Archive for January, 2009


Kotleti are Russian burgers. Unlike American burgers, which are usually made with beef and served on a bun (with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, etc), kotleti are usually made with ground pork and aren’t served on a bun – or with any other “fixings”. I used to make my kotleti with a combination of beef and pork – I think that’s how the recipe in my Russian cookbook goes – but one day Stas asked for chicken kotleti. They became his favorite, and now I can’t imagine kotleti any other way.

It took me awhile to eat kotleti. When I started making them originally, I was vegetarian. After I started eating meat, I still didn’t try them, because I fried them in a good amount of oil & butter. Only recently did it occur to me that I could just cook some separately, in cooking spray. (I guess I’m a little slow!)

Now, it’s one of my favorite recipes.

Chicken Kotleti
adapted from Please to the Table

2 slices white bread
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 lb. ground chicken
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup crushed ice
1 large egg, separated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
dry breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter


freshly-ground chicken

1. Soak bread in milk for about 10 minutes. Squeeze and drain. Crumble into a large mixing bowl.

2. Add chicken, onion, garlic, ice, egg yolk; mix well.


combining ingredients for step 2

3. Beat egg white until frothy; carefully add it to the meat mixture, along with salt and pepper. Knead until well-blended and fluffy.

imgp3822mix well

light and fluffy

4. Form mixture into patties. Roll in breadcrumbs (or flour). optional: put small pieces of butter into slits in each patty.

5. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add patties and brown on both sides. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 4-5 minutes.

serves 6

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I loooooooove mushrooms!

Growing up, I actually hated them… I think the turning point came around the time I went vegetarian back in college (I was vegetarian for about 4 or 5 years, but not anymore). Once I learned that mushrooms were a good source of protein, and super-low in fat and calories, I just started making a lot of grilled portobello ‘burgers’ and stuffed mushrooms.

So that was when I started liking mushrooms. I started loving mushrooms in 2007, when I went to Ukraine for the first time. This was when I experienced the magic that is marinated mushrooms! Oh, I went crazy for them… I literally ate every last marinated mushroom in Stas’ parents’ house. When I came home, I bought a whole bunch of marinated mushrooms from the Russian stores in the neighborhood, but nothing compares to the ones I had in Ukraine 😦

Besides marinated mushrooms (yum!), I also love mushroom soups. I typically make mine with only dried porcini mushrooms – no fresh mushrooms. In Ukraine (and probably most of the former Soviet Union, although I can’t say for sure), porcini mushrooms are readily available, both fresh and dried. They’re called “white mushrooms” and are very affordable. Here in the States, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them fresh; they’re available dried, but are a little pricey. What we call “white mushrooms” here are really button mushrooms.

For this soup, I used dried porcini mushrooms and fresh “white” (button) mushrooms. It was gooooood – a mushroom lover’s dream!

One of these days, I’d love to try it with fresh porcinis…


Porcini Mushroom Soup
from Gourmet, December 2008

3/4 oz dried porcini mushrooms (1 cup)
6 cups warm water plus 2 cups hot water, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 lb fresh white (button) mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

1. Soak dried porcinis in 2 cups of hot water for 15 minutes.
2. Heat a heavy medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add onions, butter, and salt; cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden brown. Add celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer porcinis to the pot. Strain the porcini soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a  separate bowl. Add the fresh white mushrooms to the pot, along with with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
4. Stir in tomatoes, remaining 6 cups water, and porcini-soaking liquid. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.
5. Purée 1 cup of the vegetables and 1 cup of the liquid in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids), then return to the pot. Stir in parsley, dill, and salt to taste.
serves 8

what a beautiful pot of mushrooms!

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Stas is home from Ukraine!!! 🙂

Tuesday night, I planned on making a recipe from the new Cooking Light magazine – a chicken recipe. But then I realized that I needed to marinate the chicken for 8 hours… I didn’t have 8 hours. On to plan B!

I went onto the Cooking Light website and searched for a quick chicken recipe. This one immediately caught my eye – the ingredients sounded so strange together! Mustard, maple syrup, orange rind, onions, and dill?! Even though I knew it was risky, I had to try it!

I ended up buying turkey breasts for the recipe because they were cheaper than chicken breasts.

The verdict? Yummy! Even Stas liked it… and he normally doesn’t like sauces much. Or onions. Or sweet stuff 🙂

The best part was that it was quick – and I got to use up some of the maple syrup I had in the fridge from a Thanksgiving recipe! 🙂


Turkey Breast Cutlets with Maple-Mustard Dill Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light, November 2006

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless turkey breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
cooking spray
2 tablespoons chopped onion
6 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon grated orange rind

1. Place each turkey breast half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound each to 1/4-inch thickness with a meat mallet. Sprinkle turkey evenly with salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add turkey to pan and cook about 4 minutes on each side, or until done. Transfer turkey to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

2. Add onion to pan; cook for 1 minute. Add syrup, mustard, water, dill, and orange rind; cook for 1 minute, or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Serve sauce over turkey.

serves 4.

adding onions to pan

adding onions to pan

stirring the sauce

stirring the sauce

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I’ve been bad… very very bad. I’ve been so focused on planning our wedding that I’ve been neglecting this blog 😦

To make matters worse, Stas has been in Ukraine since January 9, so instead of whipping up gourmet meals for 1, I’ve been using the time to eat up whatever is left in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. And I’ve been eating a lot of cheese – I loooooove cheese! But that’s another story 🙂

So basically, I haven’t had a lot to post about. In fact, this post is long-overdue… it’s from Christmas dinner! (Please forgive me!)

Christmas dinner was just my parents, my nana, Stas, and me. My mom asked me to help her with the menu, and didn’t want the usual ham, turkey, or chicken – so I sent her a few pork tenderloin recipes. She decided on this one, and I’m so glad she did – it was delicious!! And I ended up with the leftovers (which was NOT a bad thing!)…


Maple-Sage Roasted Pork Tenderloin
from Cooking Light, November 2008

1  tablespoon  maple syrup
1  teaspoon  chopped fresh sage
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon black pepper
1  (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
Cooking spray

1. Combine the maple syrup, sage, salt, black pepper, and pork tenderloin in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 400°.

3. Remove pork from bag. Place pork on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes (or until a thermometer registers 155 degrees). Cover loosely with foil. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

serves 4

I doubled the ingredients (we had 2 pork tenderloins) and it came out great!

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