Russian Bites: Napoleon cake

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You know how after traveling for a while you really crave home? The ordinary things, like being able to sleep in your own bed and cook for yourself? By the end of our Eurotrip, I even missed bootcamp (so happy I love working out) and my business. With every city we left, I was sad to go yet ready to move on.

And now I miss those daily pastries, al fresco drinks in the middle of the day and long long walks. Guess what? I can still get away with doing all 3! Winking smile I really should sometime…

Russian napoleon cake

Last month I was asked for a Russian Napoleon cake recipe so I immediately emailed my mom and set up a date for us to make it. I’m good like that (also I really like cake). It’s actually originally a French dessert (Russian food has a lot of French influences) but the traditional Russian version seems to be a bit easier (although it has 4 layers vs 2) and has a bit of a different look. With using store-bought puff pastry dough, the whole thing comes together in a cinch and will be gobbled up even quicker! That’s a fact. Winking smile [See how the styled photos are only of a few tiny pieces? Yeah, that’s because that’s all that was left! Too good.]

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So what’s a Russian Napoleon cake? It’s pretty much 4 layers of puff pastry layered with custard cream (creme patissiere). Bake the puff pastry according to instructions on the package, make the custard cream (eggs, milk, sugar, flour, butter) and then layer the two. Easy!

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The last piece of puff pastry gets crumbled to create this fun topping:

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Let the whole thing stand in the fridge overnight so the puff pastry softens a bit from the custard and the layers really meld together. The result is a cool, creamy, buttery dessert that’s unbelievably addictive!

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I want a piece right now!!

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Printable recipe

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Do you ever miss home while on vacation? Ever had Napoleon cake? It’s gooooood; I hope you try it! Open-mouthed smile

Russian Bites: “chicken fried” pork (otbivnii/betki)

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Most days I go about my business without much thought to my history. The days of bread lines and food stamps are long gone. I’m very comfortable in my home in the center of Boston, with every needed amenity within a few minutes of walking distance. And then something happens that reminds me of how lucky I am – most of us are – to have such simple things as running water, electricity and internet (and plentiful food). We didn’t always take those for granted in Kishinev (I specifically remember filling up buckets of water for showers and cooking – water outages were quite frequent) and I learned to appreciate them once again after the power outages this week. It was rough.

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It was a gorgeous day in Boston when a transformer caught fire and contributed to a 15-block power outage in Back Bay. We were just 2 blocks away from the fire and had the largest impact. We had no power at all for 2 days straight and then we had random power outages (of course every time I was about to cook us a meal!) for the next few days after that. It’s crazy how much we rely on electricity these days! Besides the obvious (lack of light in the house so you can’t see anything, especially when even the street lights don’t work), there is no heat, no access to the fridge or stove top (which makes it really hard to stay on your diet!!) and no tv/internet (those were down for almost the whole week). We downloaded the flashlight app on our iphones to help guide us through the house, but after a while our phones died too (since you couldn’t charge them!). Pain in the butt for sure Smile

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I lived out of coffee shops, my parents’ and friends’ houses all week and I’m so so happy to be back to normal in my own home right now. Who knew that having power and internet would feel like such a treat?! Smile

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[Left: 2 standard pork chops; right: pounded chops]

Anyways, this recipe for Russian “chicken fried” pork has nothing to do with all that (I just wanted to vent Winking smile ) but it’s a classic and absolutely delicious so you should make it! Open-mouthed smile Otbivnii or betki are both common names for these guys and basically mean that the meat was “beaten” (aka pounded) into thin cutlets. You then dip them into an egg/flour batter and pan fry them. The result is a juicy piece of meat with a delicious eggy crust. It’s definitely a favorite!

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Pork is sort of the “original” meat of choice but my mom tells me she recently started buying thin chicken cutlets and doesn’t even pound them. They are ready to go right there! Serve with a simple tomato/cucumber/sour cream salad (and maybe mashed potatoes) and feel like a cool Russian. I did :lol:

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Open wide!

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Printable recipe

Which ordinary thing are you thankful for having today?

Russian Bites: chocolate kartoshka (“potato” chocolate truffles)

The one beauty of working (on my own business!) from home is that I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule. Every week I have a set of things I want to accomplish, but since I’m my own boss – I get to choose exactly what day and time I want to do them. The problem with that? Sometimes too much flexibility leaves a little too much wiggle room… which in turn accomplishes less.

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Want an example? Let’s do something easy, like working out (I have a feeling a lot of you could relate!). I plan on working out daily (actually 6 times a week) but sometimes I don’t feel like doing it at the convenient time… or I start getting nervous about all those pull-ups P90X loves so much, so I tell myself I’m hungry and should eat first. Of course that follows my the need to digest before I can get to it. I tell myself I have the whole day to do it. And then 6/7/8pm rolls around and I’m too tired to work out. Too much wiggle room and a whole lot of nothing gets accomplished! Embarrassed smile

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So I realized on Monday that I need to whip my ass into shape and get organized! Because besides all the things my business requires, I have a personal life too… with responsibilities and a social life, all of which require some juggling. Smile On the personal front, my 30th birthday is coming up and that means it was time to revisit my 30 by 30 list. On this lovely list, I saw the goal of making and blogging about 25 new Russian recipes. And since I’m still 15 recipes short (with the last Russian recipe posted over 2 months ago!), I’ve got some serious catching up to do!! On the calendar a new weekly Russian recipe went immediately. It’s now an appointment I must keep.

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There was no way around it. I had to whip something delicious (and Russian) right away – a treat I used to enjoy as a kid – shokoladnaya karthoshka (translation: chocolate potato… yeah). I’ve written about this before but Russian have this weird obsession with trying to shape foods into strange things (examples include chocolate sausage, black poodle cake, little hill cake… and now potatoes!). I suppose out of those examples, potatoes seem almost normal. But have no fear, they always taste amazing.

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These babies are made of milk, sugar, butter, cacao and crushed cookies and walnuts, creating fudgy little balls of goodness…which you can choose to shape into mini potatoes, or not. I actually kind of got into it and thought it was fun to make little potato sprouts out of pine nuts. Smile

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Make the batter, refrigerate overnight, then shape into potatoes (or just balls) and toss in cacao/sugar mixture.

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I Red heart Russian treats! Open-mouthed smile

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See the resemblance?

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How about NOW?

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Oh yeah. Smile with tongue out

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Or you can just go the plain non-potatoey route.

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Soft fudgy goodness

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ARRR (<—sound of me biting into one! :lol: )

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Printable recipe here

How do you organize yourself? Have you ever shaped foods into something non-traditional? Would you like to try one of these potato truffles? Yes, I’m full of questions today and I want answers! Winking smile

P.S. The Dahlicious lassi giveaway winner is Lily. Congrats!! Please email me your address to elina@healthyandsane.com

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