Russian Vinaigrette

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I can’t count anymore how often we made this dish! It is a Russian type of vegetable-salad and an absolute staple in our house. When we make vinaigrette, usually the whole family helps in preparation. A big bowl of vinaigrette is a nice family effort! The boys are helping to cut (and sample!) the vegetables, while the best husband and I do the peeling. Most of the time we eat vinaigrette just like that with a piece of bread. It is also nice as a side dish to grilled sausages, vegetables, cheese, etc., as part of a party buffet, or as a contribution to a potluck dinner.

One more comment about the relative amounts of the ingredients. There is not one correct way of preparing vinaigrette. In fact every family has its own recipe for preparing it. Even we vary our own recipe depending on the ingredients we have at hand or the mood of the day. We often use more beets, because he happen to have them, or less potatoes, because our little boy doesn’t fancy them, or we leave out the onion because small children are visiting. This is a very flexible and forgiving recipe! The picture above, for example, is our “baby-version”: no onions and greens, and the vegetables are cut into uneven chunks by little hands – but nevertheless, it was utterly delicious!

You need:

  • 4 red beets
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 small can peas
  • 4-6 pickled cucumbers (*)
  • small cup of sauerkraut – optional (**)
  • 1 small onion
  • bunch of parsley and dill
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • olive oil

How to make it:

  1. Boil beets, carrots and potatoes in their skin until tender. They can all be cooked in one big pot. Because the beets cook much longer than the other vegetables, we usually start taking out the carrots and potatoes earlier.
  2. Peel the vegetables and cut them into small cubes. The peeling of the carrots takes a bit of training and is, I admit, not my favorite task.
  3. Cut the pickles, onion and sauerkraut into small pieces.
  4. Combine everything in a large bowl and add drained peas, olive oil, salt, pepper and finely chopped parsley and dill. Combine well but carefully!
  5. Serve with fresh bread or as a side dish.

(*) Russian cucumbers are typically marinated in salt water. They taste similar to the pickles used in the US. In Germany it is more common to marinade cucumbers in a mixture of spices and vinegar. Depending which kind of cucumber you can get (or prefer), I suggest that you compensate with the addition of vinegar or salt respectively.

(**) It is sometimes not easy to find good sauerkraut.  We usually add sauerkraut in the fall and winter when it is in season. Most of the time, especially in the summer, we prepare vinaigrette without sauerkraut.

Priyatnogo appetita!

This is my contribution to Veggie-Thursday, and siebenhundertsachen’s recipe collection.

Finnish berry cake

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The school start of our older boy caught us in full swing. Getting up every morning at 6:30 am is tough for a night owl like me and more than once did I fall asleep right after I put the kids to bed in the evening. The unfolded laundry is piling up faster than I can put it away, my mending basket is trying hard to get my attention and all the sewing, knitting and crafting projects are slowed down considerably. But there is always enough time for a quick and easy and delicious cake, right!

I was looking for an easy cake with berries and cream and one of the first recipes that showed up was this Finnish berry cake. What shall I say – it is our new favourite family cake!  The recipe is enough for a round cake form of ca. 25 cm in diameter. The cake is relatively flat, so be aware, it will be eaten in a blink of an eye…..

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You’ll need:

Crust:

  • 150g butter
  • 100 ml sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 300 ml flour (*)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Filling:

  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 50 ml sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar
  • ca. 200-250g mixed berries (can be frozen)
  1. Mix butter and sugar until well combined.
  2. Add egg, flour and baking powder and combine everything to a smooth batter.
  3. Spread the batter into a buttered cake pan of about 25 cm diameter and pull up a small rim of about 1 cm hight all around. The cake is relatively flat, so it needs only a very small rim, just that the filling stays in place.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  5. Mix sour cream, sugar, egg and vanilla sugar and distribute the mixture on the batter.
  6. Sprinkle the berries evenly across the sour cream mix. The original recipe cautions not to use too many berries and suggests a maximum of one cup. I prefer to put a bit more and the cake turned out just fine.
  7. Bake for ca. 30 min. until the cake is done in the middle (you can check with a knife if you can cut the filling).

(*) I like spelt flour. For this cake I usually use half-and-half whole spelt flour and normal spelt flour.

Hyvää ruokahalua!  (I have no idea how to pronounce that….)