Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sugar Cookies from Real Simple

Baking cookies during holidays is a fun activity to do with kids. I used the following recipe from Real Simple magazine.


2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Flour for rolling the dough out
Different cookie cutters


1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated (the dough will be stiff). Shape into a ball and refrigerate, wrapped in a plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Take the dough out, cut the ball into quarters. Working in batches, roll out each dough quarter on a floured surface to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters and place on parchment-lined baking sheets; refrigerate until firm (about 10 minutes). Bake until just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Very Easy Drop Biscuits

Who does not love a fresh butter biscuit in the morning with butter and some honey or jam? I adapted this recipe from the Real Simple magazine. The main difference is that I don't use a food processor. Instead I use a fork and my hands.


2 cups of white flour
1/2 cup (4 oz) of cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes or vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of whole milk


1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix with a fork. Add butter (or shortening) and using your hands combine with flour until you until pea-size clumps form. Add the milk and mix until moistened.

2. Drop desired amount of dough for each biscuit onto a baking sheet. I usually make 6 to 9 biscuits. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Borscht for Dinner

Rain came back to Seattle and I feel like soup. As a tribute to my heritage I made borscht. The recipe below incorporates making of your own beef broth. Alternatively, you can use already prepared beef or vegetable broth.


1 lb beef shank or rib eye steak
10 cups of cold water
3 potatoes, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
3 small beets, peeled
1 small onion, peeled
1 small cabbage
2 tomatoes
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

For Serving:

Sour Cream
Fresh Italian Parsley/Dill


1. Combine meat and water in a large soup pot. Salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Remove the foam with a spoon. Once there is no more foam coming to the surface, reduce heat to medium low, cover with a lid and let meat cook for 1.5 hours.

2. In a meantime prepare your vegetables. Cube potatoes. Shred carrots and beets. Finely chop onion. Quarter the cabbage and cut (leaves part only) into strips. Soak tomatoes in hot water for 3 minutes, remove the skin and dice into cubes.

3. After 1.5 hours add potatoes and cabbage to the beef broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover with a lid and let cook for 30 minutes.

4. At the same time pour 2 tablespoons of oil in a separate pan (that is at least 5 inches deep) and on medium high heat fry onion for 1 minute, add carrots next and stir. Cook for another minute. Add beets, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar. Stir all the ingredients together and pour beef broth just enough to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover with a lid and let simmer for 30 minutes.

5. After 30 minutes transfer the beet mixture to the pot with beef, potatoes and cabbage. Stir. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat. Taste for salt. Add if needed. Soup is done.

6. Serve soup with sour cream and chopped fresh parsley or dill.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Something New - Matsutake Mushrooms

I finally tried the beloved mushroom by Japanese people - the matsutake mushroom. I bought them at the U-District farmers market the other weekend. To cook I peeled the outer layer of the mushrooms, sliced and fried them in olive oil. Salted at the end. The mushroom has a distinctive fragrant aroma. Texture is a bit rubbery.

Family Outing to the Dr. Maze's Farm

October is the pumpkin patch month and this year we went to the Dr. Maze's Farm in Redmond. It used to be South 47 Farm few years back where they grew tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, berries and other produce including pumpkins. Now they have a pumpkin patch, a corn maze and a farm themed playground for kids that includes a hay ride and a tiny farm animal zoo. A fun outing to do with a kid.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Baby Greens Salad with Caramelized Nectarines, Candied Pecans and Blue Cheese

This salad is very common but I think what makes it especially good in the summer is the addition of fresh caramelized nectarines that are in season now. Here is the recipe I use:


2 cups of baby greens
2 nectarines
1 tablespoon of butter
1.5 oz of blue cheese
1/4 cup of candied pecans

For dressing:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
Salt to taste


1. Slice nectarines into thin half moon slices. On medium heat melt butter in a pan, add nectarines and let them fry on each side until they develop a nice brown color. This takes about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool. 20 minutes should be enough.

2. In a large bowl combine baby greens, nectarine slices, pecans and blue cheese. In a separate bowl combine oil, vinegar, sugar and mustard. Whisk all ingredients together and add salt to taste. Add dressing to the salad as you are about to eat and toss.

Zucchini Pancakes

This year I am growing zucchini in my yard and few already popped up. I grilled the first one but with the second one I decided to make my childhood favorite-zucchini pancakes. Here is my recipe.


1 large zucchini, 10 inches long, 1 and 1/4 lb, grated finely and extra water drained
2 eggs
1 cup of white flour
1 teaspoon of salt
Olive Oil for frying

To serve:
Sour Cream
Fresh chives


1. In a large bowl combine zucchini, eggs, flour and salt. Mix with a whisk.

2. Preheat the pan on medium heat for about a minute. Pour one tablespoon of oil in a pan and using a a large spoon add the zucchini batter.  I aim for a palm size pancake or a smaller. Let pancakes fry on each side until golden brown and cooked through (about 4 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium/medium-low so not to burn the cakes. Repeat the process until all batter has been used. Add more oil as needed.

3. Serve pancakes with sour cream, chopped fresh chives. Salt to taste.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Rabbit Leg Confit

Few weeks ago I took upon myself making the rabbit leg confit following the recipe from the Girl and the Fig cookbook Plats Du Jour. The recipe is not for a beginner. As with other recipes that I have made from this book I had to guess few times since some instructions were missing or not clear.

I bought two whole rabbits from the Rain Shadow Meats Butcher Shop in Seattle. The recipe required only rabbit leg quarters but the store would not sell me just the legs. They cut the rabbits for me though. The other constraint was the amount of duck fat I was able to find. Not much, so I supplemented with the chicken stock. The cooking process is similar to making the duck confit. But rabbit is not as rich. Still dish came out tasty. Here is how I made it.

4 rabbit leg quarters
1/2 lb of duck fat
2 cups of chicken stock
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns, some whole and some ground
1/2 of large yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 slices of prosciutto
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

For the sauce:
1/2 cup of red white
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 whole black peppercorn
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

Day 1: Rinse the rabbit legs in cold water and pat dry. In a small bowl combine thyme, onions and peppercorns. Generously rub legs with salt (about 2 tablespoons) and then with the thyme-onion-peppercorn mixture. Place in a glass bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 2: 
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Take the rabbit legs from the fridge and wipe them clean with a damp paper towel. Assemble the legs in the ovenproof dish in one layer. Pour chicken stock and distributed duck fat on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 2.5 hours. Take the rabbit out, let cool for about an hour. Remove the rabbit from the duck fat and transfer into a fridge to chill completely. This will take about 3 hours.

2. When you are finally ready to cook the rabbit preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Take the rabbit out of the fridge and wrap each leg with prosciutto (2 pieces per leg should be enough, even 1 would do).  Pour two tablespoons of olive oil in the ovenproof skillet and on medium high heat sear rabbit legs (the top side down) wrapped in prosciutto for about 3 minutes until prosciutto starts getting a nice brown color. Transfer the skillet into the oven and let bake for about 10 minutes until the rabbit has fully heated through.

3. While rabbit is cooking make the sauce. Combine red wine, pepper and thyme in a small pot and reduce by half over high heat. Strain the wine to remove the pepper and thyme. Pour wine back into the pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook on high heat until the sauce is reduced by a little more than half. Take of the heat and stir in the cold butter. The sauce came out a bit thin. So need to try something thicker next time.
4. To serve I roasted potatoes and carrots and made a green salad. All in all meal came out delicious.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day Weekend at the Alderbrook Resort and Spa

This year for Mother's day I decided to spend a weekend at the Alderbrook Resort and Spa with my husband and our toddler son. I have heard many good things about it and it is rated as one of the top hotels in the Pacific Northwest.

Another reason I chose this place is its proximity to Seattle, which is a big plus when traveling with a toddler. Just under a two hour trip can be divided between a ferry ride from Seattle to Bremerton (1 hour) and then a 40 minute drive in a car.

The resort meets its price-based expectations: located right on a hood canal, clean, modern design with a cabin feel in the lobby, helpful staff, great views and all fixtures are working in the room. The restaurant serves delicious premium food: steaks and seafood.

This is the only resort that I have been to so far that is designed with families in mind 100%. There is a spa, a golf course, boats and other water activities plus the gym, great quality food and children are everywhere. There are craft stations for kids in the hallways of a hotel plus a small playground. We went on a few short nature hikes (1/2 mile) right outside the resort.


The drawback is that resort is in a middle of nowhere. There are no stores or restaurants nearby so unless you want to eat every meal at a restaurant and your kid likes the selections they offer you better bring your own water, milk and food. Of course, my husband complained that the mini bar in the room did not have beer. The problem was solved by going to the restaurant to get it and bringing it back to the room. I would go back and I highly recommend this resort to families.

#alderbrookresortandspa #northwesttravel #kids #mothersday

Black Cod with Rub with Love

Black cod is one of my favorite fish and I make it at least twice a month. This is the recipe I use most of the time. It is quick and delicious.


4 4 oz fillets of black cod
4 teaspoons of Tom Douglas Salmon Rub with Love
Olive oil spray


Preheat oven to 425F. Rub flesh side of each fillet with a teaspoon of a rub and salt. Spray the oven proof skillet with an oil spray and on medium high heat fry black cod fillets flesh side down for about 30 seconds. Rub has sugar, which can burn fast. Flip fillets over (skin side down) and transfer into the oven. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until fish is cooked. Serve with roasted vegetables and/or some starch.

#blackcod #cookingfish

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Washington Arboretum Azaleas are starting to bloom

This past weekend I strolled through the Azalea Way in the Arboretum. Azaleas are just starting to bloom so with this nice warm stretch of weather this week the flowers should be in full bloom pretty soon. Here are few pictures I took.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Baking Madeleines

I love Madeleines with a cup of cappuccino. Few years ago I found a recipe for these buttery cakes on and have done it a few times with slight modifications. This morning I made them again for Easter. Here is the recipe I used.


2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
lemon zest of one small lemon
1/4 cup of butter plus more for buttering the pan


1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Butter the madeleine pan and set aside.

2. Melt butter in a microwave - about 45 seconds, cover with a paper towel to prevent butter explosion! Let butter cool at a room temperature.

3. Using a hand mixer beat eggs, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until light. Continue beating the eggs and slowly add sugar. I stopped once all ingredients looked incorporated together and there was a bubbly foam on top.

4. Add flour, spoonful at a time, into the egg mixture and gently fold. Patience is the key in baking. Take your time. Then grate lemon zest over the bowl. Add melted butter that should have cooled off by now into the bowl and gently stir. Spoon batter into the madeleine molds. Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes, or until cakes are golden.

5. Using the tip of the knife loosen the madeleines from the pan, transfer on to a cooling rack and let cool. I plan on serving them with fresh strawberries and yogurt on Easter and just have them with a cup of coffee.

Keeping the Russian Easter Tradition alive - coloring eggs in onion shells

Easter is tomorrow and I am coloring the eggs using the onion shells, the same way my mother has been doing for decades. Here is the recipe.


White Eggs (I use 5-6)
Yellow onion shells (from about 10 big onions or as many as you can get)
Cold water


Put onion shells in a large pot, add cold water and eggs. Make sure there is enough water so eggs and shells are fully submerged. Cook on medium heat until water starts to boil, then reduce heat to medium/medium low and let eggs cook for another 25 minutes. For a darker brown color leave some eggs for another 10 minutes. Take eggs out and let them cool.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mussels in Coconut Curry Broth

Over the years I have enjoyed eating mussels in coconut curry broth at different restaurants in Seattle and have been thinking about making them myself at home. So this month I did, and a few times.

The recipe I came up with can be modified to fit individual tastes. The ingredients list is pretty simple given you have an Asian market nearby. I prefer to have a kick in my broth so I add more curry paste. If you don't, start with less and then add more later if needed. I also use low sodium chicken broth since I would rather add salt later. Plus different curry pastes have different amount of salt in them. For a more dense broth add more coconut milk. But if you are like me and cannot look at the amount of saturated fat 13.5 oz can has then add half or a third. Here is the recipe I adopted.


2-2.5 lbs of mussels, rinsed, cleaned. (I usually buy 3 lbs at least because you need to toss the ones that are open and/or broken. I buy mussels at the Taylor Shellfish store in the Melrose Market.)
1/2 can (about 6 oz) of coconut milk
8 oz of low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon of Olive or other vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of red curry paste (This gives me heat of about 2-3 stars, the brand of the paste is Aroy-D and is sold at Ranch 99 or Uwajimaya)
1 small shallot finely chopped
1 tablespoon of finely chopped lemongrass stock (white part only)
1 tablespoon of sugar
4 kafir lime leaves, chopped
salt to taste
fresh chopped cilantro and green onions for garnish
1 white baguette to serve


1. In a large pot (I use my Le Creuset dutch oven) on medium high heat saute shallot, lemongrass and lime leaves in olive oil for 1 minute. Add curry paste and mix, let cook for 30 seconds. Add sugar, coconut milk, chicken broth and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes. Taste the broth and add sugar, more milk or salt if needed.

2. Add mussels to the broth, reduce heat to medium and cover with a lid. Let cook for 3 minutes until mussels open up. Serve with fresh baguette so you can dip it into the broth. I prefer Columbia City baguette.