Sunday, July 24, 2011

Omelette with Heirloom Tomatoes and Beechers Cheese

This is my favorite omelette during the summer. I love making it with fresh heirloom tomatoes. My cousin Greg taught me how to make it when we both were 11 years old and spent summer at my grandmother in Russia. He used fresh picked tomatoes grown in my grandmother's garden and used eggs from her chickens. I have been making this omelette since then. Tomatoes are such a wonderful vegetable or fruit (whatever your preference) - they are sweet and acidic and just delicious! Here is a recipe.


3-4 medium size heirloom tomatoes
3 eggs
3/4 cup of shredded cheese, I used Beechers flagship today
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil for cooking


1. Cut tomatoes with a knife into half-moon slices (not too thick). Pour olive oil in a pan, add sliced tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Start cooking tomatoes on medium heat.

2. Tomatoes will need to be cooked for about 15-20 minutes, until they form a paste. Stir tomatoes frequently so they don't burn.

3. In a separate bowl beat eggs together. To cut some cholesterol, I usually take one yolk out. Add salt and pepper to eggs. Once tomatoes have cooked down and formed a paste, spread tomatoes evenly in a pan and pour eggs on top.

4. Reduce heat to medium low. Close the pan with a lid and let eggs cook for 2 minutes.

5. Once eggs have cooked, sprinkle them with shredded cheese and close the lid and let cook for another 2 minutes until cheese has melted.

6. Omelette is ready to be served. Cut it in a pan in 4 slices and transfer carefully on to a plate. Today I served it with bacon, English muffin toast and fresh blueberries.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Potato Pancakes "Draniki"

This week I made one of the dishes from my motherland - Potato Pancakes or how we call them in Russia "Draniki." This is not something I make every day because it involves grating a lot of potatoes, very intensive task. But once in a while when I have a craving and the mood is right it is worth all the effort. Below is the recipe I used.

2.5 lb of yukon gold potatoes
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons of sour cream
2 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Salt to taste
Olive Oil for cooking
Sour Cream for serving


1. Peel potatoes and grate them finely on the smallest grater possible. Be careful not to grate your skin off. This is the most labor intensive part of cooking potato pancakes. It usually takes me about 30 minutes. As I start grating I add lemon juice to the bowl. Lemon juice prevents potatoes from turning blue, which is what commonly happens to potatoes if they sit out too long. You will have potato mush.

2. To the bowl with potatoes add flour, sour cream, egg and salt to taste. Mix all ingredients very well together.

3. Now it is time to fry potato pancakes. I usually use non-stick pan for this. Preheat oil in a pan on medium high heat. Lower heat to medium. Then pour small amounts of potato mixture into the pan, forming small ovals. I fit 3 pancakes into one pan. Fry on medium heat until pancakes are golden brown and then flip them and continue frying until gold brown. Transfer cooked pancakes to the plate and repeat the process. Add oil as needed.

4. Once all pancakes are cooked it is time to eat. Serve them with sour cream or for more decadent meal fry bacon bits in a separate pan ahead of time.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Zucchini with Carrots, Onions, Tomatoes and Parsley

Summertime in Seattle means access to locally grown fresh produce. One of my favorite summer dishes to make is zucchini with carrots, onions, tomatoes and parsley. I prefer light green variety of zucchini. They have very smooth texture and work perfectly for this recipe. All ingredients for this dish were bought at the local farmers market in Seattle this week.


5 small (about 8 inches long) light green zucchinis, sliced into 1 inch circles
3 small/medium onions, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and cut into straws
1 large tomato, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Handful of parsley, chopped
Olive oil for cooking
Salt and Pepper


1. Pour olive oil into a large pan and on medium heat fry zucchini circles on both sides until lightly brown. After that transfer zucchini to a separate plate and repeat the same process until all zucchini circles have been fried on both sides.

2. Put all zucchini back into the pan.

3. Add onions, carrots, tomato, and garlic on top. Salt and pepper to taste. Close the lid and let vegetables cook for an hour on medium low. Check periodically to make sure there is enough liquid in a pan. In about 30 minutes, stir vegetables and add chopped parsley.

4. After an hour of cooking, most of the liquid would evaporate and zucchini and other vegetables should be soft and ready to eat. I like to taste the dish for salt at this time. Add more if necessary.

5. Zucchini is ready to be served. Tonight I served it with whole wheat pasta and shredded parmesan cheese. I also like to eat it with polenta.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Vancouver - Tojo's and Chinese Garden

Today is Saturday and it is my birthday! We decide to head across the border to Vancouver, Canada for two days. We pack light, take my rat terrier Tye and drive. The day is beautiful - sunny and blue sky.

We get to Vancouver around 1 p.m. and decide to take the Stanley Park Seawall Walk starting from Convention Center all the way to the Stanley Park. There are tons of people walking/running/biking around and enjoying the sun and views of Vancouver. We make it to the Stanley Park and walk around. After walking for 3 hours we decide to relax in our hotel before heading out to dinner to officially celebrate my birthday!

It is dinner time and we are off to Tojo's, which is supposedly one of the best sushi restaurants on the West Coast and been listed as one of the 1000 place to see (maybe eat?) before you die.

At Tojo's my friend made a reservation for a sushi bar and we learn that there is NO MENU at the sushi bar. Everything we are going to eat tonight will be chef's choice!!!! Alright! We take a sit at the bar. The Chef - I presume Tojo himself - comes over and greets us and asks if we have any allergies. He tells us everything they make is original. Then he is off. And our dinner begins. As we later learned from our friendly neighbors Tojo created California Roll and BC roll. I did bring my camera to document every meal we are going to have tonight.

The meal "Omakase" begins. We start with Tuna Sashimi. Presentation is beautiful and fish melts in your mouth. Every dish we have comes with chef's recommendation for whether to use soy sauce or not.

Next is Fried Zucchini flower filled with scallop and served with green tea power.

Here comes dungeness crab salad with fresh apples and glass noodles.

Next up spot prawns. Check this presentation! Yes, it was a whole prawn, with the head and all of its things inside...

I read the menu on the web site and wanted to have some sablefish and they read my mind. We had smoked sablefish with mushrooms. Delicious!!!!!!!!!

Now it was Sushi Time! We had a roll with salmon, tuna, scallop and flying fish roe, king crab nigiri and I requested hamachi nigiri! Tojo serves only sustainable fish so when I asked for chutoro they told me they did not serve bluefin tuna because it was overfished. They did offer me albacore o-toro, which was very good :)

As it turned out there were a lot of Birthday Guests that night at Tojo's and everyone had to survive through a Happy Birthday song! I did too! But it came with a candle and green tea creme brule - Japanese size, of course!

I must say Dinner was Superb! This was a place I have heard a lot about and it was a perfect birthday dinner! I also have to thank two beautiful ladies from Vancouver who sat next to us and enhanced our experience by keeping a fun conversation!

On Sunday morning we decided to visit The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Here is a link to its Web site. This is the first Chinese Garden built outside China and everything (wood, stone) were all brought from China except for water and plants. We took the tour, which provided a good explanation of the garden and the life of the scholars. This is a scholar-type garden. The scholars were governors, not researchers.

It was nice to walk around the garden and enjoy the structures, designs and wood carvings and even some live turtles :)

After visiting the garden we went for Dim Sum and then back to Seattle to celebrate the 4th of July! Happy Independence Day!