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Archive for January, 2012

My baby is turning three this weekend. Sniff-sniff…

A couple presents from our friends arrived while he was napping today. One of them is this adorable Responsibility Chart. It includes cute little magnetic goals (such as “Load Dishwasher”, “Set Table”, “Make Bed”, or “Take Out Trash”) and little magnetic scores ( “You did it!”, “Looking Good!”, etc.) .  Ohm, I was so tempted to re-gift it to my husband, and then I turned the board around, and found even more goals: “Take a bath”, “Stop Whining”, “Say Please and Thank You”… It’s settled – the board is going to the husband, not the child! Sorry, guys!

Anyways, this friend who sent us the gifts should be the one writing a cooking blog. She can make gasoline taste good; and since they had a baby, she took the whole “healthy eating” concept up a level!.. or two… or three… nah, more like twenty levels…
So, today’s recipe is inspired by her. All my kids (including the husband) love it!

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MAKE-AHEAD WHOLE GRAIN OATMEAL

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of whole grain steel cut oatmeal (such as Bob’s Red Mill Organic)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tsp of butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup milk (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients (minus milk) in a crock-pot or an oven-proof cast-iron pot.  I like to add cold milk right before serving (to quickly chill the oatmeal).

Set the crock-pot to cook on low or place the cast-iron pot into the oven, preheated to 175° F/80° C for 8 hours.

If desired, replace sugar with honey, sprinkle with cinnamon, add nuts, and/or your favorite dried or fresh fruit.

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Another workout milestone successfully achieved and celebrated accordingly this weekend! with lots of carbs! obviously…

I craved morning buns.  They are heavenly…  But that dough is a whole different story… It requires so much work! 

This quick fix has a different texture, but all the right ingredients.  Lots of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest.  It’s really reach and moist.  We ate it ourselves, fed it to 4 neighborhood families, and still have half of the cake in the freezer waiting for spontaneous guest invasions.

What’s your favorite dessert that takes too much time to make?

Adopted from Carole Walter’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

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SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE WITH TOASTED WALNUT FILLING

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbs softened unsalted butter

STREUSEL TOPPING:

  • 4 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp table salt

FILLING:

  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 6 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs cinnamon
  • 2 tbs orange zest (about 3 mid oranges)

CAKE:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp table salt
  • 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 2/3 cups superfine sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350⁰ F /175⁰ C (325⁰ F/160⁰ C if using dark nonstick pan).  Generously butter a 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom.

Prepare the topping: melt the butter.  Remove from the heat and cool to tepid.  In a medium bowl mix flour pecans, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to the butter and stir till moist and crumbly.

Prepare the filling: pulse all ingredients of the filling in a food processor till combined.

Make the cake: whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  In a mixer bowl beat the butter with a paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth and creamy 1-2 min.  Slowly add sugar and beat to incorporate.  Through the entire process of mixing scrape the bowl when necessary.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Blend the vanilla. On low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients and sour cream, adding the flour in pour parts and the sour cream in three parts.

Layer the cake.  Spoon 2 generous cups of the batter in the prepared pan, smooth it over.  Sprinkle about ½ cup of the filling.  Repeat the layers, ending with batter layer.  Run the knife around the pan two times, without lifting up the blade, spacing the circles about 1 inch apart.  Smooth the top with the back of the soup spoon.

Layer the topping on the cake and lightly pressing it into the batter.

Bake for 70-75 minutes till the wooden stick come out clean.  Let cool for an hour on a wire rack.

Make ahead: This cake keeps for up to 5 days at room temperature under a cake dome or could be frozen for up to 3 months.

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Oh… I’m hurt!  Yesterday morning some wise guy hinted I should take better care of myself!  How rude! So, instead of chasing the kids, I loaded them into our duallie BOB and spent an hour chasing my dreams… of getting back in shape.

Thanks a lot, Miro, your poem was truly inspiring and I feel good about myself even though I cannot move my limbs!      

For tolerating mommy’s slow jogging, the kids were rewarded with farmers cheese pancakes.  There are tons of variations of this recipe, and my favorite one is actually soft and savory, with semolina.  But the kids prefer this sweet stuff.  Who would have expected THAT!? If you haven’t seen farmers cheese in your usual supermarket, you can always find in European grocery stores (or you can make it yourself).

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FARMERS CHEESE PANCAKES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 425 g farmers cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 50 g flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbs sugar

Yields about 20 small pancakes

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients and mix together with a fork.  Once everything is incorporated, make pancakes with your hands.  Shape pieces of dough into golf-ball sized balls, and then flatten with your palms.

Preheat the frying pan and grease it with oil.

Bake the pancakes till golden brown on each side on mid-low heat, covered.

Traditionally served with sour cream, honey, or jam.

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You know that moment when a certain taste or smell makes your heart skip a beat and brings you to THE happy place?  This weekend I took such trip down the memory lane.  It was very well planned, but nevertheless immensely pleasant.    

No, I didn’t order my father’s favorite cologne from Russia (though I’m sure it’d do the job!).  I prepared farmers cheese.  Savoring it brought me right back to my babushka’s house.  Sweet and nostalgic at the same time… Anyways, I hope I just planted that magic trigger into my kids’ hearts, and they would think of us every time they stumble upon this cheese.

It’s not very common in the States.  The texture is really close to goat cheese though has a milder flavor.  Making it is a journey by itself. 

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HOMEMADE FARMERS CHEESE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 gallon (3.78 liters) raw milk
  • 1/2 pint (236 ml) buttermilk

Yields about 700 g

DIRECTIONS:

Combine raw milk and buttermilk in a large jar (I used this 5 Liter glass canning jar).  Leave at a room temperature to ferment for about 12 hours).  Cover with a lid but don’t clamp it.

At the end of the fermentation some cream will separate and the mixture will become very thick.

Fill a large pot 1/2 way with water and warm it up on the stove.

When the water is almost boiling (about 180° F /approx. 80º C or higher) carefully place the jar into the pot.  It doesn’t matter if the water is below the milk level.  Let it heat up for about 10 minutes.  The milk will start separating into curds (solid) and whey (liquid).

Line up a large colander with a large cheese cloth folded twice.  Carefully dump the milk mixture into it and drain.  You may have to use a spoon to empty the jar.  Tie a knot with a cheese cloth and hang it above a dish or your kitchen sink for a couple hours.

If you don’t fully drain it, the farmers cheese will be very soft and tender, ready to eat.

A drier farmers cheese is perfect for cooking (I’m sure the recipes will follow).

Store in the fridge, also could be frozen for future use.

Enjoy!

You can enjoy your farmers cheese as is, mix it up with milk or sour cream to spread it on your bagel, sweeten it with honey, or sugar, or jam, or bake with it, add it to salads, make it salty, add herbs.  The options are unlimited and Russians have gazillion recipes to prove it!

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I guess it’s my own fault.  I don’t know why, but I listened to that woman again.  I’m talking about my mother, of course, whose topmost culinary achievement is microwaved oatmeal…  Somehow she convinced me to buy a yogurt maker.  Little did I know that her version of “extremely easy to make and absolutely delicious” yogurt looks like buttermilk and has utterly tart flavor.

For some time I thought that whatever we save on not buying commercial yogurt we are going to spend on psychiatrist fees, since I was going mad trying to play with temperatures, processing times, and ingredients in order to produce an eatable substance  with a nice thick texture that my household loves.

Finally my yogurt is up to par with our favorite brands, and I can proudly share the recipe with you!  This one is for my EuroCuisine yogurt maker that uses about 1 QT of milk and has 7 individual jars. 

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HOMEMADE VANILA-MAPLE YOGURT

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 qt milk (you can choose any milk you like from fat-free to whole)
  • 1 pckg yogurt starter
  • 7 tbs dry milk
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

 

DIRECTIONS

Pour milk into a medium-size saucepan and turn the heat to low.  Warm up the milk to 180⁰ F (approx.  80⁰C), steering to avoid burning.   On my small gas burner it takes about 15 minutes.

Immediately take the milk off the gas and chill to 110⁰ F (approx. 40⁰ C).  The process could be expedited if you place the saucepan into a bigger dish filled with ice cubes.

Meanwhile, measure the other ingredients, and turn on the yogurt maker to warm it up.

Once the milk reaches 110⁰ F (approx. 40⁰ C), pour about 1/3 of it into a mixing bowl.  Whisk in the yogurt starter.  Once yogurt starter is dissolved, whisk in dry milk.  Mix in vanilla and maple syrup.

Pour the mixture into the remaining milk through a fine strainer.  Mix to incorporate and pour into the yogurt jars.  Place the open jars in the yogurt maker and cover them with the top.

Let process for about 7 hours or until your yogurt reaches desired consistency.

Turn the yogurt maker off.  Remove the jars and cover them with individual lids.  Immediately place your yogurt into the fridge in order to stop the fermentation.

NOTES: If you read the directions above, yogurt recipe actually is “extremely easy”.  However, it does require attention.  The higher the temperatures – the more acidic the flavor, same goes for longer processing times.  We were trying to make yogurt based on the Gottschall’s recipes from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  Her version requires at least 24 hours of processing time in order to kill all lactose.  The end result was so tart, it even smelled sour.  We could only use it as a flavor enhancer for soups and such.  Also, fortifying yogurt with dry milk gives you a more nutritious product, though it makes it much thicker.  We like it thick, so it works for us, but the yogurt will still taste good without it.

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My Mexican friend, Alma, finally picked the new book for our club! It’s Tear this heart out” by Angeles Mastretta.  The name sounds dreadfully depressing, so I cannot wait to start reading!  


On another note, I have a feeling that lately the kid-bragging was inadequate.  So, here are some new photos…

First and foremost, the new year starts with the new do.  What DO you think?  

Here is a fresh one of baby Pea.  We visited San Francisco famous Brian Wilson today.  Apparently, my girl expected to meet the “fear the beard” guy.  

Here is her puzzled look when she realized it’s just his namesake, the hippo.

 

 And lastly, a very talented photographer and blogger, http://barbaraelka.com/ noticed my online jabbering, and nominated it for a 7×7 award!  Thank you so much!  The rules are below:

1.       Share something about yourself that other bloggers don’t know.

Recently I’ve been working on this groundbreaking invention in the field of weight loss. 

So, I came up with this amazing dish.  I think if you eat it every evening for a couple weeks, you are guaranteed to shred some pounds!  I haven’t shared it with anyone yet due to limited research and potential side effects that may include but not limited to blurred vision, dizziness, and painful death…

It’s this baked fish recipe that tastes AWFUL! It’s so awful, you don’t even want to put anything else in your mouth after you ate it, so you are certain to loose extra fat!  As I mentioned earlier, it needs some work before I share it with public… but, I think I’m onto something here…

2.       Link 7 posts from your blog that you think are worthy.

Ohm.. I have only been doing it for two months… Let me see:

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/13/friands/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/31/mandarin-ginger-chicken/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/24/2011_instagram_pea/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/24/2011_instagram_fam/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/09/happy-friday/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2012/01/05/corn_casserol/

http://russianmomcooks.com/2011/12/12/sharlotka-with-cranberries/

3.       Nominate 7 other bloggers that deserve the award and haven’t received it yet.

I would really like to see author’s picks from all the blogs I follow, but here are the absolute favorites (in no particular order):

http://delacasa.wordpress.com/

http://comeduemaiali.wordpress.com/

http://savorysimple.net/

http://clarabelleblog.com/

http://daisyt13.wordpress.com/

http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/

http://deidraalexander.com

Ta-ta

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