Italian Sourdough Bread with Potatoes and Herbs

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

This is my first officially-spring post in 2015. And it’s about bread, you know… I’ve missed the blini-themed post this year as I didn’t make any Russian blini (crepes) this time. However one recipe I tried making for this year’s Maslenitsa period was pretty nice – the Swedish pancakes which were thin with just a little bit of flour, making them more like an omelette or a dessert. Ah, wait, there was another – quite challenging – recipe of wheat & rye pancakes which were really tasty with maple syrup.

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

I like using potatoes in bread recipes but sometimes they become the cause for a very short life of the bread. Not that we eat it so fast that it doesn’t last long but mostly due to the very addition of the potatoes to the yeast dough. They seem to create this sticky moldy mess in the middle of the bread in several days. I hope that this recipe I’m sharing with you today is different – at least it doesn’t have that much moisture in it. But it is very-very soft and at the same time so potato-chewy! Slice and enjoy:

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

A year ago – Sunflower Seed Rye Sourdough or We Need Sun Here

Two years ago – Thessaloniki and Sprouted Grains and Welcome Spring!

Three years ago – Mangoes and Rye to Welcome Spring

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina or Potato and Herbs Sourdough Bread adapted and translated from freebakery.blogspot.it will make a chewy moist sourdough bread. I could not find the original recipe copied some time ago, it’s not available online anymore. So here is its English version (see my remarks in italics).

Ingredients:

For the biga fermented for 10 hours at room temperature:

  • 90 g bread flour (farina tipo 1)  - I normally feed my sourdough with rye flour
  • 60 g water at 26 °C
  • 15 g rye sourdough culture

For the main dough:

  • 410 g bread flour  - I used a mixture of all-purpose + rye flour
  • 210 g water at 26 °C
  • 10 g rye sourdough culture
  • 8 g salt – I added less as my mashed potatoes already contained salt
  • 250 g mashed potatoes – you can use leftovers!
  • 7 g chives – I used various chopped herbs, left over from lunch

Procedure:

When the biga is ready (after fermenting at room temperature for 10 hours), dissolve it in water in which you have already dissolved the additional 10 g of sourdough culture. Add the mashed potatoes, then gradually add the sifted flour (I couldn’t resist making a mix with rye flour). Add the salt and make it absorbed by the mixture, then add the chives. Leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes, covered. Make folds at thirty minute intervals, 5-6 folds in total (I made 5 folds but not precisely each 30 minutes…) so that your dough is ‘mature’. Leave for 20 minutes after the last fold, covered. Preshape the dough and leave for 15 minutes, covered. Make a boulle and place it into a floured basket for 40-50 minutes.

Slash the top of the loaf and bake it at 250 °C with steam for 15 minutes, then at the same 250 °C but without steam for 25 min more (here my bread started burning which I could easily tell from the smell of burning flour) and then for the final 10 minutes at 200 °C without steam and with the oven door slightly cracked (I had to switch the oven off for the last period and leave the bread inside).

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

Remarks: This is a recipe that helps using leftover mashed potatoes and probably even herbs (that’s what I did) and turns your plain bread into something more flavourful. I was using potatoes mashed with milk and butter which added some richness to the crumb. But you can use plain mashed potatoes for sure. Just add more herbs!

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

A close up of the crumb:

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

Result: The crumb is soft and crumbly, the crust is, well, in my case – burnt (rye flour that I used for sprinkling the basket also ‘helped’ here I guess). But the great thing about burning this bread a bit is that it tastes just like potatoes cooked in the ambers of a fire (or in the Russian oven)! I didn’t get much of the flavour from the herbs but for sure the addition of the mashed potatoes make this bread into a full-fledged meal.

Pane con Patate ed Erba Cipollina from freebakery.blogspot.it

Adding this to my collections of Sourdough bread, country-specific recipes and recipes using Leftovers (where you can find more ways to use your leftover mashed potatoes).

Went to De Phazz concert yesterday – what a voice & instrument show!

G.

Vyatka, City of Snow that Dreams of Summer

Kirov, Russia

This is the view I was thinking about when I first had the idea of going to Kirov again. That’s the city which I liked the most from the super-travelling job I had back in autumn 2012. Kirov is old, not very large (at least its worth-seeing part) and has a river & hills landscape. What else would I need? :) After all the artificial-ness of St Petersburg, you just need a nice chunk of history, sturdy roots and a splash of more history.

Kirov, Russia

I enjoyed this wintry trip to Kirov, regardless of any of the menacing signs of most imminent death by snow, shown on each and every building, starting from a wooden bird-house to the houses along the street.

Kirov, Russia

And talking about streets I should tell you they were quite narrow to say the least! More like bobsleigh tracks which means extra menace coming from the slippery & hilly hard snow-ice under your feet : ) The same applies to the space left for cars moving way too slow.

IMG_1443

The snow did not stop during the three days were were there. And you can imagine that it was doing the same for quite a long time, judging from the layered snow caps on all sorts of horizontal – and even vertical – surfaces.

Kirov, Russia

And this red brick is where the kids go, the school. In short, you get the picture.

Kirov, Russia

And here’s why this super-snowy city is obviously dreaming of summer:

Kirov, Russia

The sign on Svobody Street (Freedom) reads “Africa. Print and ads”. And I noticed more of that kind: July (beauty parlor), Safari, Mali,… What else would be on your mind with such amounts of snow that nobody cares to get rid of?

Kirov, Russia

Here I should probably add some words about Kirov. It’s old, much older than its super-irrelevant Soviet name which it bears from the 1930s. It used to be called Vyatka and Khlynov before. And it is not that old as Moscow but much older than St Petersburg.

Kirov, Russia

The city was build on the way to Siberia from Moscow, becoming a major merchant center. Well, Siberia also meant state prisoners were passing through these parts. Lost of different nationalities lived there too. And you know, when we looked at the costumes of all the nations which inhabited the area, I think I liked the Russian ‘fashion’ (probably for the first time!) for its simplicity. Really, with all our lack of understanding of when ‘this gets way too much’, these costumes look just perfect.

Kirov, Russia

Apart from being historically a crossroads of nations, Kirov is also a centre of traditional arts.

Kirov, Russia

This is Dymkovo toys, small hand-painted clay figurines which thrived through the Soviet period as gifts (they also grew enormously in size) and survived as all-Russian souvenirs till our days.

Kirov, Russia

These were initially ‘disposable’ bird-shaped clay whistles given to kids during festivities. The kids would play around with them and then throw them away and beg their parents to buy a new one ;)

Kirov, Russia

We even went to a workshop and painted a ready figurine ourselves! Guess which one is mine and which was made by an artist? Yeah, easy to tell by the un-steadiness of the lines. This toy is called ‘barynya‘, a woman offering bread and salt to her guests.

Kirov, Russia

And this is also art! It’s a local dry-cleaning which deserves at least a look at thanks to its employees’ flamboyant creativity! I remember this place from my last visit but then I only noticed a very Soviet-looking sign… Who would think that a walk around the building would reveal this?!

Kirov, Russia

Kirov also has this impressively decadent Artists’ Union building:

Kirov, Russia

Not long ago, our one and only Kolpino cinema hall was making its movie posters by hand. I observed the same thing in Thessaloniki, with small (tiny) cinema halls.

Kirov, Russia

There was also a hand-painted ad for a local X-Box club. At first I read the name in Russian and was wondering what that might mean (it reads ‘HVOH’ in Russian).

Kirov, Russia

This is also a fine specimen of Soviet unobtrusive advertisement (I’m currently taking a course in Advertisement on Coursera, by the way), promoting a tailor’s. Since it’s still hanging close to the door and there are several layers of text on it, we made a conclusion that there might be a tailor’s still there.

Kirov, Russia

This is the same building. The sign above this super aesthetic door says ‘Elite. Professional items for beauty parlors’. And this is an old and truly historic building by the way! The say the prototype for Gogol’s character in his Mertvye Dushi book lived in it…

Kirov, Russia

And it does look Gogol-ish, with snow surrounding (or rather flooding) it from all sides and with this ambiguity about it – from this side the house looks rather uninhabited but from the rear side it’s something of an office building!

Kirov, Russia

Another fine example I just could not have passed by – and take a picture of it even though my camera’s battery was low. The sign reads ‘Shop-salon. Novelty’.

Kirov, Russia

But actually Kirov is beautiful. Just look at this sugary-white church:

Kirov, Russia

And even this not very perfectly white pavilion looks tremendously picturesque with the blue sky in the background:

Kirov, Russia

Another white spot – the Monument to the victims of War.

Kirov, Russia

Boy was it windy that day and in that place! Biting cold. This is where all the Kirovchane (Kirov citizens) walk. The remains of the ancient Kremlin wall which rises high above the Vyatka river. The river is frozen of course and the landscape is 100% wintry.

Kirov, Russia

This is one of the surviving monastery walls that was inside the original Kremlin. We actually purchased a city guide which gives you an idea of what Kirov looked like when it was Khlynov. It was quite a challenge to walk through the nowadays Kirov having a map of the things that WERE there some 4-5 centuries ago ;)

Kirov, Russia

When I think of Kirov, the colour scheme of my mental image is something like this:

Kirov, Russia

Another monastery – turned into a central sports stadium in the Soviet era. Menacingly un-healthy icicles!

Kirov, Russia

And less menacing – more artsy icicles, looking like a typical Soviet lamp.

Kirov, Russia

And finally. to give you an idea of what the center of Kirov looks like, here’s a line-up of the facades, most of which are just marvellous:

Kirov, Russia

Ex-department store

Kirov, Russia

A bit of art-nouveau

Kirov, Russia

And some merchant-style red-brick building

Kirov, Russia

Corner buildings are the city’s specialty

Kirov, Russia

And this is a pseudo-Greek facade which has a weird shop called Greece opposite it. It has a hand-painted sign, it’s supposed to sell everything (from the saying ‘There’s everything in Greece’) and it broadcasts music on the street. A very indie place ;)

Kirov, Russia

After all, Kirov is a very atmospheric place, which can rival Kaliningrad in my top city list, I suppose. To wrap up the Kirov experience, here are my checklist points:

  • decent postcards – failed, had to buy overpriced cards with pseudo-Dymkovo motives
  • post office – yep
  • market – failed but the souvenir shops are to die for! I wish our St Pete ones were as creative and authentic!
  • local history museum – done, but too tiny!!
  • dairy products and baked stuff – sampled, even bought some yogurt which tasted like ice-cream
  • old town – very very very much liked
  • book store – bought two artsy envelopes
  • local specialités – not sure we tried traditional dishes but at least some local stuff we did! nice cafes and pretty low prices. Here’s raviolli with… fried cabbage and raspberry-cowberry tea:

Kirov, Russia

I could have continued my story and tell you more about this cozy town – which stubbornly remains cozy even with the tons of snow. But you just have to go there, as always. It’s a place where even the hotels are styled after a postoyaly dvor (inn) and people lunch at traktir (taverna, inn). I will just mention that we couldn’t resist buying lots of linen fabrics, a kilo of rye malt for Borodinsky Bread, local pryaniki and of course some Dymkovo statuettes. Definitely to be re-visited in spring. AFTER the moment all the Kirov snow comes down!

G.

How to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

Experiments in the kitchen time!

I love sour milk products as much as I love bread. I’m kind of crazy about them, I can leave without many food items but anywhere I go and anywhere I find myself eating – I’m searching for milk products. With my insatiable hunger for them I’ve been thinking recently about making my own – yogurt at least. But to start making something you really have to DO it. And here is what I did!

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

the photo features this whole-wheat baguette

I’m sharing with you a Croatian recipe I picked up to make homemade cheese (for sure many nations will have their own cheese recipes). This is a very interesting process to observe, really! Full of pleasant surprises : ) It even feels creative although you’re not DOING anything, you just leave it to work on its own. I’ve already started my ‘cheese process’ thrice, the first two times the result was very nice, the third – well, I think I bought some pretty weird milk which wouldn’t even boil O_o But with my stubborn zeal to get the result, I finally had another bowl with yogurt-like product soon to become silky cream cheese!

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

A year agoApricot Oatmeal Bar With Pistachios

Two years agoAfter Apples Come the Berries (I wish I could say the same this year…)

Three years ago2 Energy-Boosting Sweets to Keep Your Mind and Spirit Up

Homemade Basa Cheese (Croatian) adapted from honestcooking.com will help you make your own yogurt, then cream cheese and finally soft cheese / tvorog. It all depends on how fast you eat it :) The original website has clear instructions so here are just my changes and remarks.

The amount of milk given in the original recipe (2 litres) might turn out too large for an already stuffed refrigerator (and for your strainer / pan / bowls). So I would suggest making only half of it. Anyway, if you want to experiment and not to regret it, begin with small amounts :) 1 litre of milk will be just about right for a small pan and a medium strainer. You won’t need too much free space in the fridge for it either. Although be ready to start a new portion as soon as you see how easy you can get all-natural homemade yogurt!

I used 2.5 % fat milk but instead of sour cream which is about 15-20% fat here in Russia I used prostokvasha which is only 2.5% fat. Prostokvasha is simply (prosto) the first product you get when you sour (kvasit’) the milk, kind of very delicate yogurt. I didn’t add salt.

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

Advice: Oh that dairy heaven! If you don’t want to turn it into something nasty, please, observe two things. First, do NOT use enameled pots! The milk will burn INTO it. I used a ‘plain’ metal pan and still the milk would burn a little at the bottom. This gave a sourish taste to my third portion (see further). If this burnt milk drama happen to you, generously sprinkle soda on the bottom of the poor pan, add hot water and leave it for some time. Soda helped me more than any other detergent. A very Soviet solution! The second rule is not to leave your milk while it’s heating. It might look very peaceful and the next second it’s overflowing the pan!

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

Remarks: If you’re patient enough, you can wait while your cream cheese continue its metamorphoses until it becomes a sort of soft white cheese. I couldn’t : ) Also, if you add a more fatty sour milk product like sour cream, you would get a different result and I’m sure you’ll get to the soft cheese point (which will keep its shape) much faster. Probably even before you eat it all all the while it’s still at its ‘cream cheese’ stage! =)

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

By the way, if you have just one strainer but want to make ahead another portion of cream cheese, you can hang the first portion over something taller than a bowl like a jug, fastening the cheese cloth ends to a stick or a wooden spoon, which you will place across the jug. Thus the cheese ‘parcel’ will hang over the whey without touching it. The cheese will form better this way too, I guess, cause it will release whey even faster.

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

love the texture printed on the cheese!

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

Result: Unbelievably silky soft and tasty. Although it doesn’t have much of a conventional cream cheese ‘taste’ (I mean, I didn’t add any salt), the cream cheese that I got was the most tasty. But here you have to take into consideration the fact that the result will depend on the texture, fat content and flavour of the sour milk product you’re using. My three portions had a delicate vanilla hint (the same as the whey it produced). The things I’ve tried the cream cheese ON and WITH already: bread, sweet muffins, corn groats porridge (perfect union!) and just plain :)

Also, as a ‘side’ result (and a positive one for those baking quite a lot!) you will get lots of whey which you can certainly use instead of buttermilk or even milk in your bread or sweet recipes. It has a very tangible flavour though. I already used all of whey in various muffins, bundt cakes and even sourdough bread (like this and this). And if you continue making this cream cheese you will get such a leftover of whey that you will have no need in buying extra buttermilk / kefir for baking!

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

This is my third portion in early morning when I peeped in to see the result (the second portion is pictured with pink cloth). And who would believe that this third portion almost failed: first the milk wouldn’t boil then it wouldn’t coagulate even overnight and then I had to warm it up again and add more prostokvasha while the pot I used got double burnt milk layer on the bottom… Probably thanks to this extra ‘effort’ this portion tasted just like low-fat tvorog – cottage cheese! We’ve just finished it today.)

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

This time vanilla flavour was even more pronounced. The photos feature the second loaf from this super-tasty whole-wheat sourdough bread recipe. On this shot you can see the texture is different – it’s more grainy. After one more day the colour and flavour also changed to creamy and more sour.

Homemade Basa Cheese from honestcooking.com

I think I will resume this curious process after I turn back from my next journey. Meanwhile, enjoy your cooking experiments!

G.

Breaking up of the Soviet Union

'Forbidden to stand' - the rest is painted over

‘Forbidden to stand!’ – the rest is painted over

I’ve just read this ‘Leningrad Lexicon’ book by Igor Bogdanov which I took at the library. It has the brightest symbols and specific Leningrad words explained in an alphabetic order. Some of the articles were just hilarious, some were too sour with the ‘it was so much better in the past’ feeling. I learnt a lot, cause behind these words there were all those general Soviet realities most of which are now lost and not ‘real’ anymore. I would love to share with you lost of these things, some of them food-related too, but then I felt I would just end up translating the entire book!

Khruschevka

Khruschevka

I will share with you this idea though – Why the country which occupied one fourth of the Earth’s dry land stuffed its population into kommunalki, communal flats with 1 toilet per 30 people, or into khruschevki with the ‘norm’ of 9 m2 per capita? Why with all this spare land stretching way beyond the horizon the Soviet people had to line up all along the street in order to get something? Well, these are rhetoric questions.

USSR Ethnic Groups 1974

USSR Ethnic Groups 1974 (from Wikipedia)

With all these memories of the author who was born in the 50s, you just feel as if you were there with him. After that, we were naturally discussing with my Mother the USSR and in particular that period when the USSR broke up. She witnessed it, she lived though it, so I believe her. I’m sharing with you a sum up :) But first…

Telegraph - the fastest means of communication

Telegraph – the fastest means of communication

My personal attitude towards the USSR is very complicated. The Soviet heritage in my veins just never leaves me alone, at the same time I can hardly be called an objective witness as I was born too late to experience and remember a lot from the Soviet years and too late to not be concerned. My in-between generation has sampled both the decadent years of the dying Soviet empire and the early crazy days of ‘building democracy’. It’s a relationship of hate and love: when I hear people criticizing or even blackening those times, I feel hurt and want to contradict everything said, whereas I myself criticize it at large and often make laugh of lots of aspects of Soviet life with certain pleasure. There’s as much I’m proud and love about it about it as I hate about it.

Chelyabinsk, Russia

Dreadful Lenin monument in Chelyabinsk

Most of the time my feelings towards that period in our country’s history can be described as a pretty strong bond that keeps me tied but remains something unattainable – you cannot turn back the years!

Sometimes it feels in one of my previous lives I must have lived in the USSR in the 70s, I don’t know why but this blemish (somehow the movies from that period are all filmed on a blemish-coloured film although people are sometimes wearing gaudy coloured synthetic clothes) era. It was after the enthusiastic and more or less ‘free’ 60s and before the boggy 80s when people stopped believing in their Soviet religion.

Children Clothes from Domovodstvo (Homekeeping) 1959

Children Clothes from Domovodstvo (Homekeeping) 1959

The people – already Russian and Soviet no more – were tired and pissed off, they wanted to get rid of, to say (too tired to shout) good bye to there previous life. So many things – good things or just ‘innocent’ things – were destructed or just thrown away. And I’m talking both about the material and immaterial stuff. People were so tired with the worn-out propaganda and motto and ideas and ideals that they eagerly renounced from them. The entire country was too tired, too hungry and too deep in ‘byt’ (everyday life chores and more ‘traditional’ Soviet problems of getting food and even most necessary things, the lack of which was growing really awfully fast). No energy, no desire, not even an idea came to the people’s heads to preserve the past which everyone preferred to forget as soon as possible.

Soviet propaganda of the 1980s

Soviet propaganda of the 1980s

A huge part of the communist ideology seems artificial and far-fetched to me – and not only to me. When I think about it I always imagine those propaganda posters – not the first avangarde style masterpieces but the later phony posters which showed or claimed something which nobody noticed and nobody cared about. Just because there were so many things that were done merely because they ought to be done according to this ideology, they soon lost all their meaning. And already the generation of my parents could hardly ‘eat’ any more of them. And although they were fed with these ideas and ideals from the very first years of their lives, it got harder and harder each year to get these ideas through so that they reach their minds and hearts. And for most of them it never did, remaining just the shell, the cover.

Women Clothes from Domovodstvo (Homekeeping) 1959

Women Clothes from Domovodstvo (Homekeeping) 1959

I guess that the State’s politekonomia, political economy (the State being the only producer, consumer, owner, lender, seller and buyer), with uravnilovka or levelling out (the colloquial ‘synonym’ to the communist dream of everyone being equal; two people occupying the same position in any organization all across the country were getting the same money – there was no such thing as unemployment in USSR simply because all the people were artificially ‘employed’ somewhere, which meant being ‘ascribe’ or attached to some organization without doing any real job there) and all the while the thriving black market (no other way to get your jeans, LPs and not so rarely – food) also ‘helped’ undermine the whole idea. . . Would you cherish the communist ideas when they do not give you decent life?!

Soviet gelatin of third and second quality degree

Soviet gelatin of third and second quality degree – oh that Soviet packaging design!

Hence the inevitable loss and some times really ruthless liquidation of the past which just yesterday was meaningful and now lost all its sense. And probably only now, more than 20 years later, do we start reevaluating the past, feeling remorseful for what’s now lost. At the same time those some 20 odd years were enough to raise a generation which was born immediately after the breaking up of USSR or some years later – a generation raised in the atmosphere of change but even more so of heading anywhere it would take us to get as far from the well-thumbed Soviet ideology as possible. This new generation knows really little about the USSR, either considering it a very boring period not worth of remembering or making some sort of a pastiche of its ideas and symbols.

Wall Painting 'Salute' at Podvig cinema hall in Kolpino

Wall Painting ‘Salute’ at Podvig cinema hall in Kolpino

With all that a significant number of people, most of them the children of the Stalin era, were ‘discarded’, denied and disposed of as they felt. True and loyal children of the post-revolution Russia, they felt that their whole life was being thrown away together with the ideas and the ideals they lived all these years. And what’s more important – the believed in all this. They fought for this, they defended their country, they won the great war… That was a shock not all of them could live through. And while the rest of the population – a younger part which was born years after the war and did not know much of the hard life of their parents – got head over heals with the ideas of the free market, open borders and everything plastic, synthetic, multi-colored, disposable and made in China (this is how I remember the early 90s from my child’s point of view), their parents got the stress of their lives. Ironically, these resilient and super-resistant generation that has gone through the hardest times of the 20th century, were suddenly abandoned together with their bravery, their feats and achievements. A very sad and truly dramatic moment for them.

Wall Painting 'War' at Podvig cinema hall in Kolpino

Wall Painting ‘War’ at Podvig cinema hall in Kolpino

Even with my child’s eyes I could realize that my Granddad was deeply wounded with what was going on, with the destruction of the system, when the gigantic country was falling apart in front of his eyes. The country he helped to get forward, working for it all his life. And all those people around him and on TV (the TV which always told the truth and nothing but the truth!) they were constantly denying, discarding, throwing away and devaluating all his beliefs. What else could he possibly feel back then rather than unjustifiably rejected?

How to block the entrance

How to block the entrance with the Soviet heritage

If you’re interested in this period, I have posts dedicated to what happened immediately after the breaking up of the USSR – the infamous 90s (here and here).

Adding this to my USSR/Russia collection of posts.

And very soon – food! And a trip to Kirov – kilograms of rye malt, I’m coming!!!

G.

My Friend’s Granny’s Grated Pie and Apple Pudding

My Friend's Granny's "Grated" Pie

My friend’s Granny’s “Grated” Pie was what I was thinking of for quite some time. It’s one of those recipes that travelled from my friend’s family to my own. I do not make it often these days, though. But this recipe is hand-written in my thick recipe book, the one I started long before I became obsessed with baking. And you know well that you can trust those hand-written recipes passed on to you from Grannies!

My Friend's Granny's "Grated" Pie

I remember when we first made it at our dacha (the friend I’m talking about is my childhood friend whose family had their summer house across the road). We couldn’t wait for the pies to be ready! : ) Well, time passes (how many years since then? 9? more?) but I still can’t wait!

My Friend's Granny's "Grated" Pie

I’m not sure about the origin of this recipe (as is with so many family recipes) but it was dictated to us from memory. So I suppose that this pie was enjoyed during the Soviet times as well as it is now. Let’s make this recipe live!

A year agoCaucasian Cheese Pie and Some Winter Reflections

Two years agoPetite Alsace and Petits Pains

Three years ago2 Breads with Poolish

My Friend’s Granny’s “Grated” Pie adapted from a family recipe and translated for you. It will make that very pie which can only result from a hand-written recipe (and even better – known by heart!). Although the recipe uses Soviet glasses, you can use cups with no problem. See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 glass of sugar – add less if your filling is very sweet
  • 250 g of margarine – this never happens with me these days : ) I used much less butter mixed with sunflower seed oil
  • 3-5 glasses of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • some vinegar – a true Soviet housewife would use plain vinegar, but you can try milder variants
  • jam, fruit, … for the filling – the most typical would be jam, though. Mine was chunky apple jam + cinnamon

Procedure:

  1. First, beat eggs with sugar until white foam creates (yes, with your hand only!) then add softened margarine (butter) and mix well. Add a glass of flour. Then ‘extinguish’ the soda with vinegar by carefully pouring a very small amount of vinegar over a tablespoon with soda. The thing – not the tablespoon of course! – will make lots of pshhhhh noises, drop it directly into the pastry. This procedure is still used in Russia and a baking person would understand ‘extinguish the soda’ without explanation. Mix everything together. Add 2 to 4 glasses of flour (this time I needed just 2 more as I added much less butter) and mix well until the dough doesn’t stick to the tablespoon.
  2. Turn the pastry onto a surface and divide in two equal parts (although if you’re making a super-huge pie, you should work with the entire amount of the pastry). Shape each part as a thick log and then flatten it into a rectangle. Divide each rectangle into three equal parts. Join together two parts. Now you’ll have a big piece of pastry and a smaller one. Repeat with the second rectangle. Wrap the smaller pieces separately in plastic foil and put in the freezer for one hour. Chill the two bigger pieces in the fridge (wrap them too).
  3. Roll out the big pieces to the size of your pan – they will make the base for the pie (as I decreased the amount of butter, my pastry wouldn’t roll out nicely, so I just pressed it into the pan). You can use a round pan or a medium rectangular baking sheet (for a bigger and flatter pie). Grease the pan and transfer the pastry to the bottom, making borders so that the filling won’t escape. Place the filling on to the pastry. Take a smaller piece of pastry that has now become quite solid in the freezer and grate it on top of the filling, distributing the pastry all over the top (and that’s why it’s called grated!).
  4. Bake at 180’C for about 30 minutes until crust is created.

My Friend's Granny's "Grated" Pie

Remarks: This is after all a Soviet recipe and a family recipe – it is flexible and… makes 2 large pies. If you are not necessarily planning to have a family reunion soon, you might prefer to make just half of the pastry recipe. Use any jam leftovers, raw fruit with sugar and spices or virtually any sweet filling. I think it will survive even a rather runny filling!

My Friend's Granny's "Grated" Pie

Result: Time-proved, family-loved and tasty. And they do not stick to the pan as it’s with many jam pies I’ve tried! Be careful with the sugar (try to balance the filling and the amount of sugar you add to the pastry) and the rest will work out swimmingly! And do make two pies, cause these Granny’s treats tend to disappear much quicker than you might think…

My Friend's Granny's "Grated" Pie

You will be absolutely right if you think we’re not yet done with our apple harvest. ABSOLUTELY right! But we’re making our way towards it. Yes, in late January of the consequent year! O_o The first recipe I shared with you did not help us much with the boxes and piles and bags of raw apples but it did finish a large jar of apple jam that was in great need of using up. And here is yet another of those recipes that helped us with that :) A British one.

Cinnamon apple pecan pudding from www.bbcgoodfood.com

Cinnamon Apple Pecan Hazelnut Pudding adapted from www.bbcgoodfood.com will make not much of a pudding but rather and apple cake with toasted nuts on top. And surprisingly for BBC Good Food, there’s not that much butter in it! Here are just my changes:

  – instead of xylitol I used plain sugar

 – added lots of small apples instead of using one (mysterious to me) 280g Bramley apple

 – topped the cake with whole hazelnuts instead of pecans

Result: A very quick and easy recipe (minus the time spent on dicing and grating the apple, omit the peeling part!), just what I needed. The apple pile got a bit smaller with a tasty cake! Whole nuts on top are a nice idea – they get super-toasted that way.

Adding these two to both my Apple and Sweet recipe collections. And to Leftovers!

G.

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls and Whole-Wheat Pain au Levain

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Ascending and descending stairs in museum-like libraries might make you hungry. A good ol’ slice (or slab? :) of sourdough bread with honey will quench your hunger immediately! So don’t be shy, just make yourself a large slice and pour some honey over. A more Soviet variant will be bread with varenye, or confiture, a perfect substitution for any sweet treat. And it still works for me!

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Here are two recipes that I’ve tried recently to make my favourite type of bread (and food) – sourdough bread. If this works for you too – get your sourdough culture out and refresh it generously (I know you love it, just like I do!) – you will need quite a lot for these two recipes.

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

Let’s start with a recipe for sourdough buns – full of seeds and oats and very rustically-pretty on the outside too. I love to have something to chew on in my bread!

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

A year agoCaucasian Cheese Pie and Some Winter Reflections

Two years agoPetite Alsace and Petits Pains

Three years ago2 Breads with Poolish

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls adapted from sweetsoursavory.com will make pretty buns with seeds, seeds, seeds! Follow the link for the recipe, here are just my alterations:

I didn’t use any additional yeast, relying 100% on my rye sourdough culture. As for the other ingredients, I added 4 cereal mix for porridge (oats + barley + rye + wheat flakes) + some extra rolled oats to make up for 1 cup. I couldn’t resist adding some rye flour (of course), so my buns turned out darker (of course). But that’s how I like my bread! I didn’t roll my buns in anything, just used plain flour.

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

This bun got such a peculiar shape cause, well, I shaped it this way! : )

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

Remarks: All the while these buns require 12 to 20 hour rest in the fridge, they bake really fast, just about 15-20 minutes in the oven and they are done! And they also ‘cracked’ nicely, making you want to tear them open at once! : ) Like this:

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

Result: A great recipe for rustic-looking sourdough buns. If you want something like those crusty buns from a French bakery (in France, s’il vous plaît!) that make that crunch-crunch sound when you grab the paper bag… – you got them!

Breakfast Sourdough Rolls from sweetsoursavory.com

Next recipe – to keep in line with the French theme – is exactly a French bread recipe, made more Russian with my imminent addition of rye flour. Again, if you compare my result with the photos on the original website, you’ll see how far my rye addi(c)tion sometimes take me : )

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

69% Hydration Pain au Levain adapted from www.karenskitchenstories.com will make dense, moist bread with strong whole wheat flavor. Follow the link to get the entire recipe. My changes:

Used my rye sourdough culture and fed it with rye flour (I know what my baby likes most! :). I didn’t use less levain, so secreased the amount of water by 45 g. What I did add as usual was more whole wheat flour + some wheat bran + rye flour (haha). I used less salt (when I bake bread for myself only, I normally skip salt at all).

As for the procedure, it requires time for sure, but I started in the morning, left the levain for the required minimum of 8 hours (with the rye flour the result is quicker) and then baked the bread in the evening. Which gave me cooled down, almost fresh bread in the morning!

My oven here is small, so I did not use any Dutch oven-substitution (which is usually a large metal bowl turned upside down to cover the bread loaf), I just baked two loaves side by side with some steam.

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

After some hesitation (or should I say – caprice) the St Petersburg sun made its appearance and turned the bluish photos into a more pleasing and realistic representations. But of course there’s nothing like actually EATING this bread!

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

By the way, our lazy and consequently rare St Petersburg sun appears in winter ONLY when it is VERY cold. I’m serious! The clouds bring warmer weather but they also veil all the sun rays from us, already ‘pail as death’ as we say in Russia. On the contrary, cold days most often mean sun. It doesn’t heat but it makes life better.

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Remarks: Although I don’t have a slightest idea whether my bread was 69% hydration or not, I surely did like it from the very start. Actually, I think that my bread is less moist and has less air pockets with all my additions.

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Result: I can assure you that this bread IS tasty. The two loaves are not here to stay very long… I was craving for something with whole-wheat dominant in it. Just to make change from all-rye bread : ) And here I found it! The bread will make suuuuch nice slices (=slabs in the widest part of the round loaf). Tried it with honey, mmmmm!

69% HYDRATION PAIN AU LEVAIN from www.karenskitchenstories.com

Coming up – sweet recipes with the most obvious ingredient, guess which one!

Adding these recipes to my ever-growing  sourdough bread collection.

G.

The Other Side of St Petersburg Public Library

St Petersburg Public Library

Sometimes a visit to the Central Public library might turn into an adventure : ) You know, I love books even after getting a degree in Literature. I still love them and prefer the paper kind too. But I don’t necessarily always love libraries – being the direct heirs of the Soviet bureaucratic system these institutions might sometimes kill all your eagerness to borrow books and read!

St Petersburg Public Library

That was not my first time coming to this library better known by its unofficial name as ‘Mayakovka‘. But it was the first time I looked at it from the other side! My mostly frequented department is that with lots of books in foreign languages. It’s housed in a separate mansion and I always felt there not as in a library but as in someone’s place, someone who adores books to an extreme point : ) And it turned out I was not wrong in my perception!

St Petersburg Public Library

The history of this building is also as long as that of St Petersburg as its original part was built in the 18th century. I will not tell you all of it as it is rather complicated and contains so many details on so many owners that even our guide got sometimes mixed up! It was built back when the city was so tiny that the Fontanka River, now crossing the most central and historic part of the city, used to be the border after which the dachas of the courts-men started. That’s why the mansion doesn’t have an official entrance from the river – there was no embankment back then and the only way to get home was to jump on a boat! : )

St Petersburg Public Library

So once you enter through the gates, a later addition to this baroque building, you see a yard with 3 chestnut trees. These trees were planted by the last owner of the mansion a hundred years ago. They survived the revolution, the Blockade and the 90s.

St Petersburg Public Library

Here’s the entrance to the building. It used to have only 1 floor and was way narrower than it is now. Let’s get inside quick before we miss the beginning of the guided tour with the library’s employee!

St Petersburg Public Library

Shame on me, I used to come here pretty often during my student years but it never occurred to me that such a beautifully decorated place MUST have a long and complicated story…

St Petersburg Public Library

The guide said that the meander grate was added later on, as in the beginning the staircase that runs on both sides to the second (or rather first) floor had no railing at all. And the women coming to the balls all dressed up in crinolines had to wait till a gallant gentleman would help them up to the ballroom : )

St Petersburg Public Library

The first thing a lady and a gentleman coming up the stairs would see – if we imagine ourselves not in the public libraries but in the mansion a hundred years ago – would be the dining room. It’s a half-circle from one side and rectangular from the other room with tall windows and lots of light.

St Petersburg Public Library

It was added later, above the entrance (see the photo above) and is now one of the coziest libraries ever, opened and sustained by the descendants of the owners, the Galitsin family. It has books in English but you can only read them on the spot. But what a gorgeous place to read!

St Petersburg Public Library

The guide said that the family mostly gather documents on the recent history of Russia, but to tell you the truth, I have never visited this section of the library except for a day when there was an exhibition… By the way, the walls of the library were covered with photos of the Orthodox churches in Cyprus, destructed or transformed into mosques. So while we had some free time I managed to read a bit in Greek too =) The next spot is the beginning of the suite of rooms – the White Hall. With a cat, of course! Called Masha :) Just like visiting someone’s home, I told you!

St Petersburg Public Library

The hall is used for the lectures and exhibitions now but it used to be the ballroom. The guide showed us some old pictures and photos where a huge crowd would gather in this rather small room, also sitting on chairs and listen to some concert.

St Petersburg Public Library

Wow, just noticed the birds in the decoration around the chandelier (not the original but still nice)! Thanks to the loyal servants who stayed in the mansion after the owners left during the revolution, the building was not broken into and looted as many would be. You see, they were really loyal and believed that in a couple of years there will be the good ol’ life again, with the emperor and the aristocracy coming back to their capital city. So they guarded the mansion and tried to gain time as long as it was possible by suggesting to open a museum of the objects from the old regime here. They succeeded and the museum was open. It later moved to other places (I visited the museum‘s latest home in summer) but at least some precious objects and decorations were safe!

St Petersburg Public Library

The winter view from the windows, onto the frozen Fontanka river and the guy who was playing hockey all along on the ice. When you look at the pictures and photos of the years up to 1960s I suppose, you can see that the rivers and canals in the city were usually occupied by personal boats, boats that were used as storage room and in winter – with people crossing or skating there. There’s now a regularized parking procedure for the boats and the gradual process of forgetting that the river can serve as something else apart from being another place to get stuck in the traffic jam.

St Petersburg Public Library

Meanwhile we’ve moved to the next room, a smaller one with a very intricate ceiling. One really has to lift one’s head up to see all the details of the decoration. The guide said that during one apparently veeery interesting meeting she managed to spot every single butterfly and she said there was not any that would be completely identical to the others!

St Petersburg Public Library

I’m glad that the library has money to keep such an old and beautiful place. They even ordered windows like those which used to be there before (no original window would have survived the exhaust fumes coming from the embankment!).

St Petersburg Public Library

Our next stop was in the – now – multimedia room. Is that that similar to the place you usually watch your movies? : ) The guide explained that this room might as well served as a small in-house church with the rounded altar and columns. The pictures on the ceiling show how another possession of the last owners used to look like. Well, before the new regime came, you know.

St Petersburg Public Library

The room that ‘finishes’ the circle of rooms is this one, with great photos of the most charismatic facades in St Petersburg. A very good idea they had with this shape! The room is oval by the way.

St Petersburg Public Library

And it has yet another chandelier, which I tried to focus on with my phone and got this:

St Petersburg Public Library

Our last stop in that building was this ‘absolute library’ as I would call it. Also a reading room, there were two guys sitting there, hm, what a place to find guys though!

St Petersburg Public Library

And a dark version of the same part:

St Petersburg Public Library

This part of the library was supposed to be a library, so the interior has been preserved. It’s all covered and made with wood, with the second floor where you can get (in theory, but I should try it! there are some veeery old books in that bookcase above the clock) using this spiral staircase:

St Petersburg Public Library

I was trying to picture the chandelier from all the angles, it’s original and it is just marvelous – with all my love for simple things!

St Petersburg Public Library

Yes, the lamps are very old-school there :) The PC screen on the right spoil this dark version of the photo, but anyway, you can get the idea of how this wooden library looks like!

St Petersburg Public Library

And just to complement all the other things, there’s this stool and the carpet :)

St Petersburg Public Library

The benefit of an excursion in a place like this mansion is that everything’s limited to one story (that has multiple chapters of course!) and you can feel somewhat closer to it, as you’re more concentrated than in a huge museum like Hermitage, for example. You can savour the details and get to know the place better. And get to all those hidden corners you would love to see like the library’s storage room!

St Petersburg Public Library

And although I was the only representative of a (waaaay) younger generation of St Petersburg citizens in that small group of visitors, I think I even enjoyed it better. I felt a little bit like when I was in Strasbourg and went to all the free cultural events (the thing which I really appreciated and enjoyed while living there), so often being the only foreigner and the only young person in the group. But then I went to such weird places no one is allowed to enter, like coming almost face to face with the enormous rose window of Strasbourg Cathedral, cautiously looking out from some hidden door with no barriers (imagine the height!).

St Petersburg Public Library

So after we spent some hours in the mansion, we continued on to the ‘main’ building of the library with the books in Russian (the next on the embankment, closer to Nevsky Avenue). These decorations on the facade were reconstructed quite recently and are an imitation of the old Moscow style. You see, it used to be… a representative ‘office’ (podvorye in Russian) of the Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra, the famous monastery near Moscow. You see, the monasteries used to have this sort of ‘branches’ in the cities (especially in the capital!) to raise money, to house visiting church-people and also gain some money (the monastery had a garden).

St Petersburg Public Library

This red-brick building was the latest addition to the monastery. I also learnt that Nikolas the Second, our last emperor, used to love the dark red colour and even had Hermitage (the Winter Palace, I mean) painted in dark red! Can you imagine this in red?! But now, looking at the old though black-and-white photos and scarce video footage I do notice it’s not the pale white and green we’re used to now! Probably that’s why we have so many red-brick buildings in Kolpino too, they are of the same period.

St Petersburg Public Library

I NEVER thought I was in a church when searching for a book from the list of our lectures on Russian literature at the University! That was the church… With a marble iconostasis lost for ever. Now there are racks and racks of books. Well, certainly not the worst purpose a church might have served during the Soviet times (and still serves). The library bears the name of Mayakovsky, by the way, the famous Russian-Soviet poet with his rebellious poems and the urge to destroy everything and never care about the future. I don’t like him : (

  St Petersburg Public Library

Just an example of blind walls that you can find in St Petersburg. Just try to get into the backyard and you will see! This brick wall is actually the ‘behind’ of the sophisticated Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace which is on Nevsky Avenue. Also an example of exterior elevators. I haven’t tried riding one yet!

St Petersburg Public Library

The guide said that the church had some pretty serious claims on this library’s building but then it was proved that almost NOTHING was left there from the monastery. Except for two wooden doors that an employee secretly transferred to his garage while the rest of the interior was looted. He then returned the doors back when the regimes changed again :) Many thanks to the library and its employees! And also for this great idea to make guided tours. The guide said she might show us the pre-Revolution (yep, we still use this point of reference!) book funds. Must be a true treasure!

What can be better than borrowing books on St Petersburg and buying postcards with the city views after such a visit to the library :)

By the way, there’s another splendid St Petersburg mansion where I happened to work once, take a look at its interior here.

Adding this post to my St Petersburg series.

Coming soon – food!

G.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 222 other followers

%d bloggers like this: