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

Courgette and Chanterelle Mini Tarts

Courgette and Chanterelle Mini Tarts

Seems like I’m moving to an apartment with an induction stove and an electric oven – that’s something new for me as I’ve always cooked with gas. Maybe that’s old-fashioned, but it’s visually clear to me, and I like that you can adjust the temperature instantly. Another big pro is that gas is considerably cheaper than electricity in my country. Maybe it’s also the bad experience from our last year’s trip to Croatia that puts me off induction stoves. We were staying in a small cottage house by the sea and the cooker in our mini-kitchen was probably the cheapest you could find. You’d have to wait for 40 minutes to bring water to a boil. Oh I still remember the evening that I tried to fry eggplants. The first three or four batches looked more like steamed eggplants - pale and spongy. Then suddenly I got a pan of overcooked eggplant chips. Then I switched off the heat, the eggplants went into trash, and we had sandwiches for dinner.

But I really hope the stove and oven in the new apartment are nothing similar to the one we had in Croatia. I can’t wait to move and unpack my new baking pans and moulds and my Villeroy&Boch cutlery. Perhaps I’ll need to buy a set of nice mugs and bowls for daily use, and a million of other things. Hope I won’t go bankrupt!

These tarts were made in our good old gas oven. We had two packs of phyllo pastry in the freezer and a lot of fresh chanterelles (they seem to be our top ingredient this summer). At first we thought of a potato and mushroom pie that we’ve already made a few times (I love pastry with potatoes!), but then we thought that the winy flavour of chanterelles would also pair perfectly with the mild sweetness of courgette. I think one can also experiment with shredded and browned carrots or fried onions here, in any combination with the mushrooms. If you have prepared the ingredients in advance, it takes you just half an hour to assemble and bake the tarts!

Courgette and Chanterelle Mini Tarts

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Cheese and Chanterelle Mini Omelettes (Baked)

Cheese and Chanterelle Mini Omelette (Baked)

The idea of making mini omelettes with cheese filling belongs to Mom. She invented the recipe when we were baking Rhubarb Meringue Tartelettes and she had to use up a leftover fresh egg. She slightly whisked it with a fork, added a slice of cheese, and baked it in a spare baking mould. I didn’t taste this spontaneous omelette, but it looked good! So today we made a more sophisticated version of it – with salty crumbly caraway cheese inside and tiny chanterelles on top. Provided you have some cooked chanterelles in your fridge/freezer, these fine little omelettes are made in 30 minutes from start to finish. Nothing too complicated or expensive, and yet this will definitely surprise your family or guests.

Oh and by the way, I’ve had another bowl of wild strawberries today. Life is better than I expected :)

Caraway Cheese and Chanterelle Mini Omelette
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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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Mushroom&Rice Balls with Sour Cream Dill Sauce

Mushroom and rice balls

That’s amazing how quickly I’ve turned into a true, obsessive foodie. It’s also interesting how I manage to turn almost every conversation to food. For a lot of people, cooking and eating is just a part of daily routine, so I try not to be annoying, but somehow I always find myself discussing a new recipe, or a rare kind of spice, or a favourite dish.

Today as I visited my Granny, I managed to restrain my „foodie bug” for exactly 2 hours but then I finally asked Granny to show me her recipe notebook :) I borrowed the notebook from her for a couple of weeks. It’s packed with proven, time-tested recipes. I’m especially drooling over those potato recipes, like home-made potato chips.
I can’t wait for the next weekend when I’ll be able to try some of Granny’s best recipes. I won’t be cooking next Friday night though, because we’re going to see The Nutcracker. It’s a beautiful show, an absolute must-see for anyone who is new to ballet and classical music. I can’t wait!

And here’s a recipe for mushroom and rice balls that we made this weekend. They pair nicely with a sour cream sauce that we adapted from an old Polish cookbook. The sour and milky flavour blends perfectly with the freshness of dill leaves, and the creamy texture is just what we wanted.

Mushroom and rice balls with rocket salad

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Potato and Mushroom Pie with fresh parsley

Potato&Mushroom Pie

One of the distinctive features of traditional Russian cuisine is that it was very filling. It involved a lot of pastry, dairy products, cereals, bread, and so on. Fruit were mostly represented by apples, plums, cherries, sweet cherries, cherry plums and the likes. As for vegetables, mostly root vegetables like potatoes, turnips, and beetroots were used for cooking. There’re also strong traditions of fasting in the Russian Orthodox Church - you were not allowed to eat meat or fish under several periods of the year, including the very restrictive Lent. My Grandmother also says that in the countryside, meat hardly appeared on the table in summertime.

So, good substitutes for meat were pies. And the fillings for those pies were… quite filling:) Potatoes, eggs, rice, or buckwheat in a pie?! This definitely does seem too heavy nowadays, but people did a lot of physical work back then and they needed heavy meals. Besides, they didn’t have all those addictive snacks that we nibble throughout the day.

I’m convinced that a lot of those recipes can be adapted to modern tastes and lifestyles. And I’m sure they are worth it. For example, I love the Potato and Mushroom pie which we made this weekend. It’s comforting and rustic in a nice way. It has a layer of sliced jacket potatoes, fried onions, and champignons, all topped with sour cream and egg. Finally, add some fresh parsley, which brings you the essential daily dose of vitamins. Mm?

Potato&Mushroom Pie
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Sunny’s Mushroom and Mozzarella Toasts

Mushroom&Mozzarella toasts

As soon as I saw Baby Portabella & Mozzarella on Mini Toasts at Sunny-side Up Recipes, I knew I would be making these. The recipe seemed perfect: golden-brown mini toasts topped with melting mozzarella and mushrooms sautéed in rose wine, seasoned with Italian herbs… just perfect! I really wanted to share this treat with somebody, so when Grandmother said she was going to visit us, I know what we’d offer her as an appetizer ;-)

Of course I had to alter Sunny’s ingredient list a little bit – for example, I couldn’t find any Portabella mushrooms, so I took plain champignons. The bread slices I used were bigger in size (I wish they sold such mini-toasts here!), and I removed the crust as it seemed to be too coarse for such a delicate dish. But the bread was really flavourful and I even ate almost all of the crusts while cooking, hehe. 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

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