Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lemon Bars

This is one of my most favorite combinations: buttery crust and sweet and bitter lemony filling.

My romance with this recipe started in the local natural foods market- I have tried their lemon bar and liked it so much that went to their chief to ask for a recipe. They told me that it is proprietary information and they can not give it to me. So I have started experimenting and trying different combinations until I have archived very comparable result.

Here is what you'll need:

For the dough:

1 3/4 sticks of butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon extract
2 1/4 cup all- purpose flour

For the filling:

1 large lemon, graded with zest
1 large , preferably green, apple
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
1 tsp of lemon extract

The rest is quite easy. Beat the butter with sugar and salt together until soft and fluffy. Add lemon extract. Add in the flower and mix in carefully until the dough forms.

At this step I have tried few different ways of assembling the bars and my favorite ended up being to divide the dough in 2 part- one of them about 3/4 and the other about 1/4. Then refrigerate for about 30 min so that it is still soft but hard enough to grade.

While the dough if chilling, prepare the filling. Grade lemon and peeled apple on the grader, add the sugar and lemon extract.

I recommend using fluted tart pan and place in on the baking pan in the oven.. Butter it up some and grade the bigger part of the dough. Press in in lightly. Spread the filling, take care of the edges. Then grade the smaller part of the dough. don't worry if you can see the filling. It would come out fine.

Bake at 350F ( about 175C) until it is golden on top. Cool down before cutting.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Grandma's roll up fruit cookie

This is a very fast and easy recipe that one likes to have on hand when cookies are needed within an hour. They come out flaky and buttery with the flavour of fruit filling that you've chosen.If you will go for something more sour it would be tangy or sweeter- it would be a sweet tooth pleaser.

Here is what you'll need:

1 egg
1/4 tea spoon baking soda
1 table spoon vinegar
pinch of salt
1/2cup water

2 sticks (about 200 gr) margarine or butter
2 cups flour

If you want to make larger amout of dough can use 2 1/2 cups of flour to 250 gr of margarine.

Break egg in the cup and mix lightly, add soda with vinegar and salt and add water so that it becomes 3/4 of a cup.

Put butter and flour in the bowl and cup with pastry cutter until it reaches the stage of fine crumbs. Start adding liquid ingredients gradually and continue cutting with pastry cutter. continue till dough forms. stop adding liquid once sufficient for the butter flour mixture.

Cut dough in half and roll our each half about 1 to 2 ml thick. Cut into wedges. Put preserves of your choice and roll up.

Bake at 350F for about 16 to 18 minutes or until golden on the edges. Once cooled can dust with powdered sugar.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


In St-Petersburg they used to have the store that was called “Eastern Sweets”. It was right on the main street of the city- Nevskii Prospeckt. To this day I remember what a treat it was to buy some sweets there. And they would have baklava and fudge and sorbet and nougat and kurabeye (sweet buttery cookies) and million other tasty things- or at list it seemed that way when I was a kid. When I’ve found this recipe on, I right away felt that this would be the taste that I remember from those early days. And it surely is! I did small modification- I love spices too much, so I've added some clove and cinnamon to filling and to the dough. It is not too sweet and plain delicious!

Here is what you'll need:

The Dough

3 cups of flour
8 oz of butter
1 cup of sour cream mixed with teaspoon of baking sode
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/3 teaspoon of clove, ground

The Filling

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 egg whites
2/12 cups walnuts, finely chopped
1 tea spoon cinnamon

Incorporate butter into the flour using pastry cutter. Add sour cream and soda mixture and add egg yolks. Continue incorporating with the pastry cutter until it comes together. Divide into 3 parts and chill for 1 hour.

For the filling combine sugar, spice and egg whites and add to the chopped nuts.

Take 8 by 12 inch pan. Roll out the first piece of dough to approximately fit the pan, transfer to the pan and adjust with your hand up to the edges. Spread half of the filling. Roll out the second piece of dough. Stretch a bit with your fingers to fit the pan up to the edges. Spread the second half of the filling. Roll out the third piece of the dough. Lay it on the top of the filling. Brush the top with egg wash.

Cut the pastry into diamond shapes with the sharp knife. Place a walnut piece on each piece of pastry.

Bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes. Let cool completely.

Vinegret- Russian Beet Salad

There are a few dishes that are considered staples of Russian table, particularly for holidays. This salad is one of them in my opinion. With quite a bit of cold weather, majority of vegetables that were used were root vegetables that keep well. It is very basic but tasty and nutritious. It can be used as an appetizer ( can serve it in a nice bowl or in letters cups) or it can make a hearty side dish for dinner.

Here is what you'll need:

1 large beet
1 or 2 potatoes
3 to 4 carrots
Half of white onion
5 medium size pickles
jar of peas or steamed fresh pees
2 table spoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam or boil beet, potatoes and carrot in there jackets. You can do that 24 hours in advance to making the salad. Peel.

Cut in even cubes. Dice onion as small as you can. Cut 4 pickles same size as the rest of vegetables and grade 1 pickle on a large grader. Mix everything gently in the bowl, add peas and oil and mix again. Add salt and pepper to taste.
You always can add fresh herbs such as dill or parsley, finely chopped.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blueberry Tart

Summer time - fruits and berries everywhere. It is hard not to be trying deserts using them.... I have never before made tart of any kind. But I've found this recipe on another food blog (Nami -Nami and in a few days happened to find myself with about a kilogram of fresh blueberries that were not very sweet. Cool day and blueberries – the answer calls for itself!

It is very simple and quite delicious.

Here is what you need:

100 g cold unsalted butter or margarine
70 g sugar
1 small egg
1/3 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
170 g plain/all-purpose flour

400 g blueberries or bilberries
75 g sugar
1- 2 Tbsp potato starch

Put all the ingredients for the dough in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until dough holds together. You can do the same process with the metal bowl and dough cutter. Then mix dry ingredients, cut in the butter and add the egg. Turn out the dough onto clean surface, rap and let rest for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Mix sugar and starch in the cup, sprinkle over blueberries evenly and mix carefully with the spoon.

Fluted tart pan with the removable bottom works the best for this baking adventure. The tart comes out very delicate and it is a breeze to take it out if you can use a pan like that. The size that will be needed is 24 by 14 sm.

Roll out the dough as much as you can and transfer in the pan. Adjust by hand so that the dough reaches the sides and create a little border. Add the blueberry filling that you have prepared.

Bake at 375F (190 C) until the edge of the tart is golden brown.
Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Avocado Salad

One of my offerings for a Mad Tea Party is Avocado Salad. I‘ve found this recipe in “Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine” by Harish Johari. It is a wonderfully source of delicious recipes! My family really enjoyed it the other day and my mother added it to her collection of recipes!

Here is what you’ll need:

1 medium avocado with juice of 1 lemon so that it does not turn dark
1 medium banana
1 medium orange
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
roasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts
Salt and Pepper to taste

Peel the avocado, banana and orange. Cut into small pieces. Combine the lemon juice with all the spices. In an attractive bowl, combine all the ingredients. Sprinkle with seeds or nuts if desired.

Honey Cardamon Madeleines

One of my favorite recipes - Honey Cardamon Madeleines. I originally saw it in some French cookbook and one of the things that I liked about this recipe is that it is not quite as rich as a lot of other versions of it. I did make small modification- added cardamon. I think that it makes it even lighter yet.

Here is what you need if you'd like to give this recipe a try:
It will make exactly 12 regular size Madeleines.

4 tablespoons (50gr) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
3/4 cup all -purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar (I usually use about half of this amount- I like Madeleines not to be excessively sweet)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Melt butter, stir in honey, vanilla extract and cardamon. Let stand until reaches room temperature. In small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a medium bowl mix eggs and sugars until combined. Mix in flour mixture. Continue to fold until combined. Don't over mix.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425F. Brush madeleine molds with melted butter. Fill each mold 3/4 full. Do not overfill. Bake until puffed and edges are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Suffed Peppers and Sweet Eggplant Relish

Couple days ago I have made this Stuffed Peppers. They came out slightly spicy and sweet with a strong pepper taste. I combined couple of ideas that I've tasted in a Greek and Indian restaurants and put it together in this dish.

Here is what you'll need if you would like to give it a try:

About 5 large sweet peppers, cleaned and set aside

3 table spoons of oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, washed and graded
About 1 pound of ground turkey or chicken (can omit the meat for a vegetarian version and increase the amount of carrot)
4 table spoons of Patak's Eggplant Relish ( it is widely available in Indian grocery stores or ethnic sections of the regular grocery store, if not available in your area- recipe for this wonderful relish follows down below) plus 1 tablespoon for the sauce
1 cup of raisins
Salt and ground pepper to taste

1 cup of uncooked rice, washed
Water enough to cover the rice mixture by about ½ inch.

Hit medium size Dutch oven and add oil. Sauté onion until translucent and add carrot. Sauté onion/ carrot mixture for couple minutes and add the meat. Let it cook for about 5 minutes. Mix well making sure that you breaks meat into as little pieces as possible. Add the relish, raisins, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the rice and water. Bring to boil, lower the heat and cover with the lid. Cook for about 25- 30 minutes. Then open and check- rice should be very mildly not done.

Fill the peppers with the stuffing. Place them in a large dip pan. Put a cup of water mixed with 1 table spoon of the relish. You could add about ¼ cup of raisins to the sauce as well. It would add sweetness and depth of flavor. Place pan with the peppers on the stove. Once the sauce came to boil make sure to put a spoonful of sauce on each pepper. Cover with the lid and let cook and medium to low heat for about 30 minutes.

Brinjal Eggplant Pickle:
1 1/2 kg eggplants (brinjal)

4 ounces ginger (5 inch)
6 ounces garlic cloves (3 North American large pods or 6 small pods)
5 ounces hot red chili powder
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons black mustard seeds, powdered
1 1/2 tablespoons fenugreek seeds, roasted and powdered
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, roasted and powdered
3/4 cup salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups prepared mustard oil(Indian grocory store) or vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind pulp or tamarind paste
curry leaves, from indian grocory store (optional)
1 1/4 cups vinegar
Julianne or dice small eggplant. Layer eggplant with salt alternately. Let stand 4-5 hours till waterseperates from vegetable. Squeeze in handfuls eggplant till water is removed. Keep in seperate bowl. Grind ginger and garlic in some of the vinager to paste. Heat oil till smoke starts rising. Fry eggplant two hand fulls at a time. Drain with slotted spoon and set aside. Wait for water to evaporate from oil, till the bubbles stop before frying another lot of eggplant. Add and fry garlic and ginger paste for 5 minutes. Add dry spices, fry 2 minutes. Add vinager and tamrind, mix well for 1 minute. Add curry leaves and sugar, mix well. Add eggplant mix well and cook 1-2 minutes. Cool and bottle.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Egg Curry

I have to admit that I am completely charmed by Indian food. It carries the aura of mystery and wonder for me. I really enjoy trying new Indian recipes and playing with spices. That is how this dish was born: I took couple of ideas from a few cookbook sources and put together this egg curry dish. I cook it now on those days when I need some light comfort food, the kind you eat, enjoy and that does not overfill you. You can serve it by itself with you favorite Indian bread or it agrees perfectly with some basmati rice.

You will need:

1 cup of you favorite lentils (I really like masoor or split red lentils for this dish)
2 cloves
1 bay leave
Salt to taste

Table spoon of gee or oil
1 onion
1 dried hot red pepper or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 cup of chopped tomato
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

4 or 5 hard boiled eggs

Rinse and drain lentils, put in a medium pan and add 2 cups of water. Add cloves and bay leave and bring to boil. Lower the heat to low and cook until water is evaporated. Lentils should be cooked completely at this point.
In a heavy bottomed pan heat up gee or oil and add chopped onion. Cook until translucent, add chili pepper and mustard seeds and stir, add tomato and let cook until tomato becomes soft. Add the spices. Add lentils, carefully mix with the spoon, turn off the hit and cover with the lid.

Let rest for 10-15 minutes.

In the mean time clean and quarter the eggs. Add to the lentils.

Serve with rice.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tomato and Orange Salad

This recipe comes from Ayurvedic cook book. When I read the list of ingredients for the first time I thought that it sounds very unusual and strange. But at the same time I was curious to try it. And am I happy that I did! It has the most refreshing and satisfying taste! I have modified the spices a little bit. The recipe calls for chat masala that I did not have at that time. So I added garam masala and some dry mango powder or amchur.

Here is what you'll need:

2 medium to large tomatoes, washed and diced
1 medium orange, peeled and cut in segments (about the same size as tomato)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 small banana, peeled and chopped
10 seedless grapes or raisins (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon of masala

Combine first 7 ingredients, mix well, add the juice of lemon and masala and mix again. Set aside for at list 5- 10 minutes to allow flavor to blend.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dolma Salad

This has been one of my favorite rice recipes for some time now. I found it in an old issue of Sunset Magazine about 6 years ago. It has nice saltiness to it and goes wonderfully with roasted chicken. It also makes an interesting vegetarian dish. For latter I like it with kefir or yogurt sauce.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

You'll need:
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions (I some time omit them and rice still comes out wonderful)
1 table spoon of olive oil
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
2 1/2 cups broth or water
1/2 cup chopped preserved grape leaves with 1/4 cup of brine
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4cup raisins
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup each chopped parsley and dill

Heat medium size pan over medium heat, stir pine nuts and onion in oil until nuts begin to brown, stir in the rice, broth or water, grape leaves and reserved brine, lemon juice, raisins and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover with the lid, reduce hit to minimum and let cook for about 15 minutes. Then switch the fire of, don't lift the lid and let sit for another 15 minutes. Fluff with the fork and stir in dill and parsley.
Serve warm or at room temperature

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Prune pie

I chose for the very first post on this blog my grandmother’s pie that was quite common in Soviet Russia. It is one my most favorite pies and even my husband, who is rather choosey, shares this opinion. The main trick is the filling- it has to be prune filling- as strange as it sounds to American ear. Prunes give it absolutely wonderful flavor and tanginess.

This pie can be made with any dry fruit or jam of your liking but for me it tastes the best with the prune butter. You can buy ready-made filling in the bakery section or make it yourself by soaking prunes overnight and then bringing them to a boil in the same liquid for a few minutes and then pureeing them in the food processor.

2 ½ cups of flour (white or half and half white and whole-wheat)
2 sticks of margarine or 1 stick of margarine and 1 stick of butter
½ cup of sugar
1 egg
½ tea spoon of baking powder
½ cup pine nuts or finely chopped walnuts

Sift flour in a large bowl and cut in the margarine with the pastry blender until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Place sugar, baking powder and egg in the cup and stir until combined. Add the mixture from the cup to the flour-butter crumbs in small portions and continue cutting it in with the pastry blender until evenly combined and the mixture has even crumbly texture and evenly moist. Form 8 balls out of the dough and place them in the freezer for at list 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350¡F and prepare baking sheet dusting it with a little bit of flour.
Process 4 of the dough balls on the baking sheet using course grater, scatter with nuts and spread the filling for the pie. Grate the remaining 4 balls of dough. Try to distribute dough as evenly as possible. Push loose lying crumbs to the pie with the knife and form as even of a rectangle as possible. Bake until the top of the pie is gold in color, about 30 minutes.

Let it cool and dust with confectioner’s sugar if desired.