Quick and easy. Baked sweet potato chips.

Even the most sophisticated gourmands sometimes take a break and cook something really simple. So here I kind of introduce you the new rubric – Quick and Easy. The title speaks for itself no need to explain further. I just hope you’ll like it.

Today we are making sweet potato baked chips. Very easy to cook but yet delicious.

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Better late than never. Our New Year’s Eve menu

Do you think it’s the right time to publish the New Year’s Eve menu? Yeah, I know it already passed. But I look at all those bloggers who publish all Festive recipes starting from October – and I just wonder how do they manage to do that? I can hardly wrap my head around all the preparations going on not to mention the blog. So, yeah, sorry, I am late. But there are going to be other holidays and parties, right? And fish menu is always a good choice.

Pan fried scallops

Pan fried scallops with brie cheese and raspberry sauce

There will be several recipe cards in this post. You can print all of them or choose the one you need.  Continue reading →

Cottage cheese and pumpkin Hungarian scones

With the Festive season gone it is time to return to day-to-day food. I know, I know, January is the month of eating healthy stuff, exercising  much and detoxing. But really how long do you keep to those resolutions?

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Every year it’s the same: the new life starts on the 1st of January. You wake up with a great hangover and suddenly remember you promised yourself a healthy and strong body, new healthy habits, no wasting time and so on… Continue reading →

Autumn bucket list for foodies

Let’s pretend how dull would be the foodies pallet if there were no autumn in the world. No roots, no pumpkins, no plums, no marrows, no apples, no late autumn honey, no mulled wine from thermos… Autumn is a great time to celebrate comfort and flavour. So I have a quick bucket list of things to do this fall if you are a food lover.

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  1. Bake an apple pie. Absolutely a must. No autumn should pass without a pie. May I offer you a recipe to try? This one with apple roses tastes good and looks delicious. Or why not to try an apple cake instead?
  2. Mulled wine! Who said mulled wine is for Christmas? I promise you that it’s spicy warmness suits autumn beautifully. Make some mulled wine and spend a gloomy evening in the park or garden, drinking it. Maybe watching the stars, or maybe reading some poetry.
  3. Go chocolate hunting. Research what shops in your city have the best variety of chocolate and spend some time reading labels, taking photos and tasting (if available). Buy couple, or three, or five (no more than ten)… And spend a half an hour comparing different bars with tea or coffee.
  4. Buy a pumpkin. Actually, buy two. Waste one on all that pumpkin dishes you save on Pinterest. Pumpkin curry, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin soups and pies are among those really nice things to try. (May I also suggest you these really nice pumpkin cupcakes?) Make a “nature morte” with the other one. Place it on the dinning table as a centrepiece or on a mantel (if you have one) as an object of art.
  5. When it’s time, gut it, carve it, make the scariest lantern on your street. Or the cutest if you like it better. Do not discard the seeds. You are a foodie or what? Extract the seeds, wash them, dry them, then bake at 50 degrees C for 30 minutes to make the best pumpkin seeds for salads, granola or bread… You made it yourself!
  6. Apple chips. No more words. Just slice and bake!
  7. Go adventurous and choose seasonal menu in your favourite restaurant. How often do you come to your fav place and order the same fav plate? To be honest, I do that all the time. I have several dishes I love the most in several restaurants I like. And tend to order them all the time. But autumn is so generous on fruits and veggies that we can’t ignore it. Viva celeriac! Viva parsnips!
  8. Herbs and spice tea can be a great remedy for all that colds and flues waiting around the corner. But it also can be a pleasant way to calm down after a stressful day at work. Fill you teapots with mint, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, cloves, orange peel, cranberry and raspberry leaves and steep for 5-7 minutes, add some honey and dive into you relaxed evening. It can as well be linden, camomile and lavander  for a goodnight sleep.
  9. Preserve! Whatever you like. My own stars of the shelf are pumpkin confiture, raspberry jam, black currants jelly and minced marrows.
  10. Apples are very rich in pectin wich makes them really good for making jam. It sets quickly and has a nice consistency once set. But it’s also great for making jellies and zefir (Russian marshmallows). Give it a try.
  11. Pack a hamper for a picnic. There’s no other such joy in the world as autumn picnics. Herb tea, hot chocolate, apple tarts, plum jams, cheeses and wines – oh, don’t start me on this. Get some inspiration here. Have a look at how we made our big Lavender picnic in Hyde Park.
  12. Cook! Autumn is a nesting time, you spend more and more time at home and cook more and more comfort foods. Use all the help you need from books, magazines and blogs – find the recipies you dare to try and come on, turn the stove on!

Girolle and eggs en cocotte

The end of summer is a pleasant time for all types of foodies. All kinds of tasty things reach their perfect ripeness. Fruits and veggies, of course, some berries, honey, nuts and – kings of foraging – mushrooms.

Girolles are my personal favourite among mushrooms. They are dense, clean, a little sweet and look very vivid and colourful on the plate. When I happen to get a bag of girolles, my first desire is to make Russian style fried potatoes with mushrooms. But after that I allow my fantasy to rush. So how do you feel about girolle for breakfast?

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9 most inspiring movies about food

Where do you get your inspiration to cook? Colourful cookbooks, foodie blogs, magazines – there are a lot of sources for cooking creativity. Today I am sharing my favourite movies about cooks, chefs, food and love. They give me tones of inspiration and ideas. Also a good plan on Friday night at home – many of the movies are family friendly. So tuck yourselves in a cosy blanket and push the Play button! Hope they will be a lot of inspiration for you!

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1. Chef (2014)

Carl Casper works as a chef in a prestigious restaurant. But one day he loses a twitter “war” to a famous food critic and has to leave his job. He gets a food truck and goes all the way through the country from Miami to Los Angeles, teaching his son to cook and serving top-quality sandwiches in every single town they stop. Continue reading →

Easy lamb kebab pitas. Kids’ turn to cook

It’s your turn to cook lunch, I say to my older son every once in a while, when I’m not in mood to take over the hob. Ilya is 10 years old and he tells me he wants to be a chef since he was 4. He cooks a lot. Not only he can fry an egg, but also make pasta, bake some biscuits, mix some delish salads, and compose scrumptious pizzas. It all started with some fried veggies – he cut everything he could find, including cucumbers for example, and just fried everything in a pan. It was horrible to be honest. But I look at him and his dishes now and see what a true passion can do.

DSC_0002So we discussed it and decided that he can have his column in my blog. Ta-dam! We are now presenting the new category “Kids’ turn to cook” where Ilya is sharing simple and easy recipes every kid can make on his own or with little help from adults.

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Slow roast lamb leg with bulgar wheat

Who in the world would miss roasted lamb in spring? Not me. Though I’m not a big fan of lamb, season is season.

I won’t lie that I cooked that, my husband did. He is way to stronger with meat than I am. Especially with lamb. He can make it nicely brown and full of flavour. And he can make that meat fall apart under the fork.

slow roast lamb legSo what we are cooking today is the  slow roast lamb leg with bulgar wheat, shalots and white wine. Continue reading →

Curd cheese patties

In Russia we call them “sochni”. It’s probably an easy one after the Olympiad in Sochi. Nearly the same word. ‘Sotch-nee’. Basically it means they are juicy. Oh, I can tell you they are.

To make it right I strongly advise you to visit your nearest Polish food store and get half a kilo of “twarog”. It’s a very special kind of soft cheese which tastes between Ricotta and cottage cheese. You add some salt and sugar to it and it starts “crying” – give out some water. Then you add some egg – so all that moist filling holds together nicely when you bake it and doesn’t try to escape after the first bite.

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I don’t know why no one in my family ever made sochni. They are easy and really delish. But still it is a kind of childhood memory for me, ’cause my mom used to buy them every time we went out shopping. Sochni was a typical Russian street food a quarter of century ago.

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Chocolate Hot Cross Buns – new recipe I tried this Easter

Hot cross buns, hot cross buns
One a penny, two a penny hot cross buns.

As a huge fan of all yeast dough goodies I couldn’t miss the opportunity to make these for Easter. That’s interesting how in different cultures Christians have the same understanding of what makes bread festive. Greek Tzureki, Italian Pannetone, Russian Kulich, British Hot Cross Buns – all have it in common. Spices. And orange zest. And raisins.

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I cooked Kulich dozens of times, and Tzureki, and Pannetone as well, but it’s my first time with British Easter bread. I always wondered how the crosses on top are made. Is it white chocolate? Do they bake the buns first and add the crosses at the end? Ha ha, now I know how it’s done. And I was surprised how easy the method is.

Even though I’m not an experienced hot cross bun baker I couldn’t have settled with some classic taste and recipe. So here are my Easter buns with chocolate and prunes.

Recipe:
(makes 9 tall buns, prep and cooking time 40 minutes, proving and rising – about 2 hours) Continue reading →