Friday, December 28, 2012

Fudgy Brownies with Eggnog Ice Cream


Christmas is over! The awesome part of being a Russian here in the US, though, is that you get to celebrate two big holidays: Christmas and then New Year's. You see, New Year's is THE biggest holiday in Russia, the time of magic, fun, and big parties. It is on New Year's Eve that Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz) comes and brings presents to kids. He is accompanied by his beautiful granddaughter, Snow Maiden (Snegurochka). Christmas is also celebrated (Russian Orthodox Christmas is on January 7), but on a much smaller scale, usually at home with the family. So, the holidays are not over yet... Getting ready to celebrate with friends, with traditional New Year's party foods such as olivie (I will write about it later) and vinegret, followed by the honey cake perhaps.

In the meantime, with this week off, I'm catching up on doing things around the house, not the least of which is BAKING. Mostly cookies, more cookies and brownies. Speaking of which. I have this recipe for fudgy and fabulous brownies from the folks of America's Test Kitchen (tweaked here and there). And it occurred to me to try to use eggnog in ice cream. And guess what? The eggnog ice cream works great with these warm brownies. Perfect for quiet days at home. Also really, really nice with a glass of champagne, especially in front of the fireplace (amazingly, it is actually cold enough here in Houston to light the fire).

You know the drill, right? If the brownies cool down, they can be microwaved so that our festive eggnog ice cream melts deliciously over their smooth, chocolatey goodness.

By the way, you may also want to check out pomegranate ice cream I wrote about in the fall. 


Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies

5 oz (140 gr) dark chocolate, chopped
2 oz (60 gr) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick (113 gr) butter, cut into 4 pieces
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup (250 gr) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
1 cup (140 gr) flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Butter or spray an 8X8 in (20X20 cm) pan.

In the microwave, melt together both kinds of chocolate and butter, add cocoa powder and stir until smooth. Add sugar, vanilla and salt, stir until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add flour and nuts, mix until just incorporated. Bake 35-40 min, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool until firm enough to cut.

Eggnog Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients until sugar dissolves. Make ice cream according to the ice cream maker instructions. It is best to let ice cream firm up in the freezer a couple of hours before serving.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Eeeeverybody writes about edible Christmas presents these days, especially about cookies. Me too, me too! These loverly angels are easy to make if you have the most basic ingredients plus a rolling pin and a cookie cutter or two. Much easier, for example, than the exciting and fancy Befana. My sister is visiting from Russia, and we spent a quiet afternoon making these beauties. In our particular case, "less is more" was definitely not a true statement. We really went to town with all the decorating. And I just loved the result.

What I like about this dough recipe is that it is versatile enough to be used for sandwich cookies held together by jam.

This one-legged war hero here has apparently lost an eye, too - hence the eye patch :).

Christmas Cookies

2 1/2 cups (355 gr) flour
3/4 cups (156 gr) sugar (preferably super-fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (226 gr) butter, softened but cool, cut into tablespoon size pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese

Using electric mixer at slow speed, mix flour, sugar and salt. Add butter, one piece at a time, mixing until the mixture is crumbly. Add vanilla and cream cheese, mix until dough forms (do not overmix). Shape into two discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out dough one disc at a time on generously foured surface to about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick. Using cookie cutter, cut desired shapes. Bake for about 7 minutes. Watch carefuly as the edges of the cookies can burn easily.

Cool on baking sheet 1 minute, then transfer to rack and cool completely before decorating.

Christmas Cookies with Jam

In a small saucepan, reduce 1 1/4 cup jam to 1 cup and use it to sandwich baked cookies together.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Let's see... How's everybody's holiday season going so far? Overwhelmed, excited, stressed, happy? All of the above? 

I love Christmas. It's so pretty. And Santa has been nice to me already: my Russian blog has been featured in Gastronom - Russia's biggest (and oldest) culinary magazine. I remember buying it in Russia years ago and admiring its glossy pages and gorgeous photos of food... And now, here I am! Squeal :). (That's me on the left :))

Now, with that squealing out of the way, what I wanted to talk to you about is something special. Very special cookies called Befana. A few years ago I read an essay about how for immigrants food from the home country becomes very important. Traditions and customs fade away under the pressures of the new way of life, but the food, the favorite family dishes linger on, passed from generation to generation.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Onion and Apple Galette

Today's recipe is simple and straightforward: apple and onion galette. I saw it in a Russian blog and it captured my attention. I like cooked onions, such as the ones in the onion soup or in an onion-and-puff-pastry tart I made one time. The idea of combining the sauteed onions with apples in a pie intrigued me. What turned out to be the best part though was the galette's dough, made with fresh rosemary. I loved the savory, flavorful nature of it and I am now devising ways to use this dough in other recipes as well.

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