Tag Archives: food and recipes

Russian pryaniki – gignebread

  Today is Christmas in Russia. I wish wonderful and magical day to all Orthodox Christians!
Pryaniki_snowflakes

 Pryaniki were ones of the favorite treats in Rus’ (old name of Russia). The name was given for it’s spicy aroma and taste. They are similar to gingerbread cookies, but often made more thick.

 Pryanik was the symbol of holiday, because ingredients weren’t cheap and used daily. It’s been baked for the Christmas, Easter, weddings and birthdays. There were quite a lot ceremonies and traditions about pryaniki.
 
 In 9th century, first pryaniki were called “honey bread”, they were baked from rye flour with honey and berry juice, honey contained the half of all mixture. Later wild flowers and spices were added in a pastry.
 In 7-8th centuries, when exotic spices were brought from India and Middle East to Russia, pryanik was named “pryanik”. Spices for pryaniki were called “dry perfume”, among which black pepper, orange and lemon zest, mint, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, anise and clove were most used and favorite.
 In 17-19th centuries, baking of pryaniki was widely-spread craft. In every area people baked their special pryaniki according to traditional recipes; preparation’s secrets were passed on from one generation to another.
 
Ingridients:
For  the pastry:
100-120 ml honey
300g flour
1 tbsp butter
1 egg
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp spice mix*
50ml water
1 tbsp cognac, brandy or vodka (optionally)
 
For the frosting:
1 egg white
150g icing sugar (powedered sugar)
 
*Spice mix:
1/3 tsp powdered coriander
1/3 tsp cinnamon
1/6 tsp nutmeg
a pinch of cardamom
a pinch of clove
a pinch of allspice
 
Honey and water heat in a pot (turn the heat off before the mixture begin to simmer). Take the pot away from the heat, add half of the flour (sifted) and mix intensively until smooth.
Cool the mixture until room temperature.
Then add the egg, cognac, spices, soda and the remaining sifted flour. Mix the pastry well during 15 minutes; it should be soft and tender.
Roll out the pastry in 5-6 mm/2 inch sheet and cut out any shape you like.
Bake in preheated 200C/400F oven for 15-18 minutes.
 
While the pryaniki are cooling, prepare the frosting. Beat well egg white, add sugar and beat again untill smooth. Put the ready frosting in a bag and decorate the pryaniki.
 
Enjoy with a cup of hot tea or a glass of milk. 🙂
 
 Keep the pryaniki in a box, it can be stored during long time.
Pryaniki_ornament

Slow-cooked beef with fruits

  In Russian language, we have one word “tomlenie”, which is similar to the word “stewing”, but has a significant distinction. Tomlenie is a slow-cooking process of meat, fish or vegetables in Russian petch (oven/stove, have a look at the pictures of traditional Russian petch here and here).  
  Nowadays traditional Russian ovens can be found only in out-of-the-way places (villages and provinces, located in the remotest depths of the country).
  It’s considered that, slow-cooking in the common oven is close to the “tomlenie” process, but the real taste and aroma of dishes prepared in Russian petch unfortunately couldn’t be done anywhere else.

Slow-cooked meat

Let’s try to prepare the closest dish.
First of all, we need a clay pot with a lid. 
Be patient! Stewing will take several hours.
Don’t worry! During this time you don’t need to check or mix the dish every 10-20 minutes, thus you can have a break and watch your favorite movie, and even prepare a side dish. 🙂

Beef with fruits

If you don’t have clay pot-use casserole.
If you don’t have a lid -cover the pot with foil.
Replace cherries with cranberries.
Omit the sugar.
Spice the meat with 1/3 tsp of crushed cardamom, it brings a nice interesting note. 
You can add 2-3 tbsp of dry red wine for the better taste (after the frying meat).
Ingredients to feed 4 people:
Beef, cut into 2-3cm cubes – 700g/1lb
Golden onion – 1 big, sliced
Pitted prunes – 150g/5 oz
Cherry fresh or frozen – 150g/5 oz
Sunflower or olive oil for frying- 1 tbsp
Cinnamon – 1/2 tsp
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Bay leaves – 2
Whole black peppercorns – 8-10
Salt, pepper – to taste
some parsley, chopped
 
Method:
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for 5-7 minutes, add beef cubes and fry until slightly browned.
  • Sprinkle the meat with sugar and cinnamon.
  • Put the meat in a clay pot, add boiling water (just to cover the meat), bay leaves and peppercorns. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Don’t forget to close the pot with a lid! 🙂
  • Transfer to a preheated oven, 200C/400F, for 2 hours.
  • Check the quantity of the liquid, and add some more water  – if desired (the meat always should be in the broth).
  • Reduce temperature to 180C/380F and return to the oven for a further 1 hour.
  • Add prunes and cherries (no need to defrost), check the seasoning and return again to the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Switch the oven off and leave the pot in it (until the oven is still warm).
  • Sprinkle with fresh parsley.
 
The good garnish to such meat is a buckwheat porridge, mashed or boiled potatoes. It could be served with broth; in a clay pot or on a serving plate.
Enjoy the holiday dinner! 🙂
 

The little tiny Holiday cookies

Christmas and New Year are definitely my favourite holidays. Hustle and bustle time. Snowing outside, everybody is in rush, searching presents and gifts for the loved ones. Unfortunately in the UAE I can’t feel such wonderful emotions in full, but I can bring the festive mood and flavours to my home by baking some winter treats.

 These little cookies are so rich in chocolate, that could give little more warmth for the family tea-time. Adding some spices-cloves, cinnamon or cardamom and a small hazelnut or pistachio inside is also great! 😉

And if you pack them in a little Xmas box – it might be amazing gift for a friend.

I’m pretty sure that better to double the amount of the ingredients, so you don’t need to cook it twice! Cookies-2

Ingredients:

1 egg

50g/2 Tbsps sugar

60g dark chocolate (60-70% cacao)

100g/4-5 tbsp flour

1 Tbsp butter

Icing sugar – to cover the cookies

Method

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl under the simmering water, gently stir.

Whisk the egg and sugar together in another bowl until light and fluffy.

Carefully fold in the chocolate mixture, then add the flour and combine.

Scoop the cookie batter with a teaspoon, shape small balls and roll them in plate with icing sugar.

Place on a baking tray and bake for 9-10 minutes in a preheated oven 180C/360F.

Enjoy the holiday! 😀

Cookies-1

Apple pie with semolina

There are so many things I love about autumn!
Chose a day in our rush-life-time and stop! Stop and look around! You could see many bright colors, that golden fall has brought for you. Browny-orange and fiery red leaves are falling from trees. Gloomy and gray sky. Breeze in! Cooling and lightly burning air. 
 
What an amazing day to bake a warm apple pie! 🙂
Apple pie_1 
Ingredients:
 
Apples (pink lady) 3
Cottage cheese 100-150g (1/2-2/3 cups)
A handful of raisins, optionally
Butter 50-70g (4-5 Tbsp), melted
Semolina 150g (1 cup)
Flour 2Tbsp
Egg 1
Sugar 100g (1/2cup), I used brown  
Cinnamon 1/2 tsp, optionally
Baking soda 1tsp
Bread crumbs or crushed nuts (hazelnuts, almonds) 1-2Tbsp, optionally
 
I forget to put soda in the pie mixture sometimes, so don’t worry if you’ve done the same, the pie will be nice and tasty anyway! 😉
Using fine semolina makes the pie more fluffy, however, I used that time coarse-grained and the pie was none the worse.;)
Feel free to change a quantity of the ingredients to suit your own taste.
 
Method:
 
Slice the apples, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  
Meanwhile, combine cottage cheese and egg. Add semolina, flour, soda and melted butter, mix.
Add apples, raisins and carefully combine.
Butter the baking pan, sprinkle some bread crumbles or crushed nuts, add the apple mixture.
Bake until golden color for 30-40 minutes. 200C/400F
 
Enjoy!!! 😀
 Apple pie_2
 

Russian kasha

 Kasha means porridge. One Russian proverb says “Bread and Porridge is our food”. A pot with a porridge and bread were the main food on a table many years back. A large varieties of cereals are produced in Russia, but the popular and loved one has been the buckweat.
 According to old Russian tradition, during the wedding a bridegroom and a bride had to cook a porridge together. If they could cooked a good, tasty porridge that meant they could get on with each other. A porridge was cooked for many occasions like a wedding or Christmas feast, birth or funeral repast. Sometimes a feast was called ‘kasha’. Every hostess had a personal recipe of porridge, which she kept in a secret. 
 
 In Russian cuisine a porridge is divided into 3 groups by it’s consistency: liquid (eaten as a soup), oozy (usually for children) and crumbly (the tastiest one). The consistency depends on a quantity of water or milk, in which porridge was cooked. Pumpkin_millet

Millet porridge with butter or lard added was the common meal for Russian labors, who had worked in fields. It’s can be eaten sweet (with sugar, honey, dried fruits) or savoury (with onion, garlic, mushrooms), as a main dish or garnish.
 Moreover, millet is rich in calcium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, and contain no gluten.

  
We need:

  • pumpkin
  • millet – 1 cup
  • water – 1/2 cup
  • milk – 1 cup
  • a knob of butter
  • few dried apricots
  • raisins
  • sugar – 1Tbsp
  • a pinch of salt
Take a pumpkin. 
Cut the lid and set aside. Clean all seeds out.
Put a knob of butter on the pumpkin bottom.
Wash millet thoroughly under running tab water. Mix with raisins and sliced dried apricots. 
Put the cereal mixture in the pumpkin. Add a pinch of salt and some sugar to taste. Pour the milk and water, cover with the lid.
Bake for 1-2 hours.
Open the lid. 
Tasty millet porridge in pumpkin pot is ready!
Serve with honey.
Pumpkin_millet-2 
P.S. For 1 cup millet take 1 cup milk+1/2 cup water. Sub millet with rice.
 
P.P.S. Don’t throw away seeds. Sprinkle over some sea salt and smoked paprika. Add olive oil and bake on a baking paper along with the pumpkin.