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

White Bean Soup

Cannellini Soup

This simple and budget-friendly soup used to be a frequent plat du jour in our home when we were children. Of course, Mom used to make it without Parmesan cheese; we first heard about Parmigiano-Reggiano about ten to twelve years ago, I believe. Like a lot of kids or teenagers, I was not crazy over soups back then; sometimes I succeeded to talk Mom into adding some Vegeta-type-of-thing to my chicken soup, that was deliciousness!! :) It was quite impossible to sprinkle Vegeta into white bean soup that was always served with sour cream, so why would I like it as a child?

And, like a lot of adults, I enjoy a bowl of warming, filling soup these days. I like to make cannellini soup by my Mom’s recipe. And Mom has found out that a handful of grated Parmesan cheese lends this light soup some pleasant sharpness, which blends harmoniously with the aroma of garlic and the flavour of full-fat sour cream. A fresh twist on a basic dish from my childhood.

Sorry for the lame pictures by the way, I was in a hurry as always :-p
UPD: Check out our recipe for Kulich - Russian Easter bread - featured on The Hungarian Girl, the great web guide to Central and Eastern European travel, wine, and food. You might be also interested in reading about Easter traditions in Hungary, Ukraine, Poland and other countries here!
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Quick Apple Cake

Quick Apple Cake

Looking through Grandmother’s recipe notebook that I borrowed from her (although it looks more like I’ve expropriated it, muahaha), I stumbled across a recipe titled “Quick Apple Cake”.  Naturally, the word “quick” caught my eye. My first attempt at this was a fail though, because I used a baking form that was too deep so there was too much batter and too little apples. Last night I made the cake again and it was a lot better!

This is the classic combination of fragrant fall apples flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg on top of a dense, moist sweet-scented cake. Something very basic and homely, perfect with a scoop of good sour cream or Crème fraiche. Not to mention that the smell of a baking apple cake is one of the coziest food smells in the world!! I’m now thinking of trying this as an upside-down cake - to lock all of the rich apple juices inside.

Grandmother's Quick Apple Cake
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Chanterelle Soup Revisited

Chanterelle Soup with Sour Cream

Chanterelles being one of my very very very favourite foods ever (they’re definitely in my Top5 favourite foods, even though I’m not sure what other 4 foods make the Top… I guess lemons and… what else..?), I couldn’t resist highlighting this recipe again. We wrote about Chanterelle soup as one of our first blog entries a year ago. We’ve already made it twice this summer, with a few tweaks, and I thought this lovely summer mushroom soup was worth mentioning once again.

Another super-addictive food I’ve had today was wild strawberries. I’m a wild strawberry maniac. Their scent, one of Nature’s sweetest and daintiest perfumes, makes me tremble. Unfortunately these tiny gems are quite expensive, so I don’t think I’ll have more wild strawberries this year… we’ll see. Perhaps it would be a sacrilege to, say, bake with them, but I’d love to try. I’ve had those delicious wild strawberry and cottage cheese tarts at a French bakery near my office, and they were oh so good!

Wild Strawberries

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Cheese&Onion Chicken Rolls with Vegetable&Dried Plum Salad

Cheese&Onion Chicken Rolls with Vegetable and Dried Plum Salad

I haven’t eaten meat or poultry for many years now, and even when I HAD to try some chicken recently (I really HAD to), I was surprised how different the taste and the texture were from what I had in my memory… Perhaps I had some idealistic impression about chicken meat in my mind, which didn’t match my current sensation. So I’m not going to become a carnivore in the nearest future… expect for fish, which I can’t resist. But, there’re things you can know and feel even if you can’t try them. I’m talking about these chicken rolls now. Stuffed with mild cheese and golden-brown onions, they’re so simple and appetizing – even to me. Like most chicken dishes, they’re quick to prepare and attractive. This recipe has been one of our family favourites for many years now. Mom also used to make similar rolls of beef, but nowadays my parents prefer poultry. Besides, thanks to that golden crust chicken rolls look much much more attractive than meat rolls.

While the rolls were cooking, we quickly made some a salad with fresh vegetables, apples, and dried plums. Who doesn’t love dried fruit in a salad? I’m convinced that adding a handful of chopped dried plums, dried cranberries or even figs is the easiest way to add some special twist to a mix of fresh vegetables and greens. I also love some pine nuts in this salad, but we didn’t have any at hand this time.

And hey, we have first strawberries from Spain here already. They taste almost like local summer strawberries. First strawberries are such a delicacy that you don’t even want to cook anything with them, they’re perfect alone. Weeks pass before you start thinking of some strawberry parfaits or shortcakes or crumbles… and then there’re endless possibilities… I can’t wait to cook with strawberries this summer!

Cheese&Onion Chicken Rolls with Vegetable and Dried Plum Salad

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Simple Apple Sponge Cake

Simple Apple Sponge Cake

Interestingly enough, all of my best friends are Tauruses. Three of my best friends plus my boyfriend, to be more precise. That’s why I’ve spent all my free time at birthday parties recently (makes me feel very popular, hehe). One of my friends is mastering Ayurvedic cooking by the way, which is much more diverse than I used to think. I should ask her to write a guest post about that delicious zucchini and pea soup she made for her birthday! It was so healthy and colourful – I loved how the soup sparkled with yellows and greens when I added a spoonful of sour cream into it!

So, as you might have guessed, I’ve been so busy going out that I haven’t really cooked anything worth displaying here. Instead, Mum cooked her great and simple sponge cake with apples and cinnamon. One of our family all-time favourites, it’s easy and cheap to make. A slice of apple sponge cake with a glass of milk (or baked milk, which I’m a huge fan of) – that’s a real comfort food, don’t you think so?

Simple Apple Sponge Cake
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Russian Kulich (Easter Bread)

Russian Kulich

The smell of Russian Kulich reminds you of that of a Russian church, where air is always filled with warm scents of labdanum and melting wax. The mix of cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger creates that special air of solemnity which accompanies this great Sunday. Looking at the towering Kulichi with their heads glazed with snow-white icing, you might think of Orthodox churches with their hemispheric cupolas.

The most wonderful thing you will discover about Kulich is that it will remain surprisingly fresh and moist for 5 to 7 days. This is an important quality of this Easter bread because the holiday lasts for a whole week, during which people visit their friends and relatives and give each other Kulichi.

The technique we use to colour eggs for Easter is boil them with onion peels. Onion peels give them a dark brick-red colour, and it’s absolutely safe. I also decorated a few eggs with non-toxic gold and silver.

Russian Kulichi
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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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