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: 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

Silly gadgets and Russian hash browns (kugelis)

Thank you all for your sweet comments on my previous post on weight fluctuations. It was eye opening for me and I’m happy I shared the pictures here on the blog. Even more inspiration!

So let’s get back to food, shall we? Actually I sort of wanted to talk about kitchen gadgets. Gimmicky kitchen gadgets. Do you own any? I’m talking about silly things like Slap Chops (I own one! It’s collecting dust.), avocado slicersmango splitters and the like. Basically anything that a good ol’ knife would do FASTER. And then there is a whole new level of ridiculousness with the likes of egg poacher + english muffin toaster combo, andmarinade express tabletop unit(it’s $300!!). The good news is that some gadgets are AWESOME… even if you can in fact use something simpler to get the job done.

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You are going to laugh at me but I love my strawberry stem remover. Yes, I can use a knife but it’s honestly so much fun using that little guy (and no, I will not be buying the strawberry slicerthat Amazon recommends with it… I do have my limits). And I recently purchased this cupcake corer. It looks gimmicky but I hate doing the job with a pairing knife. I’ll let you know how it goes. Smile

Why am I even talking about kitchen gadgets anyway? Because the shredder attachment to my food processor rocked my world the other day. I sort of want to shred every single food item in the house now just to watch this beast process it into perfect little strips. Three pounds of potatoes processed in less than 1 minute. Box graters are so last year! Winking smile

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The recipe I used my favorite new gadget for was for kugelis, which is a Lithuanian potato dish reminiscent of a large hash brown cake. It took a little work (I wish those potatoes peeled themselves!) but the end result was a beautiful potato bake with a golden crust on the outside and tender potato on the inside. Adam and I both enjoyed it for our “restaurant meal in” (our new thing since our going out budget is tighter… there are no tvs, no computers, just the two of us enjoying a more indulgent meal together – catching up on random stories from the week)… but this would be a great dish to serve for brunch as well. I hope you make it and let me know how it goes! Open-mouthed smile

Kugelis – serves 6-8 (recipe is largely based on the Please to the Table cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs potatoes
  • 4 oz bacon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk (if you want a richer dish, use all cream)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste

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Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375*.

2. Fry bacon in an oven safe 10” skillet. Pour out most of the bacon grease, leaving enough to coat the pan. Blot bacon on paper towels then crumble.

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3. Peel potatoes, coarsely grate.

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This is where the food processor is your friend!

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4. Wash grated potatoes in several changes of cold water, then place in a kitchen towel to squeeze water out.

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Nice and dry! Smile Watery potatoes are no good.

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5. Combine potatoes, bacon, milk, cream, and eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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6. Transfer back to the pan and dot with butter.

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6. Bake at 375* for about 1 hour, until the top is golden brown.

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Crusty on the inside…

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…soft and buttery on the inside:

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These potatoes were definitely the star of our steak dinner. I also used these Green Giant green beans for a super quick side veg (*Disclaimer: I received a coupon for a free Green Giant product through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program).

Quick steam:

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Then a 2 minute sautee with some EVOO and garlic.

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Perfect Smile

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What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?

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