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
  • Print
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!

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
  • Print
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!

Holiday Panna Cotta

   Cold days, beautiful pine and spruce trees with toys, lots of gingerbread cookies, smell of mandarins and cinnamon.. How does your holiday look and smell?Holiday Panna Cotta

 Today recipe is a well-known dessert among foodies – panna cotta. Many of you already cooked it or tried in a restaurant, but I’d like to show you the festive presentation, how you can serve the gorgeous-looking dessert to your family and guests during the winter holidays.
 Everything in this dessert says ‘winter’: delicate and tender snowflakes (recipe coming soon), smooth and creamy panna cotta that looks almost like a real snow-blanket, rosemary “pine needles”, and of course aromatic mandarin -segments. Another great thing about this dessert is that it looks like you really fussed over it. Shhhh…  😉
Panna cotta with cookie and mandarin
 You can make panna cotta a day or two ahead, and you will need only to saute mandarin segments and garnish the dessert. But don’t forget to cool mandarins, otherwise panna cotta will melt.

Holiday Panna Cotta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Ingredients
Panna Cotta
200ml double cream
300ml full-fat milk
45-50g white sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2 tsp powdered gelatin
40ml cold water
Garnish
1-2 tbsp demerara or brown sugar
2 small mandarins
few rosemary needles
2 tsp mandarin zest, optional
1 tbsp orange liquor (or brandy), optional
1 mandarin shortbread cookie per cup (recipe is coming)
Preparation method
  • In a pan, pour cream with milk, add vanilla and sugar, heat (but don’t boil) until sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and let the mixture infuse with vanilla flavour for 20-30 minutes. Then take out the bean, and rewarm the mixture.
  • In a small cup, add cold water and sprinkle gelatin over it.
  • Take the pan from the heat, add gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
  • Pour the panna cotta mixture into 4 cups, put cups in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.
  • For the garnish, in a frying pan add sugar, mandarin segments, zest and rosemary, and saute for 3-5 minutes on a medium-high heat. Add liquor, if using, and saute for few minutes more. Leave to cool.
  • Garnish each cup with few mandarin segments and one cookie.
Happy Holidays!
Panna cotta with mandarin and rosemary