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