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Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

I was giving a ride to my 4 year old son and a couple of 11 year-olds to their zoo camp. The older kids and I were discussing jobs for teenagers. Zoo teacher’s assistant seemed liked a cool option.

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“Much better than working at a McDonalds,” I voiced my opinion.

“No, mommy!” said my son, laughing at me, like I said something very silly, “I love McDonalds!”

“Do you? Have you ever been to McDonalds?” I asked ready to have a serious talk with my husband…

“Of course, mommy,” and he started singing, “Old McDonald had a farm EE-I-EE-I-O!”2013_May_CherryFarm-18

 

We have taken the kids to a farm. A cherry orchard, to be exact. Here is what came out of it.

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For free canning labels and gift notes go here.

Special tools:

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We, Russians, like to take our time with everything (I can see my husband nodding here). This year it includes Easter celebrations.  Russian Orthodox Easter is on the 5th of May. Naturally, I’m taking my time to publish this traditional recipe. Last year I was a bit unprepared, and paskha didn’t look anything like it supposed to; but I’m well equipped now.  If you like cheesecake kind of substances, here is a delicious no-bake dessert!

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Vanilla Paskha

From While Chasing Kids | Desserts | Russian

Another traditional Russian Easter dish, a symbol of joy and blissful eternity.

12:35
00:05
12:30

cal Calories 138kcal

fat Total Fat 7g

sat fat Saturated Fat 4g

chol Cholesterol 21mg

sodium Sodium 242mg

carbs Total Carbohydrate 13g

Serving size 43g Calories from fat 63kcal Fiber 0g Protein 6g Sugar 11g
20 servings

Ingredients

  • 300 g low-fat farmers cheese
  • 300 g low-fat sour cream
  • 150 g sugar
  • 100 g raisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Directions

  1. Mash fresh dry farmers cheese through a strainer. Add sour cream and mix to incorporate. Fold a cheese cloth 2-3 times and place the farmers cheese mixture in the center. Make a bundle and tie it above the sink or a deep dish for 12 hours.
  2. After the whey is strained, add the remaining ingredients. Mix to incorporate.
  3. Line the paskha mold with a thin layer of fresh cheese cloth. Fill it in with the farmers cheese mixture. Press a weight on top of the mold and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove the mold and peel off the cheese cloth. Garnish with fresh berries, raisins, chocolate or caramel. Traditionally a candle would be placed on top of paskha.

Tips

  • To add some zing to the flavor, soak raisins in rum for about 30 minutes. Drain before adding the raisins to paskha.

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Христос Воскресе!

 

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Ladies, happy International Women’s Day! Let it be the most beautiful spring day filled with many smiles! My daughter and I are totally prepared to be admired and cherished for the next 24 hours! No doubt the husband and the son are ready to deliver! Wink-wink!

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As always, feeling a bit nostalgic this day, I’m putting together a recipe from my homeland.  OK, I posted it before, but my mom informed me there is a low fat version that works just as well! So, here is a low fat Russian farmers’ cheese. It could be enjoyed on its own, sprinkled over your salads, stuffed into huge dumplings, baked with, and the list goes on and on.

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Don’t be intimidated by the word “cheese”. It’s very easy to make, and requires only about 15 minutes of hands-on time!

Low Fat Farmers Cheese

From While Chasing Kids | Side Dishes | Russian

This homemade cheese is used in so many Russian dishes, there would be enough to fill a cook book. Its consistency is very similar to goat cheese, but the flavor is much milder.

24:10
24:00
00:10

10 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 liters fat-free milk
  • 2 tbs low-fat sour cream

Directions

  1. Combine milk and sour cream in a large jar (I used 3 Liter glass canning jar). Leave at a room temperature to ferment for 12-24 hours). Cover with a lid but don’t clamp it.
  2. When the milk turns into a clabber of hair-jell-like consistency, the cheese is ready to be made.
  3. Fill a large pot 1/2 way with water and warm it up on the stove.
  4. When the water is almost boiling (about 180° F /approx. 80º C or higher) carefully place the jar with clabber into the pot. It’s ok if the water is below the sour milk level. Let it heat up for about 10 minutes. The milk will start separating into curds (solid) and whey (liquid).
  5. 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.
  6. If you don’t fully drain it, the farmers cheese will be very soft and tender, ready to eat.
  7. A drier farmers cheese is perfect for cooking.

Tips

  • Keep an eye on your fermentation process. Try a little bit of the clabber – it should have a pleasant slightly sour taste. Too long of a fermentation could cause bitter clabber; the cheese made with it would have an unpleasant taste.
  • The farmers cheese should be stored in the fridge for a few days, and could be frozen for up to 1 month.

 

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Ah, vacation… We had the best time ever hanging out with the family, riding bikes, enjoying the mountains.  However, I found myself missing the kitchen.  In fact I started having a serious baking withdrawal… Naturally, since we got back, I made 5 sourdough loafs of bread, 2 chocolate cakes, chocolate chip cookies, pitas, and naan… all in less than a week.

The old chocolate cake has been such a huge success, I decided to try a Russian version found in the winter’s Fine Cooking issue.  The potato adds a bit of moisture and keeps the dough fresh for up to 4 days!    Enjoy!

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SWEET RUSSIAN CHOCOLATE BRAID

INGREDIENTS:

Dough

  • 1 ½ cups plus 3 tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 tbs water
  • 1 very small potato, peeled, boiled until tender, and forced through a sieve (to yield ¼ cup)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbs cold unsalted butter

Filling

  • 1 cup Pastry Cream (recipe below)
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, beaten

DIRECTIONS:

Make the dough. In a small bowl, mix 3 tbs of flour and yeast and water.  Let sit for about 10 minutes till foamy.  In a stand mixer combine the remaining ingredients, add the yeast mixture and mix until the dough is smooth for about 8 minutes.  It will be very sticky.  Dump the dough on a floured surface and knead with your hands for a couple minutes adding a little bit of flour to make it firmer. Transfer the dough in a large container, seal with plastic wrap, and rise for about 3 hours.

Make ahead.  Instead of letting the dough rise, you can place it in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 4 days.  Pull it out of the fridge and let it stand for 3-4 hours in room temperature before proceeding to the next step.

Make pastry cream (see recipe below) right after the you mix the dough to give it enough time for cooling down.

Shape the braid. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment.  Roll the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle about 13×16 inches and about 1/8 inch thick.  Apply the chilled pastry cream over the dough and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Roll it into a 16-inch cylinder.  Transfer to the baking sheet.  Cut the cylinder in half lengthwise and arrange both halves parallel to one another with a cut side facing up.  Wrap them around each other starting in the middle, pinching the edges of the braid together. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for another 35-45 minutes.

Bake. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F/175⁰C.  Position the rack in the center of the oven. Brush the beaten egg over the braid. Bake until golden brown for about 40 minutes.  Let cool on a rack for 1 hour before slicing.

As you see on the picture below, we couldn’t wait, so the chocolate is still melting under the knife!Yummm!

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PASTRY CREAM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tbs all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 large egg yolks

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk vanilla, sugar, flour, salt, and egg yolks. Warm up milk just until a skin forms.  Add milk to the mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly.  Transfer back to heat and cook until the mixture is thick and glue (for about 5 minutes) constantly steering it with a wooden spoon.  Place a plastic wrap on top of the cream and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

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I grew up in a pretty swampy area on the border with Finland where even apples wouldn’t ripe. The parents dutifully shipped me to my babushka every summer, so I get some vitamins in me (a.k.a. so my parents get some time off).  But when I would return back from babushka’s there would be a whole world of nutrition waiting for me in the woods.

Cranberries, blueberries, red huckleberries, and mushrooms – we picked them all up by ourselves and brought home to cook and to preserve with. No farmer-raised stuff – all wild!

 

It is so cold in San Francisco this week, I felt like making this chilly autumn kind of meal.  These mushroom patties go very well with mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables.  I made a spicy artichoke sauce to go with it, but for a fresher feel I would also recommend this cilantro sauce.

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MUSHROOM PATTIES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500 g fresh mushrooms
  • 40 g second-day bread
  • ¼ – ½ cup milk
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
  • 4 tbs ground flax seed
  • 1 tbs bread crumbs
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Soak the bread in milk.

Wash the mushrooms and put them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain the mushrooms and process them twice through a meat grinder.  Also process the onion and soaked bread.

Add flax seed, salt, and pepper and mix well.  Form patties out of the mixture and roll them in bread crumbs.

Make ahead: you can freeze the patties for up to 6 months.  Place them on a cutting board, and leave in a freezer for 30 minutes before transferring to a freezer-proof zip-lock bag.

Fry on medium high heat in oil.

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ARTICHOKE SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tbs olive oil, divided use
  • 8 artichoke hearts, cooked
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs goat cheese
  • 3 sun-dried tomatoes
  • Leaves from 5 stems of thyme + more for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Chop the onion and caramelize it on a medium-hot pan with 1 tbs of olive oil.

Process caramelized onions and the remaining ingredients in a food processor.  Add more olive oil of the mixture is too thick.

Warm up (but do not boil) before serving.

 

 

 

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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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