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.
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Rhubarb is one of the foods that I can eat every day once their season arrives. And it seems like all of our family is sitting on a rhubarb diet. Ivanka in enjoying her daily rhubarb drink, Stano’s asking for more rhubarb cordial, my Mom is making a rhubarb crumble, and I have three different rhubarb cakes plus preserves in my plan. We’re a kind of a rhubarb family, aren’t we! :) Maybe this is just an effect of rhubarb being the first spring fruit plant that can be eaten as a fruit. I guess most of you are already enjoying fresh strawberries and other gifts of summer, but here up North, we’re still stuck in the rhubarb season (imported strawberries don’t count). And I love it! The tart stalks that turn so tender when baked or simmered, the bold play of green and red colour that turn amber and translucent when heated, the glossy skins and the firm, watery flesh. Oh, rhubarb!
This cake, topped with streusel, is my attempt to recreate the most common Latvian rhubarb cake - a simple, lovely, habitual cake. I’ve compared about half a dozen recipes (that sometimes were pretty controversial) and compiled them into one recipe with my own amendments included. First, I used 1/4 whole wheat flour, as I frequently do these days. It’s healthier, it gives extra taste, it provides pleasant moistness. Second, I used a mix of white and brown sugar for the filling, and I think I could have used brown sugar only. The original recipes called for plain sugar of course, but I thought brown sugar was a better match for the tart rhubarb. Third, I incorporated a little starch into the filling, just to prevent it from leaking. And that’s it. I thought of playing with walnuts in the streusel, but then I decided to keep it simple and traditional. Sometimes I succeed in holding back from too much tweaking ;-)
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Rhubarb… it’s finally here. I’ve been drooling over all the gorgeous rhubarb desserts in your blogs and magazines since late April I guess, but it was only last weekend when I first saw rhubarb on the market. Of course I grabbed a large bunch of crunchy rhubarb stalks, and the next day we were already baking these tartelettes. Mom first came up with the idea of a rhubarb pie, but then we thought we’d try our new individual baking forms, so we decided on shortcrust tartelettes with rhubarb filling topped with soft meringue. This is actually a mini-version of the Raspberry Meringue Pie that we made last summer - my favourite pie ever. It’s super-versatile – you can use strawberries, blackberries or any other berries for the filling, or rhubarb, in our case. The tart rhubarb center hidden between a sweet shortcrust base and a sweet whipped meringue brings you a pleasant surprise. This is a fool-proof recipe; the hardest part is to prevent the cracks on top of meringue, which is achieved by first cooling the meringues in the oven with oven door open, and then gradually transferring them to a cooler place. I skipped this step because the sun was setting and I was in a hurry to take the photos. So, our tartelettes look pretty rustic with these cracks on top… but there’s certain charm in this, don’t you think?
The sad thing is that I don’t have that sweet tooth any longer, and while I really like the combination of sour/sweet flavours and soft/brittle textures in these tartelettes, I can’t have more than one at a time. You should know that ONE tartelette (cupcake, piece of cake, whatever sweet) used to be NOTHING for me. I could live on sweets for days. So I’m really surprised by this change and still can’t get used to it.
Another problem that seriously irritates me lately, is that there’s no decent street food in Riga. No take-away pizzas, no hot/grilled sandwiches, very poor choice of take-away drinks. I’m fed up with store-bought croissants and muesli bars, also because I’d prefer something savoury for lunch. It’s really a problem to have quick lunch in Riga, even if you work in the historical centre of the city, like I do. I recently discovered a place where you can have sushi or hot bento lunch in less than 15 minutes – that’s the only place in the Old Town which is fast, affordable and good-quality at the same time. Arghhh.
And, last but not least, I would like to say huge thanks to Barbara Rolek of Eastern European Food @ About.com, for listing our blog on her Eastern European blogroll. Check out Barbara’s latest Eastern European Beet Recipes!
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