Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's for Dinner - Braised Fennel and Baked Trout

Braised fennel and baked trout
Place: home
Requirement: cook huge trout
- fennel braised in chicken broth, salt and pepper;
- trout rubbed with a bit of mayo and baked.
Comment: fennel is my latest great and surprising discovery. I would call dish "fennel steak" because of shape and satisfaction level close to steak's (remembering that from my carnivorous times).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's for Dinner - Salmon Salad

Salmon Salad
Place: home
Requirement: wild salmon was transferred from freezer to fridge and crying to be cooked ASAP.
Dish: Salmon slow cooked in ghee, cooled down, chopped and mixed with some parsley, pickles, canned green peas and water-diluted mayo (that's a little trick to cut down on calories and to get dressing consistency at the same time). Cooked green beans and croutons - on a side.
Comment: delisious - I need to get it into my recipe database.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What's for Dinner - Spinach Salad

Spinach Salad
Place: home
Requirement: use up a spinach I've got from market couple days ago.
Dish: salad - spinach, tomatoes, apples + really cool homemade dressing (handful of almonds thrown in blender with some lemon juice, just squeezed ginger juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and drop of sugar)
Comment: recipe adapted from youtube's "Manjula's Kitchen". It was not bad, totally eadible though apple and tomatoes didn't go along well. Dressing is brilliant - creamy, delisioso!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's for Dinner - Rice with Beet Chili and Sour Cream

Rice with beet chili and sour cream
Place: home
Requirement: utilization some raw vegetable leftovers
Dish: rice with beet chili and a dollop of sour cream
Comment: it's free-style dish with beet, green pepper and beans braised in mix of caramel, soy sauce, oriental wine vinegar, fish sauce and some water. It ended up having very bold taste (wonder why :)) so sour cream made a good job softening it up. These are piled up on a bad of jasmine rise - not bad at all.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What's for Dinner - Party Treats

Party Treats
Place: friends house
Requirement: whatever we'll be treated to
- seaweed salad,very well prepared (no fishy aftertaste which is usually the case with this kind of seaweed)
- tuna tartare (soy sauce, sesame oil)
- asian coleslaw (white and purple cabbage, sesame seeds, asian dressing)
- baked buffalo (I would call it "naked" - virtually no spices, or any other additions but salt. )
- smoked salmon
- zucchini "ikra"
Comment: Buffalo was the best dish on a table. Period. Loved its natural "un-tinted" taste/flavor. Tuna tartar was really good also.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What's for Dinner - Subway Sandwich

Subway sandwich
Place: Subway
Requirement: fast
Dish: subway sandwich on a honey oat bread with tuna salad, melted mozarella, plus some pickles, a lot of fresh spinach, red onion, banana pepper. All that topped with honey mustard and some ranch dressing.
Comment: the best value meal - fast, cheap and very tasty. Especialy I like spinach in it and bread - thin and slightly crispy texure on the outside with pieces of oat flakes.
Pictures: couldn't make a single shot :( I know it sucks..

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's for Dinner - Chipotle

Place: Chipotle (mexican grill)
Requirement: fast and healthy, easy on wallet
Dish: this time it was trio of crispy tacos with my favorite ingredient combination - white rice, black beans, grilled pepper&onion, corn, guacamole, lettuce and fresh salsa on a side.
Comment: as always I enjoyed Chipotle food a lot! My daughter got all of us hooked on Chipotle many years ago. Even my hubby who's never up to new food got trapped!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's for Dinner - Cabbage Salad

Cabbage Salad
Place: home
Requirement: raw vegetables
Dish: salad made of shredded cabbage dressed with my quick mix (olive oil,  vinegar, salt and sugar); toped with grated cheese. Some cut fresh carrot and cocktail bread with a dab of mayo, piece of roasted jalapeno sprinkled with a bit of raw garlic.
Comment: yeaa, ukrainians are not affraid of raw garlic ;)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's for Dinner - Seaweeds & Beans Salad

Seaweeds & Beans Salad
Place: home
Requirement: fast (I was starving) + not calory-loaded
Dish: quick stir of seaweeds,  cannellini beans, little cooked rice, roasted jalapeno and spoonof mayo.
Comment: it's just random mix of leftovers I found in a fridge...Well, it worked very well with a bite of my favorite kind of "crackers"/galettes (see picture).

Monday, February 20, 2012

What's for Dinner - Braised Fennel, Seaweeds and Sour Tomato

Braised Fennel, Seaweeds and Sour Tomato
Place: home
Requirement: less calories + tasty + healthy + be done with leftovers
- white rice topped with braised fennel
- seaweed salad with sesame seeds and sesame oil from chinese store
- homemade sour/fermented tomato (Russian/Ukrainian traditional way to preserve tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables).  Don't even try it - It's addictive...:)
Comment: all is good stuff... It's almost the last tomato from a jar, Max will be devastated....

What's for Dinner - Homemade Cottage Cheese

Homemade cottage cheese
Place: parents-in-law home
Requirement: less calories (to recover from last night dinner :)
Dish: homemade cottage cheese with some sour cream and a little sugar, enjoyed with a cup of green tea.
Pictures: Forgot to take a picture :(  I hope I'll get used to taking pictures of my dinner, soon..

Sunday, February 19, 2012

English Muffin Duet

There is not much cooking here. But sometimes knowing what ready-to-go products to put together in some specific way worth more that some fancy high-end technique dish. It just happened that at that moment I had these ingredients and they were "match-in-heaven" for my perfect breakfast. This breakfast is perfect for yet another reason - it satisfies my sweet tooth also and guilt-free healthy.



1 english muffin split in half
2 tbs cottage cheese of your choice (homemade is the best)
slice of tomato
slice of fresh mozzarella
maple syrup

- In a toaster, place one muffin-half and another muffin-half topped with tomato and mozzarella. I figured out that no spices or anything else is required here. Pure taste of cheese and tomato are awesome!

- When done, put both muffin pieces on a plate. Top bare one with cottage cheese and few pieces of banana. With maple syrup on a side it will be your breakfast dessert!

- First, enjoy mozarella-tomato one, then cheese-banana one. Or vice versa!

Beet Salad

Beet salad is very familiar dish for those from Ukraine. Modern Ukrainian cuisine is greatly influenced by Jewish cuisine and beet salad is one of many Jewish dishes popular there.

I can't recall single family gathering at my mother-in-law house without this salad. There are several variations of it and all are good. It's raisin, prunes, dry cranberry, walnut, pecan or almond that can be added there. It's can be mixed with mayonnaise and garlic, or with onion caramelized in vegetable (olive) oil. It's rather spread than salad but traditionally we call it salad. It's great on a top of any kind of cracker, toasted bread or dry galette. Although using canned beets for this recipe is not a crime, I would strongly suggest to use real stuff - fresh beet roots. When buying beets in a store, try to pick the darkest - those are the most delicious.

Beet Salad

3 fresh beet roots, medium size
5-7 garlic cloves
15 pitted prunes
4-5 tablespoons of mayonnaise
salt to taste (optional)
walnuts (optional)

- Put beets in a pot with a plenty of cold water, bring to a boil and simmer with a lid ajar for about 1.5-2 hours of until soft throughout.
- Put beets under cold water to cool it down, peel.
- Using box grater, grate beets. It's up to you to use fine or course side of grater. This time I used fine one. Strain all the excess of the beet juice/liquid.
- Add finely minced garlic, chopped prunes and mayo and mix everything nicely. Taste and add some salt if you want. Enjoy!

I like to use microplane to grate garlic.

Chopping prunes

I served with salad garnished with walnuts. As an option, chopped walnuts can also be mixed in the salad. It will add another dimention to the dish and make it even tastier.

What's for Dinner - Party Treats

Various Blinis, Beet Salad, Egg&Cheese Salad, Braised Fennel, Caramel-Miso Chicken, Caramel-Miso Fish
Place: home
Requirement: family dinner / gathering
- Blinis several kinds includin buckwheat ones (served with salted salmon), blini with vegetables, yeast blinis with sour cream.
- Beet salad (beet, prunes, garlic and mayo)
- Egg$Cheese salad (eggs, baby swiss cheese, mayo, garlic)
- Braised Fennel (from this month DK challenge)
- Caramel-Miso Chicken
- Caramel-Miso Fish (white ruffy)
Comment:  we were celebrating "maslenitsa" - old Folk Russian/Ukrainian end-of-winter holiday celebrated by cooking blinis, eating it with butter ("maslo") and playing snow games outdoor (well - didn't do this part :))
Buckwheat blini (to die for) made by my sister-in-law. Were served with shaved salted salmon. Buchwheat flavor is unparallel here because blini included home ground buckwheat flour.
Tower of vegetable blinis (with speckles of zucchini and carrot). Served with sour cream.

Beet salad (staple food for USSR-era folks)

Egg$Cheese salad (also staple for USSR-lived folks)

Braise Fennel - new great discovery from DK challenges.

Caramel-miso chicken (was on a verge of ddry but still very delicious according to my son).

Caramel-miso white ruffy fish cooked teh same way as chicken above (though picture is taken before caramel-miso sauce was pour on a top). Tasty too.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's for Dinner - Roasted Cauliflower and Mashed Potato

Roasted Cauliflower and Mashed Potato
Place: home
Requirement: less calories + tasty + veggies
Dish: leftovers of mashed potatoes, browned up inoven right in the ovenproof plate. Cauliflower  along with yeasterday's broccoli stalks, drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper, grated parmesan and roasted in an oven.
Comment: what can be wrong with food that comes right from the oven.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Borsch is a staple of Ukrainian cuisine. There are numerous variations of borsch recipes and of course mine is the best :). I like my version because it's healthy, simple and yes, extremely delicious. So, go for it and ask questions along the way.

What is it
 It's a soup with a lot of body in spite of tons of vegetables, meat and beans. The longer it stays - the better it tastes. It's always better the next day. Nevertheless, I personally like it right off the stove also.
How it's served
It served hot, with a dollop of sour cream, garlic clove in a left hand and piece of hearty (pumpernickel for example) bread in your right hand. It doesn't leave any free hand for spoon, but I'm sure you'll find the way..
Some side comments
It may be acquired taste but worth to try because it's healthy and it's filling. .I didn't see yet 'soviet' person who would not like a good bowl of borsch from "his grandma who's the best borsch cook in a world".
How to store it
Keep in a refrigerator for as long as one week.

Beet, cabage, potato, carrot, onion and tomato are the must. All other allows variations: meat/no meat, beans/no beans, herbs/no herbs. Also fresh tomatoes can be used in place of tomato paste but I prefer tomato paste - it adds more body and color to the dish.

10+ servings

5 large potatoes 
2 beet roots (about 3" in diameter)
1 can of dark or light kidney beans (any beans will do)
1 large onion
2 large carrots
1 small can of tomato paste
½ of small cabbage
5-6 fresh parsley sprigs
some olive oil for cooking vegetables
1.5 teaspoon salt (or to the taste)
3 tablespoons sugar (or to the taste)

1.5 lb pork (country ribs but any part will work)
- Peel potatoes. Cut pork in a 2" cubes.
- In a big pot add about 1 gallon of cold water, add pork and whole peeled potatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Peel and dice onion. Peel and grate carrots and beets using course grater. Cook onion in an olive oil on a medium sized skillet until soft and translucent. Add carrot and cook until carrot becomes soft. Add tomato paste and 2 or 3 cups of tap water. Cook stirring about 10 more minutes and set aside.
- When potatoes are cooked completely, take them out in a separate bowl.
- With a knife, cut potatoes roughly right in a bowl and then return it back to the pot.
- Peel and grate beets with a course grater and add grated beets to the pot. Bring pot to a boil and let it simmer.
- Meanwhile, shred cabbage using mandoline and set aside. I like to cut shredded cabbage across with a long knife otherwise your chicks will be stamped with red mustaches left by cabbage hanging off your spoon.
- Add your tomato mix from the skillet to the pot.
- Add shredded cabbage. If you running out of room in your pot, take some liquid out and continue to add ingredients.
- Stir borsch. Add salt and sugar. Adjust to the taste. Keep in mind that it's not going to be final taste of your borsch. Final taste to the borsch will come from vegetables after you take it off heat and let it stand for about half hour. Some says that borsch tastes better next day but I would not wait :)
- Add chopped parsley, stir, let it boil and take it off the heat. Done!
- Serve with dollop of sour cream, nice bread and fresh clove of garlic to bite on.


When bringing pot to a boil, occationaly take some foam out.

As variation, beets can be cooked along with carrots and onion - it will make your borsch more magenta color. Although I like to add it directly to simmering potato and meat. This way, if cooked in water, it will fade out intense beet color and will make my borsch more orange which I prefer.
While potato, meat and beats are simmering in water and carrot and onion are sweating in a pan, I'm preparing parsley and cabbage.

Usually I cut sliced cabbage across just to avoid orange mustaches while eating a borsch :)

Potatoes should be cooked to "fall apart" condition before smashing it with knife (see next picture).

..and back to the pot!

Ready to go to the pot also.

Note the cabbage "island" - we have a lot of good stuff in there already. Now just bring it to a boil, simmer for couple minutes, add parsley (next picture) and voila - borsch is done.

Make the last stir, take off the heat, cover and let it sit for another 20 minutes before you eat. Enjoy!