Greetings from Nová Baňa: cold beetroot soup recipe

This week was very hot in Bratislava so the idea to spend  a weekend in a country house in Nová Baňa sounded as a good idea. It was hot even there so my choice for the Saturday dinner was obvious: I cooked a cold beetroot soup.

If you ask me what is the taste of south Ukrainian summer, I will place this soup (it has very cute name in  the region where I grew up “cholodnichok”) right after famous Mikado tomatoes.  It’s also interesting because you can find all 3 staples of Ukrainian cuisine in this recipe: beet, dill and sour cream. Someone call this soup “cold borsht”. Every year I waited for the beginning of summer and my mom can finally  cook it. It’s a super dish for hot summer days when you don’t want to eat too much but you also don’t want to feel hunger in an  hour after you had lunch.

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Artichokes heart and cherry tomato salad

Artichokes were always something mysterious to me. They were either painted on my favourite classical still lifes by old Dutch masters or appeared in the recipes of famous food bloggers I follow on the Instagram. I tried them pickled on the top of pizza, but I always wanted to try them fresh. Artichokes are neither usual  in my native Odessa  (and I can’t understand why, the climate there is close to North Mediterranean now)  nor in Bratislava. However Tesco gave me another surprise and last week I found Violetto artichokes among vegetables right under a box with rhubarb. The  price was high enough, so I bought just some. Of course they were not so fresh, beautiful and fragrant as those at Italian or French farm markets, but ok, it’s still nice that I can expand my cooking horizons.

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Rabbit stew with shallots recipe

I feel a special kind of excitement as today I’m going to post the first meat recipe in my blog. It didn’t take too long to decide what meat dish to cook first as my Slovak friends mentioned that they have never tried rabbit and I invited them to the dinner with rabbit stew.

Before I share the recipe, here is a funny story about my experience with rabbits. In Odessa, where I grew up, rabbits on farm markets are always sold with one unskinned paw. Why? Because it is a proof that you are buying a rabbit, not a cat that was caught on the nearest street. I am still not sure if these “rabbit cats” were not just an urban legend.

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Rhubarb banana muffins

I honestly tried to break this “no meat recipes” circle in my blog but it’s hard to switch to other topics when you have fresh rhubarb in your fridge. So the recipe of rabbit stew will wait until I get enough of rhubarb. This week I decided to combine sour rhubarb with sweet bananas in muffins (muffins are my current baking favourites as they are so easy to make and can have so many varieties). Inspiration for this recipe was found on Rhubarb Central which is a great page where you can find everything about rhubarb.

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Chickpea flour tofu easy recipe

2 weeks has passed since my last post was published. Now try to guess, what I was looking for during all this time? Rhubarb is the answer. I haven’t found it yet and it’s a kind of culinary frustration as I was looking forward to cooking something with it so much (it’s hard to believe but I’ve never tried  rhubarb yet). There is just no rhubarb in Bratislava, at least in all grocery stores where I usually do shopping and even farm market can‘t help this time. However, I don’t lose hope to bake my first Rhubarb cake.

So I will not write about Rhubarb in this post, but I will share Chickpea flour tofu recipe.

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Warm quinoa salad with green beans and bryndza cheese

After reading my so far favourite book about food history, Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People by Linda Civitello, I became interested in New World crops. Quinoa was one of them, but the price for even a small package was so high that I always held myself from buying it with a quote “stop buying avocado on a toast if you want to afford the house “. Last visit to Tesco brought me a surprise, 250 package of quinoa for the price that I could name “still overpriced, but I can try it”. What cook from quinoa on May in Slovakia when famous May bryndza cheese is available in all stores? I have an obvious answer: just combine these 2 products in 1 dish. The result is great 🙂

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Chocolate and mint muffins recipe

I‘ve  tried to bake these muffins for 3 times and each time I failed: they were or too dry and reminded cookies, or didn’t rise or “exploded” in the oven. despite of the fact that I followed the basic recipe, something went wrong (obviously the author just used baking powder with another “baking power”). Fortunately the fourth attempt was successful so I can finally share the recipe.

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Greetings from Nová Baňa: stuffed mushrooms recipe

My newest addiction: visiting a country house in Nová Baňa, a small town surrounded by the mountains in central Slovakia. It’s a great place for digital detox (as I have internet only on my iphone and a signal is weak) and just for relax and cooking experiments*.

I’ve been there this weekend and found that spring came to Nová Baňa 2 weeks later than in Bratislava. Even lilac is not in bloom in Nová Baňa yet). This means that wild garlic is in a high season, so guess what did I take from my walk in the  nearby forest?

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Traditional Slovak food exposed part 4. 1957 cookbook review

Bittersweet memories from the past: I was not a very healthy kid and spent most of my childhood on a very strict diet. What was a boy, who was allowed to eat only boiled or steamed food dreaming about? About “normal” food of course. I was drawing my first food illustrations, inventing recipes and reading famous “The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food” – staple cooking book of the Soviet Union, published in 1952. Since  then, I have felt a special connection to old cookbooks, as by reading them you can understand cultural background of the country where they were published. Do I need to say that I was very excited to discover “Cooking for the healthy and the sick” (original title: Varíme zdravým a chorým) by Imrich Sečanský, first published in 1957? So what was Slovak cuisine about 60 years ago?

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Chickpea ravioli with potatoes, bryndza cheese and leek

Short intro: I love to visit Oriental food shop in Vysoká street in Bratislava, as it always inspires me to try something new. Last Friday, I was looking for a tahini for humus, but I found myself paying also for oyster sauce and chickpea flour (because why not, it’s gluten free with a lot of proteins). At first I had no idea how I would use this flour, but the decision was found quickly: I decided to cook chickpea ravioli with potatoes, bryndza cheese and leek.

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Orthodox Easter cake recipe

It took me over a week to write down this recipe, but finally here it is. Some general information to start: paska (the name of this cake in Ukrainian) probably is the most difficult  cake I’ve ever baked. You have to be calm and patient to perform all steps of its making in a right way. As a result you will get absolutely stunning cake which can be fresh for some months after being baked. A popular question is “what is the  taste of paska?” Well, if you know what  Italian panettone is, you know  the taste of paska. These cakes are not twins, but they are very close relatives. Paska is one of the staples of Easter celebration for Orthodox Christians. Every family bakes paski to share them with friends and family members.

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Rare plant fair in Vienna

One of the perks of living in Bratislava is its great location:  it takes just a little bit more than 1 hour to get to Vienna by train and 14 eur for  a return ticket. So the whole tour to the “Raritätenbörse” held in Botanical garden of Vienna University took me only 5 hours.

Despite the fact that this Botanical garden is “just behind the fence” of my beloved Belvedere museum with Klimt paintings, I’ve never been to the garden before and  the fair was a great reason to finally visit it.

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White asparagus with soft broccoli polenta

It’s time to make a confession: until this weekend, I’ve tried asparagus just once in my life. In Ukrainian south where I have grown up asparagus is not a traditional crop. It was not widely known until the last few years when some farms started to grow it on commercial basis. First asparagus I’ve bought was planted in the West of Slovakia (Veľké Leváre city) where a big farm that grows asparagus is located. Last year I baked it with cheese and butter and it was so delicate that as soon as I noticed that fresh asparagus is available at our market in Žilinská street, I bought it immediately.

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Indoor jungle discovery. Greenhouse in Bratislava (SK)

Decision to visit Bratislava botanical garden and its greenhouse was very spontaneous. I returned from a farm market on Saturday morning (with fresh asparagus so try to guess what will be this week recipe about) and realized that it’s actually 1st of April and it’s the first day when the botanical garden opens after a winter break. I tried to google some pictures from the greenhouse a few month ago and didn’t find anything exciting, but the weather was good, magnolias were in a full bloom in Bratislava so I decided that If nothing special from urban jungle is found, I will just enjoy a spring day in a beautiful garden with friends and magnolias.

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