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

The Nostalgic Way To Eat Cabbage

Cabbage with Egg and Breadcrumbs
Cabbage with egg, sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs, is one of my childhood foods. Mom used to make it quite often, as it’s very quick to prepare and makes an interesting alternative to fresh salad. These days I have started making cabbage with egg again for Ivanka - and for us too. Ivanka eats in micro portions (where does all this energy come from?!), so now as she’s 10 months old and can eat a lot of things, it hardly makes sense to cook for her separately (you can always add more salt later). Cabbage is not something I’d like to have more often than once a week, but in summer, when it’s firm and green, there’s no reason to ignore it.
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Green Bean Avocado Arugula Salad

Green Bean Avocado Arugula Salad

I lied to you.

I am not making anything Eastern European this time. I have an excuse: to make something Eastern European, we always join with my Mom. She’s been planning to come over today, but it’s -18C/-0.4F outside and we had to cancel our cooking session. I could not believe it was so cold outside until I read about it in all news. Central heating is set to its fullest and we have blooming flowers all over the apartment, which sometimes makes Stano start to rummage in the wardrobe in search of  his spring jacket because he thinks it’s warm outside :)

So, I’d like to post my recipe for a salad I made yesterday for my friends. I wanted something filling (that’s why I chose green beans and avocado) yet refreshing (the crisp and watery Chinese pear) and very green (arugula, my favourite salad plant!) and flavourful (black olives and blue cheese). Stano said he could not stay in the same room with blue cheese and ostentatiously lit an aromatic candle in the living room. What’s so wrong with blue cheese?! I love it in salad dressings. And I loved the Chinese pear. Of course I drizzled both the avocado and the pear with lemon juice, but anyway the pear kept very well without darkening at all. I also cut the avocado in larger slices, so it was my first avocado salad that didn’t come out mushy. Some of the ingredients can be made ahead: I cooked the beans the day before and sliced olives and crumbled cheese in the morning, so half an hour before the guests arrived, all I had to do was to slice the pear and avocados and assemble the salad.

P.S. Happy Valentine’s! My Valentine’s gift for Stano will be that I won’t take the remaining blue cheese out of the fridge today :)

Green Bean Avocado Arugula Salad

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A Few More Words On Borsch

Vegetarian Russian Borsch

I already wrote about  Borsch, but we had very few readers at that time, so I thought it would be nice to highlight this awesome soup once again. It’s one of the pillars of Russian/Ukrainian cuisine, so you can never have too much Borsch! Made with juicy and colourful sauteed vegetables, complemented with freshly squeezed garlic and fresh chilli, and tinted with tomato paste, Borsch is such a universal kind of soup - I don’t associate it with a certain time of the year, for example. It’s equally good in summertime, when all you need for dinner is fresh vegetables, and in winter, when a bowl of comfortingly warm soup can bring you out of hibernation. This time vegetarian Borsch served as a detox meal to me - remember I was going to eat healthier after all the cakes I had been baking? I also made a polenta, and of course I’m still the terror of chickens as I’m still going on with my increased protein consumption.

Do you think I have deserved the right to bake a batch of pumpkin muffins tonight?.. :)

 

Borsch: Click here for our recipe with step-by-step photos (check out the secret ingredient of Borsch and the trick to intensify the colour of beets!)

In the pictures: serve Borsch with a spoonful of sour cream and a slice of rye bread with hot Russian mustard!

Vegetarian Russian Borsch

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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Yellow Wax Beans and Cauliflower with Cashew Nuts

Yellow Wax Beans and Cauliflower with Cashew Nuts

So jam/preserve season in officially open in our house. We’ve started off with 9 liters of strawberry freezer jam and 5 liters of black currant. That’s just a warm-up before tons of strawberry, raspberry, and plum jam, black currant marmalade and maybe apricot confiture. Fruit preserves are eaten in enormous quantities in our family, while two or three boxes of chocolates we got for Christmas are still collecting dust in the pantry. Fruit preserves are so much healthier than candies, aren’t they? And making them is healthy too: my arms got some extra workout today!

Between hulling and pureeing berries, we sometimes make meals for the family too, although the air is hot and humid outside (our small Cambodia, as I call it), and nobody feels like eating a lot, let alone cooking or (God forbid) baking. As I’m writing this however, it looks like it’s finally going to rain, so if the rain brings us some freshness, I might finally test my new muffin forms tomorrow!

As a compromise with the heat and sultriness, we made these beans and cauliflower today – they may be served lukewarm and they don’t require a lot of cooking. Yellow Wax beans, or Butter beans as they’re called here, turned out to pair extremely well with slightly fried cauliflower. Toasted cashew nuts bring some pleasant crunch to the tender vegetables, and shredded Parmesan adds a sharp, salty note. It takes minutes to boil the beans, and then you just cook them and cauliflower in a pan until they’re as golden-brown as you like.

Yellow Wax Beans and Cauliflower with Cashew Nuts and Parmesan

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Fried Eggplant with Sour Cream Garlic Dip

Fried Eggplant with Sour Cream Garlic Dip

Although fresh eggplant season hasn’t yet started and we still get these perfectly shaped, smooth supermarket-style eggplants, I decided to fry some for Saturday’s dinner – they’re so good with local baby potatoes and a sour cream&garlic dip! I like to have something garlicky on a weekend, when I’m not going out, hehe. Oh why do all the best things in the world have side effects? Mascarpone and whipped cream are not good for your waistline, garlic makes you unsociable, and too many mojitos make you way too sociable :) Life is complicated!

But anyway. I thinly sliced the eggplants and fried them without any extra condiments salt apart, to keep them as natural and plain as possible. Then I whisked some thick sour cream with mashed garlic – and voila, a simple snack with a slight Ukrainian accent is ready! Add some tender and waxy baby potatoes roasted with fresh dill, some fresh radishes, baby cucumbers and other seasonal vegetables, and enjoy the simple, basic flavours of summer!

Fried Eggplant with Sour Cream Garlic Dip

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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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