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

Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Cottage Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cottage Cheese Muffins

Buttery. Moist. Sweet. Fluffy. Aromatic. Coated with dark bittersweet chocolate and generously sprinkled with walnuts. The milky flavour of cottage cheese curds and the mild sweetness of pumpkin enhanced by the rich aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon. Perfect served for breakfast or for dessert, with a glass of milk or a cup of tea alike. I’m talking pumpkin and cottage cheese muffins!

Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Cottage Cheese Muffins
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Cold Pumpkin Cake

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Cold Pumpkin Cake

On the first snowy day in Riga, Mom made this cold pumpkin cake.

I’ve never seen a fall as long, warm, and sunny in Riga as this year. I believe this was done specially for Ivanka :) thanks to the fine weather, we could stay in the fresh air for hours, and those long long rains typical for Latvian autumn began only in mid-November. Or maybe that’s just a head start before a severe winter, we’ll see. Anyway, yesterday everything got covered with a thin layer of snow - and believe me I can see far from my 14th floor! In fact I can make mini-weather forecasts from here! Not to mention that it’s just nice to see nothing but the sky from the windows. I noticed some drawbacks of living on the 14th floor however, when the elevator stopped and someone remained stuck inside until the mender arrived…

Anyway, it looks like winter here now, and it’s a reason to have a piece of delicious cake, isn’t it? The pumpkin cake made by Mom is a compilation of multiple American cake recipes (including carrot cake) and it’s cold like winter, dusted with snow-like caster sugar, and comforting and filling as anything made of pumpkin is. I loved the super-dense, super moist texture, the slightly salty creamy filling and the subtle sweet flavour of baked pumpkin enhanced by ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. I’m sure it’s good with a cup of Christmas tea, although it was just as good with the delicate jasmine and peach blossom tea that my aunt brought from China. These pictures of the cake are actually taken by her (seems like everyone in my family is getting involved in this blog, hehe)!

Cold Pumpkin Cake

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Sour Cream Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Cranberry Compote

Pumpkin Cranberry Compote

One of the first golden rules I’ve made as a new parent is not to rush. You will never accomplish everything you’d like to on time, unless you have someone who looks after your baby 24/7 and feeds her. I was very stressed out for the first two weeks because I was trying to do everything at once – be with my daughter whenever she’s awake, do housework, update my two websites, cook, plus a dozen things more. Which was impossible, of course. The only way to handle this postpartum chaos is to relax and do your tasks one by one. Don’t be afraid to postpone things or cancel your plans, that’s what I realized, just try to be super-flexible about your schedule. Baby wakes up just after you’ve prepared all ingredients and heated your skillets for a new dish you’ve been dreaming to try? Never mind, seal your ingredients in a plastic wrap and put them off for later. Managed to do just five yoga asanas instead of the planned ten? A little is better than nothing!

With this new rule in my armoury, I’ve been waiting patiently for a free hour in my schedule to make a Panna Cotta that I’ve been meaning to make for ages, and to use up the large piece of pumpkin that Mom brought me from the farmer’s market. I primarily associate pumpkin with cuisine of the US, but it’s also a common ingredient for old Russian cuisine, where pumpkin appears in dishes like stuffed pancakes, millet gruel, pies, and others. Sour cream (Smetana in Russian) is another essential component of Russian cuisine, so this dessert is an attempt to fuse elements of Italian, American, and Russian cooking traditions. Actually I chose to substitute sour cream for half of the cream in my Panna Cotta because I shouldn’t be eating a lot of fats. Sour cream contains a lot of fat as well, but it just sounds healthier to me. And it kind of links the purely Italian treat to a compote that includes a not at all Mediterranean ingredient: wild cranberries to set off the straight sweetness of pumpkin in sugar syrup. The original recipe, which I copied from my Grandmother’s notebook, called for a splash of lemon juice and a quince in the syrup, but I’m not allowed to eat any citruses at the moment, while quince has somehow disappeared from local farmer’s markets these days. But aren’t cranberries, the fall berries, a better match for pumpkin than lemon? With cranberries instead of lemon juice, I also find this dessert quite breastfeeding-friendly, unless you’re on an individual diet. Worked well for me and my little one, at least!

Sour Cream Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Cranberry Compote

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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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