I’m sure every country that grows apples has some version of a baked apple recipe. Personally, I’m somewhat indifferent to fresh apples, but baked apples are just pure goodness. I love the smell of baking apples sprinkled with cinnamon wafting from my oven. In the fall, I buy the freshest apples at a local veggie store. This time, I used Ambrosia apples grown locally in British Columbia. These apples are firm and sweet and don’t become soggy during baking. Pretty much any variety of apples can be baked, but firmer medium-sized apples are best.
This is a very basic, everyday type of food that a Russian family typically eats for dinner during the week.
This recipe can be used to add vegetables to the diet of picky eaters. Vegetables can be mixed in with the ground beef and their taste is usually not discernible after the patties are are cooked. I’m using a carrot in this recipe, but it can be replaced with another vegetable such as zucchini. Just make sure that your vegetable of choice does not produce a lot of juice. If using zucchini, for example, grate the zucchini prior to adding it to the beef, sprinkle liberally with salt, and let stand it produces juices. Then squeeze the juices out and add the zucchini to the ground beef. I would not replace the onion in this recipe though, because it gives the patties a nice savory taste. It’s also nice to add some fresh herbs such as dill or parsley to the beef. If using herbs, add them directly to the food processor.
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 large batches in many kitchens across Russia, and then canned to be enjoyed in the winter. Don’t be alarmed at the word “fiery” in the name of this dish. Traditional Russian cuisine is quite mild, and what may be perceived as hot by the Russian palate does not even compare to the level of hotness of other cuisines, for example Korean or Jamaican. Select small eggplants to use in this recipe, as they are less bitter and contain fewer seeds. I found these cute little baby eggplants at a local veggie store and just could not walk away without buying them. I also used Hungarian peppers, which are soooo much tastier than the regular bell peppers. To add visual appeal and hotness, I used two kinds of chili peppers: red (bird’s eye) and green (banana peppers). I also used one special ingredient from Russia: unrefined sunflower oil. If you can’t find it, using regular vegetable oil is perfectly fine. This dish is equally delicious hot or cold.
This week, I just happened to have a grilled chicken breast and an open can of chickpeas sitting in my fridge. So rather than letting them go to waste, I came up with this recipe. I have to say I was very pleased with the results – my soup turned out to be light yet satisfying. (It’s hard to screw up a soup, anyways). I used a mild red chili pepper mainly for visual appeal and to add just a touch of heat. And of course, it’s always better to use real homemade chicken stock in soup recipes than store bought. It just makes a world of the difference. Usually I make chicken stock and then use the chicken meat in the soup right away. This time, I had a cooked chicken breast but no stock so I had to resort to using 3 bouillon cubes and water instead. Although the soup turned out to be pretty good anyway, I know it would have been even better had I used the real chicken stock.
(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 foil to make sure the pork does not dry out, and then quickly put it under the broiler to brown a little.
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 Indian spices such as curry, coriander, or cumin. So beef curry was my choice of stuffing for the pumpkin. Don’t be deterred by the rather “Halloween -ish” appearance of the pumpkin in my picture. I made a mistake of overfilling the pumpkin, and the contents spilled out a little bit. Don’t fill the pumpkin “bowl” more than 2/3 full, and make sure it fits into your oven. The stuffing actually tasted pretty good. I scraped the sides of the pumpkin bowl and added the pumpkin flesh back to the curry. While the pumpkin flesh did not have much taste on its own, it added a nice crunch to the dish. And besides, bright orange vegetables are chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants.