Tag Archives: festive cooking

Baked apples with walnuts and cowberries

Hi there! It’s been windy, dark and gloomy all day here in Dubai today. The weather intends to spend a day in the kitchen and bake something warm, aromatic and tasty. And I found a deliciously satisfying dish to cheer this day up! Sweet-smelling baked apples with super tasty filling: walnuts and cowberries! Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? The cozy smell of cinnamon and brown sugar was filling my kitchen while apples were baked.. It’s so easy to turn regular apples into a fabulous warm dessert! Enjoy!

Baked apples-1Baked apples-2

 Cowberry (also known as lingonberry) is a very tasty, slightly bitter and sour berry; it contains lots of vitamin C, A and B. It’s a popular type of berry in my home-country (Russia), and as far as I know in Sweden and Norway. Their taste remind small sour cranberries, so you can easily substitute it with cranberries (fresh or frozen).Baked apples with walnuts and cowberry

Baked apples with walnuts and cowberries

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: moderate
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*You can add more sugar to suit your taste.
**I dry-roast walnuts, then chop it or pulse in a food processor.
Ingredients
2 large apples (sort ‘pink lady’ or ‘granny smith’ are good)
20g/2 tsp butter
3 tsp brown sugar*
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 quail egg, optional
5-6 tsp finely chopped walnuts**
3-4 tsp cowberries (if using frozen-no need to defreeze)
1/2 tsp of cinnamon, for garnish
2-3 tsp pure runny honey, for serving
some extra walnuts and cowberries, for serving
  • Cut the lid from apples, carefully cut out the core and make a hole in each apple leaving the bottom.
  • In a bowl, stir sugar and cinnamon with butter. Mix in the egg. Fold in chopped walnuts and berries.
  • Put apples in baking dish/tray and stuff each apple with filling mixture. Cover with apple lids. Pour some warm water into the bottom of the baking dish (1 cm). Loosely cover with foil.
  • Bake in preheated 200C oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more, or until apples are tender but not mushy.
  • Carefully transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with cinnamon, drizzle with honey and garnish with some walnuts and cowberries, if desired.
  • Enjoy!

Braised Rabbit with red wine, prunes and thyme

 I’m sure you know that Easter is on the way (Catholic falls on April 5 and Orthodox April 12), and you’re probably planning what to cook, or searching your notes with traditional recipes. I think some of you have a special main course recipe for this occasion, or may be it’s a wide range of recipes. What will you choose this year? An elegant dish or simple&casual? I think, with spring bringing nice and pretty weather, that you’re likely to be in the mood for something hearty and light! 🙂Braised Rabbit I’ve always been partial to rabbit; when I’m visiting my parents in Russia I’m always pleased to eat a rabbit stewed in sour cream. It’s always tender and delicious, of course because it’s prepared by my mom. 😀 Today recipe is elegant and great for a special dinner! I’d like you to try rabbit with prunes and thyme, braised in red wine. It requires few ingredients to be transformed into a flavoursome meal! Enjoy!Braised Rabbit with prunes, juniper berries and thyme

Braised Rabbit with red wine, prunes and thyme

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients
1 rabbit, 1.3-1.5kg
water
1-2 tsp apple or wine vinegar, optional
2 tbsp olive oil
20g butter
1-2 garlic clove, peeled, chopped
5-6 shallots or 1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns, optional
4-5 juniper berries
12-15 prunes, pitted
4 springs thyme or 1 tsp dried
150ml dry red wine
100ml or more hot water, if needed
sea salt and white pepper to taste
Garnish
boiled or roasted potatoes
sour cream
Preparation method
  1. Joint the rabbit, wash it and put in a large bowl, fully cover the meat with water, add vinegar if using, then cover with a wrap and leave to marinate for 1-3 hours. It helps to make rabbit meat more tender and get rid of any unpleasant smell.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-bottom pan on a medium-high heat.  Add the rabbit pieces and brown each side for 6-8 minutes or until golden colour. Take out the rabbit pieces and place aside. Don’t clean the pan.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, add onions, garlic, peppercorns (if using), juniper berries, bay leaf, some thyme leaves and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until onion have softened. Add rabbit, pour over wine and scrape up the bottom of the pan. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Fold in prunes and remaining thyme. Season to taste. The liquid should come half way up the rabbit pieces. So, add some water, if needed. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid (keep a small slit) and braise the rabbit for 45 minutes. Now turn the rabbit pieces on the other side, adjust the seasoning, again cover the pan with a lid and braise for further 40-45 minutes. The rabbit should be easily pulling off the bone.
  5. Serve with sliced boiled/roasted potatoes, or rice. Add a tablespoon of sour creme, if desired.

Mimosa Salad

 Hello guys! It’s a very special Friday for me. I’m so glad and excited that I’m co-hosting the wonderful virtual party – Fiesta Friday by Angie, and Jhuls is another great co-host this time. I’d like to invite everyone and each of you to join the very-friendly party! Let us know that you’re joined by linking your post to Angie, me and Jhuls. Of course, will be lots of appetizers and welcome drinks, and you can eat&drink non-stop! 😀 Newbies could find the guidelines here. Another point is to bring your favourite dishes and put the link here, so every blogger can grab a slice of your cake or tuck in the stew while chatting. You’re also welcome to visit and like other bloggers’ posts and of course you can leave a comment or just say hi; it’s such a lovely possibility to find new blogofriends, have a small talk and plenty of fun!Mimosa Salad
 I have decided to bring this nice-looking salad to the party, it’s Russian layered salad or to be exact Soviet salad, but still popular in many ex-USSR countries. In Russia we have lots of layered salad recipes, so many that I even don’t how many. 😀 This one is associated with spring (thou, also popular for New Year), Women’s Day and it’s named after the beautiful flower – mimosa. Last layer of the salad is crumbled egg yolks, which remind little yellow blossoms of mimosa. The main ingredient is canned fish here, so the salad is very budget and at the same time tasty, plus looks festive (that was important during deficit time). Usually saury/saira fish is used in ‘mimosa’, but salmon species is also good here, like red or pink salmon. I’ve tried to make it with tuna and can’t recommend it, its meat too dry for this salad, but if it’s the only canned fish you can get – add more sour cream or mayonnaise. Many variations exist – with or without potatoes, with cheese, spring onions, grated butter, etc. Better to prepare this salad some time in advance before serving to allow all layers to soak; so you can make it a night ahead.
Russian Salad-Mimosa

Mimosa Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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To make salad more rich you can add some grated butter – between carrot and yolks layer. 
Ingredients
1 large or 2 medium potatoes
1 large carrot
3 large eggs or 4 medium
250g canned fish (I used red salmon)
1 small onion, finely chopped
150-200g mix of sour cream and mayo (or only mayo)
some fresh dill, optional
salt to taste
Method
  • Wash potatoes and carrot, don’t peel. In a large pot with water, add potatoes, carrot and boil it until ready. Cool, peel the skin, then grate on a small or medium grater into separate bowls. Set aside.
  • Hard boil the eggs, cool and separate whites and yolks. Finely chop or grate.
  • Put chopped onion into a small bowl, cover with hot water and keep for 10 minutes. Drain the water.
  • Drain the fish and mash it with a fork.
  • Prepare a deep serving bowl or another serving plate. Arrange grated potatoes evenly on the bottom. Spread some mayo.
  • Make fish layer, then add chopped onion and spread more mayo.
  • Arrange egg whites and spread again mayo.
  • Arrange grated carrot and spread again mayo.
  • Arrange egg yolks. It was the last layer.
  • You can sprinkle the salad with chopped dill, if desired, or decorate whatever you want. Enjoy!
You can cover the salad with a piece of foil and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Mimosa-Russian layered salad

Cottage cheese and cranberry pie

Winter holidays are almost here and I can’t wait to celebrate! Holiday preparation is already well underway and it can be stressful, but I love this hustle and bustle season: frenzied shopping, decorating homes and work places, buying delicacies and champagne, choosing and wrapping gifts for family and friends. I’m absolutely absorbed in the planning of New Year dinner. Shopping list is written, salads and starters are chosen, goose and turkey are waiting in the freezer. And certainly I couldn’t forget about desert. For me it’s an important and sweet part of the dinner. Any festive dinner should be finished with a perfect cake! Have you chose the one? What will be the sweet star on your table? Will it be traditional cake or pudding, that you make every year or a fancy cake, that you’ll order from a restaurant?
Cottage cheese and cranberry pie
 This year I’ll be making the vanilla cheesecake with cranberry or red currant compote. It sounds simple, but that’s exactly what we need this winter – delicious, smooth and tender cake. 🙂 But if you’re tired and bored from all traditional desserts, why don’t you try my festive cake recipe. It seems similar to cheesecake, but I used tvorog (cottage cheese) and sweet condensed milk, and its taste and structure became different. Bright cranberries on the top make this milky and sweet cake absolutely festive! Definitely all guests’ eyes will be on this cake!
CCC Pie
 If you noticed cranberries are small, because it’s Russian, they are smaller and juicier compare to American cranberries. Needless to say, you can use any cranberries you can find, or frozen cherries are also great here.
Festive Pie with cranberries

Cottage cheese and cranberry pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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A new take on the vanilla cheesecake, this cake will go down well on any occasion.
IngredientsCranberry Pie
Crust
260g flour
160g butter
1 small egg
2-3 Tbsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk for brushing the pastry crust, optional
Filling
450g tvorog/cottage cheese
3Tbsp cream cheese, optional
3-4Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs or 3 small
2 tsp granulated sugar (or omit it and add more condensed milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp cognac or brandy, optional
3 Tbsp ground almonds
100-150g cranberries
almond flakes, for decoration
icing sugar, for decoration, optional
Preparation method
  1. Make the cake crust. Cover and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Roll out 3mm thick and cut a circle larger than 20cm (approx.26-28cm) baking pan. Bake blind in preheated 180C oven for 20 minutes. Then remove the weights, optionally brush with egg yolk, then return to the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes more.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl beat eggs with condensed milk and sugar if using until the mixture is pale and sugar almost dissolved. Add vanilla, cognac, cream cheese and mix.
  3. If the cottage cheese is very crumble first mash it with a fork, then add to the filling mixture along with ground almonds, and stir to combine. Taste, add more condensed milk if it’s not enough sweet.
  4. Pour the filling into pastry crust. Arrange cranberries on top, and decorate with almond flakes.
  5. Reduce the heat to 170C and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the filling is set.
  6. Let it cool in the baking pan for 10 minutes, then carefully take out and put on a serving plate. Sprinkle with icing sugar, if desired.
  7. Enjoy!

Cranberry and cottage cheese pie

Saffron buns

 Hello guys! It’s not a secret that I love to bake! And I have to say even more – I’m addicted to pies! 😀 Every time when I stumble upon a new and interesting pie or cake recipe I’m anxious to prepare it! What does attract you in a recipe? An ingredient, a photo or may be a story behind it? For me an every part is captivating and intriguing! As I’ve already said I love to bake whatever it is, whether it’s a vegetarian or sweet thing, like comforting cabbage bake with farmer cheese or beautiful apple pie with semolina. A long time ago I was browsing the Internet and found one lovely recipe of saffron buns, but time has passed anf it got out of my mind until I bought saffron last week. I was glad to discover the story about these buns, because the story is truly magical and wintry.
Every year on the 13th of December people of Scandinavia countries (Norway, Denmark and Sweden) are celebrating the Day of St.Lucia. It’s believed she brings the light into the longest night of the year. Celebration include a procession of young girls in white dresses and red sashes carrying candles. One girl represented as Lucia – she wear a crown of candles on her head. Girls sing traditional and Christmas songs.
By another Sweden custom at home the eldest daughter arising early in the morning, wearing the Lucia’s costume, awaking the family and serving them coffee and saffron buns.*
St.Lucia buns
 After reading about Scandinavian traditions and stories I decided to make those delicious buns! and by coincidence I baked them exactly on the 13th. I made some research and finally created my own recipe. Buns turned out very fluffy, nicely buttery, with amazing aroma of saffron and not very sweet.
Saffron buns

Saffron buns

  • Servings: 8 buns
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Ingredients St.Lucia saffron buns
120ml full-fat milk
1/2-1/3 tsp saffron threads
45-50g butter, room temperature
250-300g plain flour
4g instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
30-35g sugar
2-3 cardamom pods, ground, optional
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, optional
1 large egg
60ml sour cream
Preparation method
  • Heat milk with saffron (don’t boil) in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. The temperature of milk should  be not over 40C/104F or should be able to easily hold a finger in it. Add butter, stir to combine.
  • In a mixing bowl sift the flour (250g, then add more if needed), add yeast, salt, sugar and spices if using. Mix.
  • Add lukewarm milk mixture to the flour. Stir to combine.
  • Add egg and sour cream. Mix ingredients until well incorporated.
  • Now on a flat surface knead the dough by hand (or use a hook of your standing mixer) for 10 minutes, until smooth and a little sticky to the touch.
  • Cover the dough and leave it to rise for 1 hour at room temperature or until it’s puffy. You can make the dough the day before, in which case after rising gently deflate the dough, cover and leave in the fridge overnight. Take out an hour or two before shaping, let it gets warm and rise again.
  • Gently deflate the dough, and divide into 8 equal sizes; each piece weight about 70g.
  • Roll each piece of dough at a time into a 38-40cm rope, then shape each rope into S-shape.
  • Place buns on the lined baking tray. Tuck in raisins. Cover with a towel and leave to prove for 30 minutes.
  • Brush with egg wash and in preheated 190C/375F for 15-20 minutes or until they’re golden brown.
  • Take buns from oven and let cool for 4-5 minutes before serving.
  • Serve warm with a glass of milk or tea.

Enjoy the winter season!

St.Lucia saffron buns