Tag Archives: easy cooking

Sponge cake with tvorog-cream and poached plums

 Hello to you, to a person who is reading this post or just glancing at photos of this moist and delicious cake with creamy filling, that was topped with aromatic spiced plum slices. The cake itself is a sponge cake, which is very simple to make and for that you need only four ingredients. I also added a drizzle of honey to the batter, honey gives a nice golden color to the cake and of course incredible flavor!
Sponge cake with  plums and  tvorog cream
 It has been ages since I made any layer cakes, so I decided to experiment with the cream. Tvorog is a dairy product, that used very often in Russian cuisine in such dishes like syrniki, sweet bakes and many other. Thus I took tvorog, mixed it with sugar and whipping cream, and I guess the cream became very Russian. 🙂 But I didn’t stopped there and added also gelatin to the cream. Honestly, it was my first attempt adding gelatin to the cake cream (with the exception of using it in panna cotta). I wasn’t sure that it would dissolve completely in the cream, and I beat it with electric blender. I love the result – cake was super tasty as well as the cream, and it’s gone very fast, especially if you serve it with some poached plums on a side.
 If you have any tips and advises how to add gelatin to a cake cream, please do share with me! I’d like to know and learn how to use it properly.
Sponge cake with poached plums

Sponge cake with tvorog-cream and poached plums

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Using gelatin in the cream is totally optional (it just makes the cream more thick); you can easily omit it.
Ingredients
Sponge Cake
3 large eggs
100g white sugar
1/3 tsp runny honey
110g plain flour
100ml plum syrup (liquid form poached plums)
1 tbps cognac or other aromatic  alcohol, optional
poached plums, for decor
Cream
220g tvorog (Russian cottage cheese)
150g icing sugar
200ml whipping cream (35%)
8-10g powdered gelatin
50ml cold water
Method
  1. For the cake, in a large bowl beat eggs with sugar until pale and increase three times in size. Add honey and beat a little bit again. Sift the flour and carefully fold into the egg mixture with spatula.
  2. Grease 20cm cake pan with butter, sprinkle with flour and pour the batter. Bake in preheated 180C oven for 40 minutes.
  3. Leave the cake to cool in a pan for 20-30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack or plate and leave to cool for 4 hours or overnight. Cut the cake into two layers. Brush each cake with the mixture of plum syrup and alcohol (if using).
  4. For the cream, soften tvorog with a folk or electric blender. Add icing sugar and beat until combined. Add whipping cream and beat again.
  5. Dissolve gelatin in cold water and leave for 10 minutes. Add to the cream and beat again.
  6. Spread about half the cream on one of the cakes. Layer the second cake, and spread the remaining cream on the top and sides. Decorate with poached plums.
Spiced poached plums
5-7 soft plums (about 200g), sliced
80g white sugar (or more to your taste)
250 ml water
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 cardamom cloves
Method
  1. In a small pan, add plums and sugar. Add spices and cover plums with water. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, then reduce to low-medium heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until plums are soft. Leave to cool.
Enjoy!
Sharing with Angie FF#105 and co-hosts Lily and Julianna.
Sponge cake with tvorog-cream&poached plums

Salted peanut cookies

 I love shortbread cookies, there are almost thousands possibilities of flavours that you can add: mandarin, lemon or orange zest, vanilla or cinnamon, cardamom and etc. I stumbled upon this recipe a long time ago on one Russian website that content was about news, conferences for chefs and there were some recipes as well. I don’t know why I haven’t tried this recipe earlier, because these cookies are amazing! They have the right shortbread cookie texture – not too crumbly neither hard, simply divine! 🙂SPCookies

Salted peanut cookies

  • Difficulty: moderate
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I mix all ingredients with my hands. You may do it with electric mixer, but don’t overmix.
Ingredients
75g butter, cold
50g caster sugar
1 medium egg
lemon zest from 1 small lemon
120g plain flour
30g salted peanuts, chopped
Method
  • Cut butter into 1cm cubes and bring to room temperature. Divide the egg into yolk and white.
  • On a flat surface (you can do it in a large bowl too), mix butter with sugar until just coarse crumbs.
  • Add egg yolk, half of egg white (keep the rest) and lemon zest. Mix to combine.
  • Mix in flour. Combine the dough. On this step you may think you need to add extra flour, stop, no need to add extra flour or overknead the dough; after resting it’ll be perfect. Cover the dough in a plastic wrap and put in a fridge for 40-50 minutes.
  • Once the dough is cooled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface into 5mm thick disk. Cut out cookies any shape you like. Carefully transfer cookies on a lined baking tray. Brush with remaining egg white, sprinkle with peanuts.
  • Bake in preheated 180C oven for 12 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden.
Enjoy!

Beetroot dip with coriander crackers

 This is an extremely delicious beetroot dip that is super easy to prepare and is a crowd-pleaser. The bright beetroot dip can be made as a tasty and healthy appetizer for either home-parties or just your family, especially if you serve it with lots of homemade coriander crackers. Appetizer made from scratch adds a special touch to any kind of gathering. 🙂 It’s also a healthy snack anytime – just spread it over toasted bread, or use it as a wrap filling.
Beetroot dip
You can make the dip even without cheese, but I like it this way more. Also try to add feta or other soft white cheese instead of cream-cheese, walnuts is a another good substitute for pine nuts.
Beetroot dip with coriander crackers
 

Beetroot dip with coriander crackers

  • Difficulty: very easy
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Keep covered in the fridge up to 3 days.
Beetroot dip
Ingredients
150g cooked beetroot (boiled or roasted), chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2-1 tsp cumin, crushed
1 tbsp EV olive oil
2 tbsp Philadelphia cheese
1 tbsp parmesan, finely grated, optional
1 tbsp pine nuts, lightly roasted
sea salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Put all ingredients, except the pine nuts, in a small bowl of blender and blitz until smooth. Season to taste, add pine nuts and pulse a couple of times to keep some nuts pieces; if you like more smooth-pulse again.
  • Garnish with pine nuts and some grated parmesan, if desired. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.
Coriander crackers {Make approx 18 crackers}
Ingredients
130g plain flour+some for kneading and rolling
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt (want less salty, add less salt)
some freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp whole coriander seeds, crushed or ground
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, ground
40 ml EV olive oil
40 ml water+1/2 tsp white sugar
  • In a mixing bowl, combine flour, b.powder, salt and all spices. Mix in olive oil.
  • Dissolve sugar in water and pour into dough, knead the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and keep to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • On a lughtly dusted surface, roll the dough (approx 3-4 mm thick) and cut into 5×5 cm squares.
  • Transfer to a lined baking sheet and bake in preheated 190C oven for 15 minutes or until golden-brown.
  • Cool&Enjoy!

Russian Winter Salad (Olivier salad)

 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”.Russian Winter 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!
Olivier or Russuian Winter salad

Russian winter salad (Olivier salad)

  • Servings: approx 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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You can garnish the salad with some peas and chopped dill or parsley.
*Add more cucumbers if using small gherkins.
Ingredients
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
Method
  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. In another pan, hard-boil eggs. Also cut into cubes.
  4. Finely chop the onion, put in a bowl, drizzle with some apple vinegar and cover with hot water. Leave for 15 minutes, then drain.
  5. Also cut the cucumbers into small cubes.
  6. 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.
Enjoy Russian Winter Salad!

Rigatoni with mini meatballs

 Pasta is always wanted and favourite meal in my family. One of the important thing – it shouldn’t be overcooked, then I add some sauce and voilà – super speedy and tasty dish is on the table! During this week I made these rigatoni. They look awesome and tasty, don’t they? 🙂 I also had some minced veal in the freezer, plus a can of whole tomatoes and fresh basil. You simply can’t go wrong with these nice ingredients! This flavourful and tasty lunch or dinner can be ready in a half hour or less. Enjoy!Rigatoni with mini meatballs

Rigatoni with mini meatballs

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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You can also add a quail egg to the meat mixture, optional.
Ingredients 
250g dry rigatoni
Mini meatballs
150-160g veal or beef, finely minced
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Tomato sauce
1 shallot or 1/4 medium onion
1/2 tsp dried garlic (or 1 chopped garlic clove), optional
1 can of whole tomatoes (about 250g drained)
1/3 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp dark muscovado sugar (or sub with white)
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil, for frying
Garnish
some parmesan shavings
few basil leaves
Method
  1. In a bowl, mix meat mince with onion and all spices. Shape small meatballs – about 2cm in diameter. Place them in a greased baking tin and roast in preheated 200C oven for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan on a medium-high heat, add chopped onion and garlic, saute for 5-7 minutes. Add whole tomatoes, roughly crush them with a spoon. Add oregano, sugar, salt and pepper, and simmer on a low-medium heat for 5-8 minutes until it’s thicken a bit.
  3. Transfer mini meatballs in a tomato sauce, cover and simmer for 5 minutes more. Adjust the seasoning.
  4. Bring a large pan of salted water to boil. Add dried rigatoni and cook according instruction on a pack. Drain, drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Put rigatoni on a serving plate, pour over the tomato sauce with mini meatballs. Top with parmesan shavings and basil leaves.

Enjoy!