Gorka (“little hill”) cake

This weekend was the first time I hosted both sets of parents (mine and my husband’s) over for dinner. Adam and I have been talking about this for a while but, until recently, our 4-person dining table limited us to inviting them over one set at a time. Our new-ish large table finally presented the opportunity to make this dinner happen. I created a simple menu of various pre-dinner nibbles, an Italian-inspired main course… and a gorka cake. I was so happy to learn how to make one of our favorite family desserts (the black poodle cake being the other)! This also happens to be the most requested recipe by my Healthy and Sane readers but until this weekend I didn’t actually know it. Finally I’m able to share it with you all!!

A little visual queue to wet your appetite…

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Ok, I’m guessing you’re now ready to read on. Amiright? Winking smile In case this is not clear from the picture, the gorka cake (translated as “little hill”

Vinegret (the Russian version of potato salad)

Sorry for disappearing on you there. My goal is to have a new recipe up on the blog every Monday morning and I made this fantastic salad on Sunday just for that purpose. But alas, other obligations came up… so yeah, better late than never, right?

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This salad is called vinegret and is extremely traditional in the Russian cuisine. Although it has a lot more going on, I kind of think of it as the American potato salad because it’s full of hearty veggies and finished with mayo. I imagine if Russians were into barbecues, vinegret would be present at every gathering. I made this for lunch on Sunday and my husband and I gobbled up this whole big bowl in one sitting. It brought me back to my childhood at the first bite but I was surprised at how enthusiastic Adam was – beets and all. He especially loved the pickles… you know I was all about them too! 😉

Ingredients (serves 2-4):

2 small potatoes 1 egg 1 large carrot 1 medium beet 1/3

Vatrushki (Ukranian cheese pastries)

A few months ago I saw a post on Russian Seasons on vatrushki, which are tvorog filled pastries. Her sweet version is reminiscent of a Russian (actually, Ukranian) version of danishes. Vatrushki for me, though, should be savory. So inspired by Alina (btw, how weird is it that the only other Russian food blogger I know is named Alinaand I’m Elina. crazy!) I decided to try my own hand at vatrushki with a touch of salt and dill instead of sugar. That’s how you can eat pastries for dinner and call it good. You’re welcome! haha

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Recipe modified from Please to the Table cookbook

Ingredients:

Dough

1 package instant yeast 3/4 warm water 2T canola oil 2.5 cups flour 1/2 salt

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1. Dissolve yeast in water

Hazelnut tahini lemon dip (fundukli tahin)

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As I’m cooking through the Please to the Table cookbook, I’m realizing that this blog is a bit of a misnomer. It was always my intent to cook Soviet food rather than just Russian (I’m technically Moldovian after all) but cooking through the book I realize how diverse each country’s food in the region really is.

For example, this recipe is for the hazelnut tahini dip, which is an Azerbaijani dish. I am realizing that tahini is quite a common ingredient in Azerbaijani cuisine, which appears to be much closer to a blend between Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, rather than “Russian.” [I’ve never had tahini during my childhood… until I moved to Israel!] Since Sovian Bites doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Russian Bites, I’ll keep the blog name as is. But I just wanted to let you know why this dish may not be exactly what you expected “Russian” food to be. Because it’s not! 😉 I love how discovering all the tastes the former Soviet Union cuisine has to offer!!

Cod and scalloped potatoes casserole (zapekanka iz ribi i kartoshki)

It’s well known that potatoes are a staple ingredient in Soviet cooking. I’ve tried to stay away from too many stereotypical meals here on Russian Bites in an attempt to teach both you and me something new about the food in this region of the world. But let’s face it – potatoes are delicious and it’s a bit silly to try to avoid them all together.

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I had some frozen wild cod defrosting in the fridge today and decided to browse my trusty Please to the Table cookbook for some recipes. Somehow (and this never happens!) I had all the ingredients to make this cod and scalloped potatoes dish so I got straight to work. The result was a hearty dish that… sounded better than it tasted. Actually it was “not bad” … but I typically aim higher. Perhaps just a few more generous helpings of salt would have elevated the dish for me. As it was, I thought it was a bit bland.

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