Cabbage Rolls with Minced Beef: tasty and healthy lunch

…nothing could be more pleasant than to live in solitude, enjoy the spectacle of nature, and occasionally read some book…

Nikolai Gogol

Ingredients (for 12 cabbage rolls):
– 1 pointed head cabbage (it is more tender for this recipe than white cabbage)
– 4oog minced beef
– 120g rice
– 1 red onion
– 250g mashed tomatoes (tomato passata) 🍅
– 1.5 tsp salt
– 0.5 tsp black pepper
– 200g sour cream for serving

Directions:

1 Boil rice until ready
2 Carefully separate cabbage leaves and boil them for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a plate to cool down
3 Chop onion
4 Mix minced beef with boiled rice, chopped onion, salt and black pepper
5 Put 1-2 tbsp beef mixture on one cabbage leave and pack into a roll 🙂
6 Put cabbage rolls side to side in the saucepan and cover with water 1-2 cm above, then add mashed tomatoes: I cooked in 2 saucepans with 125g mashed tomatoes in each
7 Boil cabbage rolls for 30-35 minutes covered with a lid
8 Serve cabbage rolls with cooking broth, sour cream and chopped parsley!

Simple Pilaf with Chicken cooked in oven !

One kind word can warm three winter months

Japanese proverb
Pilaf with Chicken in the oven

Ingredients (4 servings):
250g rice
– 400g chicken breast
– 5 (~390g unpeeled) medium carrots
– 2 small red onions
– 3 tbsp sunflower oil
– 1.5 tsp salt
– 0.5 tsp black pepper
– a few parsley sprigs for serving

Method:

1 Wash rice and soak in water for 30 minutes
2 Grate carrots and chop onions
3 Wash chicken breasts and absorb extra water with paper towels
4 Cut chicken breast into 0.5-1 cm pieces and fry
5 Fry chicken pieces with sunflower oil for 10 minutes at medium heat
6 Add carrots, onion, salt, pepper to the chicken: stew for another 15 minutes
7 Preheat the oven to 200C
8 Drain water from the rice
9 Boil 1.5l water in the teapot
10 Put in the four ceramic pots (I have 0.5l pots):
10.1 Chicken with vegetables
10.2 Rice ~2-3 tbsp per pot
10.3 Pour boiled water in each ceramic pot to cover the rice ~1cm
11 Cook the Pilaf in the oven for 40 minutes with covered lids
12 Serve with chopped parsley and enjoy ! 🙂

Pelmeni: Dumplings with Beef and Pork !

Patsuk opened his mouth, stared at the vareniki, and opened his mouth wider still. At that moment, a varenik jumped out of the bowl, splashed into the cream, flipped over and leapt straight up into his mouth. Patsuk opened his mouth again, and another varenik went through the same performance. The only trouble he took was to munch it up and swallow it.

Nikolai Gogol, Christmas Eve
Pelmeni

Dough ingredients (~70 Pelmeni = 4-6 portions):
– 3 cups (1 cup = 250ml) wheat flour
– 170ml warm water
– 1 tablespoon 9% vinegar
– 2 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling ingredients (~70 Pelmeni = 4-6 portions):
– 250g minced beef
– 250g minced pork
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
– 1 onion or 1 bunch of chopped chives

Serving ingredients (for 2 portions):
– 200g sour cream
– 2 teaspoons butter
– 1/2 bunch dill or 1/2 bunch parsley

Method:

1 Knead a dough from dough ingredients and transfer it to the fridge in a covered bowl for 30 minutes
2 Combine minced meat (no extra water!) + salt + black pepper + finely chopped onion or chives: mix everything well with a fork
3 Separate dough into 6 equal pieces: form a 1.5cm diameter sausage from each piece
4 Cut each sausage into 1cm width pieces and roll out each piece into a 5cm diameter round 🙂
5 Put 1 teaspoon filling into each round, fold the round into a half-moon and pinch all the edges together strongly with fingers, do it two times. Then pull together two corners and pinch strongly with fingers again. 🙂
6 Boil Pelmeni for 5 minutes in boiling water (at least 3 minutes after Pelmeni are floating on the top) and serve with sour cream, butter and fresh chopped parsley or dill
7 Enjoy !

Vanilla Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Poppy Seeds and Homemade Cherry-Red Currant Compote !

Curiosity is insubordination in its purest form.

Vladimir Nabokov
Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Pancakes ingredients (for 16-18 small pancakes = 4 portions):
– 500g cottage cheese
– 3-6 (for batter) + 3 (for forming pancakes) tablespoons wheat flour
– 2 tablespoons spelt semolina
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 4g Vanilla sugar
– 2 eggs
– 50g poppy seeds
– 50-80ml milk
– 6-8 tablespoons sunflower 🌻 oil for frying

Compote ingredients:

– 80g cherry 🍒
– 50g red currants
– 3 tablespoons water
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1 tablespoon starch

Serving ingredients:
– 150g sour cream
– a few mint leaves

Directions:
1 Prepare berries compote:
1.1 wash and deseed berries add put to the pot
1.2 add water+sugar+starch
1.3 boil the berries mixture for 4 min. continuously stirring
1.4 put the pot aside and keep at room temperature
2 Boil poppy seeds with milk for 5 minutes: add milk little by little continuously stirring so that by the end all the milk is absorbed 🙂
3 Cook cottage cheese pancakes:
3.1 Combine cottage cheese+wheat flour+semolina+sugar+eggs+boiled poppy seeds: mix everything well until smooth
3.2 Put on a separate plate 3 tablespoon flour for forming the pancakes
3.3 Preheat non-sticking skillet, add some sunflower oil
3.4 Tricky part to make very gentle pancakes: take a little bit of batter (yes, it is viscous), form a round, roll it in flour and put on the skillet 🙂
3.5 Fry pancakes until golden each side ~3-4 minutes at the medium heat
4 Serve cottage cheese pancakes (or Syrniki) with berries compote and sour cream
5 Enjoy !

Red Bell Peppers Stuffed with Beef and Pearl Barley !

Numai daca vremea ar sta locului am putea vedea lamurit ce este etern

Mihai Eminescu
Red Bell Peppers Stuffed with Beef and Pearl Barley

Ingredients (for 4 stuffed peppers):
– 4 red bell peppers
– 450g minced beef
– 90g pearl barley
– 7 small tomatoes 🍅
– 1/3 bunch dill
– 1 small onion (to adda flavour to the broth!)
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
– 100g sour cream for serving

Directions:
1 Pre-cook pearl barley: boil for 12 minutes, then drain extra water
2 Mix minced beef with chopped dill & pre-cooked pearl barley & salt and black pepper
3 Wash red bell peppers, carefully remove the top part and de-seed
4 Stuff well red bell peppers with the meat mixture 🙂
5 Wash and cut tomatoes into 1cm cubes, peel small onion: put cut tomatoes and an onion into a large pot
6 Carefully put the stuffed peppers to the same large pot with the tops from bell peppers One can put them either horizontally or vertically, the main point is to be able to cover them with the water afterwards.
7 Add to the pot water to cover all the peppers: cook at medium heat for 40 minutes, but evacuate the onion from the pot after 10 minutes of cooking 🙂
8 Serve with sour cream and half a soup ladle of broth !

P.S. inspired by Romanian friends 🙂

Poppy Seed Buns !

‘There you are! It only needed a little more energy,’ said Karlson. ‘Now just put on the coffee, and set a nice little tray and get out a few little buns…’

Astrid Lindgren, Karlson flies again
Poppy Seed Buns

Buns dough ingredients (for 9 large or 18 small buns):
– 250ml milk
– 450-500g wheat flour
– 21g fresh yeast
– 100g sugar
– 1 egg
– 80g butter
– 1 pinch salt

Buns poppy seeds filling ingredients:
– 150g poppy seeds
– 60g sugar
– 50-100ml milk for boiling poppy seeds
– 1 egg yolk for beautifying

Directions:

1 Prepare the dough:
1.1 Add crushed fresh yeast & 2 tablespoons sugar to warmed up milk to 30-35C: mix well until sugar and yeast are dissolved. Leave the mixture for 15 minutes
1.2 Melt butter, cool it down till 25-30C. Mix in the butter to the milk with yeast, then add 1 egg + 100g sugar + 1 pinch salt: whisk everything until smooth
1.3 Mix in flour in small amounts continuously stirring. Leave the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a cloth
1.4 Knead the dough with a stretch and fold technique for 7 minutes. Add some more flour if the dough is too sticky. Put the dough under the cloth for another 30 minutes
2 Prepare poppy seeds filling:
2.1 Boil poppy seeds for 5 minutes in milk and let them cool down
2.2 Join poppy seeds with 60g sugar and crumble them with a blender
3 Prepare the buns
3.1 Roll out the dough to 35x30cm rectangular. The dough height should be ~0.5cm
3.2 Distribute the poppy seeds filling on the rectangular and … fold the rectangular to the half along the long side
3.3 Cut the halved rectangular into ~1-3cm strips (thin strips for thin rings). Convolve each strip 5-7 times and join the edges to make a ring or snail or whatever your imagination is saying to you. Repeat for all strips 🙂
3.4 Put the rings on the baking paper to rest for 15 minutes under the cloth (make sure there is at least 3cm distance between them) and pre-heat the oven to 180C meanwhile
3.5 Whisk an egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and put a little bit on each bun avoiding poppy seeds parts
3.6 Bake the buns for 30 minutes at 180C
4 Serve with milk or Kefir 🙂

Cold Soup Okroshka with Kefir !

‘Tis dark by now. He gets into a sleigh.
The cry “Way, way!” resounds.
With frostdust silvers
his beaver collar.

Eugene Onegin, Nabokov’s translation
Okroshka

Okroshka Ingredients (2 servings):
– 400ml Kefir
– 200ml water
– 100g chicken breast meat
– 4 baby potatoes
– 2 small eggs
– 150-200g cucumbers
– 150-200g radish
– 1/2 bunch dill
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:
1 Boil chicken breast meat; let it cool down; dice the meat into 1cm cubes
2 Peel baby potatoes; cut into 1cm cubes; boil until ready; drain well and let them cool down
3 Boil 2 eggs, let them cool down, peel and dice into 0.5cm cubes
3 Chop dill
4 Cut radish and cucumber into strips
5 Mix in a large bowl cold (from the fridge) Kefir with water, salt, sugar, chopped dill
6 Add to the bowl eggs, radish, cucumbers, potatoes, chicken and carefully mix
7 Serve immediately !

Notes: traditionally Okroshka is served with Kvass, but it is tasty with Kefir as well 

Wheat-Buckwheat Pancakes with Salmon and Blue Cheese-Dill Sauce !

The fresh smell of coffee soon wafted through the apartment, the smell that separates night from day.

Haruki Murakami
Buckwheat pancakes with salmon

Pancakes ingredients (10-12 pancakes):
– 2 eggs
– 3/4 cup wheat flour
– 1/4 cup buckwheat flour (it gives pancakes a special taste & colour !!)
– 2 pinches salt
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 500ml Kefir (hint: Kefir makes pancakes especially tender !)
– 1 tablespoon sunflower oil for batter
– 1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil for frying

Blue cheese sauce ingredients (2 servings):
– 120g grated blue cheese
– 80g sour cream
– 1 bunch of chopped dill

Serving ingredients (2 servings):
– 100g smoked salmon
– 4-5 chopped green onion sprigs

Method:
1 Cook pancakes with you favourite recipe! I like the following one:
1.1 Whisk 2 eggs with salt & sugar
1.2 Pour Kefir in the whisked eggs
1.3 Gradually add wheat and buckwheat flour continuously mixing
1.4 Mix in 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1.5 Preheat the skillet with 1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil (no more oil will be needed!)
1.6 Pour 1 soup ladle of batter into the skillet for one pancake
1.7 Cook pancakes until golden ~2 minutes on each side
1.8 Keep the cooked pancakes warm covered with a lid on a separate plate
2 Mix blue cheese sauce ingredients in bowl 🙂
3 Serve pancakes with smoked salmon slices & the blue cheese sauce & chopped green onions
4 Enjoy ! … and let the black coffee flavour enter you room and inspire you for great doings 😉

Bouchée cakes with chocolate icing: as in my favourite bakery !

“But I don’t mind some cake-seed-cake, if you have any.”
“Lots!” Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise

J.R.R. Tolkien
Bouchée Cakes

Sponge cakes ingredients (all ingredients for 12 cakes):
– 3 eggs
– 70g flour
– 60g sugar
– 2g Vanilla sugar

Filling cream ingredients:
– 50g butter
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 2g Vanilla sugar
– 2 tablespoon water
– 2 tablespoons wheat flour

Chocolate icing ingredients:
– 50g dark (>=50%) chocolate
– 50ml 33% cream
– 20g butter

Beatifying ingredients:
– 8 strawberries
– 12 mint leaves

Method:
1 Sponge cakes:
1.1 Preheat the oven to 190C
1.2 Whisk the eggs + sugar + vanilla sugar for 2-3 minutes
1.3 Stir in flour and finely mix
1.4 Pour the batter into the buttered muffin forms: bake for 25 minutes at 190C
1.5 Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool down
1.6 Cut cooled down cakes into the upper and lower halves
2 Chocolate-strawberry icing:
2.1 Wash and slice the strawberries; wash 12 mint leaves
2.2 Melt chocolate + butter + 33% cream
2.3 Put each top cake half into the melted chocolate butter -> put on a separate plate
2.4 Decorate with strawberries&mint and put the cakes tops for 1 hour in the fridge 🙂
3 Filling cream:
3.1 Keep the butter at room temperature for 40 minutes
3.2 Whisk all the filling ingredients
3.3 Put the filling cream in the fridge for 30 minutes
3.4 Put the cream in between lower and top cakes halves, then join the halves
4 Put the cakes in the fridge overnight and & get prepared for a great coffee-break ! 😉

Saturday Apples Pleasures !

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.

W.B. Yeats
Apple Pies Recipe

Dough ingredients:
– 1 cup (1 cup = 250ml) flour
– 150g cottage cheese
– 80g sugar
– 5 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 egg
– 1 pinch salt
– 1/2 teaspoon butter for buttering the muffin form

Filling ingredients:
– 2 small apples finely sliced

Beautifying ingredients:
– 1 egg yolk

Method:
1 Knead the dough from dough ingredients and let it rest for 30 minutes in the fridge (cover it with a plate)
2 Preheat the oven to 200C
3 Divide the dough into 2 equal parts
4 Cut out a 10x10cm square of a white paper
5 Roll off the first piece of dough to be a 20x30cm rectangular
6 Using the 10x10cm paper square, cut out 6 squares from the dough
7 Repeat 5 and 6 for the second piece of dough
8 Put the 12 dough squares in the 12 buttered muffin form baking cups
9 Finely slice the apples and put them beautifully in the middle of each bag
10 Whisk a yolk in a glass and yolk all apple-bag-edges
11 Bake 25-30 minutes at 200C
12 Enjoy the Apple-Bags some Saturday morning with a cup of black coffee on a balcony when sun is shining, when cherry trees are blossoming and everything will be well!

Easter Mini-Cakes (Russian style) !

Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing

Kenneth Grahame

Dough ingredients (4 servings):
– 350g flour
– 300ml Kefir
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 100g butter
– 130g sugar
– 1 egg yolk
– 3g Vanilla sugar
– 80g raisins
– lemon zest (1 lemon)
– 20g candied orange peel

Icing ingredients:
– 1 egg white
– 1 teaspoon lemon juice
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 10g grated pistachio
– 20g candied orange peel

Method:
1 Preheat the oven to 180C
2 Wash the raisins and let them dry
3 Mix in the 1st bowl Kefir with baking soda, leave it rest for 5 minutes
4 Mix finely in the 2nd bowl butter, lemon zest, sugar and flour
5 Add Kefir from the 1st bowl and an egg yolk in the 2nd bowl, mix finely
6 Add candied oranges and raisins in the 2d bowl
7 Put the dough in the buttered muffin cup forms till ~1/2 height
8 Bake 25-30 minutes at 180C and let the cakes cool for 20 minutes
9 Icing: whip for 5 minutes an egg white with sugar & lemon juice
10 Put the icing immediately after whipping on top of the cakes with a teaspoon & decorate with candied orange peel mixed with grated pistachio
11 Let the egg whites dry overnight (or you can put the cakes already with an icing in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 100C to fix the whites)
12 Enjoy and Happy Easter !

Russian Napoleon cake

The fresh smell of coffee soon wafted through the apartment, the smell that separates night from day.

Haruki Murakami

Hmm… Why is it called “Napoleon”? Because it is complex, multilevel and exceptionally tasty !

Method:
1 to be served with coffee
2 details are to be added soon, besides

A picture is worth a thousand words.
Napoléon Bonaparte