Monday, February 22, 2010

Blogroll Goodness

I revised my blogroll the other day, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the many new Russian/Eastern European blogs. There’s a wonderfully diverse mix out there—from Taste of Russia (an American blogger eating her way through Russia) to Natasha's Kitchen (a Ukrainian twist) to Rich Food for Lean Times (by a Wisconsin-based blogger who’s originally from Azerbaijan).

I’m also a bit overwhelmed by all the great content these bloggers are cranking out. Oh, to be a new blogger, cooking your heart out and writing about it every day. I, too, posted four to five times a week back when I started in ’06. (Exhaustion and burnout will set in soon enough, bwa ha ha!). Anyway, check them out, and let me know of anyone I may be forgetting.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I’m having problems with zapekanka. It’s a kind of Russian cheesecake made from curd cheese (also called farmer's cheese or tvorog in Russian; see my recipe here). I’ve played with recipes from old Russian cookbooks, the kind that don’t have precise measurements or baking times. Normally this isn’t a problem—I never measure ingredients and substitute them at will. This works pretty well for me, except, of course, when baking. It doesn’t help that farmer’s cheese is a soggy ingredient, so some guidelines come in handy here.

Unfortunately there aren’t too many zapekanka recipes out there—this one, by a Russian-born food blogger, is probably the closest to what I’m looking for. I’ve always thought of zapekanka as a breakfast food or a light dinner, not dessert, however. Anyway, I had some leftover curd cheese last week, and I improvised this recipe:

1.5 cups curd cheese mixed with a bit less than ¼ cup sugar, ½ tsp. vanilla extract, 3 tbs. flour, ½ tsp. baking powder and an egg yolk. The egg white was beaten until peaks formed and added to the rest of the ingredients. I also tossed in some raisins (any kind of dried fruit works well in a zapekanka). I baked the whole thing in a buttered, 9-inch pan at 370 degrees for about 45 minutes. The final product was beautifully golden and airy, although it quickly sank once it left the oven. It was also a bit soggy and too sweet, just like two previous attempts.

So, readers, any advice for making a successful zapekanka? Recipes in Russian are welcome. (I don't usually search online in Russian because I can't read it as fast as English--blame first language attrition.)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Mid-Week Cooking Notes

Oh, I know the photo is hideous, but that's great comfort food for a cold February night. Feast your eyes on chicken kotleti (Russian pan-fried burgers) and mashed potatoes, with a mushroom-and-red wine gravy.
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