sweet

Peanut Butter Post

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

I wanted to make a birthday cake for my Grandpa and one of the recipes recently added to my collection required peanut butter. This thing is somehow not popular in Russia (I’m no fan either), costs a lot and can be found only in a limited number of stores. So I naturally thought, why not make my own? (experiments, here we go!)

Homemade Peanut Butter

What you see here is not exactly peanut butter but something reminding me of something we call shcherbet in Russia (contrary to the classic sharbat this one is not liquid but rather thick like halva, being a mixture of cream (milk), fruits and nuts, one of those Turkish delights we love here in Russia). You see, my blender is a pretty sissy one and just wouldn’t surmount so many peanuts, poor thing! So I ended up with lots of distinctive bits of nuts instead of a proper paste. When I mixed the nuts with the rest of the ingredients and I popped it into the fridge it became even less spreadable. But it worked just fine when it was processed for the cake frosting (see further)!

Homemade Peanut Butter

1 year agoHow to Make Silky Cream Cheese at Home

2 years agoTwo Spinach Pies and Spinach…Rice

3 years agoRye Malt Bread, Two Versions

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

Homemade Peanut Butter adapted from www.thekitchn.com will make more than a cup of thick chunky nutty treat – with all-natural ingredients! Visit the link to get the entire recipes. My changes and remarks:

I used less salt and more nuts, almost burning them while roasting as I forgot them in the oven (hence the deep brown colour). I added sunflower oil and honey as a sweetener but did not add any extras.

When I realized my butter was a tad too thick for butter I tried adding some more oil and honey but that wouldn’t help much. You just need a sturdy blender!

Remarks: You might want to keep your friends away while you’re making this or you might run out of roasted peanuts before they make it to the blender! 🙂 The author of the recipe suggests using various kinds of nuts and considering different extras like cinnamon, for example. You can also skip the roasting part or leave some nuts only just roughly ground for a chunkier peanut butter.

Result: Super chunky and super peanutty 🙂 Of course everything will depend on the blender – you might end up with a much finer paste than what I had. After some time in the fridge my ‘butter’ was so thick I could break it into bits so I also used it for the decoration:

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

Ah yes, let’s turn to the cake recipe now:

Reese’s Dark Chocolate Cake adapted from www.thenovicechefblog.com will make a very soft & rich deep-dark cake with unusual peanut frosting. I doubled the recipe to have a two-layer cake. Visit the original website for the entire recipe. My changes and remarks:

I used less butter although I doubled the recipe and still got quite a lot of frosting. However, I increased the amount of peanut butter and decreased the powdered sugar. I skipped the chocolate glaze part decorating the top with bits of peanut butter instead. 

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

Remarks: The chocolate cake is actually so super soft that it almost fell apart when I was transferring both layers from the pan. So if you choose to make a double recipe and bake the whole bunk in one pan to later cut it in two, i wouldn’t suggest this. Also, while making the batter I was careless enough to add the egg while the mixture was quite hot which almost resulted in a poached egg 🙂 Be careful! And yes, keep the cake in the fridge!

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

Result: At the first bite the cake appears quite light and fluffy but then the peanut frosting sinks in and you realize that this is quite a substantial cake after all! I think that this cake was pretty uncommon in its taste thanks to the peanut flavour. And although I’m no fan of peanut butter or buttercream, I think this cake was quite a success!

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

These photos feature the celebrated tea set of my Granny with my favourite teaspoons made in Leningrad. The teaspoons might as well been produced in the 1980s as the design rarely changed once it was approved in the USSR, but they do look very 1960s with their black and white pattern!

Reese's Dark Chocolate Cake

The peanut frosting leftovers were used in this improvised peanut cake. Since the frosting was essentially a mixture of butter, sugar and nuts, I added some flour, baking powder, 2 eggs and milk. I had a limited amount of time, so had to use the fan option of my oven hence the weird shape of the cake:

improvised peanut cake
This post goes to the Chocolate and the Sweet recipe collection.

G.

cookies · on USSR / Russia · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Taste from Childhood: Nutshells with Condensed Milk

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

From all the recipes I’ve tried over this long winter break that we officially have in Russia (the cold has made me stay at home most of the time) I’ve picked this Soviet recipe as the first post in the newly arrived 2016, another childhood sweet treat like Zemelakh cookies. Back in 2013 I made a post featuring a selection of Soviet kitchen utensils that are mostly out of circulation now. Among these were the aluminum molds to make walnut-like cookies filled with condensed milk. They look like this:

nut molds

My friend came along with her batch of walnut molds and two cans of sweetened condensed milk. Though three years older than our set of molds, her recipe is exactly the same (in the best Soviet traditions) and it comes on a gloriously Soviet-design packaging. If you take a look at the back of this recipe made by a Voronezh industrial machine plant (!), you will find out that it was printed on a recycled leftover packaging from a canning plant in Orel! 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

To make the walnut-like cookies even taste like walnuts, you can fill them according to the recipe (3 egg whites beaten with a cup of sugar until thick and then mixed with 1.5 cups of ground walnuts). Our choice that evening was caramelised sweetened condensed milk. And yes, you will need an entire evening to make all the cookies from the required 3 cups of flour with the limited amount of molds! 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

1 year ago – Winter Fairy Tale and Semolina Bread

2 years ago – Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee and Cakes

3 years ago – Join the Soviet New Year Table

4 years ago – Sourdough Breads

Nutshells Filled with Caramelised Sweetened Condensed Milk or Орешки со сгущенкой (Oreshki so sgushchenkoj) translated and adapted from a 1982 packaging of the nut molds will make a mountain of small nut-like cookies willed with the sweety-sweet condensed milk (teeth, beware!). If you don’t have the molds, try using madelaine cookie molds instead.

Ingredients

for the dough:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 200 g margarine – we used about 150 g butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar – you really don’t need even that much as the filling is super sweet
  • 3 egg yolks – save the whites for some souffle, I made banana souffle
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt – we added just a pinch + some vanilla extract

for the filling:

  • about 3 cans of caramelised condensed milk or any other thick substance you prefer
  • or the original suggestion: 3 egg whites beaten with a cup of sugar until thick and mixed with 1.5 cups of ground walnuts

Procedure

We reversed the original procedure a bit, first beating the egg yolks with sugar until pale, then adding the softened butter and a pinch of salt and vanilla. Then we mixed in a third of the flour, then added a tiny bit of vinegar to the soda and poured the bubbly soda into the mixture. The 3 cups of flour were quite a lot for the decreased amount of butter that we used, so the dough ended up quite hard and not very easy to roll out. But if you dare using the whole 200 g of butter you will probably avoid this dryness.

Leave the dough covered in the fridge (original suggestion – somewhere cold) for 15-20 minutes and then roll it out into a thin sheet (we did it in portions). Cut the dough with the same molds and press the dough into the molds (we didn’t grease them as the butter in the dough will mdo the job). Here you will understand if you rolled the dough too thick or too thin – you should be able to cover the entire mold from the inside with the dough. The recipe suggests cutting the overhanging dough with ‘a sharp knife’ but you can also do it with your fingers (the overhanging dough will only appear if you cut the dough using a round cutter).

Place the molds on a baking sheet ‘like saucers’ (the dough side up) and bake (we guessed 175’C would be fine) for about 15-20 minutes until the dough starts browning. Be careful not to overbake! Leave the molds to cool a bit and then take the shells out. Fill both shells and bring them together. Enjoy!

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

Remarks: The caramelised condensed milk filling is super sweet as you can imagine. So if you want a lighter version I would suggest using some  nut butter or super-thick jam – or the original walnut filling. And if you do run out of filling (like we did with the whole two cans of condensed milk) and you realise it soon enough before you make another batch of nut shells, try using the dough for some individual tartlets filled with whatever you like (I had some thick cranberry jam). Well, at least even a small tartlet will use up more dough than a nutshell will!

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

Result: ‘A taste from childhood‘ was the verdict of my friend’s parents (the recipe makes such a mass of these nuts that you can feed three families with no problems :). These nuts are super-sweet and addictive. Best consumed with lots of tea to wash down all the thick condensed milk filling. There are various ways to enjoy these cookies – some people (kids) like licking out all the filling first and then eating the chewy shells, some prefer biting and some will just swallow the entire piece 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

The caramelised and regular condensed milk is definitely a taste from childhood. The caramelised version is particularly often used in many industrially made foods like syrok (a fatty cream cheese treat in chocolate glaze), layer cakes, cookies and biscuit rolls. A housewife in USSR would boil a whole can of sweetened condensed milk and produce the caramelised version at home, as only the un-boiled version existed (with such editions as sweetened condensed milk with chicory or sweetened condensed milk with cocoa / coffee). Some of these home experiences ended up on the kitchen door, floor and all over the place too 🙂

Fake Nuts Filled with Condensed Milk

As yo can see in this photo we had quite a lot of shells left unfilled – I didn’t witness what happened to them later but I guess they just served as a ‘base’ for the jam or something. I was actually glad we ran out of filling cause the procedure is quite tiresome with such a mass of dough! A recipe for a tireless Soviet housewife who knows how to make a treat out of the scarce ingredients 🙂

This recipe goes to my Soviet/Russian and Sweet recipe collections.

G.

cookies · sweet

Soft Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate

Chez moi interior design school, by Sergey Kozienko

Back in April I started baking for my sister’s friend’s interior design workshops. Natasha opened Chez moi interior design school for non-professionals following her own passion towards home design. Hers is the first school of the kind in St Petersburg. So here’s my first ‘commercial’ double batch of muffins and cookies pictured by Sergey Kozienko.

Chez moi interior design school, by Sergey Kozienko

That day the participants learnt how to lay out and decorate the table with the delicate white flowers and rough tree bark. The overall feeling is that of spring 100%! I did not attend the seminar but I was told the guests thoroughly enjoyed the dessert too! 🙂 Such a partnership makes me look at my baking from a completely different point of view! I’ve been giving baked goods as gifts, even swapping bread for other things, feeding guests at friends’ birthday parties… But not completely unknown people with the tastes and preferences I totally ignore.

Chez moi interior design school, by Sergey Kozienko

Since that very first collaboration with Natasha back in April I’ve been asked to bake again the oatmeal cookies that proved to be particularly popular. I’ve also baked them for our family. I’m sharing the recipe with you!

Soft Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate from gastronom.ru

A year ago – Petits pains sans pétrissage and Stand-By Bread

Two years ago – Greek Briam with Dannish Rye Rolls

Three years ago – Midsummer’s Black Currant Rhubarb Cake

Soft Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate (Myagkoye ovsyanoye pechenye s shokoladom) translated and adapted from gastronom.ru will make chewy not over sweet cookies. Best eaten chilled with hot tea! ATTENTION: the cookie dough requires a 4-6 hour rest in the fridge! See my remarks in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour – I also tried adding some oat flour once (tolokno)
  • 1.5 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar – I normally use a mixture of regular + brown sugar and add less
  • 50 g butter, soft
  • 180 g dark 60-70% chocolate – I used less
  • half of vanilla bean – I used artificial vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon and / or grated orange zest – I used both
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Procedure:

First cream butter with sugar, then add eggs and beat well with a mixer. Cut a vanilla bean and add the seeds to the mixture, beat well again. Coarsely grate the chocolate. Sift the flour with the baking powder and cinnamon (if using grated zest, add it first to the butter + sugar mixture) and then add it to the butter + sugar mixture. Mix well. Gradually add the oats, mixing well. Add the chocolate last (carefully – it melts!), mix the dough but do not knead. The dough should be thick but crumbly, easily forming into balls. If it’s too sticky, add some more flour.

Cover the dough with a cling film and chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours (I gave the dough an overnight rest in the fridge before baking them in the morning). Grease a large baking sheet or line it with parchment paper (I prefer the second). Make balls of about 2–3 cm across, place them apart on the baking sheet and flatten a bit. Bake in the pre-heated 180 °С oven on the middle rack until the cookies just about begin to brown on the edges and you can smell vanilla and chocolate, for about 10–12 minutes. Don’t be misled by the cookies looking rather soft – they will harden once they are out of the oven. Cool thoroughly before removing from the baking sheet.

Soft Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate from gastronom.ru

Remarks: You can experiment with various sizes – for the workshops I preferred to make them large (and also double the recipe) but smaller cookies will bake even faster. The smaller the oats you use, the more delicate these cookies get. Thanks to the long chilling of the dough these cookies do not spread out much. If you prefer to have larger chunks of chocolate in your cookies, you can grate half of it and roughly chop the rest. And try not to omit the orange zest – it adds extra flavour!

Result: I think what makes these cookies taste different is that they are made with pretty small-scale ingredients. I mean, oats are tiny, chocolate (and zest) is grated. The result is a delicate combination of the flavours. And what’s more, these chewy cookies require just 50 g butter, so it’s worth the effort 🙂

Country Applesauce Muffins from www.williams-sonoma.com
Country Applesauce Muffins

You can also check out these muffins from applesauce that were already featured on my blog. I used leftover apple puree for these muffins – no need to add lots of sugar! And they were also enjoyed by the guests 🙂

Adding this post to my Sweet, Chocolate and Russian recipe collections.

First three photos by Sergey Kozienko for Chez moi interior design school for non-professionals.

G.

leftovers · sweet

Sipping at Spring with Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Spring at Dacha

A somewhat belated but already traditional spring-at-our-dacha post. Spring-cleaning and pillow-beating! What else can be a clearer indication of the coming of spring than the flocks of dacha-people heading from the city in all directions, towards their summer houses to open the new season?

Spring at Dacha

Here in St Petersburg, the period of kilometer-long traffic jams on Friday night has begun. It seems every St Petersburgeois (?) has a dacha, but that’s a misinterpretation of the situation. It’s just that everybody has a friend or a relative who owns one 🙂 I don’t think they all run there to help with the spring-cleaning or admiring the almond tree in blossom (see below), it’s mostly for more trivial things like barbecue (shashliki) or fishing.

Spring at Dacha

Let’s all take in spring, sip by sip, adding to the pictures the birds singing and the sun appearing and disappearing in its St-Petersburg-spring-fashion:

Spring at Dacha

The velvety red of the tulip:

Spring at Dacha

And – ta-da-dam – apple trees in blossom!

Spring at Dacha

As we know quite well from the last year’s experience, that might as well result in hundreds of kilograms of apples

Spring at Dacha

with apple trees falling down under the disproportionate weight and apples surviving until March!

Spring at Dacha

New life springs up from something looking rather dead than alive:

Spring at Dacha

The birch tree is in its fresh-green state, absolutely love it!

Spring at Dacha

And now on to a rather boozy recipe I’ve tried recently. We had some leftover red wine from my Dad’s birthday and so I could finally make the chocolate cake recipe I’ve been meaning to make for some years.

Chocolate Red Wine Cake from blog.lemonpi.net

A year ago – Magic Apple Orchard

Two years ago – Ecco Una Collezione Italiana

Three years ago – Koulouria of Thessaloniki

Chocolate Red Wine Cake adapted from blog.lemonpi.net will make a boozy, very soft and syrupy cake with a distinct wine aroma. For the original recipe visit the link.

My changes: used ginger instead of cloves and regular granulated sugar for the soaking.

Remarks: I baked my cake in a small glass pan instead of a bundt tin, in which I also soaked it in wine. I didn’t glaze the cake, just decorated it with some grated chocolate which very quickly became soft and boozy too 🙂

Chocolate Red Wine Cake from blog.lemonpi.net

Result: Soft and moist to the point of being almost liquid, this cake not only baked with but also soaked in red wine, is not for car-drivers for sure 🙂 As far as the taste goes, this cake is not oversweet, nor is it especially tasty. But if you want something else than a usual chocolate cake, this is it.

Chocolate Red Wine Cake from blog.lemonpi.net

Adding this to my Chocolate, Sweet and Leftover recipe collections.

G.

leftovers · no-dough · vegetarian

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.

Greek recipe · leftovers · vegetarian

While Zucchini Are in Season…

While zucchini / courgettes are in season (and yes, it’s already August!), here are some ideas you could try to make a nice vegetarian lunch or dinner. Ideas rather than recipes as surely you can adapt them to the veggie in season – these ideas are very flexible. And moreover three of these 4 recipes are actually improvisations – using leftovers. Anyway, summer is just a perfect season for vegetarians (and a cheaper season too) and there’s just no excuse for missing all these fresh vegetables.

Let’s start from a Greek recipe I’ve made in the Spartan conditions of our dacha : )

Haniotiko Boureki from www.kalofagas.ca

A year ago – Italian Delicacies a la Russe

Two years ago – Fruit Post and Vegetable Post

Haniotiko Boureki (or Zucchini and Potato Bake / Pie from Crete) adapted from www.kalofagas.ca will make a really soft veggie dish with a super tasty cheese crust. See the website for the original recipe.

My changes: Well, they were quite a few to say the least. Instead of flour I used oat bran (not your common choice…) and as a Feta substitute this time I had some super salty white brined Chanakh cheese from Armenia (well, I hope so). I was lazy about two things in the recipe – picking up fresh mint from the garden (too hot outside!) and peeling potatoes. So I used dried basil and… no potatoes instead. As there were no sesame seeds at hand (and I had to take almost all the non-dacha ingredients with me, of course), I just grated some cheese on top – and that was a success! There was no foil at my dacha either, but this cheese created a real crust on top.

Haniotiko Boureki from www.kalofagas.ca

Remarks: The zucchini will produce a lot of liquid while baking so you might want to ‘drain’ your dish before serving. Don’t ask me if I discard the liquid. No, I don’t!

Result: The still crunchy zucchini and that cheese crust is a great combination, especially with lots of salty cheese in the middle. The super salty Chanakh cheese was quite decently salty once baked – I guess due to all the milk and almost neutral ricotta that it goes with.  This dish reminded me of Χανιώτικο μπουρέκι (Courgette and Potato Boureki or pie from Chania, Crete) I made back in July 2012 and was somewhat similar to a recently tried Kolokithoboureko or Greek Zucchini Cheese Pie which I also lightened up by skipping the potatoes. I guess that makes a more summer-y version to this dish!

***

The next recipe, Zucchini Rye Pizza from Leftover Sourdough – was a pure improvisation with what was left from the above recipe. I also had to refresh my sourdough culture and since my freezer is already full of bread, I had to find another use for the leftover sourdough. So here we go, a sourdough rye pizza in just about no time! No kneading, no rising, no S&Fs if you know what I mean =)

Zucchini Rye Pizza from Leftover Sourdough

What I did was to mix my rye sourdough culture (some tablespoons) with some all purpose flour and a bit of water. That was my crust. For the topping I had some zucchini, spring onions and Chanakh cheese which I just crumbled on top. And that’s it! A Northern version of a pizza it is : ) A bit rubbery (the crust) but still nice when warm.

Zucchini Rye Pizza from Leftover Sourdough

***

Then comes Zucchini and Couscous Cheesy Bake which was another improvisation using the stuff from the fridge. These were: onions, leftover cooked couscous, herbs, some tomato sauce, zucchini of course and cheese – soft white and regular hard. I made several layers, starting with a zucchini layer and going up building this:

zucchini and couscous cheesy bake

The only problem, I overused the fan option of the oven and the dish got dry a bit. But again – an easy way to use up your lunch leftovers!

***

baked stuffed zucchini and aubergines

And here’s the last idea: Baked Stuffed Zucchini and Aubergines which shows I can sometimes be less lazy if I want to. So at first I just wanted to bake some aubergines and zucchini, so I cleaned and halved them, placed on baking paper and used the fan option for some minutes and then just baked them. Then there was an idea to make stuffed veggies, which in the end made me scrape the flesh out of both zucchini and aubergines, mix it (looks like someone’s brains…) with mozzarella, herbs, tomato sauce and LOTS of fresh garlic from our dacha. I seasoned the stuffing with lots of things and filled the veggies. I also grated some hard cheese on top + sprinkled with sesame seeds. More baking and some minutes with the fan on – and they were ready!

baked stuffed zucchini and aubergines

The zucchini version were sweeter than the aubergine one although both had the same stuffing. But I liked them! I guess the trick in the baked stuffed veggies is to avoid scraping them down to the bottom – this way you will leave some of the flesh on (oh my god) and the veggie ‘boats’ won’t get too dry or hard to swallow. Another dish that you could try – and this time with a recipe – is Baked Aubergine and Courgettes Stuffed with Roast Pumpkin.

baked stuffed zucchini and aubergines

So, enjoy! And leave some space for improvisation in your life : )

Again there’s a long queue of posts still in drafts… I’m trying!

G.

St Petersburg · sweet

Midsummer Roses in Pavlovsk and Almond Puff

Rose

It’s already sort of a tradition to celebrate mid-summer with a post here on my blog: Midsummer’s Black Currant Rhubarb Cake in 2012 and Midsummer Berry Smoothie last year. St Pete has been enjoying glorious summer days for almost a week now, hot and windy and sometimes super-hot and super-windy. This is what I call July in St Petersburg! I bet the city comes across as a completely different place from what one could infer during those never-ending rainy days (weeks). Even the rainy storm yesterday was just OK after a hot and humid day. Everything is relative…

Let’s plunge into rose & white colours of this time of the year.

Rose

This rose is from our dacha, actually, as is this lupin flower:

Lupin

Strawberries this summer enjoyed a week-ful of sun so they were surprisingly sweet!

Strawberry

The same rose several days later:

Rose

And here we’re again in Pavlovsk – while my dad was again taking photos of girls in traditional Russian dresses (see photos here) I was enjoying sun and beautiful nature. The rose garden there is just splendid!

Rose

Cannot choose the best photos so here are all of them:

Rose

I cannot say that I’m particularly into roses but…

IMG_0060

When they are just there on the flower bed and not in a bouquet – I love them!

Rose

Rose roses:

Roses

And then I moved closer to the Palace to take some pics while waltzing to Johan Strauss music coming from a crossroads where (as I heard) a bunch of couples (mostly Grannies) were dancing and apparently did not mind the cars and buses circling around. I went closer to see them dance but then a police car arrived and the music ceased playing : (

Alexander Palace, Pavlovsk

Maria Fedorovna’s BIG initials on top of the Alexander Palace in Pavlovsk (she was the wife of Pavel)

Alexander Palace, Pavlovsk

A flower… bath? =)

Pavlovsk Park

And here’s how to turn an ugly outside cafe into a pretty one:

Pavlovsk Park

Jasmin is still in blossom:

IMG_0049

Here:

Jasmin

Pavlovsk is a place for long strolls in romantically (and actually deliberately) decadent entourage:

Pavlovsk Park

    ***

Although I promised some bread in my next post (and I still do!), here is a sweet treat to celebrate the mid summer day-2014 and the great weather we’re having here:

Almond Puff Loaf from www.kingarthurflour.com

And its second version:

Almond Puff Loaf from www.kingarthurflour.com

A year ago – Midsummer Berry Smoothie

Two years ago – Midsummer’s Black Currant Rhubarb Cake

Almond Puff Loaf adapted from www.kingarthurflour.com will make a real puffed up huge éclair (if you’re lucky) topped with jam – ad there’s even a third layer which is kind of shortcrust-like. Sounds weird? Well, try it! Follow the link to get detailed instructions.

My changes:

I  didn’t add salt although was using unsalted butter. And even though the recipe is called Almond Puff Loaf, I used vanilla instead of almond extract.

As for the topping I chose two different jams -sea-buckthorn and cherry jam. My almonds (sorry, I’m too lazy!) were just toasted and kind of sliced with a knife.

I didn’t use vanilla for the glaze which I made with water and not milk.

Almond Puff Loaf from www.kingarthurflour.com

Remarks: My advice is to better make them thinner – don’t hesitate to really spread both the layers as thin as the recipe says, and also spend as much time on the procedure as is necessary – it’s worth it! The procedure looks really complicated but you’ll see that it’s not – you just need to go through the stages as neatly as possible and the result will be rewarding! And yes, the puffing up in the oven is impressive – but unfortunately the layer will sink as soon as you take it out to cool down.

Almond Puff Loaf from www.kingarthurflour.com

Result: This jam topping on this éclair-like + a shortcrust-like hmmmm cake is quite a discovery! I was thinking of making éclairs recently but was too lazy. So this recipe just turned out to be a huge éclair – I found it out only when I was actually cooking the batter on the stove! Although I spread my puff layer too thick on top of the shortcrust for them to … puff up nicely without sinking into a creamy-like layer, I think the Puffs were a success. Father said they reminded him of some childhood treats. Anyway, this is not your muffin or pound cake (although I do love them), this is something special for you midsummer days.

Almond Puff Loaf from www.kingarthurflour.com

And this is a crazy summer rain a couple of days ago – with a typical 1960s Soviet house as a background:

Crazy rain

Bread. Next post. Promise.

G.

on USSR / Russia · St Petersburg · sweet · traditional Russian recipe

Girls in Kokoshnik and Russian Bird Cherry Cake

A short walk in Pavlovsk Park (see how it looked like in spring) with my parents yesterdayturned out to be a prolonged photo session with some easy-going Russian girls all dressed up in traditional Russian costumes and some of them wearing kokoshnik – when I was just a little girl, I would die for one! A kokoshnik is a traditional head decoration piece worn by young women. And I craved for one! Especially after visiting the Russian Museum and getting all those Vasnetsov‘s and alike fairy tale pictures in my head (like this one – I wanted to become a tsarevna, apparently). My favorite one was this one of the Swan Lady by another Russian artist Vrubel. With a kokoshnik of course. More on that further on.

Pavlovsk Park

Yesterday was almost the only day over the last weeks when there was actually NO rain (guess what? It’s raining today after some nice sunny weather…). And we jumped at the occasion, heading on to Pavlovsk, a place we know almost by heart. Each walk there is revisiting the same places and yet each time getting this satisfying feeling of having stayed a bit with nature. Ha, what nature with all these tourists and pavilions, you might ask? Well, there is some nature!

Pavlovsk Park

Here is a bit of nature for you – a lovely docile black horse with its acrobatic ‘owner’, gathering hay. The guy would mount the hay and tread it with his legs – to the amusement of the crowd standing on top of the royal palace’s stairs. The Italian tourists were sighing, che splendore! I would call it a pastoral. Just like travelling back in time to some dvoryanskoye imeniye (a Russian nobleman’s estate), with a mixture of rural life and some classical pavilions built to amaze guests (ah those eccentric and usually so inefficient in managing their money Russian noblemen, comprehensively portrayed by Chekhov for example).

Pavlovsk Park

The stairs, lions and flowers of the nobleman’s part of the park

Pavlovsk Park

Zoom on the flowers:

Pavlovsk Park

And back to the most typical Russian tree – the birch, always compared to a young beautiful girl in Russian folklore and traditional songs.

Pavlovsk Park

And here are some Russian girls in person! In full attire. There’s this talented woman, Marina Shadenkova, who once created a traditional Russian costume for herself just for fun – and then she just couldn’t stop and has some 20 (or was it more?) of them at home. This was an outing with some easy-going Russian girls and my father got a chance to make some great photos. And so our walk got suddenly prolonged : ) I was particularly admiring the astonishing painstaking bead decorations on the kokoshnik and the way the girls looked so natural in these long forgotten women dresses. It’s funny that just a day earlier I was looking at the photos of me wearing a traditional sarafan (kind of long sleeveless dress) at a school theme party back in 1998!

Pavlovsk Park

The traditional Russian costumes from left to right: ‘Love’, then there’s ‘Cranberry’, ‘Scarlet Flower’ (named after a fairy tale, which is a Russian interpretation of the more famous Beauty and the Beast) and finally ‘Summer’. Even the boots are tailor-made. The girls have this white handkerchief attached to a ring (and when you dance traditional Russian dances you wave the hand with the handkerchief according to the music). The braids are also decorated and there is usually a lot attached to its tail. The pink dress has loooong sleeves (which is actually a blouse), worn in the days of leisure (you can’t work wearing such long sleeves, hence a Russian saying – to work with sleeves down, which means, well, work really bad). Underneath the dress (!) there are two skirts and the slimmer the girl the more skirts she will need to wear. The forehead used to be covered, either with a shawl or this elaborate bead decoration. The Summer costume is that of a village girl with a wreath (venok) instead of a kokoshnik. And you will be right if you think all these colours and patterns of the dresses could tell a lot for those who lived some 3-5 centuries ago!

***

At first I wanted to include a recipe of a very successful sheep-shape sourdough recipe in this post but then I remembered there was this traditional Russian multilayer cake I nearly forgot about with all the rest of the recipes and other events of my life. The cake goes well with some Russian nature and who else would serve it to you on a large plate with a traditional embroidered linen towel rather than a Russian beauty in kokoshnik?

Cheryomushka Cake

No, this is not chocolate or cocoa or coffee. No, there are no nuts inside. I made this recipe back in April when I returned from my icy trip to Siberia. It was in Novosibirsk in a posh gourmet supermarket that I found ground bird cherry and thought of this cake which my Mom once told me about – she ate it when she was little, somewhere in the Southern part of Russia. The cake is called Cheryomushka (a diminutive for bird cherry).

The bird cherry bird cherry blossom usually brings cold weather in spring (it’s one of our traditional primeta – weather token) and this was almost all I knew about it. But actually you can grind the dried fruits and use the powder when making dough, pie filling, Siberian small pies and beverages. They say the fruits contain a lot of phytoncides too. We call the tree cheryomukha and it rarely brought any food images to my mind when I pronounced the word. But now it does.

Cheryomushka Cake

A year ago – Coffee Cheesecake and Cinnamon Cake from Asia Minor

Two years ago – Patatopita, Hortopita and… Kolokithotiropita!

Bird Cherry Cake or Tort Cheryomushka adapted and translated from www.trapeza.su (the producer of ground bird cherry I bought) will make a traditional Russian sweet treat which is exotic even for a Russian : ) ATTENTION: you will definitely find it hard getting ground bird cherry outside Russia – and in Russian either. My remarks are in italics.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ground bird cherry – good luck with getting it, though…
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 100 g butter, melted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 cups sour cream (smetana) – I guess you could try cream cheese instead
  • 3 Tbs sugar (or to taste, also powdered sugar might work better)

Procedure:

Pour boiling milk over the ground bird cherry and leave for several hours (or boil it in milk and let cool – which I did). Add the egg mixed well with the sugar, then add the melted butter and the baking powder. While stirring, add the flour until the mixture resembles pancake batter (the Russian measure for this is to compare the dough with the batter for oladyi – small thick Russian pancakes, paradoxically known in France, for example, as blini, which is a different product : ), mix everything well. Line a pan with baking paper and grease it. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 200 °С. Let cool, cut in two layers.

Beat sour cream with sugar and spread over the first layer. Top with the second layer. Decorate with fresh or preserved berries.

Result: The taste is weird, almost almond-like but really hard to distinguish and explain unless you try it yourself. You can tell those were hard dried fruits the bird cherry ‘flour’ was made from cause if the ‘flour’ contains larger grains than you will immediately taste it between your teeth. At the same time the cake is super soft, sweet and almondy-tangy at once. With the sour cream filling the cake gets even softer with time. Already with the first bite you realize there’s nothing you could compare it from your previous your food experience. THE thing to surprise your guests! (and don’t forget the kokoshnik : )

And this is how ground bird cherry looks like – in case you were wondering:

Cheryomushka Cake

Remarks: Bird cherry flour is almost like flaxseed meal but grainier. And the flavour is different and very distinct I should say! Also when you boil it for the recipe the mixture gets almost velvety. Try ordering such a cake at a touristy restaurant in Russia or at a bakery – no way will you find it easily… Although you can try a large pharmacy as bird cherry is also an anti-inflamatory and antiseptic. But then you will have to grind it! And yes, there are still some Russians who grind their bird cherry flour themselves! And no, you cannot substitute it with flaxseed meal or almond meal, because this weird exotic bird cherry taste is the IT of the cake. Period.

It’s a pity the light was poor back in April and I have just several photos of the cake. But that was an experiment and a discovery in itself – from opening the package through boiling this velvety powder in white milk to actually tasting the cake!

G.

sweet · sweet bread

Makowiec or Poppy Seed Roll for Easter

I’ve just come back from a trip to several regions of France, which was a real escape from the thoughts and facts that I am to face right now. Will make a separate post for sure, got lots of photos and interesting details. And brought some food along too =) Oh, this gourmet country! Will miss the numerous boulangeries, patisseries and restaurants!

This post is from the end of April actually. Since I’ve got the permission of the recipe’s author to publish the English translation on my blog, here it is – a bit late, but better late than never, you know! After all, it’s been SNOWING here in St Petersburg while I was burning in the unexpectedly hot sun f the French Riviera (or Provence – Cote d’Azur). As I was leaving for my trip to France, I wanted this post to appear before the May holidays. I just guessed that when I come back I will already witness the nature in its luscious green blooming state (which I experienced 100% in Provence) and thus miss some stages of the spring process… But I was wrong, as today the trees here in St Pete are just starting to get dressed in light green colours. So let’s get back to Easter and start the spring thing all over again =)

Easter for most of us in Russia is the celebration of spring. In one of my previous posts you could get to know how we usually dye eggs for Easter in my family and in this post I will share with you another of our Easter favourites – poppy seed roll.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

This is not the recipe my mother would use though, as I’ve used another one found on the net. There’s no evident tradition in Russia to eat poppy seed rolls for Easter but in my family that was the most delicious treat you would expect to see at the Easter table. Also I remember that poppy seeds would miraculously disappear from the food shops around Easter times, so there were always some stored in the pantry.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

So, for those of you fans of poppy seeds and – consequently – who are eager to spend some time on this roll, here is the recipe translated from Italian. Originally this recipe was adapted from a Hungarian recipe of a Polish dish =) Well, a truly international cuisine is going on here.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

A year agoExperimenting with Sourdough Bread

Two years ago Sour Rye Bread to Make Your Life Sweeter followed by Peach Cheese Cake for Victory Day

Makowiec translated and adapted from beufalamode.blogspot.it will make a crunchy poppy seed roll with lots to chew on. ATTENTION: Requires time, you will have to make some preparations in advance (at least 8 hours). My remarks are in italics. Grazie, Cristina!

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 80 ml lukewarm milk
  • 1 g instant yeast
  • 35 g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • vanilla
  • lemon zest
  • pinch of salt
  • 210 g flour (the Italian source says it should be the ‘oo’ type)
  • 60 g of butter (I used sunflower oil instead)

For the filling:

  • 125 g poppy seeds (I added more)
  • 125 ml water (I added more accordingly)
  • 125 ml milk
  • 15 g sugar
  • 50 g almonds
  • 50 g raisins
  • orange zest
  • 1 egg white (I used a whole egg)
  • 35 g honey
  • 2 Tbs breadcrumbs (I did not use these)

For the sugar glaze: (I did not make it, just sprinkled some sugar…)

  • 60 g powdered sugar
  • 7 g of egg whites
  • 7 ml lemon juice

Procedure:

Place poppy seeds in a pan and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave for about 8 hours (I increased the time).

Next, add milk and cook on low heat till the liquid is completely absorbed (this took some time indeed! At first I thought this milk will never disappear but in the end it was fully absorbed). Let cool a bit.

Meanwhile make the dough. Dissolve yeast and a pinch of sugar in lukewarm milk.

Beat the egg with sugar till foamy. Add dissolved yeast, salt, vanilla, lemon zest and mix well. Gradually add the flour. Knead until the dough is no longer sticky, then add the butter cut into pieces (I substituted with oil) and knead some more. Leave to rise in a greased bowl, covered, in the fridge overnight (I increased the time).

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

Prepare the filling: Add almonds (apparently crushed), sugar, raisins, orange zest and honey to the poppy seeds. The author says that she has placed the mixture in the freezer for about half an hour and then processed finely at turbo speed. I did the same but my blender just would not process such a mixture finely, so the seeds remained almost intact. Add breadcrumbs (which I did not) to get a dense and spreadable mixture. Leave in the fridge until needed.

Once the dough has rested, roll it out on a floured board, spread the poppy seed mixture on top and roll it into a cylinder. Place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Leave covered for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180 °C.

Brush the roll with beaten egg (I used whole egg + some coarse sugar) and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool.

The author suggests that the roll is best the day after baking – especially if you glaze it with egg white beaten with powdered sugar and lemon juice – but I skipped the glaze.

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

Remarks: This recipe needs time and so I had to adjust the procedure to my possibilities. As both the seeds and the dough require an approximately overnight rest, I prepared them both at the same time.

With the egg wash (glaze) the top of the roll quickly becomes really brown so be careful and watch it ; ) Just not to ruin the entire poppy seed experiment!

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

Result: Though quite elaborate and time consuming, this is a very tasty recipe, perfect to enrich your repertoire : ) I would not claim that this is a convenient recipe – with all the required preparation and resting time and overnight rest, etc etc – but once a year, well, why not? I usually prefer non-leavened sweet treats for our family but this roll does not really taste like a leavened thing, it is quite balanced in terms of dough / filling, rather on the dry side I would say. The filling is rich and nutritious – although it’s all mixed together and blended, I gather this poppy seed thing is quite a challenge for your belly .)

Makowiec from beufalamode.blogspot.it

It’s Victory Day here in Russia today, will watch the traditional throwing-loads-of-money-into-the-air fireworks later tonight : )

G.

on USSR / Russia · traditional Russian recipe

Dying Eggs for Easter the Natural Way

Dying eggs for Easter is a tradition that has miraculously survived through the Soviet era and has successfully anchored itself in the present Russia. During the Soviet times fresh eggs were not that easy to get, so they mostly were used to decorate the festive table – I immediately associate hard-boiled eggs with winter New Year’s table (stuffed eggs), Okroshka soup in summer and Easter in spring of course. Lots of hard-boiled eggs for lots of breakfasts and dinners to come : ) So the two most popular things to make / buy for Easter in Russia are dyed eggs (try to get white eggs before Easter – impossible!) and sweet leavened cakes called kulich. People stand in long queues to get their Easter treats consecrated at the local churches and the cathedrals. The traffic gets crazy and everybody seem to be moving to or from the church clutching plastic bags loaded with kulich. Not sure if all these people are really involved with the religion that much but one thing is certain – they do pass these traditions on to their children.

Dying eggs for Easter

In my church-going-free family the Easter tradition is, well, really family-related. We have our own traditional treats that are closely knit with this time of the year – just because my Mother kept making them throughout my childhood. I will tell you about a sweet treat my Mother used to bake which I particularly was looking forward each year in my next post. Here we’re talking about this egg tradition. Even my Granny born in the Stalinist 30s dyes eggs every year. Oh those Russians, a weird mixture they have in their heads, that of pagan beliefs, Orthodox religion, Soviet propaganda engraved in their brains and new consumer-commercial ideology embracing their lives.

Dying eggs for Easter

Each one of this eggs has been dyed using a very natural technique – no artificial dyes required, no stickers or anything of a kind. I think you’ve already guessed what these patterns are made of (with). This technique is not just characteristic of Russia, it can be found in Eastern Europe as well. There’s also this tradition of sharing eggs with your friends and family (you end up actually exchanging eggs), so in the end you get like a dozen eggs of various design and color.

Dying eggs for Easter

A year ago – a very-very spring post Black and White Sourdough Bread and Apples and Oranges

Two years agoNovgorod Borkannik or Carrot Pie plus Biscotti and On Soviet Food Stupidities

These are the tools and ingredients you will need for dying eggs with onion peels and spring plants:

  • eggs – as much as you wish to have and give out, preferably white but any kind will do. Don’t forget to wash them.
  • lots of yellow onion peels (I guess if you try red onion you will get violet eggs!) – the more you get, the more intense the color
  • various spring flowers and leaves (please, be sensible and kind, do not ruin all fresh and young plants in the neighborhood, pick up just some – or use the flowers from your vase like we did) – the more detailed the leaves the more intricate a pattern you will get. Clean thoroughly.
  • cloth from natural material (the best choice is gauze but any not very dense cotton will do just fine). Cut these into pieces larger than the eggs (just imagine you will have to wrap each egg entirely and cut the pieces accordingly)
  • a thread from natural material
  • scissors
  • a pot that can be… well, ruined a bit (the dye will get into the pot)

Dying eggs for Easter

We usually pick our plants from the nearest yard being careful not to get too close to the places where the local dogs abide (but you never know). This process is also a sign of spring and Easter – when you walk around and see people stooping over these tiny shoots which have just appeared above the ground. By the way, onions are also very popular this time of the year! And my sister even got a bag full of peels from a local fruit & vegetable shop.

Dying eggs for Easter

Looks like a workshop – we were three to dye eggs this year, although I resisted at first… You see, when you boil the eggs they get really hard. Imagine forgetting your eggs for 20 minutes? That’s what you’ll get! Lots of hard-boiled eggs with beautiful pattern.

Dying eggs for Easter

These large flowers did not adhere to the egg shell really tight so they resulted in a somewhat bluish though distinctly flower pattern. The best plants were these tiny yellow flowers seen in the background (we call them Duck’s Legs) and the sophisticated leaves.

The process – wash the eggs, leave them to half-dry and then decorate them one by one by picking your favorite flowers and leaves (also half-dried) and pressing against the egg shell. Be careful not to break the eggs but at the same time secure the plants so that they leave a more distinct pattern. Don’t overdo the decoration, leave space for just plain brownish color.

Dying eggs for Easter

Wrap each egg into pieces of cloth and then tie each ‘baby’ (don’t they look like babies? especially when your Mother tells you those cloth pieces used to be your baby clothes recently discovered at your Granny’s Ali-Baba-cave-like place) with the thread quite tightly. You don’t have to actually make a knot in the end, just interlace the end of the thread with the rest. Your aim is to make sure these plants will stay close to the egg while boiling. Keep your egg ‘parcels’ ready for the next stage:

Dying eggs for Easter

Once all the eggs are ready (although you might have to boil them in batches, depending on your ‘appetite’), start heating water in an old pot with all the onion peels inside. DON’T FORGET SALT. It will prevent the eggs from bursting out when they get into warm-to-hot water. Place the eggs in the pot and boil for 20 minutes (counting after the water starts boiling). Then leave the pot to cool down a bit, take the egg parcels out carefully and place them on a plate to cool down. When they are ok to be handled unwrap them CAREFULLY, wipe off the rests of the plants with the cloth wrapper (discard the cloth, the thread and the plants obviously) and marvel at the pattern! You can reuse the water with the onion peels for the next batch – you might get an even denser result.

Dying eggs for Easter

This is what happens to an unlucky egg when it’s unlucky owner tries to beat a luckier friend, owner of an egg with a harder egg shell =) I know that Greeks have this tradition too, they dye the eggs red and then ‘compete’ with each other to find out whose egg is the hardest.

For a glossy ‘look’ rub some sunflower oil on the egg shell:

Dying eggs for Easter

Blogging keeps me from thinking this joke of life is a bit too much, really. Somebody’s having a really bad taste in jokes, not funny : ( I’m talking about being (or rather – getting) unemployed for the …th time in my life. Also about being torn out of the already MY job and a habitual way of life… Well, let’s face this challenge!

G.