Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Wow, it has been 10 blog posts so far! I can't believe I have already written 10 posts already! It has been a blast writing these posts and I hope to continue writing more along the way since I enjoyed it so much. I have learned a lot about my writing skills through writing these blogs and I have learned a few new recipes to try along the way. I have improved on my writing skills a lot through writing these blog posts and I think they have helped be to be a better writer on all aspects of writing. I' am excited to continue this blog and create many more that include many of my personal recipes that I create a home. I hope you all have enjoyed my blog so far and continue to follow along as a add to this blog and many more. I want to say thank you to everyone for reading and supporting my blogs so far. I greatly appreciate all the support!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Classic Borsch Recipe

Photo credits to Flickr and Tanya F
Borsch is one of the most popular Russian foods out there almost everyone I know has heard of Borsch. I personally don't love it. I know what you're thinking... How dare I say that about an iconic Eastern European dish, but fortunately, I know a lot of people who do love it? Thousands of people enjoy it Russian or not, so I'm sure you guys will love it too. I will always love my Baba's borsch regardless. You will always hear people arguing about who's Baba or Mom makes the best Borsch because each family has their very own personal recipe handed down generation to generation. I personally think that my Baba makes the best and I don't like any other person’s borsch. 

Borsch is a soup made with beets and cabbage. There are two types of Borsches I know one that's dark red made with beets and the other one is a green version made with just cabbage. The most popular one to make and most widely known one is the beet borsch. It is a rich red color; it is a bit sour, a little bitter, rustic, hardy and slightly sweet. If you want to add some sweetness you can add a spoonful of Ketchup or tomato paste, but I don't usually add either. Plus, Borsch is very healthy and nutritious for you to eat because it is packed with protein from the beans, iron from the beets, carotene from the carrots, the potatoes provide Potassium, vitamin C and B6 and lastly the cabbage has fiber, vitamin C and K. For your picky eaters this is the perfect way to get some of your daily vitamins all in one dish. A little fun fact for another reason to make and eat borsch is according to RT Russiapedia Of Russian Origins: Borshch it states that in times of flu epidemics is irreplaceable because of the vitamins it contains and because of its antimicrobial qualities due to the garlic, pepper and onions. Borsch can help to reduce flu like symptoms much like Chicken noodle soup does

According to RT Russiapedia Of Russian Origins: Borshch written by Evgenia Skorchenko she argues that Borsch history has a couple different theories about the origins of Borsch one being that it is highly speculated that borshch originated in Ancient Rome because it used to be the national food there because this was where cabbages and beets were specifically cultivated for that purpose. However, other experts think that the modern version of borshch appeared around the 15th Century. 

According to RT Russiapedia Of Russian Origins: Borshch "Another popular theory that saying unproved legends the first-ever borshch was cooked by the Cossacks in 1637during a two-month siege of the Azov fortress in Southern Russia, which was occupied by the Turkish army. Feeding four thousand Cossacks in a camp were problematic, so they collected anything edible; they could find and threw it all together. Everyone liked this thick and nourishing mix of vegetables and meat, and came up with the name borshch, supposedly making an anagram of a popular fish soup called “shcherba”. 

The last theory proposed by RT Russiapedia Of Russian Origins: Borsch is "Other sources suggest the name came either from the plant borshchevik – one of the key ingredients of the older-time borshch, or from the word brshch, which meant beet in Old Slavonic. The beet is of course the vegetable honored to make up the basis of the classic borshch." 

Regardless of its origins Borsch is a widely popular and eaten soup all around the world, it has a very long and unknown history, which is what makes it so rustic. It's eaten for every meal, but I prefer to eat it for lunch. You can also add a spoonful of sour cream to make it creamy and tangy. Borsch is the perfect soup to eat when you are sick. It's perfect for vegetarians as well because most Borsch only contains vegetables, but some people do add meat to some of them. Armenian Borsch is usually made with Lamb while Ukrainian Borsch is made with veggies and beans.



  • 2 large beets
  • Chop 2 large potatoes
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Grate 2 carrots 
  • Grate 1/2 of a cabbage.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pepper and salt to taste
    •  Remember its soup not stew!
  • 1 can of kidney beans or 
    • You can buy dried kidney beans soak them overnight and add them to the soup, but this will take more time.
  • Optional for your personal taste and flavor: 
    • If you want it sweeter, add 1 spoonful of ketchup/ tomato paste
    • If you want to add a garnish or fresh flavor to it add chopped dill
    • If you don't want to add salt but want to add flavor, add a spoonful of lemon

1.     In a large pot boil the beets, potatoes and carrots, and onions, cover and let boil for an hour until soft.
2.    Peel the beets and grate them along with the carrots and cabbage.
3.    Add everything to a pot of water or vegetable stock. Fill with enough water to cover everything plus an inch or two to give the soup enough water you don't want it to be too thick (Remember its soup not stew!)
4.    Stir all together, let sit and simmer for an hour.
5.    Serve with a dollop of sour cream or garnish with dill 

Shashlyk or as you all know them shish Kabob

Shish Kabobs or as the Russians call them shashlykCalling all meat lovers, this is the recipe for you!! This one is for the meat lovers at heart.
Photo credits to Flickr and Peter PZ

According to an article by the SF Gate titled The Disadvantages of a diet with less meat written by Aglaee Jacob argues that eating less meat can leave you iron deficient, cause lack of satiety, zinc and cholesterol. Although I know you can easily solve these problems by taking vitamin supplements, but nothing beats eating meat. I think as long as we eat meat in moderation, not too much and not too little we will be healthy. We need to find a happy balance. Although I also think people should cut down on our meat consumption I don't think we need to eliminate it completely at least in retrospect to health. Meat does have some positive benefits. I think we can easily eat a healthy diet as long as we eat a balanced meal so by not just eating meat, but eating veggies, fruits, carbsetc we can be healthy.  Shashlyk is a good way to get to a meat lover's heart while still having some nutritional value by adding lots of veggies on the skewers. 

Every Eastern European country makes it differently, but they all have the same principle of BBQ meat and veggies. I have a lot of fond memories of my dad, neighbors, and family friends making them. They are usually made for parties, picnics and get togethers. Whenever we go over to our neighbor's house that are Armenian they always prepare shashlyk for us. The whole house and back yard smells like barbecue meat and smoke. I can always smell either my neighbors barbecuing or we are barbequing shashlyk. SO DELICIOUS! I can just imagine the barbeque fumes right now!

Shashlyk is eaten all over the country.  This skewer of lamb, beef or pork is an important part of the Russian menu. Shashlyk can be made with a variety of meats, vegetable and marianades so it is up to you to find out which one you like best by experimenting with different flavors. I promise you though you can have fun with this recipe and make it different every time. It is very hard to mess up other than overcooking it.  Nowadays  Shashlyk  doesn’t just refer to meat, but you can add pieces of fish or even vegetable put on an iron bar and cooked over an open fire. It is traditionally enjoyed outside in a backyard or at a park  and traditionally can be accompanied with a special Pomegranate sauce, flat bread, then a salad or pickled garnish. 

It is extremely essential to prepare and cook shashlyk right to ensure it is yummy and tender. If you overcook it, it will be harder than a shoe and way too chewy. But the Russians have had many years of practice and perfect making shashlyk

According to RT Russianpedia Of Russian Origins: Shashlyk, it states that the origins of shashlyk it states that  come from " the Caucasian Mountain tribesmen and became popular after the conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century. This was when the region started becoming romanticized by the likes of Pushkin, Lermontov and Byron. Russian and European travelers then began to flock to the area and almost every memoir notes the delicacy of the shashlyk. Its importance in daily Russian cuisine is highlighted in Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic The Master and Margarita when an order is made for One Karsky Shashlyk!" Shashlyk have an interesting origins and now have a prevenlant importance to Russian cuisine today. 


A basic recipe includes:
  • 1 lb Any kind of meat cubes- (beef, chicken, sausage, pork, veal, lamb, fish, goat,  etc...)
  • Chopped 5 or 6 onion make sure you cut them so you can put them on a skewer
  • chopped bell pepper the same size as above
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Salt, pepper, and herbs(oregano, thyme, basil etc..)
  • vinegar to soften the meat

A Georgian recipe includes:
  • 1 lb of Veal cubed or ground
  • double the amount of onions as meat so about 5 or 6
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • dried spices like cumin, coriander seeds, Oregano, or basil
  • Chili flakes
  • apple vinegar  

Pork Shashlyk in Kefir Marinade
  • 1 lb lean pork, cubed or ground
  •  5 onions 
  • 1 cup of kefir (its like a Russian thick yogurt) 
    • You can find it in the dairy section of your local supermarket usually or you can go find your closest European supermarket and they should have it in the dairy section.
  • salt, pepper, other spices to taste 

***If you have a marinade, marinade it over night or at least for several hours. For the marinades add all the ingredients listed on the meat in the recipe and let marinade. 
  1. Get the barbeque going get it hot!
  2. Gather all your ingredients and get out all your skewers you will be using.
  3. On one skewer, add the meat, onion and veggies and repeat until full but so it has room and nothing is falling on either side.
  4. Then place the skewers carefully on the grill.
  5. Flip the skewers every couple minutes so they don't burn or overcook.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ukrainian Waffle cake with condensed milk

If you thought my Napoleon recipe was way too hard try this easy waffle cake!
images by flickr and Worapol Sittiphaet

If you are not a baker and want a simple and easy cake try this recipe. You will win the crowd over with this recipe and little will they know that it's so simple to make and requires almost no time. With these waffle cakes you can't just have one square because there are so delicious and yummy! My friends love this recipe. Every time I or my dad's girlfriend makes them, they are gone within seconds. I'm sure they will be a hit in your household or if you bring them to a party they will be the talk of the party and everyone will want your recipe.

This cake is super easy to make and only required 3 ingredients! Yes, I repeat only 3 ingredients!

My dad's girlfriend introduced me to this recipe and ever since she made the first recipe with me I fell in love with them. It has a very similar idea of  my last recipe which was Napoleon but it's much simpler. This is probably one of the simplest dessert recipes I have ever seen.

The difference between Napoleon and this waffle cake is that the waffle cake is much sweeter because of the condense milk, requires a lot less work and time.  Napoleon is delicate, light, sweet, flaky and creamy. Napoleon is very delicate and tricky to make, it requires a lot of patience to make. This waffle cake doesn't take much precision and you don't have to be as delicate with it. This waffle cake is sweeter, has a caramel flavor due to the condensed milk, and flaky. They remind me of little wafer bars that you can get in the candy aisle but bigger versions.

This was the closest historical evidence for this recipe I could fine to the Waffle cake since it is similar to the Napoleon cake or the Mille Feuilles.  I thought it could help you understand the recipe a little more. According to Food Timeline FAQ: Pie & Pastry the site states, "The invention of the form (but not of the pastry itself) are usually attributed to the Hungarian town of Szeged, and a caramel-coated mille feuilles is called Szegedinertorte. Careme, writing at the end of the 18th century, cautiously states only that it was of ancient origin". The Ukrainian Waffle cake has its origins in Hungary, where they replaced the egg custard to a caramel coated Mille Feuilles. It's interesting to note how a recipe can change from country to country and from century to century.

My Baba Pola's Napoleon cake

By Jessica Raytselsky
Napoleon or as the french say it Mille-feuille meaning a thousand leaves due to the amount of layers of flaky puffy pastry dough. Napoleon has a special place in my heart since, my grandmother would always make this recipe for birthdays and family gatherings. It's my favorite recipe she would make since I have always had a sweet tooth and she's been making this since I was a baby. My grandma would make me this cake for each of my birthdays from hand and this cake can be difficult to make.

Napoleon is a layered cake filled with thin layers of puff pastry dough and filling made with a vanilla egg custard. It is moist, creamy, sweet and flaky. According to Food Timeline FAQ'S: Pie & Pastry, says Napoleon has a long history and nobody is quite sure what the actual history is but people think Napoleon's get their name from the city of Naples in Italy not from the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. It comes from the word "Napolitain" which is referring to a pastry that is made in the tradition of Naples, Italy. The pastry used for making Napoleon is mille feuilles. Food historians place the creation of this mille feuilles in 19th century Europe, it might possibly be a descendant of filo, which was known to the ancient Middle East and Greek cooks. Filo is also composed of many layers or leaves. One of the most famous filo recipes is baklava. Napoleon can be made by using filo dough.

I personally love Napoleon rather than regular vanilla cake. Napoleon is nothing like your regular vanilla cake. It's much lighter than dense vanilla cake. Napoleon is delicate, flaky, has just the right amount of sweetness, and creamy. Vanilla cake can be very dense, overly processed, heavy, overly sweet and can have way too much frosting.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kotleti the story of the Russian hamburger patty

Photo by Jessica Raytselsky
In the article Adding citrus fiber to meatballs improves nutritional quality, does not affect taste from the Science Daily it explains how by adding citrus powder to meatballs can improve the nutritional value of the meatballs without changing the taste or texture. I happen to agree with this article and have my own rendition I'd like to share with you. I have the perfect recipe to contribute to this article. 

There is an Eastern European Kotleti or cutlets, which is a Russian version of a hamburger patty except we eat it without a bun. It's usually ground meat with onions that is formed into little flat and round patties. You can add nutritional value to this recipe by adding all sorts of veggies into it. You can add spinach, carrots, mushrooms, kale, parsley and so much more and even if you wanted to add citrus powder you could and according to this article it’s proven that it won't change any flavors or textures. 

I'd like to argue that Kotleti are way better than American hamburger patties. It is way better than a boring, bland hamburger patty because it is more flavorful-that's garlicky, crispier, and moister than a typical American patty. Plus Kotleti has fewer calories since there is no bun used when eating the patties while American hamburgers usually are eaten inside of a bun. 

The difference between Russian Kotleti and American Hamburger patties first is it has onions, garlic and bread crumbs. Second, Russians don't eat it inside of a hamburger bun like Americans do. Third, it is golden and crispy on the outside and juicy, moist and more flavorful in the inside.American patties tend to be over cooked, dry, flavorless, and way too greasy. The Odessa style, which is the Ukrainian style, is made with mayo as the binding agent rather than the usual egg. I make these Kotleti usually for a lunch or for dinner served with mashed potatoes or salad. 

Have you ever smelt the aroma of Kotleti cooked by a Russian Babushka (Russian grandmother or older lady)? If you haven't had the privilege of smelling this wonderful aroma you are truly missing out and can't miss out on this delicious recipe to recreate the aroma in your kitchen. I love cooking this recipe because this dish is very sentimental to me because my grandma would always make them for me when I was younger. It was the first Russian food I learned to make. 

According to another blog written about Kotleti the author talks about a book called Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, the blog author explains how the author of the book says that the USSR lived off Kotleti because they were cheap and easy to make. Apparently a trip to America in 1936 the Yankee burger inspired the cutlet but some how the bun got lost in translation. If you want to learn about Soviet cooking you can read more about it in a New York Times article titled Beyond Borcht Sara Wheeler. It's actually incredibly interesting to learn about and a lot I didn't know myself. 

Yield about 4 or 5 people: 

  • lbof ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey) whichever you prefer if you want a light option use ground turkey or chicken because they are very lean.
  • 1 onion grated 
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg or 2 tablespoons of mayo.
  • I usually use a piece of old bread and get it wet enough that it's falling apart and use the inside or you can use a cup or two of bread crumbs.
  • Optional add ins (you can add parsley, spinach, cheese, kale, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers or even orange powder.
  • Salt and pepper to your liking
1) Grate the onion and garlic. 
2) Combine the grated onions and the garlic with ground meat.
3) Add the egg or mayo to mixture.
4) Mix well!
5) Add breadcrumbs or old bread to mixture 
6) Add salt and pepper
7) Mix well again!
8) Form into balls that are about an inch or an inch in a half diameter, and then flatten into ovals.
9) Heat pan with oil.
10) Cook until golden brown on the inside and moist and soft on the inside.

Enjoy! :)

What are your experiences with hamburger patties? What is a memory you have of eating or making hamburger patties?