Maslenitsa or Butterweek is going on in Russia right now. It’s a winter festival, saying goodbye to the cold winter days and greeting the warm and sunny spring. During this week people prepare and eat lots of blini. For breakfast blini can be served simple and quick with melted butter and sugar or some homemade jam, for lunch – again blini, and for the dinner, especially when the whole family is getting together, is really nice and festive to serve the delicious salmon pie or this one – soft, aromatic and nourishing spiral meat pie.
Blini and the filling can be prepared a couple of days ahead, so you can assemble the pie whenever you have the time or just before the dinner. Succulent stewed cabbage, tasty beef and aromatic dill along with coriander and parsley make the filling truly wonderful! Moreover, blini will be soaked in a mixture of sour cream and eggs, that adds extra moisture and taste.
Maslenitsa is a very kind and light time, each day has a special meaning according to old tradition. For example, Wednesday is called “Gourmand”. On this day huge tables and stalls were settled on main squares, where people could drink hot honey-based sbiten and aromatic tea, enjoyed gingerbreads, fresh buns and some other sweet treats, and definitely taste the unlimited blini! But the main event was the visit of son-in-law his mother-in-law, and the mother tried to prepare the best blini she could to show respect and love to her daughter’ husband.
On Friday, the mother-in-law returned the visit, then her daughter made pancakes and the son-in-law had to please the mother and her other relatives.
Heat some oil in one frying pan, add chopped onion and beef, season with marjoram and salt and pepper. Fry on a high heat for few minutes, breaking up the lumps with spatula. Reduce the heat to medium and fry for 10-15 minutes more. Then add some warm water, if the meat is too dry, cover with the lid and simmer until tender or while you’re preparing the cabbage.
In another pan, heat the oil and shredded cabbage, fry on a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, allow cabbage to brown but not to burn. Fry until cabbage is brown, then sprinkle with dill and coriander, season, cover with a lid and cook until the cabbage is soft.
To assemble, you need any round baking dish, covered with baking paper and drizzled with oil. Mix meat with cabbage and fresh parsley. Take one blin and put one-two tablespoons of the filling into it, roll. Make as much as fits to the baking dish.
A year ago I visited “Taste of Dubai”. It was a large, full of fun and activities festival, dedicated to food, cooking and eating! It brought together restaurant and street food, music performances, cooking classes and live cooking demonstrations. You could order some nice food, relax and enjoy the music, another great way to spend the evening was to cook along with top chefs. Many world-famous and celebrity chefs were invited to the festival, and I could watch how they are preparing amazing and tasty food, and then taste it. Among many chefs was Dhruv Baker, he is known as a winner of MasterChef 2010, and I didn’t miss a chance to sign his cookbook ‘Spice’.
Honestly speaking, I’ve prepared only few recipes from his book so far. 😀 They were not spectacular as I expected: for example, “caponata” turned out as a regular eggplant stew, that I make often too – only without vinegar and olives. But I really liked this recipe made from fried cauliflower florets with peas, tomatoes and a mixture of spices. Mustard seeds, fresh ginger and cumin infuse the dish perfectly, while chilli adds a mild spiciness. The final addition of fresh coriander leaves on top and lime juice adds a beautiful touch. I served this simple but tasty cauliflower with roasted chicken.
I am curious about all new foodie things and lately, I have discovered on the Internet that the combination of cauliflower and peas is a common in Indian cuisine. I really liked this easy and healthy dish. Spices do wonders! 🙂
Hello guys! How is your week going on? Today I’d love to share with you how I spent last weekend!
I visited “Eat the World Dubai” as a part of the Dubai Food Festival 2016. It was held on a green lawn (which is called Burj Park), right next to Burj Khalifa and the Dubai mall. It was all about street food. The most exciting thing was that 15 food trucks were brought from the UK, and as it was announced ‘the best ones’- winners and finalists of British Street Food Awards. Of course, some local street food there was as well.
I think nowadays street food means more than regular hamburgers and hot-dogs. There are lots of people/cooks who are passionate for food, who have a creativity for what they cook; people who desire to prepare something extravaganza in front of you. Plus, it should be affordable and don’t ruin your family budget.
One of the thing I wanted to try was “Crabbie Shack”. I imagine myself a huge, unreal ans super tasty patty made from crab meat. After a pretty long line of waiting, finally I got it. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed. Crab was deep-fried (I rare eat such food) and seemed it was left in some skin.. plus the bun was too greasy and it was complicated to bite the huge burger. What I like – the combination of fennel seeds and almond flakes; definitely I will use it in the future cooking. Harissa (not spicy one) and smashed avocado was another delicious touch.
It’s worth mentioning the remarkable pizza preparation. Guys were made it in a truck! Can you imagine? Oven truck! 😀
Dark Sweet side was an ice cream! One of the UAE team trucks “from Miami to Dubai” sold gelato on a stick, that you could dip into various chocolate and cover in nuts, sprinkles or coconut flakes. I tried strawberry covered with white chocolate and walnuts. Yummy! 🙂
British crew “Milo&Hector’s” brought a cute little truck and made ice cream sandwiches. Never tasted before, it was soooo good! Especially after a sunny afternoon in the park. May be I’d reduce the sweetness of cookies..
And so much more..
I enjoyed every minute of this open-air festival. There were lots of amazing smells and flavours around. Music, cooking demos, smiling people who were eating&eating, siting on a grass, relaxing..
When I decided to make chocolate pancakes, I didn’t expect them turn out so good and delicious: a pure indulgence! I wanted to serve them only with a black-cherry jam. But when I stumbled upon a pack of mascarpone in my fridge, that I wanted to use somewhere else, the decision came itself – use it as a topping! Mascarpone worked perfectly as a cream and cherry syrup (I mixed jam with some water to make it thinner) sucked into pancakes very well, like into a sponge cake. All ingredients worked more than good together, dark chocolate and fresh cherry on top added a nice and charming touch as well. Plus, the taste reminds the famous cake – “Black Forest”. It’s my husband’s favorite cake, so he was on a nine cloud! Honestly, these are highly recommended pancakes!
In a large bowl, beat eggs with with sugar, salt and vanilla. Whisk in butter.
Pour in milk and sour cream, stir all together.
Sift flour along with baking powder, soda and cocoa into a batter. Whisk until combined. Fold in chopped chocolate.
Heat large frying pan on a high heat, pour in some oil. Using large spoon, pour in batter. Cook each pancake until bubbles appear on top, then flip and cook on another side.
For cheery syrup, in a small saucepan, bring jam and water to gentle simmer. Simmer on a medium-low heat for few minutes. If it’s too sweet, stir in lemon juice. Add more water to make it more thin, if desired.
In a serving bowl, stir together mascarpone and maple syrup or honey.
This salad is a traditional dish in Russian cuisine, and most of the time it is associated with New Year celebration, when it’s always served on a festive table along with another popular salad – “shuba”.
The very first and original version of this salad was invented in the beginning of 1860s by chef Lucien Olivier, who was the owner of the renowned Moscow restaurant “Hermitage”. “Olivier Salad” quickly became popular among restaurant visitors, the salad brought him a great fame and became the signature dish. The recipe and especially the dressing was kept in a big secret, and unfortunately the fact is that the exact recipe is still unknown. But according to some notes, it’s known that the salad contained hazel grouse, veal tongue, black caviar, fresh salad leaves, crayfishes or lobster, some pickled, fresh cucumbers, capers and boiled eggs. And the secret dressing was prepared from fresh raw eggs, some secret herbs and olive oil.
As you can see, all ingredients were posh and expensive. So, lately during Soviet time, these fine ingredients were replaced by cheap and widely-available, like boiled kolbasa (bologna sausage) or meat, boiled potatoes and carrots, pickled cucumbers and peas, dressed with store-bought mayonnaise instead of home-made French dressing. Such simple and nourishing salad was widely-popular, and soon it became a staple and traditional dish of Soviet holiday dinner, and particularly of New Year’s Eve. Lately, it’s even got a second name – “Winter Salad”. Beyond Russia this salad is often called as “Russian Salad”.
Nowadays, the salad is still a traditional part of New Year celebration, but there are lots of versions – with boiled beef or chicken, beef tongue, fish and caviar, fresh or pickled cucumbers and so on. My recipe is a common version of the Winter Salad – with boiled beef, pickled cucumbers and mayonnaise. It’s a little bit on a dark/unhealthy side of my diet 😀 but consuming it on the holiday dinner is also a part of Russian tradition, so eating it once a year don’t make anyone fat. 🙂 Enjoy!
You can garnish the salad with some peas and chopped dill or parsley.
*Add more cucumbers if using small gherkins.
350g beef (one whole piece, without any bones)
300g/ 2 large potatoes
1 large or 2 medium carrot
4 medium eggs
4 medium pickled cucumbers*
1/2 medium brown onion
1 can of green pea
mayonnaise, to taste
salt, to taste, optional
In a pan, put meat and cover with cold water, bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for about 50 minutes or until meat is ready. Completely cool and cut the meat into small cubes (about 1 cm).
In another large pan, put potatoes and carrot in their skin, cover with water, bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until veggies are soft. Cool, peel and cut into small cubes (about 1 cm).
In another pan, hard-boil eggs. Also cut into cubes.
Finely chop the onion, put in a bowl, drizzle with some apple vinegar and cover with hot water. Leave for 15 minutes, then drain.
Also cut the cucumbers into small cubes.
In a large serving bowl, add all ingredients along with drained peas. Dress with mayo to suit your own taste.
You can keep the undressed salad in the fridge up to 2-3 days.