Lenivie vareniki is a classic Ukrainian recipe that I completely forgot about until a recent visit to, out of all places, an Italian restaurant. This year for my birthday, I had dinner with my family at this awesome place in my neighborhood called Lea. Lea churns out killer wood-fired pizzas - the kind with a little charring around the edges - as well as creative pastas and thoughtful vegetable sides. One of the items we ordered were these plump ricotta gnudi in a mushroom consomme. As the dish circled around to my corner of the table, I popped one into my mouth and . . .
The stack of unread Bon Appetits on my desk is an excellent indicator for how busy I've been lately. Each time one arrives in the mail, I think, "How did another month pass just like that?" The time has literally flown by, and here we are, in the tail end of June and I'm prepping for our annual trip to Cape Cod already, which starts this Saturday. But boy, am I looking forward to catching up on my reading at the beach. The good news about being busy is that you really do get a lot done (hats off to you, Captain Obvious), which means soon I'll have lots of exciting - . . .
When planning the relaunch of my blog, I realized I'd like to shed more light on the foods of my homeland, the varied cuisine of Ukraine. The colorful vegetable dishes, the homestyle meat-and-potatoes classics, the oft-ignored yet drool-worthy breads and sweets. Considering how awesome it was to be featured in the New York Daily News with a Ukrainian recipe, and the fact that one of the consistently most-searched recipes on my site is this eggplant 'caviar', I realize it's an area worth exploring. A word on Ukrainian vs. Russian food: when I was a kid in Ukraine, . . .
Syrniki are a traditional Russian breakfast food that for some reason no one ever talks about. I am hell-bent on changing this because they are DA BOMB (are we still saying that?) and you should really, really try them. Syrniki (pronounced sYr-nee-key) translates to little cheese cakes in Russian. They're small pan-fried rounds, primarily made of farmer's cheese. They're soft and pillowy but have a satisfying bite that say, pancakes, do not. Syrniki are only lightly sweetened and flavored with a hint of vanilla, so they're a great vessel for fruits, fruit sauces, jams, . . .
Ever since quinoa made a huge splash on the food scene, grains and seeds have been a major trend. I've been enjoying discovering various varieties myself, including bulgur and wheatberries. Thanks to their high protein and mineral content, seeds and grains are indispensable in mostly plant-based kitchens like mine. Buckwheat was beyond a 'staple' in my Ukrainian household growing up. It would be served cold for breakfast with milk and sugar, and then as a side during dinner, with whatever meaty main course was being served that . . .
In the practice of food styling, props are meant to complement the recipe, build a story, and make the food look as delectable as possible. Typically, the recipe is chosen first and the styling decisions are made after. But, once in a while, a very special 'prop' comes along and begs to be found a recipe for. On a recent Saturday, my friend Paige and I braved the cold to pay the Chelsea flea market a visit. I was on the hunt for unique tableware - as I am often wont to be. There weren't a ton of tableware vendors that day but the one booth that was there was all I . . .
Traditional Russian holiday tables always feature the same cast of characters. Without fail, these include Olivier salad (a mayo-dressed potato salad), red caviar, and this eggplant "ikra" (pronounced eek-raa). Ikra is the Russian word for caviar and according to the interwebs, this roasted eggplant spread served as "poor man's caviar". I don't really buy this story since caviar was pretty affordable in the Soviet Union - if you could find it, that is - and all men were poor. But hey, who am I to rewrite history? Terminology aside, this eggplant caviar is one of . . .