Friday, February 25, 2011

Oatmeal love and hate

I had huge doubts on whether I should write this post. The thing is that in Russia oatmeal is traditionally served for breakfast in kindergartens. Somehow they cook it in a way that serious number of adult people in Russia hate the oatmeal till the end of their life. Even the smell and look of it. So if you feel sensitive to the subject, you might want to stop right here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Russian syrniki (cottage cheese pancakes)

While living in France last year I noticed how different diary products are there compared to those I was used to in Russia. Especially it's true for cottage cheese which is so common and widely used in Russia and almost absent in French food stores.

Cottage cheese is used a lot in Russian cooking so it has always been part of my daily life. I love pancakes rolled up with sweetened cottage cheese inside and served with some red berry souse. Should I even talk about varenyky (Ukranian dumpling) stuffed with cottage cheese with sour cream and butter melting on top of them? Varenyky as well as some other Ukrainian dishes are also part of our family cooking as my grand grandma was a Ukrainian. She was the one why taught my mom and then me to cook.

Another thing is syrniki - cottage cheese pancakes cooked across all Eastern Europe. It's one of those dishes that I grew up with. I moved from watching how my mom makes them to helping her make them and finally to making them myself. Syrniki are a way of life food. They just have to be there from time to time.

They are simple to make and they are delicious so I'm sharing my recipe with you. I'm not pretending it's a classical one, it's just my family one. We prefer them with less flour (it makes them really tender). I also love adding lemon zest and vanilla. Both obviously do not come from traditional recipe. However with cottage cheese they make a perfect combination and the aroma gets just incredible.

Syrniki (Russian cottage cheese pancakes)

serves 4

500 gr cottage cheese
2 eggs
2 tbs sugar
pinch of salt
2-3 tbs flour
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tea spoon vanilla sugar
vegetable oil

Combine the eggs with sugar, salt, lemon zest and vanilla sugar. Add the cottage cheese and mix well. Add the flour and mix. Start from 2 tbs. If you see the butter is too thin, add the third tbs. The final texture should be around this.


In a large frying pan heat 2 tbs of vegetable oil. Set the heat to medium and scoop the butter in using a table spoon or ice-cream scooper.

Cook for a minute or 2 till the syrniki get good color from one side.

Flip them over, reduce the heat to low, put the lid on and cook for another 6-8 minutes. Take ready syrniki out and keep them warm till serving. Repeat with the rest of the butter.

Syrniki are best right out from the pan so be sure to have at least one while you're making them. I prefer them served with sour cream, but pick something you like: butter, honey, sweet condensed milk and jam seem to be the favorite compliments in Russia.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pumpkin fritters follow up

The pumpkin porridge was gone immediately, but half the pumpkin was still in my fridge. That's how I found myself frying pumpkin fritters. There is something very relaxing about cooking fritters. I love spooning them into hot oil, watching the oil bubbling, flipping them over and watching their golden crust. It's most fun in the winter when I constantly need to warm up.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pumpkin porridge for Russian winter

I've done way too much French baking lately. Especially taking into account that the air temperature holds at -20C for the second week in a row and everybody needs real food. Hot, simple and nutritious. Whenever it gets so cold the same thing happens to me. Not only I start eating like crazy. I just have to have as much butter, chocolate and other greasy food as possible.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Like water for chocolate

By some chance I just bumped into Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies on my bookshelf. In its old paper cover it's been lost and forgotten there for several years. I opened it to recall what it was about and I ended up reading all it night. What a beautiful food and love story! I just have to have my say on it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Peking duck Moscow restaurant

I got so caught in the blog's technical part these days that I'm starting to freak out from all these HTML codes. As a result the story about our recent visit to Peking duck restaurant has been waiting for a long week to be shared. It's finally time to enjoy some writing.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Savoiardi biscuits (ladyfingers)

To complement the Sabayon I made last night I also made savoiardi biscuits (ladyfingers). Besides the fact that they are perfect with sabayon and as part of tiramisu, there is nothing better for a morning cup of espresso.

Delicious sabayon

When I'm depressed I often start hard core baking. That's exactly why a couple of days ago I found myself in front of my favorite confectionary book. I was looking for something that would keep me busy for at least half a day. Le Cordon Bleu Dessert Techniques is a perfect source of ideas for such an occasion.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pull me up (all time tiramisu)

Tiramisu is my second contribution the Valentine's day celebration. The first was Valentine's sparkling strawberry cocktail I published yesterday. I'm making tiramisu like in those good old times when I was working in a Moscow cooking school organized by Gastronom magazine. I wish once I went back to this job.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's cocktail

St. Valentine's day is on its way and I keep meeting people talking about gifts to those they love. If you consider entering the kitchen this day, I've got an idea for you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hot and spicy mulled wine

One of my greatest joys at cold season is mulled wine. It sounds as "Glintvein" in Russian and it's just around you in the winter. Every single Moscow restaurant and cafe has it on the menu. Cooking magazines keep publishing mulled wine recipes. I absolutely associated it with Russian food before I went skiing to Austria and then to France and bumped into their "Glühwein" and "Vin chaud".

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gogol-Mogol Moscow cafe

For yesterday lunch I met my mom to visit Gogol-Mogol a Moscow cafe she found recently. Male part of the family skipped as they do not go to "you girly cafes". It's located near Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on Gagarinsky pereulok 6. It's been a long time since I had such a nice finding.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Koh Pangan seafood pasta

We spent this new year vacation on Koh Pangan in Thailand and since we came back I couldn't help thinking about seafood pasta we had in Angels bay restaurant. Surprisingly, it is an excellent pizzeria ran by the French.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beard papa's Moscow bakery cream puffs

I found about Beard papa's last winter after they opened their first Moscow shop on Gogolevsky bulvard 6. The Japanese making something very French (puffs filled with vanilla cream)... the idea sounded a bit weird at first. They were so good though! Light and crispy dough. The cream is cool, smooth and very rich with its natural vanilla aroma.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Long, exhausting and delicious Bouillabaisse

The whole day was busy with this 'fish soup' (forgive me for saying these two words, I don't mean to hurt your feelings). And I didn't even wake up early enough to join our chef shopping. If I put it into bouillabaisse recipe format it is going to look long and scary. Better I'll just tell you about the day. Misha's bouillabaisse is inspired by Le Miramar port restaurant in Marseille. 'It is getting more and more expensive to have bouillabaisse in Marseille' he sais, 'last time the two of us paid something like 350 euros in Le Miramar'.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Soft brownies

Since my recent failure with brownies I just couldn't wait to give them a second go. This time I made really soft brownies with Dulce de Leche following David Lebovitz recipe. Yes, second time. Some things I only learn from my own mistakes.