Russian Easter Cake (Kulich)

 Every year on Easter I’m coloring eggs and making kulichi. I love foodie traditions! 😀
 Kulich is a traditional sweet bread that is usually baked in a tall cylindrical shape tins (similar to Italian panettone); kulichi are made from brioche dough with dried fruits or nuts added, and decorated with snow-white icing or it might be not topped at all.
 During the Eater holiday in Russia people visit their relatives and friends and give each other colored eggs, various sweets and kulichi. One of the most amazing things about kulich that it stays fresh and soft pretty long: I  suggest to make the double quantity of the dough and bake small-size kulichi, so you can take a couple pieces with you when visiting a friend. What can be better than such a nice, sweet and home-made gift, right? 🙂
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 This time I decided to add a touch of luxury to the kulich’s dough, so I added lots of aromatic spices (vanilla, cardamom, saffron), and used double fat milk and more egg yolks (compare to my regular recipe) to make the dough richer. Of course preparing the dough and making kulichi is a time consuming process but its absolutely worth it! The result is beautiful, flavorful and soft kulich!
 Don’t forget to sprinkle the cake with colorful edible beads for the final touch!
Easter kulich
Paskha is another traditional Easter dessert, where the main ingredient is tvorog (the farmer cheese). I absolutely love it and I wish I could it more often then once a year. 😀 Click here to get the recipe.
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Russian Easter Cake (Kulich)

  • Servings: 1x15cm kulich
  • Difficulty: moderate
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For one 15cm round tin.
 
I used large eggs. Egg for the glazing need to be very fresh.
The dough should be soft, but if needed add more flour.

Ingredients

370g plain flour

6g yeast
small pinch of salt
150ml double cream milk, warm
4 egg yolks + 1 egg yolk (for brushing)
80g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cardamom, crushed (use only seeds)
a pinch of saffron
75g butter, very soft but not melted
120g mixture of golden&dark raisins and dry fruits (orange, strawberry)
50-70g roasted silvered almonds, optional
Icing
1 egg white
150-160g icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Preparation method
  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift 100g of flour, add salt, yeast, warm milk and stir to combine. Cover with a wet kitchen towel and let it rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, vanilla and sugar with hand or electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until pale. Add egg mixture and butter to the dough, mix to combine. Sift the remaining flour, add spices and mix just to combine.
  3. Transfer the dough to the working surface and knead to combine.
  4. Return the dough to the large bowl, cover again with wet kitchen towel and let it rise for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, wash raisins, blot it up with paper towel. Sprinkle all dry fruits with a teaspoon of flour, it allows them to be evenly distributed throughout the dough. Mix fruits and nuts into the dough. Cover the dough with wet kitchen towel and let it rise for 60 minutes.
  6. Line the baking pan with baking paper, grease with butter. The dough should occupy 2/3 of the volume. Cover and let it rise for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Brush the kulich with egg yolk mixed with a spoon of water.
  8. Bake in preheated 100C oven for 10 minutes, then increase the heat to 180C and bake for 30 minutes or until the toothpick inserted into it gets back dry. If the top become too golden – cover kulich with a piece of foil or baking pepper.
  9. Take out of the oven, let it completely cool.
  10. For the icing, whisk egg white with few tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice until well combined. Or beat it with an electric mixer on a low speed. Gradually add more sugar and whisk again. Keep adding sugar until you gets the desired consistency (not too liquid).
  11. Spread the icing on top of each kulich with a tablespoon. Let it dry.

Enjoy!

Cover kulich in the foil or plastic wrap and keep in the fridge up to 3-4 days.
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Winter Spiced Drink

I guess some of you never heard about these beautiful berries, and even not tasted them. Not sure about the correct name in English, but google says “sea buckthorn or hippophae”. These bright orange berries have a sour and slightly bitter taste, and they are well-known in my home country. I remember  late September and myself a little girl picking these berries from trees in parents’ garden. It was not easy at all, because of dense berry arrangement on each branch plus lots of thorns among the berries! It was possible to cut the whole branches but in that case the future harvest could be low. But hard works pay and it was such a pleasure to sip freshly brewed tea with bright berries in it or just eat them as is.
 Sea buckthorn has lost of benefits for the health, and contains great amount of vitamins E and C. It can be frozen, or used in making jams, pies or preparing liquors.
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I make this simple hot drink with frozen berries, they are of course less bitter but still tastes great! Addition of cinnamon sticks and star anise adds a nice spicy note to the drink, that always associated with cold winter days. I haven’t used any tea this time, but you can add a cup of freshly brewed black tea (plain, not flavored) to the drink and simmer all together.
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I truly hope that you could get and enjoy these beauties one day! Highly recommend to serve it in a glasses (or transparent tea pot) so you can enjoy not only the taste but also to watch how berries and spices ‘dancing’ in your glass!
winter-spice-drink

Winter Spiced Drink with sea buckthorns

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: very easy
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You can add a freshly brewed black tea (plain, not flavored) instead of water or make 50/50 and simmer all together. 
Ingredients 
150g frozen sea buckthorns
600-700ml water
1 cinnamon stick
1-2 star anise
1tbsp brown sugar or honey to taste, optional
Method 
  • Cover frozen berries with water, add spices.
  • If using sugar add it along with spices. You can leave the drink unsweetened and serve it with honey, which is better to not to boil and preferably add to the ready drink thus it can keep all its healthy benefits.
  • Bring the drink to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Switch off the heat and leave to infuse for few minutes more.
  • Serve warm.
Enjoy!

Gingerbread cookies

 Holiday Greetings! Merry Christmas! May this amazing and magical time of the year will be filled with joy and happiness, and sparkle with moments of love and laughter!
 Winter holidays are about spending time with your family, loved ones and close friends. In this lovely season you may find lots of little things to do, simple things which make you truly happy. I love watching ‘winter’ movies, while eating mandarins or some traditional festive salads, or what a pleasure to wrap up in a cozy blanket and sip hot cinnamon tea, reread favourite book and of course baking! This year I haven’t had time as much as I wanted to spend over baking, but I’d like to share with you my recipe of gingerbread cookies. What a winter without cookies, right? And I can’t wait when my little pie will grow up and we will be making festive cookies together!
xmas-moose

Gingerbread cookies

Ingredients
100g butter
100g brown or raw sugar, or mix
1 large egg
4 tbsp/50g molasses
200g or more plain flour
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
mixture of ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves

Persimmon&Jamon Salad for Women’s Day

Today, March 8th, many people are celebrating International Women’s Day across the globe. Of course, each country have their own means of celebration, special traditions and demonstrations, gifts and food. In my home-country (Russia) this day even is a public holiday. It is also another good day/reason to call your mother, sister or a friend and say how much they mean to you, or celebrate a woman who has always inspired you. And why not to rise a glass for yourself? 😉Persimmon&jamon Salad

 This elegant salad can be served as a tasty fare for the Women’s Day. You need only few minutes literally to assemble and serve the salad. Salty dry-cured meat and tender persimmon slices go perfect together here. Impress your guests or and simply enjoy it yourself.ProsciuttoSalad with persimmonProsciuttoSalad with persimmon and pomegranate seeds

Salad with persimmon&jamon

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: very easy
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 Few shavings of parmesan or grana padano cheese make the salad only better.
Ingredients
4 thin slices jamon serrano (or prosciutto)
10-12 thin slices persimmon (from a quarter)
2-3 tbsp pomegranate seeds
200-300g small arugula leaves
2 tbsp pistachios, chopped
Dressing
2 tbsp EV olive oil
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
sea salt, to taste
Preparation method
  1. Arrange 2 slices of jamon and 5-6 slices of persimmon on each plate. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
  2. Top with arugula leaves. Mix ingredients for the dressing, drizzle the salad and sprinkle with nuts.
Enjoy!
recipe found here (in Russian)

Fish with spiced lentil ragout

 Happy Valentines Day!!! 
I’d like to represent a very delicious main course, that looks elegant and suits perfectly to this special day. A healthy and tasty fish is complemented here by aromatic lentil ragout and fresh fennel shavings. Another secret weapon in this sensational dish is aromatic spices: turmeric and ginger, that really burst the lentils with lots of flavour. And of course don’t forget the final touch – a drizzle of lime juice.
 Simple! Healthy! Sensational!Fish with spiced lentil ragout

Fish with spiced lentil ragout

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
Fish
2 x 150-200g white fish fillet (I used sea bass)
2 tbsp lime juice
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
some homemade breadcrumbs and flour, for coating
1 tbsp olive oil or other veg oil, for frying
Lentil ragout
100g dried green/brown or Puy lentils
1 rosemary sprig
water
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, cut into fine cubes
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 medium tomato, chopped (without liquid and seeds)
1.5 tbsp tomato puree
zest from 1/2 lime
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
Garnish
lime juice
lime wedges
fennel shavings
fennel or parsley
Preparation method
  1. Rinse and drain lentils. Put in a saucepan with rosemary, cover with water (do not season) and bring to boil on a medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add extra water if all absorbed, or drain some if there is any left.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a small frying pan, add onion and carrot and saute for 6-7 minutes until soft and golden. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric and saute for a minute more. Stir in chopped tomato and puree. Turn off the heat.
  3. Discard rosemary form lentils. While lentils are still warm season with salt and pepper, then mix in lemon zest and vegetable mixture; give it a good stir.
  4. Drizzle fish with lime juice, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle skin side with breadcrumbs and flour. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry skin-side down for 2 minutes, then turn and fry for 1-3 minutes more (depends on fish thickness), until golden and cooked.
  5. Arrange lentil ragout on a serving plate, top with fennel and fish fillet, drizzle with lime juice. Garnish with fennel (or parsley) and lime wedges.
Enjoy!