Category Archives: Cooking

Sunday Brunch: Crepes (Blinis)

It’s official: spring is coming. How do I know? Well, because next week is a MASLENNITSA (stress the first syllable) week. The week when, in Russian tradition, we cook lots of pancakes and crepes and blinis (which symbolize the sun) to welcome spring.
Like most religious and harvesting holidays (e.g. Easter), maslennitsa doesn’t come on exactly the same week every year – I always have to google it to find out when exactly I am supposed to get that pancake pan going. Sometimes it’s in February, sometimes – in March.
In the good old days in the centuries long gone, maslennitsa was HUGE. People used to eat blinis every day for a week. There was a designated day when a family invites his in-laws, and then hers, and then when everyone went to in-laws, and so on. There were festivities and events like burning an over-sized Winter Figure (which looked like a scarecrow) and jumping over a bonfire.
Well, as the maslennitsa starts off on Monday, I am not planning on jumping over bonfires, but I decided to make blinis.
There are millions of recipes, of course – I chose the one to my liking and slightly modified it.
For about a dozen blinis:
  • eggs – 2
  • salt – a pinch
  • sugar – 1 tbsp
  • boiling water – 1 cup
  • milk – 1 1/4 cups
  • sour cream – 1 tbsp
  • flour – 1 1/4 cup
  • baking powder – 1/2 tbsp
  • oil
  • Beat eggs with sugar and salt into foamy liquid.
  • Slowly pour boiling water into the mixture, constantly stirring. Don’t worry, the eggs won’t cook 🙂
  • Add milk and sour cream, mix thoroughly.
  • Using a sifter (this is a must!) add slowly flour and baking powder, constantly mixing the dough.
  • Add a bit of oil (not more than 1 tbsp) and stir.
  • Now, it is best to use a shallow non-stick frying pan with thick bottom. Like this.
  • Heat up the pan (I set the stove to just above 5 out of 6). If your pan is really good and non-stick, you can go ahead without using the oil (the amount you poured right into the dough should suffice).
  • I personally prefer using a refillable oil sprayer that I bought some time ago (like this).
  • Anyway, spray a bit of oil into the pan. You want to keep your distance while doing that: if your pan is as hot as it should be, the oil might spit around as it comes into contact with the pan.
  • Pour a ladle of dough onto the skillet and turn the skillet to let the dough spread evenly into a thin crepe.
  • When the edges become slightly dry and golden, flip it. When it’s done – slide onto a plate. While you’re baking the rest of crepes, keep the cooked ones covered with a pot lid and towel to keep them warm.

Sunday Brunch: Grilled Sandwich

Uh-oh. I don’t have eggs. I have just enough milk for 2 cups of coffee. I ran out of fresh fruits. That’s what happens when you go to out and forget all about groceries. So what on earth am I supposed to cook for breakafst with no eggs and milk?!
It turns out there is a solution – if you have an indoor grill. I do. So I made a grilled sandwich – I used to love them when I lived in Israel. Back then, I had a grilled sandwich machine which was impossible to clean for the fear of being electrocuted. Now I have an indoor grill machine with removable and dishwashable plates. And there are plates for Belgian waffles, too. But that’s not the point – today I’m making grilled sandwich!
  • bread (toastable)
  • deli meat
  • cheese
  • ketchup
  • butter
  • tomato
Recipe is simple:
  • Turn on the indoor grill.
  • Place the bread slices in the toaster set for 1 or 2: you don’t want to toast it, just warm it up.
  • When it pops out, put some butter on one side of it – thinly. It will melt since your bread is warm.
  • Flip the bread and spread ketchup on the unbuttered side.
  • Add tomato slices, deli meat, and grated cheese.
  • Cover with the other piece of bread, unbuttered side in.
  • Stick the sandwich into the grill and keep there until it browns and the cheese inside it melts.
Serve immediately.

Sunday Brunch: Gurieff Pudding

Ahhh, the bliss of sleeping in… Well rested, relaxed, cradling a cup of coffee prepared especially for me by my beloved hubby – perfect timing to get into a more complicated breakfast recipe!
In Russia, people say children are supposed to eat porridge if they wanna grow big and strong and healthy. Problem is, most people (especially children) hate porridge. Perhaps, because parents are too pushy on the subject.
After moving out of my parents’ place, I spent years enjoying my porridge-free world. But then something happened and I realized that I miss it. I crave it. A few more years passed – and here I am, getting creative with my porridge. This one doesn’t even look or taste like one!
So here’s one recipe like that. But it certainly isn’t something to be undertaken on a weekday morning…
  • milk – 500 ml
  • semolina – 1/2 cup
  • eggs – 2
  • ground wallnuts – 500 g
  • fresh berries – 300 g
  • sugar – 1 cup
  • oil
  • fruits and berries for decoration
Preparation instructions:
  • Preheat the oven to 390F.
  • Break the eggs into a bowl and separate yolks into another bowl.
  • Wash berries and cut them in half.
  • Pour milk into a pan with thick walls. Slowly add semolina, constantly mixing it with milk. Bring to boil, stirring it non-stop (I know… it’s a lot of work)
  • When the porridge gets thick, turn off the stove, stir in yolks and ground nuts.
  • Oil a small oven-friendly form, cover the bottom with half the porridge.
  • Layer berries on top of it and then cover with the rest of the porridge.
  • Cover with sugar.
  • Heat a knife (I stuck it in the stove fire) and press sugar with it – you will hear a burning sound of sugar being caramelized. Repeat until all sugar has been pressed with the heated knife.
  • Stick in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  • Serve immediately, decorated with fresh berries and fruits.
Note: I used blackberries and I wouldn’t recommend using them as they have tiny seeds that are unpleasantly crunchy. Perhaps raspberries or strawberries are better, or blueberries (which are too small to be cut in half)
Credits: unfortunately, I do not remember where I got this recipe from.

Sunday Brunch: Risnik

This is a simple enough recipe if you cook the rice the night before. I called it ‘risnik’. I won’t bore you with curiosities of Russian language and explain how something made of rice becomes a ‘risnik’, but that’s a made-up word – by me – that doesn’t exist EVEN in Russian.
  • 300 g. of round rice boiled in milk(I boiled it the night before)
  • 4 tbsp of flour
  • 1 egg
  • salt-sugar to taste
  • a bit more flour for coating
The step-by-step recipe (and some further musings) is hidden under the cut – follow the link below (breakfast recipe)
  • In a bowl, thoroughly mix the boiled rice, flour, eggs, salt, and sugar. Don’t put too much sugar for it will burn while frying, creating a caramel-like coating.
  • Add oil to a frying pan, sat on medium.
  • Put the extra flour in a clean flat plate.
  • With wet hands, form patties about half-inch thick, coat them with flour, and fry on both sides until golden.

Serve with sour cream or jam (my hubby mixed sour cream AND apricot jam :))

They aren’t bad when cold, either. It makes 6 risniks (my hubby ate 3 for one brunch… which means that a) they were good, and b) this won’t suffice for a bigger family) – you do the math!

Sunday Brunch: Rice Pudding (Kasha) with Dried Fruits

I am tired. I really wanna sleep in. It’s grey and snowing outside. Is it grey or gray? Whatever it is, I wanna stay in bed, curled fetus-like under the blanket.
   Please don’t wake me, 
   No don’t shake me, 
   Leave me where I am 
   I’m only sleeping 
   ~ The Beatles
Thank God I planned an easy brunch today – half of it I pre-cooked yesterday evening.
What’s good is that this breakfast always puts me in a good mood: it’s the most favourite breakfast from my childhood. Since rice takes awhile to cook, it was a Sunday-only option (in my childhood Saturday was a weekday… just think of it: 6-day week! hideous…) Most often my grandma cooked it for me. It’s sweet, it’s got colourful berries and fruits in it, and it’s not mushi as oatmeal (now that I simply hated back then)…
Anyway, rice pudding with dried fruits:
  • ~ 1 cup of round rice (half-boil and drain it the night before to save some time in the morning)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • dried fruits (I used raisins, cranberry, apricots and plums)
SO here’s what you need to make a rice pudding: (breakfast recipe)
  • As I mentioned before, half-boil and drain the rice the night before (it’s a real time-saver in the morning).
  • In the morning, bring milk to boil, dissolve sugar and salt in it, add rice. Mix thoroughly to make sure rice gets sweetened evenly. Wait until it starts to boil, too – stir every now and so.
  • Add fruits and simmer with a closed lid, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
  • It makes about 2 portions.

Sunday Brunch: Oatmeal-Banana Pancakes

Today, I decided to make teeny-tiny pancakes for breakfast.

  • rolled oats – 125 ml (1/2 cup)
  • flour – 125 ml (1/2 cup)
  • sugar – 5 tsp (brown, preferably)
  • baking powder – 1/2 tsp
  • baking soda – 1/2 tsp
  • salt – 1/8 tsp
  • ground nutmeg – 1/8 tsp
  • banana – 1/2
  • egg – 1
  • yogurt – 125 ml (1/2 cup)
  • milk – 60 ml (1/4 cup)
  • liquid vanilla – 1/4 tsp
  • oil
Just follow the recipe:
  • In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground nutmeg).
  • In a separate bowl, grate banana, and mix in the egg, milk, yogurt, and vanilla.
  • Pour the liquids slowly into the dry mix, constantly stirring.
  • Preheat a thick-bottomed skillet and spray with oil.
  • Scoop the mass with a table spoon onto the frying pan. Turn when ready – and then serve!
  • Servings: Makes about 18-20 teeny-tine pancakes
  • Total preparation time: about 20 minutes.
  • Time saving tips (for a quicker breakfast):
  • Mix the dry ingredients the night before
  • Fry the pancakes in 2 pans simultaneously

Sunday Brunch: Cottage Cheese with Dried Fruits

So today’s brunch is simplicity itself: cottage cheese with dried fruits. But it’s yummmmmy!

  • cottage cheese
  • dried cranberries (sweet ones)
  • dried pitted prunes
  • dried apricots
  • fresh blueberries
  • jam (if you wish)
  • nuts
Really, I don’t think I need to write a recipe, but here it is, just in case.
Quarter the apricots and the prunes and throw into a bowl. Add raisins, cranberries, nuts (ground, sliced, or whole – as you wish), mix – and serve.
You can also add jam, or canned fruits like peaches or mandarins. And enjoy – it’s a really healthy breakfast made tastier (there aren’t many people who would enjoy plain cottage cheese, I believe :))
You can even pre-soak raisins in rum and then serve them – mmmmm!