Friday, June 15, 2012

Syrniki

SyrnikiSyrniki is one of my favorite things made of cheese. In fact, when I think about visiting Minsk I always fantasize about asking my mom or my sister to fry some for me. They are just sooo good!

I was a bit of a syrnik failier myself though. I tried making them a few times after immigration, but they always were a burning mess sticking to pan. I kind of gave up. Until this week.

Last Saturday we went to Daniels’ cousin’s house in CT to celebrate aunt Lilya’s birthday. The whole thing was really nice (I always enjoy visiting them), but one of the biggest highlights for me personally was Aroshka eating a ton of syrniki. I mean, this child usually spits out any cheese, does not drink milk and barely eats a tiny bit of yogurt now and then.

Slightly burnt, but still tasty syrniki.Lena cooked a bunch of syrniki in the morning, so they were still yummy an fresh. They are a bit different from what we used to cook in my family (thicker, more flour), but still nice nonetheless. She shared the recipe, and I cooked them twice already. I have to say that I did not follow the recipe exactly (I added more eggs, less sugar and less flour), but this recipe is a very good baseline and could be adjusted depending on your taste and the quality of cheese that you have on hand. You’ll need:

  • 1 lb farmer cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of vanilla extract

Mix everything together, form patties, fry in oil on medium heat until golden. Enjoy!

Oh, and you can also add raising or cranberries if you’d like (my mom often adds raisins). And of course a good nonstick pan makes frying them much easier.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers.When I was buying spinach for Spanakopita last week, one of the managers in our local supermarket expressed her love of this plant and made a few spinach-y meal suggestions. It turned out that I bought more spinach than I needed for my Greek pie, so I’ve decided to utilize her advice and stuffed some peppers for dinner last night.

I did not follow any specific recipe, but used bits of wisdom from a few resources. Here is what I came up with: Continue Reading
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lazy Nachos

Lazy nachos.I got this recipe on one of the blogs that I stumbled upon by accident, but keep coming back to. Here is the original post by Kara.

I’ve made a few minor changes due to the ingredients that I had on hand, so here is my version of this simple and for the most part healthy meal. Continue Reading
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pork Chops with Cranberries

I planned to cook pork with ginger and apples for today’s dinner, but the store was out of ginger. So I bought a bag of fresh cranberries instead (they were conveniently located underneath an empty ginger box) and figured that there must be some pork-apples-and-cranberries recipe on the net.

Not surprisingly, there are many. I picked this one, but enhanced it to my taste. It came out better than I expected. I will cook it again (hence the post)! So here is what I used: Continue Reading
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bacon and Asparagus Frittata

Bacon and aparagus frittata.This is an easy weekend breakfast idea and could be done with any kind of veggies. I used half an onion, 3-4 bacon strips cut into smaller pieces, 1/2 lb of asparagus, 5 eggs, a few tablespoons of whole milk, leftover cheese (don’t remember what kind), salt and pepper.

I fried bacon for 2-3 minutes in cast iron skillet, then added thinly sliced onion and fried it together in bacon grease for a few more minutes. Then added trimmed and cut asparagus, mixed and let fry for another minute. Meanwhile I beat eggs together with milk, a bit of salt and black pepper. When bacon and veggies were ready, I poured egg mixture to the skillet and sprinkled the grated cheese on top. After this I put the skillet into preheated to 375 F oven and let it bake for approximately 15 minutes. I think it came out well.
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spinach Stuffed Flank Steak

Spinach and feta stuffed flank steak.This was a nice break from my regular repertoire, and it took under an hour to cook. I am not sure I’ll do it again any time soon, but I thought that it was worth posting here just in case.

For stuffing I mixed some feta cheese with a pack of frozen spinach (defrosted the spinach fist of course), then added minced garlic clove, some lemon juice and lemon zest. I also boiled two eggs.

I butterflied a flank steak, rubbed it with salt and pepper, put spinach mixture and eggs on top, rolled the whole thing up and tied with the twine. Then I brushed the meat with some olive oil and put under broiler for 20 minutes.

I served it with baked corn (brushed with butter, rolled in foil and baked in the oven), whole wheat pasta and sauteed spinach with green beans. For the saute I steamed the beans first for a few minutes; then heated a tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan, added 2 cloves of garlic and fried until fragrant; added beans, sauteed for a few minutes; then added spinach, salt and lemon juice and sauteed for 1-2 additional minutes.

As I said, it was a nice break from my regular stuff. My favorite part was a lemony-garlicky saute, although the steak was Ok too.
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Stuffed Cauliflower

Stuffed Cauliflower.The cauliflower season has started, so I wanted to share a simple recipe which I got the other day from one of the baby-sitters on a playground.

Cut the hard stem out of the cauliflower and boil the head in salted water for about 5-7 minutes. Add grated 1/2 onion and spices (I used salt, black pepper and ground cumin) to any kind of ground meat. Stuff the boiled cauliflower with meat (put it in between the florets), then rub it with some mayo (I also added a few chopped garlic cloves to the mayo) and grade a bit of cheese on top. Bake in 375 F oven for 40-50 minutes.

It was easy and new for us, and both Danya and I liked it. I think I might cook it again in the future.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pork Chops & Green Beans Salad

Pork Chops & Green Beans Salad.What I like about this meal idea is that it can be easily cooked on a week day, but it is still sophisticated enough for a weekend special. I did not use any recipe for pork chops, but rather added ingredients based on common sense. The salad idea was taken from one of the wonderful cooks (Клара_С) of kuking.net forums.

For pork chops I used:
  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Continue Reading
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Friday, July 29, 2011

Bigos

Bigos — Polish Hunter Stew.I cooked this Polish version of cabbage stew last night. It came out nicely, although I think that I slightly overdid sauerkraut (I added 2 lb). I made it on a spicy side too since that’s the way I like it. The recipe is a courtesy of Polish Mama on the Prairie.

Bigos reminded me of sauerkraut “щи” which was (and still is) one of the favorite soups of my stepfather. My mom cooked it when she was visiting us this winter, and I ate 3 bowls of it in one setting. I think that next time I will buy a sauerkraut variety from the Russian store — it is less sour than the one I got in the American supermarket. I also very much like the part where everything is loaded into the crock pot and no further supervision is required.
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Beautiful Zucchini Carbonara

Beautiful Zucchini Carbonara.I cooked this pasta a few days ago. Uncomplicated and delicious enough for a week day meal — I love that about Jamie Oliver’s recipes. I’m not going to repost the recipe itself — it’s available on Food Network.
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cooking Together

Alena and Arosha cooking.Aroshka and I cooked lagman today. Well, he was mostly observing, but I am sure he would have gladly participated if I only let him!

Still cooking.His presence made the cooking process more fun for me — I was narrating all my actions and singing songs along the way (Danya was watching him when I was cooking meat and onions though, since I did not want to accidentally touch the baby with dirty hands).

Lagman.Lagman came out well — the last time I cooked it, it was a bit too bland, so this time around I added lots of red pepper flakes, garlic and cumin. It was yum-yum spicy! I used a combination of Tatiana’s recipe which I previously posted on our blog and Mrs. Mansurov’s recipe which she posted on her blog with great pictures illustrating the process as always. I did not bother with hand-made noodles, but substituted with store-bought egg ones, and they were almost as good.

Local Toys "Я" Us.Yesterday we finally went to Toys “Я” Us and got a safety gate to separate the kitchen. Aroshka is not trying to get there yet, but I wanted to have everything in place by the time that he does. For some reason, we bought an extra-tall gate, so after Danya has installed it, we got slightly worried if Shublik will be able to get in and out of the kitchen.

Our new kitchen gates.Luckily, our cat is very agile and can jump over it with minimum effort. We keep the door open for now though — no point to go through the hustle of opening it every time we visit the kitchen. And yes — I go there pretty often, since I am one hungry breastfeeding woman! I just hope that when I am done nursing, my appetite will go back to normal. There is no way I can eat like that and not get fat (while not being Aroshka’s field kitchen at the same time).
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Sweet Potatoes Stew

Sweet Potatoes Stew.Last night I cooked African Potato Stew with Red Beans. The idea for this easy and quite delicious meal came from Jen Loves Kev blog. The funny thing is that I was drooling over Aroshka’s baked yams puree for a few days now, but did not know any good adult sweet potato recipes which both Danya and I can enjoy. ) So when I saw this stew, I jumped on it right away. )

Since neither one of us is vegetarian, I’ve added a chicken breast to the stew. I also added some cilantro which I think gave it a nice touch. I forgot to buy peanuts, so I skipped them.

Danya liked this stew too — I was afraid that he would not, since he is not a fan of sweet potatoes. I also offered some to d. Borya, who said it was not terrible, but probably not something he would want to eat again. ) To each his own I guess. Continue Reading
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Monday, March 21, 2011

BBQ Pork Ribs & Other Good Stuff

BBQ ribs.Last weekend was quite nice!

On Saturday, I’ve decided to try out a super-easy barbecue pork ribs recipe from Allrecipes.com. I thought — it sounds so simple and will be cheaper than going to the restaurant, plus we can invite Maruks over, get some beer, watch KVN and have lots of fun! ) Since it was on such a short notice, Maruks weren’t able to come, but Danya and I decided to proceed with the plan anyway. )

Preparing the ribs.So on Saturday afternoon, while Danya’s mom went for a walk with Aroshka, we went grocery shopping. By the way, our local Pathmark will be out of business in less than a month. We don’t shop there often, but it’s still nice to have an option. I am holding fingers for the Whole Foods, although it is probably not very likely.

I am slightly annoyed by the Pathmark — they declared a store-wide 10%-40% sale, but they canceled all regular sales, so a lot of stuff that we buy comes out more expensive after this discount (for example, they always used to have some bread “on sale” for $2.99, but now they only give you 10% off the full price of $4.49, which brings the price down to $4.04 only).

BBQ ribs with french fires and corn. And beer.When cooking the ribs, I slightly modified the “just rub them in barbecue sauce” recipe. I rubbed them with paprika, onion and garlic powders and used half pork marinade and half barbecue sauce for rubbing. No extra salt was necessary. I marinated the ribs for 1.5 hours only, but baked them an hour longer than the original recipe calls for (3.5 hours total) in 300F oven. For the side, we used half-made stuff, which still comes out less expensive than the restaurant would have been (especially if you consider gas, tax and tip) — frozen french fries, pre-cut coleslaw (I just added some mayo, vinegar and sugar to it) and fresh corn (rubbed it with salt and butter, wrapped in foil and baked in the oven along with the french fries).

It all came out really nice, and was complemented greatly by the Blue Point blueberry ale. ) I drank probably half a bottle, so there was no need to discard any milk due to alcohol consumption. ) And KVN of course was as funny as ever! Too bad they only let 2 teams pass with each round of the 1/8 game.

Blueberry beer.The weather got much colder again, by the way. Truth to be told, I am relieved by this. I like springs and falls in NYC, but summers get really nasty really fast. So thank you, but no thank you — let me enjoy the cooler days for a short while longer. )

On Sunday Danya and I went for a walk with Aroshka — I properly enjoyed it. ) Later in the day we celebrated Sasha’s 30th birthday at his parents. His mom prepared a delicious dinner and made a collage of Sasha’s pictures at different ages (the guests were supposed to guess how old he was on each one). It was a nice, nice celebration. Originally we planned to take Aroshka with us, but he was a bit fussy, so we left him at home with Danya’s mom. I half regret not taking him (since I like showing him off to people, ha-ha), but I realize that I was able to relax much better without a fussy, wiggly infant on my lap. )

Alena near Sheepshead Bay Canal.And in the evening we got a short visit from Maruks. We just drank some beer and tea (I recently ordered a whole bunch of nice teas from DavidsTea Company), and chatted about little stuff. Just like old times — well, maybe with the exception of some topics like baby poop, baby sleep, traveling with babies, etc. )

And I want to finish my post on an unrelated topic. We are all very sad about what is happening in Japan. As a person who grew up in a country which got about 60% of Chernobyl fall out, I am much more scared of radiation than of earthquakes and tsunamis (although those are very devastating too). ( Please donate if you can (all major consumer sites have donation links) — every little bit counts!

Sheepshead Bay canal.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Meat and Potatoes Pie

Meat and Potatoes Pie.I made this pie yesterday, and it would have been gone yesterday, have I not wisely preserved part of it for tonight’s dinner. ) It came out delicious!

I used beef since lamb is not easy to find in our neighborhood. I also used young potatoes (I think they add a touch of sweetness to the filling) and a bit more spices than the recipe calls for. I will definitely make this again! Mrs. Mansurov published an excellent set of photographs illustrating the process, which made it even easier for me.
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Pork with Apples, Ginger & Honey.Мясо по-валлийски мы попробовали в гостях у Игната. Нам очень понравилось! Вика любезно прислала мне рецепт, и вчера я выбралась это блюдо приготовить. Моей маме тоже понравилось! С фланом я не заморачивалась (хотя он тоже был вкусным), а просто подала на гарнир пюре и маринованые грибочки. Спасибо, Вика!

Для свинины:
  • 4 отбивные
  • 2 яблока
  • 50 гр. сливочного масла
  • 0,5 чайной ложки свежего имбиря
  • Continue Reading
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Friday, February 25, 2011

Chicken with Rice and Beans

Chicken with Rice & Beans.I stumbled upon this recipe on “What To Expect — August 2010″ forums. It sounded easy enough, so I’ve put it on my “to cook” list. It came out pretty well, especially considering the amount of effort invested.

So you’ll need 3 pieces of chicken breast, 1 pound of brown rice (uncooked), 1 can of black beans, 1 can of pinto beans, 1 can of stewed tomatoes and 1 small jar of salsa. Rub some salt and ground cumin on the chicken and put it on the bottom of the crockpot. Then add the rest of the ingredients (together with the liquid from the cans), and cook on high for 4 hours (or for 8 hours on low). Easy peasy.

I served it with shredded cheddar cheese, guacamole-like salad and sour cream. Will cook again! )
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Egg & Spinach Stuffed Meatloaf

Egg-and-Spinach-Stuffed Meat Loaf. A few days ago while thinking about Friday dinner, I suddenly remembered about Saveur website, which I discovered a few years back when we were subscribed to the hard copy of the magazine. So I went ahead and sure enough started salivating all over my keyboard in no time. )

I picked a couple of recipes for starters and tried one out today — Egg-and-spinach-stuffed meat loaf. It came out delicious! I served it with mashed potatoes and marinated mushrooms from the local Russian store (I added some onions, vinegar and oil to the mushrooms). Continue Reading
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