Thursday, March 20, 2014


I've been working hard recently trying to get my Noah to be able to pronounce this dish correctly. P-l-oh (make an 'O' with your mouth!)-ve. Plov, rhymes with mazel-tov! To the Americans, plov rhymes with drove. Despite the confusion around the differences between Russian and English pronunciations, this dish pleases both cultures equally.

Mom makes this plov regularly, and now I understand why: it takes no time at all, and hardly requires any crazy ingredients. This simple serving of rice, chicken, onions, carrots, and dried fruit, reminds me of a risotti-style dish, but heartier. The rice comes out soft and absorbs all the excellent flavors from the rest of the pot. 

 This is what the dish looks like right after you take it off the stove top and right before you mix it all up!

And here is the beautiful after..

I easily made this after a long, tiring day of work since it requires hardly any effort but yields true comfort!

Mom's recipe

1 lb or 1 package chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 carrot, grated
1 large onion, chopped
1 c. rice
boiling water (directions on how much to follow)
1 c. your choice any dried fruits; raisins, prunes, apricots work best

1.) Melt some butter into a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot
2.) Saute onions until they are soft and lightly browned
3.) Meanwhile, boil a few cups of water
4.) Add chicken and brown, constantly mixing, about 5 minutes
5.) Put rice, dried fruit, and grated carrot on top of the chicken. DO NOT MIX!!!
6.) Add enough boiling water so that it is about 2 inches above the chicken/rice
7.) Bring to a boil
8.) Lower heat and cover
9.) Allow rice to cook, about 20 minutes
10.) Take pot off of the stove, and mix!
11.) Scoop out of pot and eat! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Banana Cream Pie

What, you've never heard of a Russian Banana Cream Pie? Okay you caught me, this recipe is very much so not Russian, but rather is as American as they come. My Noah loves this dessert so I have made it a priority to learn how to not only make it, but perfect it. This past weekend, I think I achieved just that. 

This particular recipe made me very happy, as I put a little twist on it that Noah did not expect, but still very much enjoyed. It came out delicious and was fairly simple too!

Banana Cream Pie
My Recipe, for Noah

Graham Cracker Crust
10 or 11 whole graham crackers
1 tspn. sugar
4 tbspn. unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Layer
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 oz bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghiardelli baking chocolate)

1 package instant vanilla pudding (and all ingredients it calls for to be made)

Whipped Topping
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbspn powdered sugar
3 medium bananas

Graham Cracker Crust
1.) Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2.) Using a food processor, create graham cracker crumbs. Combine the crumbs with the sugar in a bowl. Add the melted butter and mix until incorporated.
3.) Pour the mixture into a 9-inch tart pan and use something with a flat bottom to press the crust into the pan so that it forms an even layer.
4.) Bake it until lightly browned, 12-15 minutes; cool completely

Chocolate Layer
1.) Place the chocolate into a double broiler and melt it, add the heavy cream; mix until it is all incorporated. 
2.) Pour the chocolate in one even layer over the cooled pie crust; refrigerate

1.) Make your pudding and pour it over the chocolate pie crust
2.) Slice up the bananas and most of them in one even layer over the chocolate; reserve some to incorporate into the whipped cream topping

Whipped Cream Topping
1.) Using a hand-mixer, whip the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. Add the powdered sugar and continue to mix until it is incorporated
2.) Fold in the remaining bananas into the whipped cream
3.) Spoon the pastry cream evenly onto the crust 
4.) Shave some chocolate over the top and add a few bananas as a decorative garnish
5.) Chill and serve within 24 hours


When I was little, I had a nanny that took care of me everyday. Her name is Bina and she became an honorary grandmother to me. Though I do not have many memories of her taking care of me when I was small, her presence in my life, and my family's life still remains. I know my parents are especially thankful for Bina, as she took care of me like I was one of her own grandchildren. Most family gatherings, Bina is there and is known for bringing with her her famous beze. Beze is a big, puffy, crispy, meringue that is the most fickle cookie one could possible make up. But somehow, Bina's beze always turned out perfectly. 

For Valentine's Day, I wanted to make a special treat that would be just the right amount of a small and sweet bite. I called up Bina and asked her for her recipe, and am honored to share it with you, with a few additions of my own! 

 If you want to decorate your beze like this, take some of the raspberry syrup and place little dots of it on the beze before you pop it in the oven. Take a tooth pick and drag the raspberry syrup dots from one to the other and these little hearts will take shape!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chocolate Chip Popcorn Cookies

This past weekend, my niece and nephew came to visit for a slumber party! Abby, being quite the actress already at only nine years old knew that she wanted to star in one of my Youtube cooking videos. Requesting a simple but scrumptious chocolate chip cookie recipe, I got to work on figuring out the best one I could find. We stuck with a standard chocolate chip recipe but added walnuts and popped popcorn to the batter! The result was a combo of salty and sweet cookie bites that had a little bit of earthy flavor with the walnuts there to tone them down. We had a blast making this video below. Check it out and make this recipe yourself!

Chocolate Chip Popcorn Cookies (makes about 4 dozen)
My recipe

1 c. butter
1 c. white sugar
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs, room temp
2 tspn. vanilla extract
3 c. AP Flour
1 tspn. baking soda
2 tspn. hot water
1/2 tspn. salt
1/2 c. salted popcorn broken into small pieces
2 c. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped, toasted walnuts

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.) Cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth
3.) Beat in eggs one at a time
4.) Stir in vanilla
5.) Dissolve baking soda in hot water, add to batter with salt
6.) Stir in the flour, chocolate chips, walnuts, and popcorn
7.) Drop w/a tablespoon onto ungreased baking pans
8.) Bake for 12 minutes, until edges are nicely browned

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chicken and Mushrooms

I'm going to cheat a bit and do my first post on a non-Russian dish. Once in a while, my mom decides to expand her culinary skills outside of the realm of cutlets, tiftelli, and bitochki. This dish, titled "chicken and mushrooms" because that's really all that it is, is as simple as you can get, but yields the scents and tastes of the comforting home cooked meal that I enjoyed on many winter and summer breaks from college. 

 These are pretty much all of your ingredients. Yes, that's all.

The smell of mushrooms and onions sauteing together is dizzyingly delicious.

There's nothing very pretty about these thighs, but the tenderness of the chicken with the sauce and the little pieces of mushrooms you get in each bite is pretty darn tasty. I suggest placing a chicken thigh (or two) over some basmati rice, making sure to spoon extra sauce over it all. Asparagus also makes a great accompaniment. 

Chicken and Mushrooms (makes 4-6 servings)
Mom's recipe

1 package (or approximately 1lb) boneless chicken thighs
1 small can cream of mushroom soup
1.5 cup shitake mushrooms (or any assortment you like)
1/2 small onion chopped 
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
butter and canola oil for sauteing
few tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1.) Saute onions and mushrooms at medium heat until onions are golden and mushrooms are tender; season with salt and pepper and set aside
2.) Coat each chicken thigh in flour
3.) Brown the chicken thighs over medium-high heat in your saute pan, about three minutes each side
4.) Place thighs in one layer in baking dish
5.) Spread the mushrooms and onions evenly over the thighs
6.) Using a spoon or spatula, spread the cream of mushroom soup over each thigh
7.) Bake at 350 for one hour
8.) Sprinkle a little bit of Parmesan cheese over the top of the chicken

Monday, September 2, 2013

Golubzi (Stuffed Cabbage)

The clouds that arrived on Saturday and decided to overstay their welcome through today have not created the best conditions for proper Labor Day celebrations. I have not gone to the beach, nor have I eaten coleslaw and potato salad with my cheeseburger. Instead, I found that this dreary day was the perfect day to embark upon (what I thought would be) the most time consuming Russian project of all. Golubzi, or as the Americans call them, stuffed cabbage.

The little pockets of meat and rice contrast quite nicely with the gloom.

Golubzi are another recipe synonymous with my aunt Faina, they are her speciality and she makes the best ones I have ever had. In addition to preparing cutlets, salat olivier, boiled potatoes and more, anytime she is cooking for a crowd, golubzi are on the table. 

I have always been amazed at Faina's continuous patience and dedication to the labor that goes into creating golubzi. From cooking the cabbage and preparing the stuffing, to making the sauce and rolling balls of meat so that they fit perfectly into cabbage leaves, this is no quick-fix meal. And yet, she loves to makes these over and over again. As time consuming as these were, after taking my first bite of my own golubzi, I too will be making them again and again.

Toshanaya Kapusta (Braised Cabbage)

When I was little, my mom used to make a few Russian dishes with cabbage, namely Borscht and Toshanaya Kapusta. While I played in my room or did homework, she would chop the cabbage leafs until she hit the core. However, instead of reaching the center and tossing it, my mom would peel away at the cabbage core until she was left with a little white stalk, no bigger than a finger. She'd yell for me to come get the 'kachanchik'! I would abruptly stop whatever I was doing and run to the kitchen to eat this crunchy treat that has the texture of a water chestnut or raw potato. I devoured it with such excitement, you'd think I was just given a scoop of the best ice cream ever created. However, I know that it really wasn't ever about the taste of the kachanchik, rather it was knowing that my mom would always reserve this special treat for me. Now, as I hacked away at a head of cabbage on my own, I tried to find the kachanchik with no luck! Somehow, mom just knows exactly where to keep cutting so all that remains is the edible portion. 

The recipe that follows can be served hot or cold as a delicious side dish to accompany any meat such as our favorite chicken cutlets or a hearty beef stew (recipe coming soon!). It is extremely simple once the cabbage gets shredded.

Yes, that is a measuring cup full of ketchup. Russians like it.