Breakfast ideas: thick cottage cheese pancakes “Syrniki”

Do you know the damnation of the simplest recipes? Like soufflé that is basically quite a simple dish to cook but I always doubt if I make everything right. Syrniki are the same kind of dish. Syrniki, which are thick cottage cheese pancakes, are traditional breakfast in Odessa. Simple yet delicious, it’s the dish that my mother cooks perfectly. Ingredients are quite simple too: cottage cheese, an egg, a few spoons of flour, a little bit of sugar, may be vanilla and raisins. Nothing more, but it took me a few unsuccessful attempts until I cooked it right. The key ingredient is cottage cheese (or it’s “tvaroh” variation in Central and Eastern Europe. Tvaroh is called “syr” in Ukrainian so name “syrniki” shows that the dish is made of syr), which should contain 9% of fat. Cottage cheese should not be too dry or too liquid, otherwise you will not be able to form pancakes. If cottage cheese is too liquid, press the liquid out using a sieve and a spoon. You can substitute cottage cheese with ricotta.
(🇸🇰 slovenský preklad nájdete za anglickým textom)
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Turmeric ginger chicken soup with noodles

Chicken soup seems to be an important dish for many countries. In Odessa it was claimed to be a cure against all possible illnesses (no wonder, as Odessa has a big Jewish population and a rich chicken soup is a staple of East European Jewish cuisine). In Bratislava, chicken soup also plays the key role  on Sunday family dinner. I can cook  this soup both in Odessa and Bratislava styles but I’m always open to new ideas so I tried turmeric and ginger chicken soup and I’ve fallen in love with it now 🙂
(🇸🇰 slovenský preklad nájdete za anglickým textom)

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Sausage and shrimp gumbo

I’ve first heard about gumbo from my very favourite BBC Food program podcast. It was clear that this is a special dish of American cuisine (I can compare it with borsht in Ukraine or kapustnica here in Slovakia), because it seems that hundreds of recipes exist and every family from Louisiana has its own way to cook gumbo.
I don’t want to claim that my gumbo recipe is a “true” one, however it contains all key ingredients: ” Louisiana trinity” of onion, green pepper and celery plus roux. A lot of recipes also include okra, but you can’t find okra in European grocery stores in the middle of January 🙂 I like the taste of this dish, it’s reach in taste and it’s perfectly warming.
( 🇸🇰 slovenský preklad nájdete za anglickým textom)
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Last minute Christmas baking: dried fruit and ginger biscotti

This recipe has caused a lot of questions from my facebook friends, so I’m glad to share it here. Biscotti are obviously not Slovak Christmas classics, but I think that it’s a nice addition to the variety of cookies. They also remind German Christmas stollen, they are just quicker to make. A lot of biscotti recipes include nuts and almonds, I’ve made “nut free version” as I can’t say that I like an idea of hard nuts in dry biscotti.
( 🇸🇰 slovenský preklad nájdete za anglickým textom)

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Last minute Christmas baking: spelt crinkle cookies

I have always been  amazed by a big amount of Christmas cookies varieties baked in Slovakia since I came to study to Bratislava. There is nothing close to this tradition in that part of Ukraine, where I grew up.

Every December my Slovak and Czech friends post beautiful pictures of their Christmas baking  on Facebook and this year I’ve decided to make a baking marathon and to make some cookies too. I’ve spent almost a week in the kitchen and made 11 kinds of cookies. Due to popular demand on my Instagram (btw, you are welcome to follow me, I’m @my.ko.la there) I will post two of them, crinkles and biscotti.

Here is a recipe for crinkle cookies.
( 🇸🇰 slovenský preklad nájdete za anglickým textom)

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Outdoor Paris food markets tour

I will be away from home the 4th weekend in a row, so not so many new recipes will appear here in December. However, I’m working on my “Christmas cookies” top and will hopefully share them next week.
This post will be about a lovely Sunday morning I spent on November, 24 in my ever so favourite Paris. My goal for this day was to visit Pari fermier market that took place on Rue Saint Charles. Pari fermier markets are organized several times a year to present original gourmet products to Paris foodies. I was very excited about this event. I have to say that all world known French products were really presented there. So I was not disappointed with offers but was surprised with amount of stands. There was not so many of them as I had expected.
Let’s take a look to the offers.
🇸🇰 Slovenská verzia pre časopis Dobré Jedlo

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Vegetarian borscht with red lentils

Oh, I can write a lot about borscht.It is better to say: it’ll be hard to write about the most famous Ukrainian soup briefly 🙂 May be it is borscht that comes first to my mind when I think about Ukrainian cuisine. It’s like kapustnica for Slovaks and it has both gastronomical and cultural values. There are sayings like “you can’t cook borsht with him” which means “this person is not good to have a deal with” or “you can cook a good borscht, so you can get married”. Borscht recipes show a wide range, the one I’m going to share is my favorite, I’ve tested it last year and it was success from the first try.
(🇸🇰 slovenský preklad nájdete za anglickým textom)

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Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and walnuts

We had “an autumn feast dinner” with friends last Saturday and roasted duck was the main star of the menu. There are 2 classic side dishes for roasted duck here in Slovakia: braised cabbage and “lokše” thin pancakes made of potato dough. As a “cabbage freak” I decided to add one more side dish to the menu: roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and walnuts. Well, it’s Thanksgiving classics, but this recipe is not known here. The most popular comment about this dish was “oh, I’ve hated Brussels sprouts since school times, but you made it really delicious”. So mind this recipe if you also have “cabbage haters” among your friends.
( 🇸🇰 slovenský preklad nájdete za anglickým textom)
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Pumpkin gnocchi with sage sauce

It’s time to finish the pumpkin marathon. I enjoyed it pretty much, but there are so many new products that I want to try that pumpkin can wait till next fall. Farewell recipe is pumpkin gnocchi with sage and cream sauce.  I think this dish is a kind of comfort food: it’s easy to cook and, most important, it can be frozen. It’s a nice feeling to know that some proper portions of gnocchi are waiting for me in the fridge. Gnocchi are relatives to one of Slovak staple dishes “halušky” with the difference in shape and the fact that raw potatoes are used in most of halušky recipes.
( 🇸🇰 slovenský preklad  nájdete za anglickým textom)

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Pumpkin and apple puff pastry spirals (aka vertuta)

One day I will write “The Bessarabian cookbook”. Do you know where Bessarabia is? It’s a historical region in Eastern Europe between the Danube and the Dniester rivers, located both in the South of modern Ukraine and Moldova. Bessarabia was a kind of melting pot of many nations and in  their culinary traditions, you can see and taste influence of not only Ukrainian and Moldavian cuisines but also  Turkish, Balkan and Greek cuisines there. My native Odessa is not located directly in Bessarabia (well, it’s just around 40km from the place where the Dniester meets the Black sea) but being the biggest city in Ukrainian South it has a lot of Bessarabian people living there. That’s why you can find many  Bessarabian staple dishes in Odessa restaurants and that’s why I know how to cook them – I’ve just got used to them since my childhood.
Here is one of classical autumn dishes from that region, it’s called vertuta and it’s phyllo pasty roll of spiral with different fillings. I will share  a recipe with a  pumpkin and apple filling. I baked it with “ready to use” puff pastry which is closest to phyllo pasty.

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Marinated Swiss chard and beef soup

I’ve wanted to cook a sorrel soup (which is called in Ukraine ‘green borsht’) for a long but I never saw sorrel on sale in Slovakia. My Slovak friends told me that, of course, they knew what sorrel is but most of them had never heard that it could be used in soup. Sorrel soup should be a little bit sour, it makes this soup special and that is why it was difficult to find a good substitution. Sometimes spinach is used together with sorrel in green borsht, but I never liked it because boiled spinach leaves remind me wet toilet paper (sorry!), so combination of spinach and lemon juice was not an option. Last Saturday I discovered that it’s an autumn season of Swiss chard and decided to use it in the soup. It worked perfectly 🙂

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Slovak Buddha Bowl. Early fall edition

I actually wanted to take a short break from cooking and food writing but can you guess where I found myself on Friday evening? Of course, right in the kitchen again. Well, if it can’t be helped, I should use this endless enthusiasm wisely and write a new recipe here.

My Friday night hero was Buddha bowl. I’ve been excited about it since the moment I saw it on Instagram as I love dishes made from many ingredients. Is Buddha bowl a dish? In a way yes, but maybe I would prefer to call it “food concept” because ingredients can be combined in any order you want. Original  Buddha bowl is a vegetarian dish, however I found meat recipes too and I added a hard boiled egg to my own version. Here are a few rules of what should be added to Buddha bowl.

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Zucchini and chickpea flour pancakes

I’ve got few home grown zucchini in Nová Baňa and 2 of them were white. It’s actually interesting because I have been trying to find white zucchini (so common in my native Odessa) for last 5 years of my life in Slovakia but all my attempts were unsuccessful. Nová Baňa managed to surprised my once again.
I cook a lot of dishes with zucchini, both green and white. It is nice, when it’s stewed with sour cream, chicken and dill or like a filling for a cake. Zucchini pancakes are nice dish for late summer morning. I used chickpea flour for this recipe, but you can substitute it with white all purpose flour.

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Roasted eggplant spread recipe

It was very hot here in Slovakia during last 2 weeks so to be honest I didn’t cook a lot. It was hot even in Nová Baňa last weekend but it didn’t stop me from cooking one of the most famous summer dishes from Odessa cuisine: grilled eggplants, peppers and tomatoes spread. This recipe has obviously Greek or Bulgarian roots, but both Greek and Bulgarians were quite influential in summer Ukrainian region so it’s no wonder that a lot of dishes I often cook  have South European or Middle East origin.

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Side dish ideas: Swiss chard and potatoes

Can I officially claim this year “the year of the products I’ve never tried before”? Here is another prove of this fact: my traditional Saturday visit to the farm market in Zilinska street brought me a large bunch of colourful Swiss chard. The lady, who sells it names chard “Croatian spinach” and tells that it can be cooked like ordinary spinach. If you are from Bratislava and also visit the market in Zilinska, you know this seller for sure. It’s famous Cilka from Zohor, area to the North from Bratislava which is reach in culinary traditions. She names chard “Croatian spinach” and tells that it can be cooked like ordinary spinach. It makes a nice side dish together with potatoes. Of course I’ve made a short research of Swiss chard recipes and here is my own version of potatoes with chard.

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