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Turkish baked halva (sicak helva)



Before I came to Istanbul I heard about sicak helva - a kind of custard made of crushed tahini halva mixed with cream and baked. The dessert is traditionally eaten after a fish main as it removes fish aftertaste completely. The idea really resonated with me, so the evening we did visit a fish restaurant I was more concerned about my dessert than about my fish main. I ended up loving it and cooking it at home. It turned out to be very practical in Moscow, as tahini halva is very common around here. Read more...

Eating in Istanbul



A little over a week in Istanbul and I'm in love already. It is proud yet humble. Old yet live and full on energy. Like a wave you caught and can’t jump off. There is no way to get enough. My Istanbul is yet little, but each and every piece of it is precious as it lets you feel some more of this city in a very special way. Not many big names, but these you’ll find without me. Read more...


This is a stunning guilty pleasure. Not only it tastes as good as classic fondue. It also is three times easier to make. You unwrap a wheel of camembert cheese and stick it into the oven. Once you take it out all you need to do is deep your slice of baguette in. But if you are feeling more sophisticated than that, you add some sweet and sour jam, some thyme or rosemary and the whole thing gets romantic. Read more...

Christmas Black cake (Rum cake)



Late in November I felt like being sad and doing nothing, so I set down with a random cookbook from my bookshelf and it randomly opened on Christmas chapter. It was saying that late November is exactly when one is supposed to make English Christmas cakes, so that they have time to mature before the big day. That's how I came to making those for the first time. That felt somehow proud to undertake this kind of month long baking venture. It turned out to very enjoyable and rewarding too, so I well might continue with it next year. Read more...

Schnecken (German sticky cinnamon buns)



I remember saying something about baklava just recently. Forget. These sticky cinnamon buns are the most powerful piece of anti stress baking (and eating) I ever tried. They might well be the best piece of pastry I ever produced. You will smell the nuts bubbling in sticky maple syrup and all the sweet cinnamon richness, while watching how the spiral buns puff out of their cases, catching each others' sides and crisping up on top. Twenty minutes later that one of them looking right at you will be just yours. And so will be the maple nutty goo left over at the bottom of the baking dish (which is, as often happens in life, the best part of the exercise). Read more...

Gravlax (Swedish marinated salmon)



I was not at all aware about Swedish cooking before I got a request for a private Swedish cooking class last November. It looked like no chances to make for me. However at the end of the story the class went well and I became attached to many Scandinavian dishes among which gravlax goes first. Gravlax is home marinated salmon served with special mustard sauce on rye bread toast. It requires hardly any work and is a killer appetizer. For those like me, who can't really stop eating it halfway, it often tends to become a self sufficient lunch or dinner. Read more...


I'm giving up my attempts to make this pasta look attractive in the picture, but I have to say: from all the pasta I got to try in Rome cacio e pepe was definitely the best. Now (five minutes after eating it) it actually feels like the best pasta in the world. All in all Rome has three 'big' pastas: carbonara, amatriciana and cacio e pepe. Cacio e pepe is tagliolini dressed with only pecorino cheese and black pepper. You can throw it together in a matter of minutes. So to add to its beauty it is incredibly simple. You just need to get your tree ingredients right. Read more...

Roast duck with quince



My body just knows that winter is around the corner and it won't let the calendar fool it. After around two years when I didn't want any meat or fish at all, I came to eating almost just those. And given the cold, the greasier they are the more I want them. So I've been in serious relationship with salmon and duck during the last two months. I kept roasting duck for Christmas for many years and it looks like this year it will also happen. There is something extremely family uniting in sharing one good bird for a Christmas dinner. And nothing goes better with it for me than sweet spices and sour fruit. Read more...

Chocolate fondant



It's been so long since I said something here... I can't tell you how much I missed it. Somehow Christmas hustle started early for me this year and I was to busy and tired to produce any kind of warm and positive content. Now finally I have a lot to say and chocolate fondant will be good to start with. This little chocolate cake which oozes out melting chocolate as you break it with your teaspoon contains highest quality happiness in incredible intensity. Especially if it is served with a melting scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top. Approaching Christmas is perfect timing for it. Read more...

Baklava



It seems that I found something strong enough to heal a broken heart, which is almost magic. I only made baklava a couple of times and I'm not going to pretend I know everything about it. There are people who learn to make baklava throughout their lives and hopefully I'll once have good talk with one of them. But right now I can say for sure that you can make it very well from the very first attempt and enjoy both the making and the eating just extremely. Read more...

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