out more moist and dense, with a pleasant homely flavour of whole wheat. I decorated them with cherry-flavoured whipped cream and coloured sugar hearts… I hope Ivanka liked them even though she couldn’t eat them! :)

Ivanka's clothes

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Lemon Curd and Art Nouveau

Lemon Curd

Lately, I’ve been swamped with work. You see, I’ve had no luck trying to find a professional programmer and web designer to redesign my Directory of Russian-speaking businesses in Europe for a reasonable price, and so I’m considering starting the redesign on my own. This sounds like a pretty crazy idea though, as I have tons of daily work with incoming registrations, news, and classifieds, which all need to be moderated and reviewed and promoted and so on. Of course I would never be able to carry on with my site but for my family who help me with the baby while Stano is at work. But even with all the help I receive from my relatives, I’m still hesitating about my ability to start a large redesign project. Motivating tips on balancing work and a baby are welcome! ;-)

Spring Flowers

I’ve been so snowed under with work that I absolutely forgot about Maslenitsa!! I only realized the festive week was nearly over when Mom invited us for a family dinner on the last day of Maslenitsa. So I didn’t even manage to make any Blinis this year! I was so upset. I only made some lemon curd following this recipe by Dansukker. This was my first time making lemon curd at home and I was surprised by how easy that was. I followed the recipe to the word, just incorporating some grated lemon zest for an even more vibrant flavour. I brought a jar of lemon curd to our family get-together and we spread it on the delish Tsar’s Blinis along with caviar, sour cream, and raspberry jam. And I’ve reserved a mini jar of the curd for myself - to stir into my vanilla ice-cream in the evening. Here, I also found some more fabulous ideas for using lemon curd in desserts.

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Banana Chocolate Swirl Muffins

Banana Chocolate Swirl Muffins

I came up with the idea of these muffins when I wanted to bake something as a little “Thank you” gift for a friend of ours who is helping us with choosing and buying a car. Of course the idea of banana chocolate swirls is not new, but I didn’t really follow any recipe except for using my Chocolate Marmalade Candy Muffin recipe as a reference for making chocolate batter. I generously complemented the banana batter with vanilla in order to enhance the contrast between the moist, sweet banana swirls and the dark, rich and dense chocolate swirls. The batter was very quick and easy to make, although of course adding mashed banana and melting the margarine involves some extra bowls. I haven’t actually tried to just cream margarine instead of melting it - I suppose the batter would be  plastic enough with creamed margarine, so if you don’t want to wash an extra saucepan, try using creamed margarine at room temperature.

I was very content with the result and was happy to give these muffins away as a gift. I also gave a couple of them to my parents and left two for me and Stano to sample. I am trying to follow a healthier diet these days - five months of breastfeeding are making themselves felt and my skin and hair are starting to suffer (although I’m still getting off lightly I believe!).  One of my latest hits is an easy salad made with arugula, baby spinach, canned cannellini beans, walnuts, and blue cheese (yes, blue cheese again!). I’ve also bought a pack of organic wheat, so soon I’ll be able to jazz up my salads with wheat sprouts.

Banana Chocolate Swirl Muffin

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Chocolate Butter

Chocolate Butter

Along with boiled condensed milk, chocolate butter is one of the simplest - and the most nostalgic - home-made sweet treats of the Soviet period. Under conditions of total deficiency*, you had to be thrifty and creative. You know what we sometimes did with chocolate sweets? We spread some butter on a piece of bread, then cut a chocolate sweet into slices and put it on top of the bread. Or sometimes it was just bread, butter, and sugar on top. These simple pleasures were not as miserable as you might have thought - as everything was organic and natural. You couldn’t store products in the fridge for weeks and weeks and weeks like now: they spoiled. Butter was extremely thick, rich and… yes, buttery: the quintessence of butter. Bread was always crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, somewhat similar to ciabatta; the crust was slightly salty and pale golden. Another thing is that sometimes you could notice dirty fingermarks on a loaf of bread, so a common practice was to quickly roast each loaf over a fire in order to disinfect it, hehe.

This morning I spread a spoonful of chocolate butter on a slice of a multigrain bun and meditated about my childhood and all the flavours that are gone for good. But back then, how could I think that I would ever try mascarpone, and wasabi, and arugula?.. And that I would discuss all that with people from all around the globe? All changes are to the good…

*A riddle I invented as a child: “It’s round, green, and grows in Moscow. What is it?” - the right answer is orange, hahaha.

Chocolate Butter

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Parižske Rožky (Paris Horns)

Parižske Rožky (Paris Horns)

When I was pregnant, I often thought about how my mind would change after I’d become a mother. I wondered if I would become wiser, more patient and tolerant, more thoughtful and conscientious… more grown-up. A mother is a person you look up to, after all. So what does it take to become a mother? After I gave birth to Ivanka, I realized that nothing had changed. There certainly are external signs such as tired look or imperfect waistline, but the inner me… it hasn’t changed. It’s just like when my Mom says “I still feel like 30″ or when my Grandmother recalls anecdotes from her school years (well, Stano says she sometimes behaves as if she were 16). Because she hasn’t changed inside since she was 16. So, I’m a mother and yet I’m still the same. And for the first two months, it was as strange and hard to say “I’m a Mom” as it is to say “I love you” for the first time.

Why am I talking about this? Just because I feel like I’m still interested in my former activities like food blogging or running my other website, and sometimes it’s hard to juggle all this while staying sane. I am very attached to our daughter (to such extent that I’ve cried a few times when someone from the family went for a walk with her and I stayed home), but I’ll never become a parent obsessed with natural parenting, or any other parenting trend, or just parenting as such. It’s just a (huge and significant) part of our life, isn’t it?! I want to keep in touch with my friends, and we usually have someone to visit us on weekends, but most times I feel tired afterwards. I’ve also noticed that whenever we make a plan of watching a movie after the baby goes to bed, she won’t fall asleep for hours, so we usually end up watching the movie in bed, sharing a pair of earphones, with happy Ivanka sleeping between us.

I haven’t had the energy to bake or cook a lot of new things recently; besides, I’ve decided to eat more healthfully (seems like after 4 months of breastfeeding, I’m finally starting to lose my hair - I need vitamins badly). Thanks to Healthy Mamma, I’ve found a collection of fabulous smoothies - I want to try them all, well maybe except for those with veggies, I’m still not used to drinking vegetables. I made a Banana-Oat smoothie this morning and it rocked!! Why have I never added rolled oats to my smoothies before?!

So now I finally have the time to write about Parižske rožky (Paris Horns), which are my favourite variety of baked goodies Stano’s Mom makes for Christmas. These tiny cakes are a true masterpiece. There’s a generous triple swirl of luxuriant chocolate buttercream on top of a fragile walnut meringue, and each cake is glazed with dark, glossy chocolate. It’s a heavenly combination of three textures - the brittleness of meringue, the silkiness of buttercream, and the subtle crisp of chocolate glaze. It takes a while to make them though - bake the meringues, make the buttercream, decorate each cake and dip each one in melted chocolate - so I am not sure I’ll be able to recreate them in near future. But if you have a free evening, they’re really worth it. And here’s the recipe.

UPD We also have a brand new fan page on Facebook! Please “Like” us if you enjoy reading our blog! Thank you :)
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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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