Category Archives: Food and drink

КЕФИР an ancient drink from Caucasus

If you visited a Wholefoods branch recently or any Eastern European shop you might have noticed kefir. This ancient drink was brought to Russia from the Caucasus region and very quickly became a firm favourite

It always amuses me how ancient recipes and food staples from around the world suddenly come into fashion in our Western hemisphere and are actively promoted as the new remedy to all health evils. Kefir is definitely in this category. And I am happy to see that this drink packed with nutrients is finally getting a recognition it deserves.

On empty stomach
Kefir aids digestion and improves metabolism

A glass of the drink contains 10g of protein, which is 1:10 of RDA for men and 1:7 for women. Kefir is recommended as part of protein diet, and thus is a great idea for breakfast. It literally ‘inhabits’ your stomach with healthy bacteria and gets your body ready for the day ahead!

Try kefir smoothie or these easy kefir pancakes – ОЛАДЬИ- for breakfast!

Before going to bed

Improves the function of the digestive tract

Kefor contains millions of bacteria which grow and ‘kick out’ harmful bacteria, helping with indigestion, bloating and constipation.

Trying to avoid eating before bed? A glass of kefir will fill you up , but won’t add too many calories (59ccal per 100g)!

Excellent source of calcium

A glass of 3.2% fat kefir contains half the daily amount of calcium and phosphorus, which are indispensable for healthy teeth, bones and nails. However, Calcium is successfully absorbed only in the presence of vitamin D, phosphorus and fats. That’s why it is advisable to drink kefir which contains over 2.5% fat.

Calcium is better absorbed at night time.

Prevents dehydration and swelling

Kefir tops the list of drinks excellent for quenching thirst thanks to its slightly sour taste, and the minerals it contains help to retain the liquid. At the same time, unlike mineral water it doesn’t retain excess water in the body. It also helps knock down swelling.

It is also a go-to recipe for relieving bee sting swelling and pain.

Lowers cholesterol

Good news for the lactose intolerant!

Lactose in kefir is turned into milk acid, which is easily absorbed

Great baking ingredient.

Kefir is widely used in baking in Russia. Try making kefir pancakes for breakfast. Cakes made with kefir are moist with a hint of sourness.

Interested to learn the Russian language and all things Russian? Click here for more info

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Russian Shrove Sunday Pancakes – Масленичные блины

Celebrations of Maslenitsa-Shrovetide-in the older days were always accompanied by public gatherings and culinary delights. Not all Shrove week traditions survived until these days. But one of the most well known and, undoubtedly, the most delicious one lives on and is stronger than ever.

You must have guessed by now that we are talking about pancakes. We’re really big on pancakes-sweet and savoury, big and tiny, pancakes made with milk or buttermilk, water or kefir, yeast or soda – you name them, we make them!

Over Shrove week pancakes were the main dish on the festive table. To make sure her family and guests don’t get bored of them, every housewife tried to surprise them not only with an original recipe and filling, but also with a great variety, making different pancakes for every day of the week.

So it is no wonder that so many old traditional recipes have survived until our days.

We are offering you a tried and time tested recipe based on a very Russian (and much loved!) ingredient-kefir and a very Russian (and much coveted) filling -caviar.

Kefir pancakes with salmon/trout/beluga caviar filling

Ingredients:

  • Kefir – 1.5 cups
  • Milk – 0.5 cup
  • White plain flour -2 cups
  • Sugar – 3 tbsp
  • Eggs – 2
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Soda – 1 tsp
  • Sunflower oil – 3tbsp
  • Caviar – as much as you fancy

Method:

  1. Sift flour with soda. Whisk eggs with sugar, add kefir and salt. Add the flour to the mixture and stir well.
  2. Add milk and oil and mix. Cover the batter with a towel and leave aside for about half an hour.
  3. If the batter is very thick, add milk or water until it has the consistency of double cream or yogurt.
  4. Fry the pancakes until golden on a really hot pan.
  5. Spread a little butter on each pancake while it’s still not.
  6. Add caviar and fold any way you like
  7. Decorate with a bit of sour cream and dill

Interested to learn the Russian language and all things Russian? Click here for more info

Russian word of the day

МАСЛЕНИЦА is one of the favourite days of the year. Only NYE could rival that in Russia. You’d be surprised to learn that Maslenitsa-Russian pancake day-to-day is not celebrated on a Tuesday before the Great Lent, but during the whole week before the start of the lent. The culmination of it is Sunday, which we call ПРОЩЁНОЕ ВОСКРЕСЕНЬЕ – Shrove Sunday -/praschonaye vaskrisienye/, which literallmahy translates as Forgiveness Sunday.

So if you’ve been meaning to say sorry to someone in your life, but were not  brave enough, this coming Sunday is your day!!

The word МАСЛЕНИЦА derived from МАСЛО butter /mahslah/. The day is called so because of abundant ‘buttery’ meals eaten on that day before going on a strict lent when neither meat or diary products are eaten.

Guess what we are eating on that day! Of course! БЛИНЫ –pancakes- /blini

For traditional Russian pancake recipe click here

Twelve dishes of Christmas

Dish #2

Взвар

Another must have on a festive table is Vzvar [Vzvar] взвар.

A great alcohol and sugar free alternative to mulled wine or hot Toddy.

It is traditionally made with dried fruits and honey. You’ll only make it better by adding cinnamon, cloves, anice seed- the choice is yours.

We are offering you a recipe with dried apples. But you can also make it with a mix of dried pears, cherries or prunes.

200g dried apples

4 tbs honey

1.5l water

Soak the apples in boiling water for about 4hours . If you’re planning to add aromatic herbs or spices, add them when you pour the boiling water, so they can infuse the drink. After 4 hours sift the mixture and add the honey. Mix until the honey is diluted.

Enjoy hot or cold!

Traditional Russian Christmas dishes

In the run up to Christmas we are offering you twelve traditional Russian Christmas dishes, both healthy and indulgent.

12 days following Christmas Day were considered Holly days, or Святки [Svyatki]. This is where the tradition of having twelve festive dishes on the Christmas table stems from.

Traditionally all food would have been prepared before the first star sets in the sky on Christmas eve.

The main dish would be Сочиво [Socheevah], or Кутья [Kootyah].

Сочиво, or кутья

This a delicious sweet dish, that can equally be eaten for breakfast, desert or at a Christmas table. Totally vegan as well!

  • 1 cup coarsely ground wheat grains
    100g poppy seeds
    100g walnuts or almonds
    2-3tbs liquid honey
    pinch of salt
    a handful of raisins (optional)

Rinse the wheat grains and soak them in boiling water for one hour. Rinse again and boil on medium heat until fully cooked.

Soak poppy seeds in boiling water for 15mins and then mash them with a spoon.

Add honey and mix well.

Add the mixture to the wheat .

Lastly, add raisins and chopped nuts.

Tip: *make sure the honey mixture is warm when adding it to the grains, so that they can absorb the sweetness of honey.

**You can easily substitute wheat for a cup of rice or 150g pearl barley. It will taste just as nice.