Monday, August 25, 2014

Upside down strawberry and cream cake

This has been my favourite recipe for the last 4 months. Very easy to make and comes handy if you overdo picking your own strawberries with your kids, as I usually do.

400 g fresh strawberries
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp corn flour

3 eggs
180 g caster sugar
150 g self-raising flour
30 g ground almonds
180 ml double cream

1. Preheat an oven to 170C. Grease a 22cm baking pan with butter.

2. If you have small strawberries then use them whole and cut large ones in halves. Arrange strawberries on the bottom of the baking pan. Mix 2 tbsp of caster sugar with a tbsp of corn flour and sprinkle over strawberries.

3. In a large bowl beat eggs with sugar until pale and doubled in size. Stir in self-raising flour and ground almonds. Beat in double cream. 

4. Pour over the strawberries and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Place serving plate upside down on pan, turn plate and pan over. Remove the pan. Let it cool for 15 minutes. It can be served warm or cold.

Russian version below.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Chocolate beetroot cake

Remember that unloved vegetable? Well, here it is again in a most shocking and delicious combination with chocolate. It took a few attempts and a few volunteers to master this recipe the way I wanted it, but finally it’s done and baked to perfection.

If you decide to be brave and give this cake a go, don’t tell your guests (I always cook/bake something new when I’m expecting guests for dinner, just to challenge myself). What kind of veg is hiding in it? Let them guess and let them be surprised. 

This is not the first vegetable to be used in a chocolate cake, there is also Courgette and Chocolate or Potato and Chocolate Cake. How strange does that sound? But all those vegetables create an amazing moist texture and taste when combined with chocolate. 
One more thing to say, my 5 year old son absolutely loved it!

150g  butter, plus extra for greasing
2 small cooked and peeled beetroot
150g dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids), finely chopped
50g plain flour
50g ground almonds
0,5 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cocoa powder
3 free-range eggs, separated
150g golden caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease a 18- 20cm cake tin with a little butter and line the bottom of the tin with baking parchment.
Finely grate the beetroot. 
Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Set aside.
Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks one by one into the chocolate mixture and add the grated beetroot.
Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together in a bowl, stir in the ground almonds and add to the chocolate and beetroot. 
Whisk the egg whites until peaks form when the whisk is removed, and fold in the sugar. 
Fold the egg whites with sugar into the chocolate batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin for few minutes. It can be served warm or cold.
Russian version below

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hundred Dresses In My Wardrobe

“A woman's dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.”  Sophia Loren

When I was 15 years old I had a best friend, Anastasia. A beautiful, tall, leggy blond, straight A’s at school and with the most unusual sense of style I’d ever seen at that time. Bearing in mind that we both lived in a small town in Siberia circa 1993 when not many people had any idea of style at all. Clothes were supposed to fit two purposes: Be practical; and be warm. Everyone was wearing pretty much the same colours: Black, grey, brown. Boring!!! But, Anastasia had the most amazing clothes made of beautiful material, with colorful prints and vibrant colours. No, her parents were not diplomats travelling around the world; they were no more than modest music teachers. One day she told me a secret, that she made most of her clothes herself!!! After that I had no rest until one day after school we came to my house and in 3 hours created a dress for me. A very simple bright orange baby doll dress. That was the beginning of my new life and wardrobe.

My mum, like any Russian woman had a stack of various fabrics in her cupboard, hoping to take them to a tailor one day and turn into something amazing. I had different plans. Every day after school I was getting a new piece of material out of her drawer, and after lots of drawing, measuring, cutting, stitching and altering I had another addition to my fast growing collection of clothes.

This dress is one of my latest creations and I absolutely love the combination of short silk dress underneath and a see through maxi lace dress on top.

Photography by Nadia Solovova, Photographer in Dubai

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Cold Beetroot Soup

  • “What is this?
  • It’s a turnip.
  • No, it’s not. That can’t be no turnip.
  • The poor baby turnips. Nobody likes them, you know? Of course. Life is easy if you are a truffle or a shiitake mushroom. But the turnip is to be loved…because she is a self-made woman of a vegetable. All the others you can only destroy with cooking. But the turnip she gets better. So, you see, it’s not how you start…but how you finish.”
From “Last Holiday”.

If I could add another vegetable to that group of unloved and underestimated vegetables it would be beetroot.  I think European taste was spoiled by mass produced pickled beetroot, I did try it once and it tasted absolutely horrible. Overcooked pieces of something that can be hardly identified as beetroot swimming in a sea of vinegar. No wonder the majority of people I know avoid that vegetable like fire.
However eastern Europeans love their beetroot dishes and I’m one of them. Salads, soups, risotto with beetroot, chocolate cakes and brownies, healthy smoothies, the possibilities are endless.

This cold beetroot soup (Kholodnik)  is originally from Belorussia and like any national dish has lots of varieties, depending on what vegetables are available. Some add onions and celery to it but I don’t like to overdo it with lots of ingredients so I choose only a few.

A very refreshing and nourishing summer dish, that can be prepared in advance and put together at the last minute. Great for summer lunches, and I absolutely love the vibrant colour!

  1. Roasted beetroots
  2. Cucumbers
  3. Beetroot stock
  4. Spring onions
  5. Dill
  6. Hard boiled eggs
  7. Sourcream
  8. Salt

Roast a few beetroots in advance and keep them in your fridge. They can always be used for salads.
Wash beetroot; pat  dry; rub with a little olive oil; and roast in a large roasting tin for approximately 40 minutes. Check with a sharp knife if the vegetables are cooked through.
Choose medium size beetroot as they cook quicker.

For beetroot stock, wash and peel 3 medium sized beetroots and chop into small pieces. Cover with 1,5 litres of water, bring to the boil, cook for 5 minutes, turn the gas off and let it stand until completely cooled. Discard cooked beetroot and keep the stock only. Store it in the fridge.

All the ingredients for this soup should be well chilled.
Coarsely grate the beetroot (allow half a beetroot and half a cucumber per portion), finely chop the cucumbers, spring onions and dill. Cut eggs in halves.

You can mix all the vegetables and herbs in a large bowl with some sour cream, season well with salt and spoon into a soup bowl.
Pour in some of the beetroot stock and put half and egg into each bowl.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Welcome back!

First post and strawberry sorbet

It has been a while since I wrote anything about food. Over three years to be exact. I would like to say a huge thank you to all my readers from Livejournal who were continuously asking for new recipes and wondering if I will ever come back to blogging.
So, here is to new home and new beginning. Let’s start cooking.

Strawberries were always my favorite summer fruits. I remember when I was a little girl my grandma had a summer house with a big fruit garden and my brother and I couldn’t wait for that very first juicy berry to ripen and there were always a big fight between us who was going to have it. Sharing wasn’t really an option.  And then for couple of months we were eating strawberries with everything. With milk, yoghurt or cottage cheese, pies with strawberries and containers of jam that my grandma was preparing for the long winter months. 

About four years ago I bought myself an ice-cream maker and we haven’t bought a ready-made ice-cream ever since. Chocolate and mango ice-cream are an absolute hits amongst our guests and friends. 
But, I would like to start with the simplest possible sorbet that can be ready in less than 30 minutes. For that you will need an ice-cream maker. I have tried to make an ice-cream or sorbet in the freezer before and it never turns out the way I want it to be but you can always try anyway.

700g of ripe strawberries, washed, dried and hulled
½ cup of white sugar
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Place berries in a big bowl and blend to a smooth puree. Press the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds. 
Combine the puree with sugar and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
Once ready, transfer to a container and store in the freezer.
If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, then pour the mixture into a container, cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. When the sorbet is almost frozen, transfer from the container into a bowl and blend until almost smooth to break the ice crystals. Transfer the sorbet back into the container and freeze for 2-3 hours.
Before serving let it stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. I never have enough patience!

Russian version below