Monthly Archives: July 2014

Transformer Pie

¬†Transformer movie is now showing in cinemas here, I’ve already watched it, and you? I know it’s totally not girly film, but all those metal giants.. Don’t you want to be friends with one of those robots? ūüėÄ ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†The below pie is also like transformer. Why don’t you invite friends for a dinner and make a surprise for them, say that you had time to prepare only sugary pie with meringue top.. They didn’t guess until you begin to cut it.. Surprise! You’ve got a slice full of savory filling!

Chicken Pie
¬†I used chicken and brown button mushrooms, but you can add some potatoes instead of mushrooms. The pie can be easily turned into sweet; use sliced apples or pears along with a handful of raisins, nectarines and blueberries are great too, and don’t forget to beat egg whites with icing sugar. Small disadvantage in sweet option are unused egg¬†yolks, which should be used somewhere; put them in a small cup, cover with¬†cling-wrap¬†and next morning prepare scrambled eggs, or much better – make¬†khvorost.

Transformer Pie

Ingredients (for 20cm/8inch round baking dish)
400-500g puff pastry, preferably homemade (with butter, not margarine)
2 small chicken breasts, around 350g
150g mushrooms, washed, sliced or cut into halves
1 leek or onion, chopped
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, optionally
1 whole egg
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 tsp strong mustard, like English
2 Tbsp fatty creme fraiche or sour cream
50g grated Parmesan or any hard cheese, optionally
salt, pepper to taste
1 Tbsp oil + 1 tsp butter
  1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry (4mm/0.15inch thick) and cut a 28cm/11inch disc. Line a baking dish, pop into the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut chicken into small cubes or strips; put in a bowl, add 1 egg yolk, 2 tsp sour cream, salt, pepper, tarragon (optionally), cover and leave to marinate for 20 minutes.
  3. In a medium pan, melt butter and oil, add onion and mushrooms, fry on a moderate heat for 10-15 minutes. Add mushroom mixture to the chicken and combine.
  4. Beat whole egg and egg yolk with remaining sour creme.
  5. Take out the baking dish. Spoon the chicken mixture in, pour over beaten eggs.
  6. Bake in preheated oven 180C/360F for 40-45 minutes.
  7. Beat egg whites with a good pinch of salt until firm peaks. Optionally, you may gently fold in cheese.
  8. Take out the pie. Spread the meringue mixture over the pie, bake for 20 minutes more or until slightly brown.
  9. Allow pie to cool for 15 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

Chicken Pie/SliceCheck out another recipe – Kournik, Russian chicken pie!

Chicken Meringue Pie

Cherry Strudel with nuts

¬† First time I have tried strudel at home. It was a frosty winter day, I was at home finishing a homework after school, when my mother came and told me she’d got a new dessert¬†recipe! I was so excited, because it has been a¬†habit in our family, almost every evening we had a tea with some¬†freshly-baked¬†pies, buns or danishes whether it were homemade or store-bought.. Easy to guess, it was a strudel recipe. At that time of the year we could make only apple-raisin filling; compare to today it was¬†impossible¬†to buy even frozen cherries, only if you hadn’t froze it by yourself last summer. So, we had some nice apples, which were picked from garden and kept in a cellar, raisins and walnuts; the recipe worked so good, the pastry turned thin and smooth.. and we liked the result – new, mysterious and so¬†delicious¬†strudel! ūüôā¬†Believe¬†me or not, since then I’m using¬†exactly¬†the same pastry recipe and it works! ūüôā

¬†Certainly, you can cheat and use filo pastry,¬†though¬†you should try to make the pastry from scratch at least once, it only sounds complicated. Most of you¬†know,¬†that nothing could beat the homemade pastry! ūüėČ
Cherry Strudel
¬†Do you know, that¬†first¬†strudel recipe is dating back to 1696; strudel legend says that the Austrian¬†Emperor’s¬†chef ¬†was perfectionist, he even made an order that¬†strudel¬†pastry¬†should be so¬†thin that you could read¬†a love letter¬†through¬†it!
Scrumptious Strudel

Cherry Strudel with nuts

250g all-purpose white flour
1 egg
50g melted butter
125ml warm water
a pinch of salt
700-900g pitted cherries
3-5 Tbsp caster sugar
4 Tbsp finely crushed almonds or breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
40g currants (black)
40g golden raisins
3 Tbsp cognac/brandy/rum
40g melted butter, for glazing
1-2 Tbsp icing sugar, for serving
  1. The pastry. Sift flour on to a clean surface, add salt, and make a  well in the middle. Slightly beat an egg with water and butter, add the mixture into flour. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, time to time punch it down and throw until it becomes elastic and smooth. Wrap it in clingfilm and leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven 200C/400F. Line the baking tray with baking paper, grease it with some melted butter or oil.
  3. The filling. In a cup or small bowl, put all washed raisins and cover with cognac; soak for 15 minutes, then pour out remaining cognac. Cut cherries into halves, you may keep some whole.
  4. The pastry. Dust a workspace with flour and roll out the pastry into¬†rectangle¬†as thinly as possible. You can place wet and floured tea-towel, and do it on it. When you can’t roll the pastry any more, begin stretching it using your hands – place back side of your hands under the pastry and¬†stretch¬†it. Keep on going until it is very thin or you can see pattern of the tea-towle¬†through¬†it.
  5. Brush the rolled dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with crushed almonds, leave en edge 3cm uncovered. If using breadcrumbs, brown them in some butter until golden-brown.
  6. Spread cherries, and sprinkle with sugar. Adjust amount of sugar, depending on your taste.
  7. Scatter raisins and remaining nuts on top.
  8. Fold uncovered edges in, then roll up the pastry into a sausage shape. 
  9. Gently put the strudel on the baking tray, brush with melted butter. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the pastry is golden.
  10. Allow to cool slightly before serving, dust with icing sugar. Serve while it’s still warm with vanilla ice cream or sauce.
¬†For the vanilla sauce, in a medium pan warm 125ml milk and vanilla bean (don’t allow to boil); add 1 beaten egg yolk along with 1Tbsp caster sugar and 1 tsp cornmeal into pan; stirring constantly, cook on a medium heat for 9-12 minutes, until the sauce thickens a bit. Let it slightly cool and serve with strudel.
Absolutely tasty!
Let’s party, lovely bloggers! Let’s drink (ha, only lemonade so far..) and eat all those tasty dishes, that we’ve brought at FF! ūüôā

Summer is a time for Russian Okroshka

Okroshka¬†is a cold Russian soup topped with kvas (a fermented beverage made from bread), which combines chopped vegetables and cooked meat or fish.¬†The name originates from verb ‘kroshit’ (soft t), that means to crumble. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†The history of the dish varies. One says it came from the old simple dish – mix of sliced radish and chopped onion topped with salt and kvas, lately some boiled potatoes were added. Another says, it came from burlaki, who ate salted fish with kvas.. Anyhow, okroshka had been made from remains of roasted pork, beef, turkey, and grouse; the meat was chopped along with pickled or fresh cucumbers, onions, sometimes with splash of brine (from pickled cucumbers or cabbage) or vinegar, and of course, homemade kvas. Peasants who work in fields took¬†vegetarian¬†okroshka and kvas for their lunch; kvas is well-known drink to quench a thirst, and okroshka is wonderful and refreshing dish during hot summer months.

¬†You can vary¬†vegetables¬†in okroshka to suit your own taste, add more or less some of them, you can add some boiled carrots, rutabaga (swede), turnip, pickled cucumbers, onion, or¬†tarragon. It’s commonly accepted that meat or fish should be 1:1 to¬†veggies.
 For the spice dressing, in a cup mix some kvas with black pepper and a teaspoon of mustard or horseradish; or rub some chopped spring onion, parsley and/or dill with salt. This dressing is added to a bowl with okroshka, then you should stir okroshka with a spoon and keep for 20-30 minuted to allow all flavours to meld; only after that you can pour over kvas, and add sour cream.
¬†¬†¬†¬†The authentic okroshka should be topped with kvas, but nowadays in Russia you can find okroshka with kefir, pure or diluted with mineral water, or airan. Such soup can be called ‘cold soup‘, not okroshka. While the original recipe did not significantly change over time, the Okroshka may slightly vary across Russia and the recipe has been slightly modified during Soviet time, some ingredients (like particular fish and meat) were not available or hard to find in a regular grocery, and people buy and use regular pork mortadella, because it contained about 90% of meat those days, and it was a good alternative to meat. Using mortadella was also making the Okroshka easier and faster to cook, and it could be make in a short time as regular salad. Many people in Russia since Soviet era still considering Okroshka with mortadella as original, despite all ingredients for the traditional recipe are widely available.
¬†So, the choice is up to you! ūüėČ

Russian Okroshka

500-600g boiled beef (or 300g beef+300g chicken), medium cubes
4 medium potatoes
5-6 large cucumbers
6-7 radishes, sliced
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped or cut into quarters
a bunch spring onion, chopped
a bunch parsley and/or dill, chopped
1 Tbsp sour cream and 1 tsp mustard, per serving
cold kvas (kefir or laban up), 250-300 ml per serving
salt and black pepper to taste
Rye bread, for serving
 Wash and rub potatoes. Place unpeeled whole potatoes a big pan with cold water, bring to boil and cook for 30 minutes or until soft. Let it cool, peel and cut into medium cubes.
 Cut cucumbers into medium cubes. If you want to keep the mixture in a fridge for 1-2 days, I suggest to discard the seeds.
 In a large bowl combine meat, vegetables, onion and greens, gently stir. You can add eggs on this step, or later into each plate.
 Put some okroshka into a serving plate, add mustard, sour cream, season to taste and give it a good stir. Pour over kvas or kefir. Enjoy!
Refreshing Okroshka
¬†Do you like matryoshki – those lovely wooden dolls? ūüėÄ


¬†Draniki¬†– thin and round potato pancakes, are often pan-fried and served with sour cream. The word ‘draniki’ originates from the verb ‘drat’ (soft t), which means grate, rub. It was originally a common breakfast, and today we stick with this tradition, but¬†in some restaurants¬†it’s served all day long. Draniki are so beloved and popular in our country, that not even every Russian knows, that it is Belarus dish.
 Potato was brought to Russia in the end of 17th century, when it was served as an exotic dish only at royal banquets, and potatoes were sprinkle with sugar, not salt and pepper as nowadays. At that time in Belarus, potato had been known for 80 years. Today potato became the main vegetable in Belarus, and now over 200 potato dishes are known.
  Similar potato pancakes can be found in many countries, like hash browns in the USA, kartoffelpuffer in Germany, Swiss rösti, or Jewish latkes, and etc.
¬†This is a simple recipe that is easy to¬†prepare¬†and produces great results! ūüôā Enjoy!

Draniki - Russian potato pancakes

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
4 large potatoes
1 egg
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2-3 Tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
a good pinch of salt
a good pinch of pepper
2-3 Tbsp sunflower oil, for frying
sour cream, for serving
  • Peel potatoes and grate (using medium or large holes of a box grater),¬†transferring¬†to a bowl of water. Soak potatoes for 10-15 minutes, then drain well in a colander, and squeeze grated¬†potatoes¬†with hand, extracting as much liquid as possible.
  • Transfer potatoes back to a bowl and stir in egg, salt, pepper and dill. Add flour and mix until well-coated. The mixture should be wet and thick (not soupy!).
  • In a heavy-based or iron skillet heat the oil until hot, but not smoking. ¬†Place the large spoonfuls of the mixture into pan, pressing down and spreading into cm/inch rounds with a fork or spoon. Reduce heat to moderate. Brown draniki on one side about 5 minutes, turn over and brown on the other. Let drain on a paper¬†towels.
  • Serve warm with sour cream or raw.
  • Draniki are also good with creme fraiche, herb cream cheese and ricotta.
The remaining draniki can be kept in a refrigerator up to one day. Reheat in a 160C/320F oven, about 10 minutes.
Russian Draniki

Middle Eastern Salmon steaks

¬†Salmon is a very popular fish in Russia. We pan-fry and roast it, make¬†delicious¬†cured salmon, pies, like worldwide famous Koulebyaka. Less fatty varieties, such as pink and hunchback are well-known and in high demand, they are less expensive, but still good and healthy choice. As you may know, such fish¬†is an¬†excellent¬†sauce of Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and B. ūüôā
 My husband and I love salmon and are always trying to find new ways to prepare it. The below recipe requires about 30 minutes and is guaranteed to please family or friends. It is simply amazing recipe, rich salmon, coated in aromatic Middle Eastern spices. 
Middle Eastern Salmon

Middle Eastern Salmon steaks

  • Servings: 2
  • Print
2 salmon steaks
2 round lemon slices
1 tsp whole white peppercorns, crushed
1-2 tsp coarse sea salt, crushed
2 tsp zaatar*
2 tsp sumac
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
*Make your own zaatar: 2Tbsp thyme+2Tbsp oregano+2Tbsp sesame seeds+1Tbsp sumac+1/2tsp ground cumin+1/2tsp salt
  • Rub salmon steaks evenly with salt, white pepper and sumac. Place fish on a baking tray (you may line it with baking paper), drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Leave to marinate for 10-20 minutes.¬†
  • Preheat the oven 180C/ F.¬†Sprinkle¬†zaatar and sesame seeds over¬†steaks; top with lemon slices. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • For the side dish, you can roast some potatoes, turnips or carrots along with salmon. Cut veggies into thin slices,¬†sprinkle¬†with salt, pepper, sesame seeds and olive oil. Potatoes usually need more time to be cooked, so you may¬†parboil¬†them before.
Bon appetite!
Delicious roasted carrots