Sweet Snowflake | White Poppy Seed Bread

Snowflake Sweet Bread

With slight variations, this versatile dough recipe is used for many baked goods all over Ukraine. The same dough is made for savory garlicky pampushky served with borsch and for sweet, plain or filled with fresh berries, jam (povydlo), poppy seed filling, and dusted with sugar powder. Pies, braided and intricately decorated loaves of sweet bread, rolls — it is good for all of them. Try it this holiday season! This snowflake-shaped sweet bread makes a light, fluffy, nutty, and delicately sweet gift to remember.

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Smoked Chicken Breast Stuffed with Seasoned Cherries

Stuffed with cherries and smoked chicken breasts

Hot smoked chicken breasts make any meal exciting! Salads, sandwiches, soups, pasta dishes — you name it! — will benefit if you add some smoked lean chicken. But cooking skinless and boneless chicken breasts is easy and challenging at the same time. To make them tender and juicy we need to protect their moisture and to make them uniformly thick. Usually, a combination of pounding and brining is a solution. In this recipe, we make a pocket to stuff it with moist and/or fatty ingredients instead of pounding. As a bonus, different stuffings add interesting flavors to otherwise mild-tasting chicken.

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Happy Thanksgiving! Smoked Apple Chutney

Smoked Apple Chutney

The original chutneys come from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal cuisines. They can be made of fresh or cooked ingredients. Their texture varies from smooth to chunky. To prolong their shelf life, they can be fermented or cooked with vinegar, citrus juice, or tamarind puree. There are many variations, and recipes vary from region to region.

Today chutney is a large category of condiments made of spiced fruits and vegetables. In addition to traditional Asian condiments, there are American and European (aka Major Grey’s style) chutneys that became popular in western cuisines. This recipe is based on the classic Anglo-Indian version with apples and raisins. Serve smoked apple chutney with mild cheddar, ham, roasted pork, poultry, on top of baked brie, etc. This chutney will beautifully flavor brown stock and demi-glace sauces.

May this holiday season bring joy to your heart and a pleasure to your taste buds! Thank you for being Lyukum Cooking Lab friends!

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Miso Marinated and Roasted Fish | Saikyo Yaki

Halibut Saikyo Yaki

Saikyo Miso originated in Kyoto — a city that has been a center of politics, economics, and culture for more than a thousand years—and has been cultivated by the elegance of royalty. (Saikyo means “west city,” the former name for Kyoto.) Saikyo Miso has been a valuable part of the Imperial Palace’s hare (soul rejuvenation) ceremonies and has developed along with the food culture of the capital city. It is known for its generous amount of rice malt, its sweetness due to its low sodium content, and its beautiful light beige color.

The fermentation period for this miso is relatively short which contributes to the color and the buttery, smooth consistency. Compared with other miso, saikyo has the least amount of salt (5 percent to 10 percent) which minimizes the intense flavor to a naturally sweet, mild taste. Fish fillets are marinated in sweet miso for at least 2-3 days or up to 5-7 days for thicker slices before being grilled.

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Flowering Leeks | 韭菜 | jiǔ cài

Blanched and Seasoned Flowering Leeks

Years ago, I discovered foraged ramps in the U.S. though available only matured, expensive, and very difficult to find. Unfortunately, matured ramps cannot substitute cheremsha, which is ramp sprouts from Kavkaz mountains. But flowering leeks can! Cooked the same way, I consider succulent stems of flowering leeks the second best. The recipe below is exactly how we prepared ramp sprouts in our family — simple and delicious. It works for the flowering leeks to the letter.

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Cucumber Guacamole Topped with Octopus Ceviche

Octopus Ceviche and Cucumber Guacamole

As you know, the main ingredient of basic ceviche recipe is fresh raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juices and seasoned with salt, chili peppers, onions, and fresh cilantro. Ceviche de pulpo, or octopus ceviche can be made with cooked octopus. This ceviche is good for those who avoid eating uncooked fish (acid marinades do not provide the same level of food safety as heat cooking). In case of cooked octopus, we don’t need large amounts of citric juices and hours of marinating to cause denaturation of the proteins. We mostly add flavor, and the level of acidity in ceviche can be adjusted to your taste.

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Maslenitsa | Crepe Week, Day 4 | U-snooze U-loose Crepes

U-snoose U-loose Crepes with ground meat and BBQ sauce

A batch of 24 crepes (see a link to my favorite crepes recipe in Recipe Notes) provides 3-4 days of different breakfasts and lunches for two every week. Make crepes in advance, keep them covered with plastic wrap in a refrigerator, and quickly serve an endless variety of foods! With a pile of crepes and two more simple ingredients like ground meat and BBQ sauce, you can make a quick, attractive, and filling appetizer for unexpected (or expected) friends. Serve it in individual ramekins or a large baking dish — easy to grab bite-size rolls will be gone in no time! Thus the name.

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Maslenitsa | Crepe Week, Day 3 | Crespelle ai frutti di mare

Crespelle ai frutti di mare | Crepes with Assorted Seafood (Salmon, Bay Scalops, Sea Bass, Prawns), Bechamel, and Asiago Cheese

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?

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Polish Doughnuts | Pączki

Polish doughnuts pączki

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!

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