Crepes — a type of very thin pastry — exist in the majority of world cuisines. Nevertheless, when I discovered Italian crespelle, it was a surprise for me. Italian cuisine is associated with pasta and pizza in my mind, so I assumed Italians would rather use flour for those. While going through many crespelle recipes, it became clear that crepes in Italy are mostly used as a quick version of stuffed pasta. When stuffed, rolled, and baked covered with sauce and grated cheese, they relate to cannelloni. When stuffed, folded into triangles (fazzoletti di crespelle or “crepe handkerchiefs”), and baked with a sauce and grated cheese, they are a shortcut for lasagna, aren’t they?
Only twice in my life, I had a chance to eat Poltava nalysnyky (Ukrainian crepes) with homemade tvorog (See Recipe Notes about tvorog). Thin and lacy, crepes were quartered, rolled with cheese, layered with sour cream and honey in a deep buttered dish, and slowly cooked for hours in a residual heat of a wood-fired oven. Every bite was like sweet nothings whispered in my ear! (Many bites later, I asked how this goodness was made and realized it was didko (one of the names for the devil in Ukraine) whispering…) The recipe below is inspired by
didko my memories about eating good food in Poltava region.
Until a few days ago, I was sure Polish Pączki have something to do with Easter bread Paska because for a Russian speaking person this word looks like it should sound the same. I was wrong, and I was wrong. Apparently, Pączki are pronounced POONCH-key [ˈpɔnt͡ʂkʲi] and are similar to what I know as Ponchiki from my childhood. Only now I discovered their name came to Russian from the Polish language!
Have you ever been served a dish with food so beautiful you felt it was a crime to eat it? Imagine a cook, who is so charmed by the natural beauty of raw ingredients and hesitates to cook them. That’s what I feel when I see Romanesco Broccoli. What is the best way to put it on a pedestal of our dinner plate? How to protect its color and shape? How to bring out its nutty flavor and crunchy texture?
Not sure how widespread it was in the Soviet era and what variations existed out there. We discussed it in LCL Group on Facebook and, apparently, the recipe with tomatoes was more popular. In other regions, pink salmon (aka Gorbusha) was more available than mackerel and was cooked similarly. The recipe below is how my Mom made it. I loved eating creamed mackerel with vegetables as a cold appetizer after school. My favorite part of this dish was the vegetables — naturally sweet, slightly flavored with sea salt and umami, and rounded with silky cream. They had to be soft and barely crunchy.
Do not, I repeat, do not drink this mulled wine during the day if you plan to do things. It’s a powerful way to release pressure from your life. This wine will make your head light, your legs heavy, your heart warm. You will want to sit in a chair, tucked with your cozy blanket, and watch Christmas fairytales about love and other wonders.
Pretzels are my obsession. I like all of them, including soft Auntie Anne’s ones offered in most American malls and airports. No wonder pretzels were my point of interest during the trip to Hessen and Reinland-Pfalz states in Germany and Alsace region in France. Those I loved. The recipe below is my favorite version of homemade pretzels adjusted to locally available ingredients.