Blini spiral pie

 Maslenitsa or Butterweek is going on in Russia right now. It’s a winter festival, saying goodbye to the cold winter days and greeting the warm and sunny spring. During this week people prepare and eat lots of blini. For breakfast blini can be served simple and quick with melted butter and sugar or some homemade jam, for lunch – again blini, and for the dinner, especially when the whole family is getting together, is really nice and festive to serve the delicious salmon pie or this one – soft, aromatic and nourishing spiral meat pie.
 Blini and the filling can be prepared a couple of days ahead, so you can assemble the pie whenever  you have the time or just before the dinner. Succulent stewed cabbage, tasty beef and aromatic dill along with coriander and parsley make the filling truly wonderful! Moreover, blini will be soaked in a mixture of sour cream and eggs, that adds extra moisture and taste.
blin_pie-2
 Maslenitsa is a very kind and light time, each day has a special meaning according to old tradition. For example, Wednesday is called “Gourmand”. On this day huge tables and stalls were settled on main squares, where people could drink hot honey-based sbiten and aromatic tea, enjoyed gingerbreads, fresh buns and some other sweet treats, and definitely taste the unlimited blini! But the main event was the visit of son-in-law his mother-in-law, and the mother tried to prepare the best blini she could to show respect and love to her daughter’ husband.
 On Friday, the mother-in-law returned the visit, then her daughter made pancakes and the son-in-law had to please the mother and her other relatives.
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Blini spiral pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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The quantity of the ingredients is given approximately, as it totally depends on the taste, quantity of blini, etc. 
*For the pouring mixture, you can use either sour cream or double cream; even milk will work, just reduce the quantity.
Ingredients
~8 blini
Filling
250g mince beef
250-300g raw white cabbage
1 medium red onion
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
dried herbs: dill, crushed whole coriander, marjoram
salt&pepper to taste
some oil for frying
2-3 tbsp sour cream (15-20%)
100ml double cream (30-35%)*
2 eggs
Garnish
sour cream
Method
  • Make blini. The recipe is here.
  • Heat some oil in one frying pan, add chopped onion and beef, season with marjoram and salt and pepper. Fry on a high heat for few minutes, breaking up the lumps with spatula. Reduce the heat to medium and fry for 10-15 minutes more. Then add some warm water, if the meat is too dry, cover with the lid and simmer until tender or while you’re preparing the cabbage.
  • In another pan, heat the oil and shredded cabbage, fry on a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, allow cabbage to brown but not to burn. Fry until cabbage is brown, then sprinkle with dill and coriander, season, cover with a lid and cook until the cabbage is soft.
  • To assemble, you need any round baking dish, covered with baking paper and drizzled with oil. Mix meat with cabbage and fresh parsley. Take one blin and put one-two tablespoons of the filling into it, roll. Make as much as fits to the baking dish.
  • Mix creams with eggs and pour over the blini pie.
  • Bake in preheated 190C oven for 30 minutes.
  • Serve warm with  a dollop of sour cream.
Enjoy! 

Sunday Breakfast: Oladushki

 One of the most-viewed and visited posts in my blog is “oladushki”. For those of you who doesn’t yet know the meaning – it’s Russian name for small pancakes. Yes, it’s absolutely incorrectly to call them blini as many people do (blini are large and thin like crepes, look here), and how they are usually called in restaurants or sold in stores.Oladushki with sour cream

 This is the perfect breakfast or brunch to spoil yourself with on the weekend, and it could be make in a short of time. Russian housewives most of the time use soured or any leftover kefir to prepare these soft beauties. You can try to substitute with buttermilk, drinking but thick yogurt, or as I did – used laban (local dairy drink). Oladushki go well with many sauces: honey, sour cream, sweetened yogurt, jam or sweet condensed milk. You can also serve them as a savory brekafast: with a cream cheese or sour cream along with cured salmon or caviar.Russian Oladushki with jam&yogurt

 Few tips how to make oladushki soft and fluffy (not only to add a baking soda for leaving):
you should sift the flour (add the air); do not over-mix the batter (it leads to tough texture);
let the batter rest for a half an hour and then do not stir it again (otherwise the bubbles will deflate);
carefully scoop the batter from the side of the bowl – do not dip the spoon into the center;
finally, when you flip oladushki over – do not press it with spatula.
 So, this or next weekend morning that you make these oladuski, make a few extra. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge. And next hectic morning you don’t need to skip breakfast: reheat them, sit down&enjoy and plan for a successful day. 🙂
Soft&fluffy Russian oladushki

Sunday Breakfast: Russian Oladushki

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: easy
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I served oladushki with plum preserve and vanilla yogurt.
All ingredients should be at room temperature, so take them out of the fridge 1 hour ahead.
Ingredients
1 medium egg
a pinch of fine salt
1-2 tsp white sugar
250ml kefir (laban or buttermilk), I used low fat
150g plain flour
1/3 tsp baking soda
sunflower or any other veg.oil for frying
Method
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat an egg with salt and sugar until fluffy. Mix in kefir.
  • Sift the flour with soda into the batter. Whisk gently until the ingredients are just incorporated. Do not overmix –  it leads to tough texture.
  • Let the batter rest for a half an hour and then do not stir it again (otherwise the bubbles will deflate).
  • Preheat the frying pan (until a drop of water skitters across the pan), lightly coat with oil.
  • Carefully scoop the batter from the side of the bowl. When oladushki are dry around the edges and bubbles over the top – turn it over. Don’t press oladushki with spatula!
  • Transfer to a large plate in a single layer, keep it uncovered (you may keep them in a warm oven), while preparing the rest.
  • The best eaten fresh with your favorite sauces. But they also can be covered with a plastic wrap and kept in the fridge until next morning.
Enjoy!

Beef Stroganoff with pickled cucumbers

 Beef Stroganoff is a definitely a classic dish, which can be make rustic and simple at home and more elegant in a restaurant. I do hope you have already cooked this dish by following the classic recipe, that I posted, and liked it. 😀 This time I deviated from the traditional recipe: firstly, I thinly sliced the meat (originally it’s cubed); secondly, used the thick cream along with sour cream; and finally, the main twist is the addition of small pickled cucumbers. Salty and crunchy, thinly sliced cucumbers give an amazing and unbelievably tasty note to the whole dish! I bet you will love it even more!Russian Beef Stroganoff with pickled cucumbers

Beef stroganoff is a staple and cooked very often in my house, so I just whip it up without a recipe in little time. The outcome is always the same – a satisfying meal with authentic taste! Of your course you need to follow few simple rules and you can be able to make the best Stroganoff like Russian cooks! You may use large pickled cucumbers, small gherkins or cornichons; crunchy dill and garlic are the best, soft or sweet are the worst. The best accompaniment is mushed potatoes or buckwheat. I hear you rice-lovers: use plain fluffy rice, but please do not use pasta or other noodles, it destroys the dish!

Beef Stroganoff with pickled cucumbers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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You may sprinkle beef with a teaspoon of powdered paprika, if desired (add it along with flour).
Ingredients
Mashed potatoes
1 tsp fine salt (for water)
5-6 medium  potatoes, peeled, cut unto chunks
1 bay leaf
50g butter
50ml warm full-fat milk (or a bit more, if needed)
sea salt, white&black pepper to taste
Beef Stroganoff
500g beef fillet (sirloin is good),  thinly sliced
some flour, to coat meat
2 tbsp oil (olive or sunflower are good)
15g butter
1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
100g mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp dried thyme or 2-3 tsp fresh
6-7 small gerkins or 2-2 large pickled cucumbers, sliced
sauce
sea salt, white&black pepper to taste
Sauce
150g sour cream
100ml 30% cream
2-3 tsp Englsih mustard
100ml warm water, if needed
some chopped parsley, for garnish
 
Method
For mashed potatoes, in a large pan, bring slightly salted water to boil. Add potatoes and bay leaf, bring to boil again, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft and ready. Drain potatoes. Stir in butter, milk and season to taste. Mash it. Add a bit more milk, if the mixture is too thick.
  1. Lightly flour the beef from all sides, shake off any flour excess. Heat the heavy frying pan, when it’s hot, add oil and meat. Sear the beef from all sides. Divide into few batches if needed, so you don’t overcrowd the pan and steam the meat. Cook for 2-3 muntes or just until browned. Transfer to the plate.
  2. In the same frying pan, add butter along with onions, mushrooms and thyme. Fry on a high-medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly golden. Then add fried meat and saute on a medium heat for 5 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: in a small bowl, combine the sour cream and cream with mustard.
  4. Add cucumbers and sauce. Give a good stir, season with salt and pepper. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes longer. If the creamy gravy is too thick, add hot water and stir.
  5. Serve with mashed potatoes, sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!
Beef Stroganoff with pickled cucumbers

Millet bitochki

 Bitochki or bitki is the name for round-shaped, flattened cutlets (côtelettes/patties) in Russian cuisine, which are prepared from chopped meat or grains. Originally in old Russia, a good and expensive cuts of meat were flattened, cooked and called bitochki, but lately people adapted the recipe and began to use cheap meat. Any remaining meat was chopped, mixed with other ingredients and then served fried or baked. Poor people even used grains.MIlletBitochki
 Nowadays, not only poor one can make such bitochki. I used millet for mine. Bitochki are not only tasty, but healthy and it is a good option for a meatless day. Millet is one of the healthiest grain, moreover is considered to be one of the digestible and non-allergenic grains*. It contains lots of fiber and low simple sugar. Finally, bitochki have such a nice texture inside (it reminds a white fish a bit) and crispy outside.
 You can serve them with a lettuce-tomato salad on a side. I made mushrooms sauce, but if you are run out of time or lazy – serve with a good dollop of sour cream (or creme fraiche).
MIlletBitochki with mushroom sauce

Millet bitochki with mushroom sauce

  • Servings: 12 pieces
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Instead of mushroom sauce you can serve bitochiki with sour cream.
Bitochki as well as mushroom sauce can be made a day or two ahead and then gently reheated.
 
*You can use both cream and sour cream, or any one.
Ingredients
150g millet
500ml hot water
1 medium egg
2-3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 medium onion (any sort you like)
300g mushrooms (I used oyester and champinions), chopped
1 tbsp butter+ 1 tbsp olive oil, for mushrooms
20g butter
15-20g plain flour
100ml 35% cream*
2-3 tbsp sour cream*
150ml hot water
salt, freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive or sunflower oil, for frying
some chopped parsely, for garnish, optional
Preparation method
  • Wash millet throughly under running water, cover with hot water, season with some salt, bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until millet is ready. You need to cool it completely. To make it faster, spread millet on a large plate and put in a fridge for 10-15 minutes, while preparing the mushrooms and sauce.
  • In a frying pan, heat butter and oil, add onion and fry for 5 minutes (set aside half of onions for millet ). Add mushrooms and fry on a hight heat for 10 minutes or until all liquid is evaporated (if there is any). Season to taste. Set aside 3-4 tbsp mushrooms for millet; then chop it finely.
  • Meanwhile, in a small pan, add butter and flour, stir on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir into mushrooms.
  • Pour over cream along with sour cream, give it a good stir. Pour in hot water. Check the seasoning. Simmer on a medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Add more hot water to reach desired consistency. Keep the sauce warm.
  • Transfer cooled millet in a mixing bowl, add egg, parsley, season with salt and pepper. Mix in fried onion and mushrooms. Combine the mixture. I didn’t use any flour, but if the mixture seems doesn’t want to resemble into a patty, add a tablespoon or two of plain flour.
  • Generously spread breadcrumbs on a large plate. With a tablespoon take a millet mixture and make a ball, pat it down with your hand or spoon. Cover in a breadcrumbs. Repeat with all millet mixture.
  • In a large frying pan, heat oil, put bitochki and fry on both sides until golden. To keep it warm while preparing others – put them in a preheated 120-150C oven.
  • Serve with mushroom sauce and sprinkle with extra parsley, if desired.
Enjoy!

Sponge cake with tvorog-cream and poached plums

 Hello to you, to a person who is reading this post or just glancing at photos of this moist and delicious cake with creamy filling, that was topped with aromatic spiced plum slices. The cake itself is a sponge cake, which is very simple to make and for that you need only four ingredients. I also added a drizzle of honey to the batter, honey gives a nice golden color to the cake and of course incredible flavor!
Sponge cake with  plums and  tvorog cream
 It has been ages since I made any layer cakes, so I decided to experiment with the cream. Tvorog is a dairy product, that used very often in Russian cuisine in such dishes like syrniki, sweet bakes and many other. Thus I took tvorog, mixed it with sugar and whipping cream, and I guess the cream became very Russian. 🙂 But I didn’t stopped there and added also gelatin to the cream. Honestly, it was my first attempt adding gelatin to the cake cream (with the exception of using it in panna cotta). I wasn’t sure that it would dissolve completely in the cream, and I beat it with electric blender. I love the result – cake was super tasty as well as the cream, and it’s gone very fast, especially if you serve it with some poached plums on a side.
 If you have any tips and advises how to add gelatin to a cake cream, please do share with me! I’d like to know and learn how to use it properly.
Sponge cake with poached plums

Sponge cake with tvorog-cream and poached plums

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 4hr+
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Using gelatin in the cream is totally optional (it just makes the cream more thick); you can easily omit it.
Ingredients
Sponge Cake
3 large eggs
100g white sugar
1/3 tsp runny honey
110g plain flour
100ml plum syrup (liquid form poached plums)
1 tbps cognac or other aromatic  alcohol, optional
poached plums, for decor
Cream
220g tvorog (Russian cottage cheese)
150g icing sugar
200ml whipping cream (35%)
8-10g powdered gelatin
50ml cold water
Method
  1. For the cake, in a large bowl beat eggs with sugar until pale and increase three times in size. Add honey and beat a little bit again. Sift the flour and carefully fold into the egg mixture with spatula.
  2. Grease 20cm cake pan with butter, sprinkle with flour and pour the batter. Bake in preheated 180C oven for 40 minutes.
  3. Leave the cake to cool in a pan for 20-30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack or plate and leave to cool for 4 hours or overnight. Cut the cake into two layers. Brush each cake with the mixture of plum syrup and alcohol (if using).
  4. For the cream, soften tvorog with a folk or electric blender. Add icing sugar and beat until combined. Add whipping cream and beat again.
  5. Dissolve gelatin in cold water and leave for 10 minutes. Add to the cream and beat again.
  6. Spread about half the cream on one of the cakes. Layer the second cake, and spread the remaining cream on the top and sides. Decorate with poached plums.
Spiced poached plums
5-7 soft plums (about 200g), sliced
80g white sugar (or more to your taste)
250 ml water
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 cardamom cloves
Method
  1. In a small pan, add plums and sugar. Add spices and cover plums with water. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, then reduce to low-medium heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until plums are soft. Leave to cool.
Enjoy!
Sharing with Angie FF#105 and co-hosts Lily and Julianna.
Sponge cake with tvorog-cream&poached plums