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.

ilya kebab en Continue reading →

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.


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.


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.

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

Delicious Vegan Chocolate Mousse (yep, I just used ‘delicious’ and ‘vegan’ in one sentence))

What do you usually think when you read the words “gluten free, dairy free, raw, vegan” in the name of a recipe. “How’s that stuff gonna be tasty?” – is my first thought. To swap real smooth rich creamy butter for an avocado? Am I crazy or what? No, that’s not for me. I don’t want to offend anyone, I assume I just like the classic cakes too much.

But as a homebaker sometimes I do gf, df, vegan and raw cakes for my clients. And sometimes I have a little leftovers of my cakes and bakes which I try to be sure that the cake is fairly good. And this is exactly how I discovered this avocado based vegan chocolate mousse.

DSC_8876I was making chocolate cake for a meet-up of some group, half of the members of which were vegans and the other half was about to become ones. I found couple of recipes, combined them and made some delicious mousse. My son is not a fan of chocolate, but my 4yo daughter ate 3 portions of that. It is as rich chocolate as a proper brownie and as smooth and creamy as classic ganache. Can you believe that? Try yourself!

(makes 15 shots, cooking time 20 minutes) Continue reading →

Easy peasy Easter treat

How do you start your Easter Sunday? Is it a trail for kids or a basket full of eggs set up on the breakfast table? My Easter bunny loves playing hide-n-seek with kids. He leaves some foot prints here and there to lead my youngsters to their chocolate treat.

Then we continue with some Russian traditional foods like Easter bread (I’ll post the recipe a little later before the Orthodox Easter which is 1 May this year). And I also make some special deserts that will look interesting for children. I can tell you, it’s so easy here in UK, where there are very clear and pretty symbols connected to Easter, comparing to Russia, where the only symbol will be the Holly Cross. I love those bunnies, chicks, sheep and pastel colours and flowers and eggs and birdies. So this year we made some nest with chocolate eggs – so bright and shiny!


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Chocolate filled pancakes. Recipe for a bright family breakfast

In the morning slanting sun rays penetrate into the dining room through the thin netting. They carefully grope window-sill, table and a white doily lying on it. The warm touches slide on the white chair backs, flutter from one side to another, quivering from every curtain movement and each wiggle of trees outside. Sun rays softly stroke sleepy eyelashes and sweet rose lips of kids, who are waiting for their breakfast. The kids, a boy and a girl, idly stretch their pyjamas, continue watching their last fairy dreams right at the table. It’s Sunday. No need to hurry.



No need to push your sleepy legs to find the right side of the trousers. No need to rush your sleepy jaws to chew… Quiet sunny slumber reigns in the dining room, until mum puts a plate full of pancakes on the table. And when the kids find out there’s chocolate filling in the centre, the last traces of sleep disappear and a funny-talking-laughing family breakfast begins.

(yields 12-15, serves 4-5, cooking time 25 minutes)

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Raised Game Pie – medieval recipe

I could never really resist old or vintage recipes. Any recipe marked as “Granny’s” or “Traditional Family” buys me at once. How do you think I felt when I found this MEDIEVAL recipe on ReallyNiceRecipes.com. I lost my breath and immediately filled my shopping basket (I do shop online, yes) with pheasants and venison.


Cooking process is a killer, honestly. It’s unbelievably long. The only thing that makes it bearable is that of those 30 hours you spend only about 2 hours hands on… Still – that’s definitely not the things you want to starts when guests knock at the door.


(serves 20, cooking time 1 h 20 mins for the pie, 2 h for the stock) Continue reading →

French Apple Cake

Yep, you got it right. Not a French Apple Tart and not a French Apple Pie. A cake. And it is one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever tried. I first tasted it 10 years ago in a small cake shop in Vladivostok (Far East of Russia). The shop was new and their cakes were new and very unusual too. At least once a week I spent some of my tiny journalist salary on a cup of coffee with a piece of cake. And the taste of that cake didn’t haze from my memory in 10 years. So I decided to try and recreate it.


It took some time to experiment with proportions, sweetness and sort of apples, by in the end I achieved the taste I remembered. Now I’m sharing this recipe with you – my precious French Apple Cake. It tastes like harmony.The base of the cake is hazelnut dacquoise – soft meringue with loads of nuts. The right proportion of hazelnut and almond makes this cake really delish. Almond is drier than hazelnut and it  gives more structure to the dacquoise – the cake is less soggy and gooey.

(makes 8″ cake , cooking time 50 mins + 3 h to cool)
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Salty pretzels

Any yeast dough baking is about home and childhood for me. Statisticaly our moms and nans used to boil potatoes much more often then buns, but it’s buns what I remember. Today when I bake, my thoughts go back to sweet and cosy childhood near the warm oven. Also I create the very same image of comfort and home for my kids. It’s pure happiness to see them jumbling around the oven, spying through the glass and shouting “Hooray! Buns!”

Today’s recipe is not just buns, but “the buns through which you can see the sun three times” – this particular criteria  should had have been met according to the legend of inventing pretzels. Pretzels can be sweet or salty.


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