Friday, July 22, 2011

When it's too hot for pierogies...

  • ...let NPR do your blogging for you. Check out their nice write-up of Soviet summer food--including okroshka (cold vegetable soup made with kefir), grilled trout, Azerbaijani salad, and syrniki (farmer's cheese pancakes). I've previously blogged about making your own farmer's cheese. And here's my version of Azerbaijani salad (chopped veggie salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers).

  • Did you know that Yulinka Cooks is on Facebook? That's a "like"! Never miss a Yulinka Cooks post, ever.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Russian Summer Tea

    The Merchant's Wife, a painting by Boris Kustodiev
    Most recipes are about ingredients and proportions and cooking times, but this one calls for the right atmosphere--the right atmosphere for a Russian summer tea.

    I’d guess that many Russians have sentimental memories of drinking tea for hours on warm evenings on their dacha (vacation country house).

    There will be sweets, fruit, fresh-picked berries from the garden, endless cups of tea, chit-chat with family and friends, the house cat or dog trailing around, all to the backdrop of the summer sun sinking into the earth well into the evening. It’s Russian pastoral.  (For a good cinematic version of this scene, see the movie Burned by the Sun.)

    Here’s an approximate recipe for recreating a Russian summer tea, whether you’re in Russia or, as most of my readers, somewhere across the ocean.

    July, July, August, early September

    Warm in the evening, but not humid. Breezy but not windy.

    Your cottage or country house. Oh, you don’t have one? A suburban backyard patio or deck, or even an urban balcony will suffice.

    Ideally, your extended family, with assorted friends and visitors on hand. Dogs and cats welcome.

    If you have a samovar, a Russian hot-water brewing device, use it. If not, make a big pot of hot tea, and be ready to brew more.

    Two or three different desserts—simple fruit cakes are always good. Chocolate candies. Two varieties of jam (black currant and raspberry recommended). Honey. Thinly sliced lemon. Three or four of the following: watermelon, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, grapes.

    This is a great occasional to talk politics, society and the arts. (And no need to brush up on the facts—the point is free-form chit-chat, banter, and humor--not accuracy.)

    Tuesday, July 05, 2011

    Summer Slacking Series: Milwaukee Farmers Markets & More

    What I’m doing during my summer slacking season:
    -Not blogging.
    -Making random-ingredient salads on weeknights. Here’s a tomato-brie-scallion-sausage-and-crouton creation with balsamic vinegar. I also made a tomato-bacon-pea salad that was surprisingly good. Sauté some chopped bacon, add a few handfuls of frozen peas and cook until the peas are just done. Let cool a bit, mix with sliced tomatoes. Chop up some scallions or parsley, if you have them on hand.
    -Making fake Mexican huevos rancheros: Heat up some refried beans in a small pan. Add an egg or two, sunny-side up. Cover pan with lid; cook 3-4 minutes (see the Beyond Salmon blog for more guidance on cooking eggs). Eat with salsa, chopped red peppers, scallions and sour cream.
    -Making iced tea with fruit flavorings: lime juice, lemon juice, whole strawberries (add strawberry chunks to the pitcher).
    -Checking out farmers markets in downtown Milwaukee. Here’s my brief guide:
    East Town Tuesday Market, 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Cathedral Square Park. The crowd: office people and various East Side types. This market is new in 2011, and, judging by the small turnout, I'll be surprised if it continues next summer. Atmosphere: Sparse. Chill. Buy:  Necklaces, hand-made soap, art prints, baked goodies. I haven’t seen a single fruit or vegetable for sale here. Bring: A wad of cash for the $50+ handmade jewelry.
    Westown Market, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Ziedler Union Square. Crowd: Office workers. Atmosphere: Company cafeteria. Buy: Flowers for your desk, lunch from the many food vendors and trucks, cookies for the afternoon slump. Bring: Your co-workers.
    East Town Saturday Market, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Cathedral Square Park:  Crowd:  Crowded. Students, young professional types, young families. Atmosphere: Festive. Buy: Hey, this place sells produce, so buy a vegetable that’s in season. Bring: Kids, if you have them—the action’s at the playground.
    For addresses and a complete listing of Milwaukee-area farmers markets, see this guide in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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