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Archive for June, 2012

I bought a new toy last week – a cherry stone remover.  Since then everybody in our block had a chance to get tired of everything cherry, my family cannot look at cherries any more, though I feel  like I haven’t even started yet.  That thing is SO cool! You can load it with about 30 cherries at once and pit them in seconds! Here is one of the recipes that came out of all that.

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CHERRY GALETTE

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 16 tablespoons cold (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  •  1/2 cup ice water

Filling:

  • 4 cups pitted cherries
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbs sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp brown sugar

Yields: 2 galettes

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the dough. In the food processor combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter.  Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add water and pulse to get a crumbly dough.  Transfer the dough into two plastic wraps and form into ¾ inch thick disks.  Wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400⁰F /200⁰C.

Prepare the filling.  Sprinkle cherries with the lemon zest and ¼ cup of sugar.  Mix to incorporate. In a separate bowl mix corn starch and 2 tbs sugar.

Assemble the galettes.    Roll each disk to a circle, 12 inches/ 30 cm in diameter.  Sprinkle the middle with the starch and sugar mixture, leaving about 2 inches/ 5 cm from the edges.  Brush that space around the edges with buttermilk.  Place the filling on the sprinkled area and fold the dough around it.  You can fold it any way you want – from clumsy to neat – it will look gorgeous in the end any way. Pinch the folded edges, so that the filling doesn’t leak out while baking.

Brush the dough of the galettes with remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 30-35 minutes at 400⁰F /200⁰C until golden brown. Let cool for about 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

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Baking in clay pots is an old Russian tradition.  I remember my babushka had a lot of these pots of all sizes, and she used them in a real Russian wood burning stove. The taste, the aroma of the dishes that came out of that stove could not be compared to anything cooked in modern gas ovens.  Though, here is my little attempt to make another trip down the nostalgia road. 

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CLAY POT BUCKWHEAT AND VEGETABLES

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cups of uncooked buckwheat, washed
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 pint of mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 2 tbs mayonnaise or sour cream
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 4 tbs Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sour cream and fresh dill for garnish

Yields: 3 ½ liter pots

DIRECTIONS:

Make eggplant paste: cut the eggplant in half and bake it (skin down) for 15 minutes at 400⁰F /200⁰C. Remove the skin and the stem. Place eggplant, tomatoes, olive oil, 3 tbs of parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor, and blend until smooth.  Add a little water if necessary.

Make mushroom mixture: mix mushrooms, onion, marjoram, and mayo in a bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and mix again.

Assemble the pots: divide buckwheat between the clay pots (1/4 cup into each pot).  Cover with water (1/2 cup of water into each pot), and add salt (1/4 tsp salt into each pot).

Layer the mushroom mixture on top of the water – some of the mushrooms will float, some not, it’s all fine.

Layer the eggplant paste on top.

Bake: Bake covered at 450⁰F/230⁰C for about 45 minutes.  Take the lids off, sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese, and bake for 10 more minutes uncovered.

Serve with fresh dill and sour cream.

 

 

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Super cute! Playful! Dazzling! Well, and the model is pretty good looking too!  That’s right, it’s not me, and I didn’t take this photo.  But I do have the bag!  It’s not just a bag – it’s a camera bag for ladies!  If you cannot tell – I’m absolutely in love with it! 

Cool bloggers (like Savory Simple) get cool sponsors (like Jo Totes) and throw amazing giveaways.  Some other bloggers (like ME!) get very-very lucky!  I started following Jennifer pretty much as soon as I discovered the world of blogging, and I have always been inspired by her recipes and photography.  Hope you check out her blog as well, I’m sure you will love it as much as I do! 

Well, this Russian mom is out to show off her new accessory!  Till next recipe!

Ta-ta!

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Growing season in Russia is really short, so when it starts, we get hmm.. enthusiastic about not just consuming as many greens as possible, but also about preserving everything that is extra! I’ve been living in California for years now.  Fresh produce seem never ending here. Yet my natural instincts kick in every time I see those fruits and berries.  I get overly excited with a need to preserve…

This is my family jam-making technique.  Even though apricots were almost impossible to find where I grew up, believe it or not, we sacrifice a few fresh fruits to make this bliss in a jar.  It’s that good!

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APRICOT JAM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg fresh apricots, washed and pitted
  • 1 kg sugar
  • 1 box of powdered pectin
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves

Yields about 6 8-oz jars

DIRECTIONS:

I use this canning kit for years now; it’s relatively cheap, and does the job very well.

Sterilize the jars: Either put them in hot wash dishwasher cycle so that they are clean and hot by the time you use them, or dunk them in boiling water and keep them hot.

Sterilize the lids: boil the tops in a small pan filled with enough water to cover the lids, keep them hot till needed.

Prepare for canning: bring to boil a large pot of water.  There should be enough water to completely submerge the jars and have about an inch of water on top of them.

Make the jam: in a large pot (I like to use my Dutch Oven) with a potato masher slightly mash the fruit, so some juices are released, but there are still some chunks of fruit left.  Place the pot on heat, to bring the fruit to boil.

While apricots are warming up, whisk lemon juice and pectin together until pectin is dissolved.  Add the juice mixture to the apricots, mix to incorporate.  When the juices start bubbling, mix in the sugar and steer with a wooden spoon until completely dissolved. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves.

Bring the jam to complete boil (when it doesn’t stop boiling if you steer it with a spoon).  Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, taking off the foam if it forms.  Note: to lower the foam you can add a tiny bit of butter to the pot.

Jar the jam:  carefully remove the hot jar and fill it with the jam using a canning funnel, leaving at least a ¼ inch space between the jam and the edge of the jar. With a clean wet towel remove any excess jam from the edge of the jar.  Using a magnetic lid lifter remove the lid from boiling water, and place it on top of the jar. Secure the lid.  Repeat with the remaining jam.

Using the jar lifter, carefully place the lidded jars in the large pot of boiling water, make sure they are completely submerged.  Boil for about 10 minutes.

Remove the hot jars using the jar lifter, and place them on a towel.  Let cool completely before labeling.  Make sure the lid tops are not popping in the center.  If they are, they should be removed and re-sealed (same process – wash and sterilize the jar and a lid, bring the jam to boil, and re-can it. It’s very important that the edge of the jar is clean.

It will take a couple of weeks for the jam to set.  Store it in a dark chilled place, and patiently wait for the winter!

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I tried tamales once at our favorite San Francisco Mexican joint, Gracias Madre, and immediately wanted to reproduce them…  Considering the fact that I wasn’t following any particular recipe, but chose whatever I felt right for the dish and combined it with whatever fridge content needed to be cooked, I wouldn’t completely rely on my unprofessional opinions here.  Nevertheless, these vegetarian tamales turned out delish!

My Russian interpretation of tamale is that they are just like tacos – masa dough + filling.  Except that the dough is not made into a pancake (tortilla) but steamed in a corn husk. Hence, I like my masa to be thinner – as I think the real delight is inside… 

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CORN AND BEAN TAMALES

INGREDIENTS:

Filling:

  • 1 cup corn (cooked)
  • 2 cups pinto beans (cooked)
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup seasonal vegetables, diced
  • salt, pepper, spices

Dough:

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro leaves
  • 1 (8 ounce) package dried corn husks
  • Kitchen twine
  • Sour cream and salsa for garnish

Yields about 12 tamales

DIRECTIONS:

Soak the corn husks in warm water for about 30 minutes

Prepare the filling: mix all the ingredients

Prepare the dough: mix all the ingredients and let cool in the fridge for about 15 minutes

Make tamales: put two corn husks together, overlapping, so they make a plate.  Make a small ball out of the dough (size of a golf ball) and flatten it on the husks.  Place a large helping of the filling in the center of the dough and cover the filling with edges of the dough.  Wrap the husks around the tamale and tie the edges with the twine.  Repeat with the rest.

Make ahead: Once the tamales are assembled, they could be frozen for at least 3 months.

Cook tamales: Steam tamales for 30 – 45 minutes in a steamer.

Serve with sour cream and salsa.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m in constant search for reasons (or… rather excuses) to eat carbs.  The husband provided a solid justification today when he emailed this article about San Francisco. My favorite line:  “walking uphill, both ways, all the time, always”. So, clearly, just because we are living here, we are covered as far as the workouts go, so this cake should be absolutely guilt-free!  Come visit our beautiful city, and you can make this cake for yourself!

The recipe was inspired by a few jars of last-year’s raspberry jam and one of my favorite Russian bloggers, Natasha.  She is the master of biskvit (the Russian version of sponge cake).

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RASPBERRY TORTE

INGREDIENTS:

Cake:

  • 8 eggs, whites and yolks divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar

Syrup:

  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 4 tbs raspberry liqueur (such as Chambord)

Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz /225 g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1-4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1 pckg raspberry-flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water

1/2 pint fresh raspberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350⁰ F/175⁰C.

Line two 8.5-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.  Spray it with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl mix together sugar and egg yolks, after the sugar has dissolved, whisk in the flour.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites till soft peaks start forming.  Using a spatula gently mix in the egg yolk mixture in the egg whites.

Divide the dough between the baking pans and bake for 18 minutes or until they turn golden.

Remove from the oven.  Place the cakes on a wire rack and gently peel off the parchment paper.

Let the cake cool at the room temperature.

Cook the gelatin.  Dissolve the contents of the package in boiling water and let cool at the room temperature.  Do not use the amount of water recommended by the package, you need a firmer substance than what’s suggested.

Make the frosting by mixing all its ingredients

Make the syrup by mixing the liqueur and jam together

Once the cakes are cool, place one of them on the cake tray.  Brush with half of the syrup.  Apply half of the frosting, and repeat the layers. Place fresh raspberries on top of the cake making a tight circle and refrigerate the cake for about 20 minutes.

After the frosting is chilled, apply the gelatin one layer at a time.  Spoon a thin layer of jelly over the top of the cake, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.  After the first layer of jelly is set, repeat with more layers until jelly is used.

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