Gratin Dauphinois | Potato Gratin

Potato gratin, a classic gratin dauphinois, or scalloped potatoes

I love this side dish for being so simple to make, yet extremely attractive. Similar to lasagna or moussaka, potato gratin should be cooked in advance, refrigerated to set, removed from the pan, sliced to portions while cold, and reheated before serving. If all steps are done in that order, a humble potato makes an eye-catching side dish, a beautiful element of any plated dinner.

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Vegetable Moussaka

Vegetable Moussaka

This casserole is a celebration of vegetables! Look at the list of ingredients. Their variety is stunning! That’s why the complexity of this dish flavors conquers the taste buds of vegetarians and carnivores alike. Just like any other layered dish, benefits from being cooked in advance, set in a refrigerator for a few hours and reheated portioned right before serving. It helps to develop flavors and keep colorful layers presentable.

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Mzhave | Georgian Cabbage Pickled with Beets

Mzhave Georgian cabbage pickled with beets

Mzhave Combosto is widely popular in former Soviet countries appetizer made with cabbage and beetroot. Since it belongs to the Georgian cuisine, it is also known as Georgian or Guria-style cabbage. Word MZHAVE literally means salted, fermented, or pickled. There are variations in different regions of Georgia (e.g., in Guria, Imereti, and Kakheti). Some cooks prefer natural fermentation when other add vinegar to pickle vegetables. Some recipes make the cabbage more hot and pungent, while other are not heavy with spices and herbs. Every household adjusts the recipe to the taste. The common ingredients are juicy white cabbage, beetroot, garlic, and chile pepper. Celery is also often in the list.
In Ukraine, we have a similar recipe — Pelyustka. The name comes from the word “petal” probably because pickled with beets cabbage leaves look like pink flower petals.

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Bloody Butcher Red Cornbread

Bloody Butcher Cornbread with Roasted Peppers and Spanish Sweet Paprika

If you ever made a good Southern-style cornbread, you most likely came across Mark Bittman’s recipe, which was featured and adopted by many online sources. James Brown shared his adaptation during the workshop at his mill. Obviously, James’ cornbread was made with his heirloom corn, yellow and red, and was wonderful. I skipped yellow corn and added some diced roasted peppers and Spanish sweet smoked paprika.

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Сочени | Socheni — Pastries Stuffed with Fresh Cheese

Sochniki, Socheni, Farmer's Cheese Stuffed Pastries

It’s already scorching hot in Central Texas. But early in the morning, the light is golden and gentle, and the air is still fresh. Socheni and some tea in a shadow of live oaks filled my morning with dear flavors, nostalgic images from the past, and piece. And it was good.

If you recognize the pastry in the picture, you and I probably belong to the same culture and generation. Most likely you are smiling and wishing you could get one of those right now. I bet you are thinking about your school years and other favorite cookies and pastries from a long time ago, aren’t you? Socheni, aka Sochniki, don’t need any introduction to those who know what they are. The rest of people would probably pass them by as they look pretty rustic and not as attractive as modern pastries. This phenomenon is an illustration how much we treasure our childhood food memories. They stay with us forever.

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Ramps Pita Bread | The Same-Day Pita with Ramps Puree

Ramps Pita Bread

For me, the most inspiring part of the Modernist Bread pita section is the recipes with vegetable purees. I can’t describe how marvelously appetizing ramps flavored pita smells while baking! Ramps season is coming, and I have to share the recipe. This version is for the same-day pita, but feel free to slow down the bulk fermentation in the fridge and develop pita flavors even better.

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Ukrainian Khrustyky | Polish Faworki

Ukrainian Khrustyky | Polish Faworki

It was the first recipe I learned as a child, and it became my signature dish. I was extremely proud to be able to make these sweets for the whole family all by myself. They sort of disappeared from my adult menu. I don’t even remember when I made them for the last time. A request to make them for the coming Fat Thursday surprised me. I had no idea they are traditional carnival sweets! For me, making them was another chance to reminisce about my childhood, family, home… Thank you.

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Maslenitsa | Crepe Week, Day 7 | Boûkète, Limburg Crepes with Speck and Sirop de Liege

Limburg Crepes with Speck and Sirop de Liege

The longer I lived in the States, the more I realized it’s possible to find almost anything in specialty food stores and online. And later, traveling places and getting edible gifts from around the world proved that unfathomable are the ways of experiencing delicious food. A few years ago, this crepes recipe sounded exotic to me because of its unusual ingredients. Later, it became an illustration for the provocative statement above. Being curious is fun!

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Maslenitsa | Crepe Week, Day 6 | Crème Brûlée Crepe Cone

Crème Brûlée Crepe Cone

Are crêpes better when they’re turned into cones? (c) I remember Tokyo pastry houses and bakeries surprised me. It seemed like Japanese pastry chefs took the best from European traditions and creations and perfected them even more. It was true for inexpensive street food and for desserts at luxurious, exclusive places. So, don’t be surprised to see many videos and blog stories full of excitement about Japanese crepe cones, which became a common street food in Japan. Crème Brûlée crepe cone is also a Japanese idea. I saw the pictures and I wanted it! Is it possible to make it at home without special equipment (large diameter crepe makers, spreaders, etc.)?

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Family Recipes: My Mom’s Creamed Mackerel with Vegetables

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.

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