peppers in Siberia

peppers in Siberia

I spent the whole weekend looking for peppers in Siberia. It’s not the easiest thing to do, with the weather and general supply of products available. Why exactly did I need peppers this weekend? The idea was to flame-roast them in all their colours and add them to a mouthwatering spinach and sour cream quiche I’d been dreaming of all that week…

I thought that would hit the spot with a salad and a bright winter’s afternoon. I kept thinking back to those conversations where people keep telling me I should be eating meat while living in Russia, that living as a vegetarian here was nearly impossible. I should just forget it. Then I shook my head again and went back to the (constant) challenge of finding peppers in Siberia. Sometimes determination can give you the answer. Sometimes, you just go home freezing cold.
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Vegetarian in Russia

vegetarian in Russia

Keep your oven temperatures under control!
A lot of people keep TELLING me how hard it must be to eat as a vegetarian in Russia.

Give me some roast vegetables, milk, butter, cream, eggs and flour and I’ll survive.
Maybe some sea salt, black pepper and fresh lemon, too…

It’s very easy to be a vegetarian in Russia.

As I said, keep you oven temperatures under control and, as always, measure your ingredients carefully.
roast plumpkin quiche…

busy red velvet birthday cake

red velvet busy birthday cake

A recipe for making a busy red velvet birthday cake on a packed, non-stop Saturday in the bakery. Caramelised pecans included, but definitely not for the faint-hearted…

This story reminds me of the people we constantly work with and the food we share. In a restaurant, bakery, hotel, cafe or wherever, there is a team of people working in close proximity, facing the ups and downs of the day as a collective and, despite the stress and hard work, making the most of those shared moments to improve their day.

A busy non-stop Saturday in the bakery. Doors open at 08:00 and immediately a steady flow of hungry regulars, new faces, breakfast crowds, curious readers of online reviews, others who simply like the look of the cakes from outside and decide to come inside. Continue Reading

everybody loves cupcakes, don’t they?

cucakes in Russia

“Everybody loves cupcakes, don’t they?”. This is the answer I usually give when asked why I was trying to make cupcakes in Russia, and this is what I was telling the group of reporters in front of me at that moment. After a few years cooking my way around the country, the question had become pretty regular.

“Let me get this straight”, one of them suggested, waving her (dessert) fork at me “you came ALL the way to Siberia just to make… cupcakes?”

(Despite the aggressive tone of her question, the look on her face was telling me “this banana cake salted caramel one IS pretty good, though”)

banana caramel cupcake

Well that wasn’t entirely true, of course, I was here to try and achieve much more than that, and cupcakes were just a part of my role as the travelling chef. At the same time, I was hoping to also tap into the cupcake craze that had been sweeping the world the past few years. It was even hitting places like Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, so why couldn’t it succeed in the largest country on the planet?

Like I said, everybody loves cupcakes. Think about it for a moment. It’s like you are able to take a whole cake, just for yourself, without the actual guilt of eating a whole cake by yourself. Some of those cupcakes can be so tiny that they you can even two or three and compare different flavours before you force yourself to stop! Continue Reading

mammoth expedition in Siberia

mammoth

we ’d been digging for months in one of the remotest areas of Siberia – and finally hit the layer of permafrost (translation from Russian: ‘extra hard and extra cold’). This was bad news for the expedition

getting desperate now, looking for a sign, anything that would make our months of difficult work here in Siberia worthwhile. things weren’t looking promising

a few days later, a ray of hope… (?) Continue Reading

passion fruit date basil halloumi pandemonium

passion fruit pandemonium

after trying it, she didn’t know what to say: such an unexpected treat and so many flavours it seemed she would never be able to recreate the memory of that sunny afternoon in Siberia…

she asked, most respectfully “please, do you think I could possibly have the recipe? I’ve never even heard of halloumi before.
I promise I won’t share your secret”

“There are no secrets”, I whispered.
“There’s no recipe for this, I told her. You just need some halloumi cheese, a frying pan and a spoon!”

a combination of big juicy dates (Medjool if you want to know) Continue Reading