Tag Archives: festive cooking

Pumpkin Lingonberry cake

 Is the pumpkin season over? I think pumpkins with its amazing and cheerful color, and great taste are always on time. For this cake, I used butternut squash because it was very sweet compared to a dull and bit tasteless slice of pumpkin that I had in my fridge. Choose any sweet variety or increase sugar, but definitely, the naturally sweet fruit is the best option.
¬†Once you grated the pumpkin, mixed it up with tvorog (cottage cheese) and berries, and the cake is almost ready. ūüôā For many of you, lingonberries are exotic berries but I do hope that will not stop you to try this cake, as these berries taste very similar to little sour cranberries. So, you may always find another good substitution. They are also known as cowberries or mountain/tundra cranberries.
Pumpkin Lingonberry Cake
This bright cake turned out incredibly soft and delicious. Lovely little lingonberries and orange glaze made it even more special and festive. You need only to brew the aromatic tea (like this wonderful spiced tea) and enjoy the cheerful atmosphere.
 Isn’t it the perfect cake?
Pumpkin Lingonberry Cake with orange glaze
 You can click here for the marvelous drink recipe that also goes perfectly with a slice of this pumpkin cake. Aromatic spices and berries in both recipes make you feel very festive and happy.
A slice of Pumpkin Lingonberry Cake

Pumpkin Lingonberry cake

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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I used 20cm baking pan
*Carrots are another good substitute.
**Can be substituted with fresh small cranberries. No berries – not a problem, omit it or add few dried cranberries.
What you’ll need
350g finely grated pumpkin or butternut squash*, any sweet variety is fine
50g butter, at room temperature
40g (2 tbsp) white sugar (or brown)
2 medium eggs, slightly beaten
1 orange, zest+1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp orange marmalade (I used fine cut)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg or a pinch of fresh
200g 0% cottage cheese (or 5-7% is even better)
100g yogurt (thick one is preferably like Greek yogurt or creme fraiche)
~100g lingonberries (I used frozen)**
100g plain flour+1 tbsp cornflour (not corn starch, or add extra plain flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3-4 tbsp orange marmalade, for the glaze, warm
How to make it
  • Grate pumpkin, squeeze juice if there is any. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk butter with sugar until pale but don‚Äôt over-mix.
  • Mix in eggs.
  • Add orange zest, orange juice, marmalade and nutmeg.
  • In a separate bowl blend cottage cheese with yogurt. Fold into the batter mixture.
  • Fold in grated pumpkin and berries. If using frozen – do not refreeze.
  • Sift in flours with baking powder and soda.
  • Line the baking dish and pour in the mixture.
  • Bake in preheated 200C oven for 40 minutes.
  • Prick the warm cake with a toothpick several times. Pour over warm orange marmalade.
  • Serve warm or cold.
Enjoy!

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.
winter-spice-drink-3
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.
winter-spice-drink-2
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? ūüėČPersimmon&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)

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 ūüėÄ 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. ūüôā 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!