Yuliya's Blog

Baked Eggs with Broccoli and Shiitake

baked egg broccoli shitake

This is a great way to use leftover steak or any other meat in a breakfast dish, or omit the meat altogether making this a vegetarian dish. I love the combination of crispy garlicky croutons, broccoli, mushrooms, and runny yolks. Broccoli works particularly well with shiitake mushrooms, but any other type of mushroom will do. You will need oven-proof ceramic ramekins to bake this dish in.

The Easiest Crusty Homemade Bread in Cast Iron Pot

crusty bread in cast iron pot

I love the ease of using a breadmaker, but I find that the one thing I’m missing is the crust on my white bread. After experimenting for while, I discovered baking the bread in my trusty cast iron pot produces a wonderful loaf, soft on on the inside with a wonderful golden trust. The dough is made in the breadmaker first, then transferred to preheated pot and baked in the oven. That’s it! Just let the pot work its magic. No grease or pot liners needed.

Flavourful Oyster Stew

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I made this stew after I bought a dozen of fresh oysters at Goose Point Oyster Farm in Washington State. They were much bigger than the usual medium size and therefore not easy to be opened and eaten raw, which is the best way to eat oysters, of course. I’m not adding any bacon or other smokey, greasy meats, but instead keeping this stew light and aromatic with the addition of white wine and saffron.

Russian Crepes (Blinchiki) – Блинчики

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Crepes, or blinchiki, is a favorite breakfast food of many Russians. They are so easy to make, and are meant to bring the whole family together for breakfast. Kids love them! The best blinchiki are paper-thin with slightly crisp edges. They can be eaten with honey, sour cream, jams, or wrapped around various delicious sweet or savory fillings. My favorite fillings are meat (ground beef fried with onions), rice, egg and dill, and mushroom. For the ultimate decadency, some Russians eat blinchiki with caviar.

Red Pepper, Zucchini, and Kidney Bean Soup

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This hearty soup is chock-full of tasty summer vegetables. I like to make this soup in August and September when veggie stores in Vancouver sell heaps of field-fresh multicolored peppers. My favorite variety is Hungarian pepper; a white pepper with a great aroma and taste. I also like long red peppers that come in both sweet and spicy varieties.

red pepper zucchini red bean soup-6

This is what Hungarian peppers and long peppers look like.

Seared Ahi Tuna

grlled ahi tuna steak

If you are lucky enough to have ahi tuna on hand, the pan-searing method works best to make incredibly flavorful and tender steaks. The steaks are first marinated in a soy, garlic and ginger marinade and then perfectly seared in an oil and butter mixture. They should still be pink inside when done. If you like your tuna steaks more rare, reduce the cooking time.

Spicy Stir-Fried Shrimp

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This recipe makes perhaps the tastiest spicy shrimp I ‘ve ever had, and I’m proud to say that I came up with it all by myself :) It only takes about 15 minutes to make. When I created this recipe, I was striving to achieve a classic balance of flavors – salty-sour-savoury-sweet. I added Sriracha for heat and a touch of curry for complexity and aroma. I hope you enjoy it too.

Salmon Caviar (Ikra)

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I know I posted a caviar recipe two years ago, but I just made a new batch and could not resist posting again with a MUCH better cover photo! I, as most Russians, could rave about caviar for a very long time. As I mentioned before, I’m lucky enough to live on the West Coast of Canada where salmon roe is easily obtainable during salmon runs. I’m actually double time lucky because my home town in Russia is located not far from the Pacific Ocean, on the river Amur, which gets salmon runs that rival those of British Columbia. So I pretty much grew up eating salmon dishes and caviar.

Crunchy Spicy Green Beans

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I did not used to like green beans because they always turned out bland and limp, but this recipe changed it all! It’s an amalgamation of several Internet recipes which I tweaked to my liking. It was amazing to discover how well the classic Asian flavor combination of sesame oil and soy sauce complements green beans. I usually make the stir-fry sauce taste quite hot with two (sometimes two and a half) teaspoons of Chili Garlic sauce similar to Sriracha (and in fact produced by the same company, Huy Fong Foods). When plating, I sprinkle the beans liberally with coarse sea salt for extra crunch and visual appeal. Yum!

Hungarian Red Lentil and Smokie Soup

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The warm spiciness of red lentils and the smoky flavor of the sausage – there is something about this flavor combination that makes this soup so comforting it’s simply irresistible! I also add just a touch of paprika and cumin seeds to give it a bit more complexity. And it’s so fast and easy to make – you can be eating your soup in under 30 minutes. It’s quite thick and almost stew-like in consistency and makes a hearty and delicious supper!

Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Maple Glazed Pecans

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By accident, I stumbled upon a wonderful ingredient that just makes veggie salads (and particularly cabbage salads) so much better. I’m sure it’s not a secret and may even be commonly used by other cooks, but for me it was a revelation. This ingredient is pecans (or walnuts) toasted with maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Salt, I find, is very important here as it counteracts and balances the sweetness of the maple syrup. Combined with tangy coleslaw sauce made with a simple combination of mayo and mustard, the taste is just incredible. I have a feeling I will be making this coleslaw often.

Uzbek Plov with Pomegranate Seeds

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Plov (aka Pilaf, Pilau, etc) is a prominent feature in the regional cuisines of the former Soviet Republics of Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, all located in the region called Middle Asia. Each country has its own variation of plov and different methods of preparation. Plov’s main ingredients are meat, rice, carrots, and onions with occasional addition of other goodies like raisins, dried apricots, pomegranate seeds, garlic, and various spices.

Cast Iron Cookware

Classic Borscht

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Borscht is the quintessential Eastern European soup that is most often associated with Russian and Ukrainian cuisine. There are many variations: it can be made with beef or with pork, and with or without tomatoes or tomato paste. The two ingredients borscht always has are beets and cabbage. Beets give this soup its striking rich crimson color. In North America, borscht is somehow regarded as a meatless or even a vegetarian soup. Even though borscht can be made without meat, the taste would not be the same. Meat gives this soup its rich flavor and makes the vegetables taste more mellow. In fact, using pork or beef gives borscht a different taste. Ukrainian borscht is generally made with pork and is richer and fattier, whereas Russian borscht can be made either with pork or with beef, which tends to be leaner. It also helps to have meat with a bone since it makes more flavorful stock. I was always taught that vegetables for borscht should be diced/shredded finely, and in practice, it makes borscht taste more mellow and less cabbage-like. And remember – borscht, like most cabbage-based dishes, tastes better on the next day. Borscht is often served with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of Borodinskiy bread.

Borodinskiy Bread – Dark Russian Rye Bread (Breadmaker Recipe)

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Borodinskiy is a famous dark Russian bread with a dense, slightly crumbly texture and tangy taste. Since it’s made with 50% rye flour and 50% whole wheat flour, it has less gluten than regular all-wheat bread and is digested more easily. Sometimes it’s spiced with coriander and/or caraway seeds. The secret to Borodinskiy bread is malt or malt extract. For a while I could not find malt at any grocery store, so I got creative and used instead a canned mixture for making dark beer at home. Malt is the main ingredient in that beer kit, but it also contains hops which added an interesting slightly bitter note to the taste of my bread. Then one day I spotted a jar of barley malt at Save-On-Foods and could make Borodinsky bread using the original recipe. It turns out malt extract is not actually that difficult to find – it’s sold at many health and nutrition stores. It is a very sticky semi-solid dark brown substance similar to molasses, but thicker. Borodinskiy is most often sold in the shape of a brick – so when made in a breadmaker, it comes out almost perfectly authentic!

Colorful Bell Peppers Stuffed With Beef and Rice

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Last week I bought a bag of colorful bell peppers at a local veggie store and immediately thought of our traditional family recipe – stuffed bell peppers. When I was little, my mother made this on so many occasions when we had guests over. She would stuff the peppers with ground beef and rice mixture, simmer peppers in a creamy tomato sauce, then serve with mashed potatoes.

Grilled Squash Soup

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Buying garden-fresh veggies at local farmers’ markets is my latest obsession, and this fall they had an abundance of squashes. I bought a beautiful acorn squash at Coquitlam’s farmers market, as well as an assortment of summer squashes of various odd shapes, and a few regular zucchini. Acorn squash is a type of winter squash with tough skin and beautiful orange flesh. Having bought this acorn squash on a whim, I did not really know what to do with it, so I decided to use it in a soup with summer squashes, zucchini, and tomatoes. For this soup, I slice acorn squash, steam it to soften flesh up a bit, then grill it on the gas barbecue. Grilled squash infused this soup with an unusual slightly sweet and caramel-like flavor. Served with some crumbled feta cheese and chopped cilantro, this was a light yet filling supper for my family.

Vinegret – Winter Beet and Sauerkraut Salad

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Vinegret is a truly wonderful combination of vibrant colors, soft and crunchy textures, and sweet and sour taste. It uses vegetables that are readily available in the winter to provide a vitamin boost. The word vinegret originated from the French “vinaigrette”, a well-known salad dressing. There is no vinegar in vinegret salad, despite what its name suggests. The main ingredients are beets, carrots, potatoes, sauerkraut, pickles, and green peas. Sometimes white beans are used instead of peas. Vinegret is a staple dish in many Russian homes; it is inexpensive to make and looks great on a holiday table!

Holodets (Russian Pork Aspic)

Holodets, or studen’, is a traditional Russian dish dating back many centuries. Holodets is essentially a meat jelly made by cooking pork parts that contain a lot of bone, skin and cartilage (such as legs, ears, and even hooves). That’s what mom said when I asked her how to make it. My first response was:…

Pork Loin Stuffed with Mushroom and Black Currant

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Pork loin is a very versatile cut of meat that can be used in many dishes, but I find its taste quite bland and boring. I feel it needs to be perked up with complex tastes, especially when making pork loin roast. In this recipe, I made a roll-up style pork roast with mushroom, sage, and black currant filling. I liked the note of sweetness from the dry black currants and how it was offset by slight bitterness of sage. I also made horseradish-mustard sauce to complement the roast and to give it some punch. Overall, I liked how well-rounded this recipe turned out.

Tkemali Sauce

This fragrant Georgian sauce is made of tart green or red plums and garlic . It gained popularity in Russia as a condiment to traditional dishes such as pelmeni (meat dumplings), pork chops, etc. It’s used in a manner similar to ketchup. Outside of Russia and Georgia, commercially prepared tkemali sauce can be found in…

Firm White Bread

I love my new breadmaker! It’s a very basic model Black & Decker, but it works its magic just like any of the upscale models!  All you need to do is to add the ingredients to the bread pan, and voila! in 3-4 hours you can enjoy the goodness of freshly baked bread. This particular…

Beef Curry in a Pumpkin

Halloween is upon us, and I’m in the mood for cooking something pumpkin-related again. Actually, this is “take two” of last year’s recipe, the previous one being kind of a disaster. See last year’s post here. Although it was edible, my pumpkin certainly did not look pretty last year. I overfilled the pumpkin bowl, and…

Butter Garlic Shrimp

I made this dish on many occasions, and it is one of my favorite ways to cook shrimp. I start with medium-size fresh headless shrimp (I usually get them from T&T  – it’s an Asian supermarket chain in Vancouver). Don’t use the peeled, precooked and frozen shrimp – the results just won’t be the same.…

Grilled Shrimp

This was the first time grilling shrimp on the barbecue, and it actually turned out pretty good! The quick 30-minute marinade adds just the right amount of punch, and grilling takes only about 5 minutes.It would probably have tasted even better if I took the time to remove the shells, but it’s also fine with…

Wild Mushroom (Porcini) Soup

Russians love to pick wild mushrooms, and porcini (aka boletes, king mushrooms, or ceps) are considered the best of all. These mushrooms are highly prized for their delicious earthy, smokey flavor. If not consumed immediately, porcini should be dried for later use in soups and stews. Drying intensifies the flavor and captures all the goodness…

Goulash (Hungarian Beef Stew)

This super-tasty beef stew originates from Hungary, but Russians have introduced it into their cuisine a long time ago. Now it’s pretty much a staple in many Russian households. The key is using copious amounts of paprika. Paprika is a red spice made from grinding sweet peppers or chili. For this dish, a mild sweet…

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken With Cream Cheese and Mushroom Filling

prosciutto wrapped chicken cream cheese mushroom stuffed filling brie

This recipe sounds fancy but it’s actually very easy to make and is great for entertaining. The crispiness of Prosciutto (paper-thin dry-cured ham from Italy) is offset by the mellow taste of cream cheese filling. If you can’t find prosciutto, it can be replaced by Parma ham or low-salt varieties of bacon. For this recipe, I’m using boneless skinless chicken thighs, but chicken breasts can also be used.

Fiery Eggplants

This is a super tasty recipe, and tastes excellent by itself or as an accompaniment to any kind of meat. This dish  is a typical example of a Russian zakuska (a type of appetizer or an antipasto).  In late summer, when veggies such as eggplants, peppers and tomatoes are harvested, this dish is made in…

Orange and Soy Marinated Pork Tenderloin

(shown here served with “Fiery Eggplants” and spaghetti sprinkled with black sesame seeds) This is another one of my creations. I was actually pleasantly surprised how well it turned out. The marinade flavours combine well together and permeate the tender pork meat while marinating overnight in the fridge. I then baked the tenderloins covered with…

Pumpkin Stuffed with Beef Curry

Every October, mounds of bright orange pumpkins outside the grocery stores have me wondering if pumpkins can actually be used for something other then making a jack-o-lantern or a pumpkin pie. This year, for the first time, I decided to cook  a pumpkin. Pumpkin is essentially a squash, and squashes usually work well together with…