Tag Archives: holidays

Kisel – Russian sweet drink

 Kisel – is a well-known and popular sweet drink in Russia. This healthy drink contains berries or fruits, also sugar and water, and thickened with a potato starch. Kisel can be served cold or hot, sometimes it’s poured over ‘cottage cheese bake’ or ‘syrniki’. The kisel thickness can vary depending on how much potato starch is used; the thickest version does look like a mousse or jelly and can be eaten with a spoon, however the thin kisel is the most common version in Russia and usually consumed as a drink.Kisel-Russian sweet drink

  Kisel is generally made with fresh berries or fruits (red currants, cherries, cranberries, apples – are most common flavors which are widely available in Russia), but during the winter sweet jams or frozen berries are used to make it. The very first Russian kisels were thick and made with oat, wheat, rye or pea flours, and it dates back over one thousand years.
 Nowadays there are lots of instant kisel mixes, which you can find at Russian stores, but I do assure you that to make you own kisel is very easy and definitely better and tastier. I made mine with fresh red currants; you can use any fresh or frozen berries. Enjoy!Russian red currant kisel (drink)

Kisel - Russian sweet drink

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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To make thick kisel add more starch.
Ingredients
200-300g fresh red currants, rinsed
5-7 tbsp sugar (or more, depends on your taste)
2l water
3 tbsp potato starch (or cornstarch)
Method
  • Keep aside some red currats. Strain the rest through a sieve into a saucepan. Add water, sugar and bring to boil. Reduce the heat, taste and adjust the sweetness.
  • In a small cup, mix starch with few tablespoons of cold water. Add it to the saucepan along with red currants that you’ve kept. Give it a good stir and turn off the heat.
  • Pour in a glasses or cups. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

WhiteCurrant tart

 Hello-hello! I love summer because it’s berry season! May be not that summer when the outside temperature is +40C or even 50C.. Hope you are having the same great summer as I do this time in Russia: lots of organic berries, vegetables and greens, amazing weather, long walks and talks with friends. But sometimes the weather plays a joke: in the morning can be so cold that you need a thick jacket, later so hot – you need a dress instead of jacket, and so on..Russian FieldRussian Nature
 Talking about summer berries, currants is super common and one of the popular type of berry in Russia. I’m sure many of you tried redcurrants or seen it in supermarkets, or tried a dessert garnished with it. Here, there are three types of currants: black, red and white. They differ from one another not only in their color; blackcurrant is the sweetest one, red is tender and sour, and whitecurrant is sweet-and-sour with lots of seeds. And I guess, the white one is less-known, so I’ve been determined to make something tasty with these beautiful berries. Here, they are usually eaten as is or they make compotes (cold drink), jams. I made shortcrust pastry with tvorog (cottage cheese), filled with tender tvorog filling (yes, again cottage cheeese! I love it!) and scattered whitecurrants over the top. Yummy! A slice of whitecurrant tart
 So, how is your summer going on? 🙂White Currants in RussiaWhite Currant Tart

WhiteCurrant tart

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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The recipe calls for whitecurrants, which are usually uncommon, so use redcurrants or any berries that you can get.
If you’re using frozen berries, don’t defreeze it.
I used 22cm baking tin.
Ingredients
Pastry
200g flour
100g butter, cut into small cubes
100g tvorog/cottage cheese (I used 0% fat)
1 egg
Filling
3 eggs
70-100g sugar or fructose (depends on your taste)
300-350g sour cream (20-30% fat)
100g tvorog/cottage cheese (I used 0% fat)
1 tsp vanilla sugar/extract
450-500g whitecurrants
Preparation method
  • To make the pastry, place flour, butter in a large bowl (or in the food processor) and mix to get breadcrumbs. Mix in tvorog. Add egg and mix until just comes together. Shape into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Roll the pastry on a lightly floured table to form a round. Grease the baking tin and lightly dust with flour. Arrange pastry into the baking tin. Place in the fridge to cool while you’re preparing the filling.
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • In a bowl, whisk eggs with sugar. Beat in sour cream. Add cottage cheese and vanilla, whisk to combine.
  • Take the pastry out the fridge, pour in filling. Scatter over berries.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes. Leave to cool in the baking tin, then carefully remove from the tin and serve.
Enjoy!

Maslenitsa (Butter Week). Blini recipe.

 Maslenitsa (Butter Week) is a Christian holiday, one of the brightest and widely-celebrated holiday in Russia, a week before Great Lent. The name Maslenitsa came from Russian word ‘maslo’ which means butter. In the beginning of 16th century, when Church initiated the holiday, it was restricted to eat meat, however fish was allowed, as well as dairy products and butter. Most of the peasants could afford to eat only butter, thus the week began to call Butter Week or Maslenitsa.
 During Druids’ times- before 16th century in Rus’ (old Russia’s name) was celebrated a pagan holiday – The Day of spring equinox, which was called Komoedica. It was one of the ancient pagan holidays, celebration of greeting spring, and moreover, worship of the Slavic Bear God: early in the morning people got together, song the songs and went into the forest to praise the Bear God, so they left first and freshly-cooked blini on tree stumps to treat him. After that the Butter Week revelry had been started.Russian stuffed blini (crepes)
 That time Spring was considered as a beginning of new life, people revered to the Sun and made round flat-bread as its symbol. But  in 9th century peasants began to make round-shaped blini. Hot and yellowish, blini became new symbol of the Sun; people also believed that with eating blini they had a piece of warmth and power of the Sun.
 In ancient times the Komoeditsa holiday was celebrated during two weeks and played an important role for peasants. After a long, cold and often starving winter people had to eat plenty of food (usually it was winter stock remains), cheered up and got stronger for future spring works. Butter week celebrations denoted that winter has passed, and it’s time for a warm season to come. After this holiday peasants began to work from sunrise until sunset during all warm months – spring, summer and autumn. Up to next snow season, they forced to work almost non-stop, without any weekends to get food for their families, fodder for cattle; they repair houses, and cut woods to keep homes warm during the long Russian winter.Russian Blini
 When Christianity was established as a state religion, all pagan celebrations and traditions were prohibited; Christian churchmen battle in a vain attempt to stop all holiday habits. After several centuries of unsuccessful fights, in 16th century the Church created new holiday – ‘meatless week’, the week before the Great Lent. People got used to the new holiday, started celebrate it widely and created other name – Maslenitsa.
 Finally traditional Maslenitsa celebrations were set in 18th century by Russian Emperor Petr I, who was a famous reveller and  party lover. Of course, the main treat was blini, which were baked and eaten in enormous amounts!
 One of my fav sweet fillings for blini is a mixture of tvorog (cottage cheese), sour cream, raisins and sugar. For me, it’s a pure indulgence to tuck the delicious filling into piping hot blini! You can also fold blini into half then half again to form wedge, then take the wedge and deep it onto sweet condensed milk.. Incredibly satisfying breakfast or lunch, or even dinner! 😀
 This blini recipe suits for any savory filling as well.

Russian blini. Sweet cottage cheese filling.

Ingredients 
2 eggs, medium size
a good pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp white sugar, optional
200ml hot water
1/2 tsp soda
200-230ml kefir (or sour milk/laban/buttermilk), 2-3% fat
150-170g plain flour
3-4 tbsp sunflower oil
some oil for frying, if needed
Filling
300-400g soft cottage cheese
2-3 tbsp sour cream, or more if needed
2-3 tbsp sugar or sweet condensed milk
50-60g sultana/raisins
Garnish
sour cream/sweet condensed milk/icing sugar
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with salt and sugar.
  • In a glass or cup mix water with soda, stir and add to the eggs, stirring constantly.
  • Add kefir and mix well.
  • Sift flour and add it to the batter. Stir to combine.
  • Add oil and stir.
  • Let the batter rest for 20-30 minutes, if you have time.
  • Heat the frying pan and fry thin pancakes as usual. You can make any diameter you like.
  • For the filling, soak sultanas in hot water for 5-10 minutes, then drain. Mix all ingredients until well combined.
  • To assemble, spoon some filling in center of each pancake. Fold bottom edge of pancake over fililng, fold in both sides and roll up. Sprinkle with icing sugar and/or drizzle some sweet condensed milk, if desired. Or serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy!

Russian red blini (pancakes)

  For many people St.Valentine Day is red roses, dinner in a restaurant, chocolate desserts and other heart-shape stuff. Does it seems boring only for me? I think, the best way to diversify this ‘red’ day is by trying something new, like eat non-chocolate dessert, or if you always go out this day stay in to cook a decadent dinner for two. Unleash your creativity! It can be flavorsome salmon steaks or roast quails, you can experiment with sauces.. A small change can have a huge effect! 😉Red blini (with heart)

 A perfect St.Valentine Day can be started by serving a late breakfast that will get both of you in the loving mood. Ready to leave an impression? Prepare these amazing Russian red blini (pancakes)!  Beets give pancakes stunning color and delicate sweetness. They are the perfect way to treat those you love! Russian blini

 Next week, starts from Monday, will be one of the brightest and entertaining of Russian holidays – Maslenitsa, or also knows as Butterweek or Pancake Week. It’s celebrated during the last week before Great Lent. It’s the festival with lots of fun, dance, songs and of course huge amount of blini, which is constantly cooked throughout the week. I’ll be posting more about Maslenitsa next week.

Russian red blini

IngredientsRussian blini
130-150g beet, cooked
200-230ml milk, full fat
200ml sparkling mineral water
2 eggs, medium size
a good pinch of salt
2 tsp white sugar, optional
2 tbsp sunflower oil
150-170g plain flour
some oil for frying, if needed
sour cream for garnish, if desired
  • Puree cooked beet with hand blender or in a food processor until smooth. Add milk, water and stir.
  • In a medium bowl, beat eggs with salt and sugar. Add it to the batter along with oil; stir.
  • Sift flour and add it to the batter. Stir to combine.
  • Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the frying pan and fry thin pancakes as usual. You can make any diameter you like.
  • Serve warm with sour cream or other garnish.
Sweet garnish: sour cream with honey and chopped pear; sweet cottage cheese; mix berries with sweeten condensed milk.
Savory garnish: cured salmon slices; cheese with herbs; ham.
Enjoy!
I’m bringing these lovely and tasty Russian blini to the Angie‘s Fiesta Friday party, co-hosts Suzanne and Sue and to all beautiful ladies! Hope you all have a wonderful St.Valentine day!

Winter Orange Cake

Hello everyone! Hope you had wonderful and joyful winter holidays! As you may know from my previous posts, me and my husband have been to Russia, and it was a memorable and great trip. We celebrated New Year and Christmas eves with the whole family, met with friends, and had lots of fun with a snow: throwing snowballs, rolling and tumbling around, and exploring virgin and deep snow on foot! Once we almost were frozen to the bones, because it was -30C/22F (and the phone told me it was felt like -40C in the night)! But wool socks, mittens, fur hats and thick coats do wonders! 😀
So, I was torn by what recipe to start 2015 with. I decided to warm up cold days with a superb and fantastically delicious winter dessert -an orange cake. Oranges and mandarins may not be the most obvious fruits in baking, but for me it symbolizes the winter season. The smell of mandarins rind always brings back my childhood memories, when my parents bought them for the New Year eve. The cake is moist, bright, tangy, and delightful in both taste and texture. It is also great any time of the year. 🙂
Winter Orange Cake
Orange Cake

Winter Orange Cake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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You can use fresh orange slices as is, or cook them in a sweet water (1 cup water+1/3 cup sugar) for about 20-30 minutes on a medium heat – it helps to get rid of orange bitterness.
IngredientsOrange Cake-2
2 small oranges or 1.5 medium size, sliced
3 Tbsp demerara sugar
160g butter softened
120-150g golden caster sugar, depends on your taste
3 heaped tbsp orange jam (or fine-cut marmalade)
3 eggs, beaten
160g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 tsp baking powder
40g almond powder (ground almonds)
1.5 medium-size oranges or 2 mandarins, finely grated zest and juice
Glaze:
3 heaped tbsp orange jam/marmalade
1-2 tsp orange-flavoured liqueur (Grand Marnier or Cointreau), optional

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease the 18cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Sprinkle the base with demerara sugar. Arrange orange slices on the base, making overlapping layer.
  2. Beat the butter and caster sugar until pale, mix in marmelade and beaten eggs. Fold in flour, salt, baking powder, almonds, orange or mandarin zest and juice.
  3. Pour the batter into tin. Bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, until golden and firm to touch.
  4. Allow to cool for a few minutes at room temperature.
  5. Meanwhile, make a glaze by warming 3 Tbsp jam and liqueur (if using) in a small pan with a little water.
  6. Carefully turn out the cake onto a serving plate, while it’s still warm. Prick holes in the cake. Spoon glaze over the cake.
  7. Serve warm! Enjoy!

Adapted from Jamie Oliver magazine/issue 26

Bright Orange Cake