Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Little Baby Turned 4!!!Sponge Bob Birthday Cake.

When my Little son turned 4 and I had to find idea for his birthday party, I was quite lost. Whenever I asked him what he wanted, he couldn't give me an answer. My oldest son in oppose to his little brother tells me a year before and gives me a list with presents, and I also knew what my son's current obsession was.My little one, was born in the house, which was already filled with toys and never really asked me  to buy anything for him. He never cried and never sent the letter to Santa with hundreds items in it. I figured that I have to see what he loves to watch, and we looooove Sponge Bob Square Pants. It's silly, it's stupid from time to time, but it is entertaining. So, it was decided to create Sponge Bob theme party and I bought all kinds of board games with Sponge Bob images and decided to cover my cake with fondant to make  it look like Sponge Bob as close as possible. I tried to make my own fondant few times before with marshmallows and covered the cakes with it and never was fully satisfied with the results. The MF (marshmallow fondant) was too soft and melted to quickly. For me and my family, the taste of cake is very important, that's why everything from top to bottom had to be delicious and beautiful. I bought Wilton fondant, tasted it, and threw it to garbage. Years ago, I bought "The Cake Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum and thought through the Fondant recipe from it. I bought all the ingredients and... didn't do it. Later, I bought "The essential guide to cake decorating" and liked the simplicity of its sugarpaste recipe. Never did it. :( Finally, decided to browse the Cake decorator's favorite site and found recipe which satisfied hundreds of people. I decided to give it a try...
The fondant was made 2 days in advance. I wanted to give it a rest a day after it was made and a day after colored it. I colored it with gel Wilton colors in batches. I loved it!!! The fondant is pliable, stretchy, tastes delicious!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010



(adapted from the cooking book of Idon'trememebrwho)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
5 1/3 oz (10 2/3 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup milk

You will need two medium size muffin tins (muffin pans) and muffin paper cups to put into tins.

Sift flour, soda, salt and cocoa. In the standing mixer cream softened butter until creamy and white. Add into butter vanilla and sugar. mix for at least 2 minutes. Add egg one at a time. After adding on egg you have wait till the dough fully incorporate with an egg, otherwise you will have a separation of fats and liquid. Add your sifted dry ingredients alternating with milk. Explanation: You put 1/3 of your dry ingredients, mix it on the low speed, add 1/3 of a milk and mix it. Make it 3 times ending with the flour not the milk.

Oven is 350 F. Baking time is 25 minutes. Checking the cupcake for readiness with the wooden skewer or the toothpick. The stick should come out if the dough absolutely clean and dry.


6 oz. semisweet chocolate chip
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp butter

Mix everything together in the medium sauce pan over the low heat. Constantly mixing with the spoon. When the mixture is all incorporated and all of the chocolate almost melted, take away from the heat and mix it very well. Cool it until room temperature.

I take one cupcake at a time a dip into the chocolate glaze. The top will be smoothly covered with it.

Bonne Appetite!!!


Adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard.

This recipe creates the best meltaway cookie I had ever tried. I LOVE THEMMM!!!!

A few hours before you wish to make cookies, make the brown butter.( It's not complicated, I promise.) You will need 1/2 lb ( 2 sticks) of unsalted butter. Melt the butter in the medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter until solids separate and brown to a dark golden color, 7-10 minutes. usually, I also spend time by mixing it few times with spoon so it won't burn on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and cool at room temperature (1 hour), then chill in refrigerator until solid (1 hour)

Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or hand mixer, cream the brown butter on medium speed until cream colored (2 minutes) If you want to make Russian Tea cookies you will need to add 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts to the butter while creaming.If you want to make Lemon Italian style Meltaways you add 3 tbsp. finely chopped or grated citrus zest and 2 tbsp citrus juice to the butter while creaming. For mexican cookies we add 1 cup of chopped, toasted pecans and for Greek cookies 1 cup chopped, toasted almonds. Don't forget to cool the nuts before you add them onto the butter.

Add 1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp powdered sugar and 1/4 tsp salt.Cream for about 1 minute, don't forget to scrape the sides with the spatula.

On low speed, add 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (sifted).Beat until just incorporated (30 sec). Remove the dough and make a disc shaped piece. Wrap it tightly in plastic film and chill for at least 30-45 minutes in refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Flour your hands and pinch off pieces of dough and roll them into 1-inch balls (walnut size). Place the balls 1 inch apart on the sheet.Bake cookies fro 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges. Do not overbake, or your cookies will be to dry.

As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven , cover them completely with powder sugar. I place sugar in strainer and tap it over the cookies. Let the cookies cool competely on the baking sheet.

Even it's a long description it's very easy to do and very Yummyyyyy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Warm Lentil Salad

The recipe is adapted from Gourmet.

2 cups French green lentils , picked over and rinsed ( I used the regular green lentils)
6 cups water
2 Bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 medium onion , finely chopped
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch dice 
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Bring lentils, water and bay leaves to a boil in a heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and smmer, covered, until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 tsp salt, then simmer lentils, covered, until tender but not falling apart, 3 to 5 minutes.

While lentils simmer, cook onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper in 2 tbsp oil in heavy skillet  over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just softened, 7 to 9 minutes.

Make vinaigrette by whisking together vinegar, mustard, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper in a bowl. Add remaining  1/2 cup oil in a slow stream , whisking until blended well.

Drain lentils in a colander, discarding bay leaf, and return to saucepan along with vegetables mixtures and vinaigrette. Cook over low heat, stirring, until heated through. Keep warm , add chopped parsley.

The original recipe called for the 3/4 lb smoked Kielbasa or other smoked sausage cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.  Brown kielbasa in cleaned and dried 12 inch heavy skillet, turning over once, about 2 minutes. Stir kielbasa and parsley into lentils. 

I didn't add kielbasa. I served the roasted beef ribs over the salad. 

Muraveynik or Ant House Cake or Sweet Salami

The holidays are almost over. Today is old Calendar New Year, which is a great reason to celebrate one more time the beginning of the year. Give the reason to the Russians!!! So, I decided to start posting the recipes of the dishes I cook on the New Years Eve. 
 The Muraveynik Cake -translation Ant House cake, is a very easy cake. As New 2010 is a year if a Tiger and I wanted to make something that would look like a tiger and didn't want to work so much on that project, I remembered the old recipe which with a little chocolate would give me a tigers head.  :) 


 For the cookies:

1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
200 gr. non-salted butter
2 tsp baking powder
4 cups flour

 For the Cream:

1 can of condensed sweet milk , boiled in the water for 2 hours.
200gr. sweet butter

Melt the butter in the microwave, cool it down. Add the sour cream and mix it with the mixer. Add sugar , vanilla-mix for 2 minutes. Sift the flour with baking powder and add to the sour cream mixture. After the dough gets together , stop mixing with the mixer. I finish it with my hands, it's better. Put dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes, of course, covered with plastic.

Well, the cream recipe is required to boil the condensed milk can, which will give you a smooth dulce de leche. If you are lucky and you a have a Latin food department in your supermarket or Mexican grocery or Russian food store near you, you can find the NESTLE  -LA LECHERA dulce de leche. La Lechera is a thick caramel  sweetened condensed milk. You can use it for the cream. If you don't have that available, you can purchase the regular Sweetened Condensed Milk, and put it in the heavy pot covered with water and boil it for 2 hours. I know, that the heating of the can is one of the warnings on the can, but.... The only important thing to remember is to add water when it's not covering the can. When you will forget about  it and leave your can heating up in the empty pot, then you are in a big trouble.

Making the cookies.

I use meat grinder to get the thin and long rolls of the dough, which I place in straight lines on the baking sheet. If you don't have the meat grinder, you can use the regular grater and grate the frozen dough, using small portions on the baking sheet.

Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes,  F 350.

Cool the cookies and crumble them with your hands. You will have small balls or crumbles.

Mix the softened sweet butter in the mixer and add cold Dulce de Leche (caramelized condensed milk). Add the milk with tablespoon and mix after each addition.

Mix the cookie crumbles with cream in the bowl. Now you can shape it, using your hands or placing all the mixture into the bowl. I usually shape a small hill in a shape of ant house. You can sprinkle the poppy seeds, they will look like the small black ants. I also like to add walnuts sometimes. Place it in the refrigerator for 30  minutes. Voila ... the cake is ready.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


 Fantastic recipe of homemade Buns.

The recipe was found couple years ago in one of the cooking forums. Since then, it is the only favorite buns recipe in my family. If you have a bread making machine, it's fast and easy solution for a dinner. 
You can substitute 1 cup of all-purpse flour with whole-wheat. It works just fine.

Add the ingredients in a order.

 1 cup water
 2 eggs
 1/3 cup oil + 2 tbsp oil
 1/4 cup sugar
 1 tsp salt
  4 cups flour
  1 and 1/2 tsp machine yeast
Select the dough setting, when cycle is complete, I like to leave the dough in the machine for another 30 minutes, just to give it an extra rise.

Remove the dough from machine and divide it in 3 equal portions on the floured surface. Divide each portion into 6 equal balls. My oldest son like big buns and little one loves small buns, that's why I never manage to make equal balls. You have to use your eye-measurement for that. 

Turn the balls in your floured hands into a right shaped balls and flatten them a little.

I press them a little on a baking sheet. Baking sheet is covered with parchment paper. I cover the sheet with clean kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes or until double in volume.

Time to turn your oven on. We will need F350.

I beat  1 egg for the egg-wash and brush it on buns.

Sprinkle sesame seeds and bake at F 350 for 10-12 minutes until lightly brown.