Chocolate swiss roll with fennel and jasmine

It all started when I found out my husband didn’t like fennel. And when some of my family refuses to eat anything I am trying to find the way through and cook it somehow that no one recognises the unloved ingredient. Nobody ignores any kind of food in my kitchen! (Well, except me, of course, and I am quiet fussy with what I eat).

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I tried fennel in salads and soups, but it was not working for my husband. The sweet goodies were a path to go. And this is how this swiss roll appeared. I took Hershey’s roll recipe and super powered it a bit. Rich chocolate flavour went really well with those strong sharp fennel taste.

It’s worth having a juicer for this recipe but if you don’t make fennel water instead. Grate the fennel bulb, pour over a 1/2 cup boiling water and steep overnight.

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Recipe
(for 25х37 cm tin, 30 min hands on + 3-4 hours to set) Continue reading →

Milk soufflé

In Russia we call it literary Bird Milk. Probably, because it’s milky, creamy but yet heavenly light and airy. And every time the name turns in conversation follows a discussion where in Russia they make the beat Bird Milk. I don’t really want to defend chocolate factory in my home city but let me just say this: Bird Milk was invented in Vladivostok and therefore I consider it to be the most authentic and therefore I try to achieve that particular taste making milk soufflé myself.

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Recipe:
(makes 6, 20 minutes hands on + 1 hour 30 minutes to set) Continue reading →

“Movie Night” cheesecake with coke and popcorn

Aaaaaand Chefs_battle recipes again in this blog. (Wonder what is Chefs_Battle? Find out in my Instagram) This time the task was to make a classic New York cheesecake but with a little twist and to shoot it in the atmosphere of American 50’s. So don’t be surprised about the shots. Here I am – a happy US housewife right from a postcard.

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Oh, America-America! 50’s – is quiet a conflicting era.  The cult of family and home is arguing with loud voices of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. We have a modest and neat housewife on one plate and young and daring pin-up girls on the other. So I tried to reflect this crazy mix in my recipe.

This is an almost classical New York cheesecake flavoured with US national tastes – Coke and popcorn. And as this combination is used for watching movies far too often let’s name this cheesecake “Movie Night”.

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Recipe
(for 10″ cake tin, making time 2 hours + 8 hours for chilling) Continue reading →

Challah bread

Challah is Jewish Sabbath and holiday bread. It is extremely soft and airy and buttery, which is no wonder – a considerable amount of eggs and butter is used to make it. Challah has a deep religious meaning, but apart from that it is a delicious sweet white loaf to share for tea time.

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It is absolutely one of the tastiest breads in the world… Though all breads are tasty to me. So, let’s grab some eggs and butter and bake a Challah loaf. Oh, no, not butter, actually, we are going to substitute butter with vegetable oil. Continue reading →

Peas and mint soup

Do you ever crave for veggies in winter? I bet not many of you do. No secret we prefer warm and comforting food in cold times. But when it turns to spring we turn to green.

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To be honest March and even April ,though they undoubtedly are spring months are not yet that warm and sunny to make me want salads and fresh fruit. But neither do I want a piece of pulled pork in heavy gravy. In spring I’m looking for some in-between options: green and light enough but warm and nourishing.

So this post is about a perfect April bowl of soup. Peas and mint. You surely saw it in menus and probably tried it in some restaurant or cafe. Now it’s time to cook it yourself. It won’t take you more than 15 minutes.

Recipe:
(serves 4-6, cooking time 15 mins)

Continue reading →

Pistachio meringues

Meringue is one of the favourite deserts of my childhood. How can you not love this crispy breakable shell with sweet and sticky-toffee like centre? Who wouldn’t love holding it in one hand and catching crumbs with the other?

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But to be honest in my childhood everything was a little simpler than now. We didn’t have chocolate, strawberry, lemon and all those yummy meringues, we only knew plain white ones, no flavours, no colours. And today choosing a meringue recipe to cook you’ll never be fascinated with a plain white one, right? Because of all that variety you have around.

So let us make it pistachio meringues. We’ll use the French method, the one that looks the simplest, yet has some tricks.

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Recipe:
(makes 8, cooking time 30 minutes + 2-3 hours to chill) Continue reading →

Mille-feuille (just classic one)

When it comes to choosing between ready-made ingredients and spending 3 more hours in the kitchen making your own pre-cooked ingredient… I deny any logic and choose to cook myself. Pistachio paste, almond meal, fruit puree, small meringues and puff pastry. I know, it can be easily found in any supermarket. It is cheap and gives predictable result, but… let’s say  I just prefer it freshly made. I honestly don’t know, what’s the point, but I really do love homemade puff pastry better.

And when the reason for puff pastry is mille-feuille, you just can’t walk on this classic piece of fine French cuisine in your dirty wellies and cook it with shop bought pastry. So let’s pretend ourselves chefs and make some perfect “dessert of thousand petals” from the beginning to the end.

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Recipe Continue reading →

Pear and Chocolate Tart

The history of this tart in my cookbook began far long before I started baking. I just met my husband and we were celebrating our first New Year together. And we were determined to surprise each other. So we denied Russian traditional potato salad and looked deep into other countries recipes. I found a site with a list of traditional Christmas and New Year recipes for different countries. It became our family tradition: each New Year we choose a different country and different cuisine to try. We already had Italian raviolli with langustins, British pudding and chestnut stuffed turckey, Finnish kissel… But that year, the first one we chose French cuisine with Tartiflette, cider roasted pork, some very strange salad and this tart for desert.

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I won’t lie to you saying that it became my favourite at once. Nope, it didn’t. Actually I was swearing like a sailor while making it, ‘coz nothing seemed to go right.  But the result was still delicious.

So when I heard of the casting for an Instagram culinary contest #cheffs_battle I decided to make this tart. Well it turned out not to be so hard and unpleasant to make it if you read the instructions carefully. And the result is still the same: a beautiful tart with very elegant French texture combination: dry and crumbly crust with juicy pears, dense and rich chocolate with light neutral cream. This tart is about harmony of the contrasts.

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Recipe: Continue reading →

Russian pasties with cabage and with chicken

I love the smell of yeast dough in my house. This smell makes house – Home. With chimney and oven, with excited kids, circling around the oven, with hot tea and plenty of stories to tell each other. Either with Monopoly in centre of the table and the players, chewing the pasty thoroughly before their next turn.

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I love warm bread with a crunchy crust and I don’t care if anyone says do not eat hot bread it is unhealthy. I love the smell of sweet pastry with cinnamon, filling all the house from bottom to roof and bending your will even if you have very strict rules about your New Year Resolutions. I love the rough surface of baguette. But most of all I love oven baked pasties. Because for me it is an envelop with my childhood inside. For me it is an instant travel to my Nanny’s kitchen, where I sit on the chair, wobbling my feet in the air and waiting impatiently. And when the pasties are ready, happiness fills my mouth.

My favs are pasties with stewed/fried cabbage. But as I have men in house who demand meat, we cooked two kinds of pasties: cabbage and chicken. You can make any of the filling you like. The most important part in this recipe is the yeast dough.

Recipe: Continue reading →

Alaska desert. On a stick

Five years ago (it’s hard to imagine how many times my life has changed since then) there was a cafe called “Capuchin” in my home town. I have a lot of good memories about this place: we dined there often with my husband before we were married, a guy, who worked there was teaching my coffee loving husband to make right espresso, my learned to play chess there, and their chef gave me the best Tartar sauce recipe ever. And there in “Capuchin” they used to make a desert called Alchemist. This name suited it perfectly, it explained that desert for me. It was magic, otherwise how could it be: cold ice-cream inside and hot baked meringue outside. Much later I learned about a classic desert Alaska and how to make it. And today I am sharing this magic with you. And even make it a bit more tricky, ’cause we’re going to cook Alaska on a stick.

 

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Recipe: Continue reading →