Russian Easter Cake

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Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter in a slightly different way. Our main dish on the table is usually Kulich or Easter cake. Traditionally it is made on Clean Thursday (3 days prior to Easter) along with the eggs, blessed in the church and then eaten the next morning.

The recipe is kind of similar to Italian panettone and some Russians even buy panettone in store, decorate them accordingly with the traditions and put it into the center of the table on Sunday morning.

The shape of Kulich is traditionally tall and cylindrical just like Russian monastery bread – Artos that is unlike Kulich traditionally made out of kvas (fermented Slavic and Baltic beverage commonly made from rye bread).

Kulich was influenced by the Slavic tradition of spring ceremonial baking. It is served as ceremonial bread, which was usually baked on the eve of sowing works out of fermented dough. This sacred bread was used by peasants in rituals, and its remnants were used in fortune telling about harvest and offspring of the cattle.

This recipe contains video instructions.

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Candied Citrus Peel

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In Russia, we usually add candied citrus peel to our Easter cakes. I was not a big fan of them up until I actually made them from scratch. I kept snacking on them once I started making my own easter cake, and they turned out very delicious!

Candied citrus peel will be an amazing addition to your baked goods, tea, Christmas table, and desserts. It is also very cheap to make!

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Great Depression Cooking: Graham Bread

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At the beginning of 1900, the United States experienced a massive flow of “smart” chemists who found many ways to add unhealthy ingredients, that sometimes were not even supposed to be in food.

Flour was that once ingredient that suffered many transformations before we realized that bleaching it was not a great idea. Food chemists used: Organic peroxides, Calcium peroxide, Nitrogen dioxide, Chlorine, Chlorine dioxide, Azodicarbonamide, Atmospheric oxygen to bleach it. Some of the ingredients above are not allowed to be used in food products un the EU. Now imagine how the stomach would feel like after a good portion of bread made with some of these components?

During Great Depression times people used graham flour: the combination of regular flour, wheat germ, and wheat bran. Most communities were aware of the flour bleaching process and thus used graham flour when possible since it had more fiber and healthy components.

Graham bread was inspired by Sylvester Graham, a 19th-century reformer who argued that a vegetarian diet, anchored by bread that was baked at home from flour that was coarsely milled at home, was part of a healthful lifestyle that could prevent disease.

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Great Depression Cooking: Banana Bread

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In 1931 a book called “Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes” came out and was available nationwide in the bookshops.

Aunt Samy was a fictional character and had her own cooking show called Housekeeper’s Chat. Its target audience was farm wives. She was introduced by the US Dept of Agriculture, Bureau of Home Economics during the Great Depression. Supposedly the wife of Uncle Sam, the character was voiced by different women at each individual radio station, using a standardized script.

The show was broadcast until 1944.

Banana bread recipe supposedly emerged during the great depression since the housewives were unwilling to throw away overripe bananas.

During my trip to Hawaii, I noticed that banana bread is very popular among Maui population and in my opinion it’s because the island has a lot of hiking options and banana bread is great for sustainable energy for such a long activity.

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Great Depression Cooking: Pumpkin Bread Pudding

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When Great depression went in full strength in 1933, some families were struggling. Children were put into a weird diet, got sick very often and had an enormous vitamin deficiency. Some parents refused to let children go to school because they were too weak to study.

The government program launched by Roosevelt allowed many needy school children who could not afford to pay for lunches to have at least some fresh food and enough nutrition to basically live. The schools were using foods which would not otherwise be purchased in the marketplace and farmers would be helped by obtaining an outlet for their products at a reasonable price.

Some families lived off school lunches since they skipped cooking at least one or even two meals. Some children got caught not eating food but instead, putting it into their pockets, napkins, and handbags to bring it home. It was indeed a very dark time. But even then people learned to make delicious meals from pretty much nothing.

Bread pudding is a good example of using stale sandwich bread that you may have in the kitchen.

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Great Depression Cooking: Cheese Souffle

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Great Depression struck the United States on October 29th, 1929.

It was a huge segment of history that changed the lives of millions of people who stood in lines in the cold to get supplies to feed their families. Former rich, poor, middle-class families, everyone was there equal as hunger stroke the country.

Even though it was a hard time, homemakers and housewives did everything they could to cook the meals and make them delicious. This only proves one simple thing: no matter how hard the times were, people still loved to eat good and tasty food.

I would like to honor those brave ones who stood strong and kept going, spent hours in lines to get fresh goods and cook meals. I will dedicate this month to the great depression recipes that I have found in books, archives, and old recipe booklets.

I may slightly change the recipes but using the same old products that people used during the 1930’s.

Let’s start with cheese souffle.

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Cobbler With Port Macerated Figs

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Hello guys! Fall (or as I call it cooking season) is officially here!

I know, I know you are probably all incredibly sad about the fact that summer is over, cold times are ahead and Christmas is too far away.

As your beloved neighbor and experienced chef, I would love to offer you a piece of my favorite pie so you feel a little better about the whole situation.

Spoiler alert! You will have to cook it yourself!

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Blackberry Thyme and Meyer Lemon Galette

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When I explain galettes to the people, I always say “It’s like a giant cookie but with fillings and a lot tastier.” Even French Canadians call it that way, filling their galettes with sweet ingredients.

However, term “galette” comes from the region of Brittany in France and typically made with savory ingredients using buckwheat flour. I got inspired by both ways and did a lot of research before putting my first galette together. I relied on seasonal berries, slightly unusual bitter Meyer lemons and my favorite thyme.

This recipe came out rich, delicious and needed just a splash or rosé to finish up what I started.

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Oatmeal Breakfast Cups

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I usually post my recipes on Sundays, but today I decided to surprise you a little.

I woke up to heavy rain and gusty winds on Wednesday. This kind of weather always reminds me of London where all that I ate for breakfast were: oatmeal and tea with milk. I remembered how good I exercised afterward and how full I stayed during the day.

Since I always have some nuts and dried berries in my drawer, the choice of breakfast dish was clear!

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Homemade Syrniki (Ricotta Pies)

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As a proud Russian, I sometimes miss my grandma’s comfort food. Syrniki, which entire female population of my family used to make, was my favorite breakfast before school.

My mom usually served it with sour cream, my grandma made it with strawberry preserves and my other grandma made it with apricot jelly. Everyone had the way to make and eat them. Today I would like to introduce you to something that warms my heart and brings warm memories to my head bite by bite.

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