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Russian Easter bread

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Russian Easter Bread (Kulich)

It is traditional to make the design XB meaning “Christ is risen” on top of each of these little towering loaves.

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
3/4 cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup cut-up mixed candied fruit
1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Lemon Icing

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl.
Stir in milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, raisins, candied fruit, almonds, lemon peel and 3 cups of the flour.
Beat until smooth.
Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up.
Cover; let rise in warm place until double, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Punch dough down; divide into halves.
Shape each half into round bun-shaped loaf.
Place in two well-greased 3-pound shortening cans.* Let rise until double, 40 to 50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place cans on low rack so that midpoint of each can is in center of oven.
Bake until tops are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
If tops brown too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Cool 10 minutes.

Remove from cans.
Spoon Lemon Icing over tops of warm bread, allowing some to drizzle down sides.
Trim with tiny decorating candies if desired.

* Two (46-ounce) juice cans can be substituted for the 3-pound shortening cans.

Lemon Icing
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix confectioners’ sugar, water and lemon juice until smooth. Icing should be of glaze consistency.
Add 1 to 2 teaspoons water if necessary.

Spinach And Yogurt salad

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Spinach and Yogurt Salad

You can make a meal of this by serving it with wedges of pita bread.

2 bunches spinach, well rinsed and stemmed
or 1 package pre-washed baby spinach
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly-ground pepper

Steam the spinach until it is tender and bright green — about two minutes.
Drain, cool, and squeeze it to remove excess water.
Chop the spinach as finely as you can.

In a large bowl, combine it with the remaining ingredients.
Mix thoroughly.
Cover and refrigerate for one hour or more before serving.

Serves 4.

Russian Beet soup

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Russian Beet Soup (Borscht )

6 cups water
1/2 cup dried navy beans
1 pound beef boneless chuck, tip or
round, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 smoked pork hock
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can condensed beef broth
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 medium beets, cooked
2 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups shredded cabbage
2 teaspoons dill seed or 1 sprig dill weed
1 tablespoon pickling spice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup dairy sour cream

Heat water and beans to boiling in Dutch oven; boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour.
Add beef, pork, beef broth, salt and pepper to beans.
Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until beef is tender 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Shred beets or cut into 1/4-inch strips.

Remove pork from Dutch oven; cool slightly.
Remove pork from bone and trim fat; cut into bite-size pieces.
Add pork, beets, onions, garlic, potatoes and cabbage to beef mixture.
Tie dill seed and pickling spice in cheesecloth bag or place in tea ball; add to beef mixture.
Cover and simmer 2 hours.

Stir in vinegar; simmer 10 minutes.

Remove spice bag.

Serve with sour cream; sprinkle with minced dill weed, if desired.

Yields 6 servings.

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