Greetings from Nová Baňa: stuffed mushrooms recipe

My newest addiction: visiting a country house in Nová Baňa, a small town surrounded by the mountains in central Slovakia. It’s a great place for digital detox (as I have internet only on my iphone and a signal is weak) and just for relax and cooking experiments*.

I’ve been there this weekend and found that spring came to Nová Baňa 2 weeks later than in Bratislava. Even lilac is not in bloom in Nová Baňa yet). This means that wild garlic is in a high season, so guess what did I take from my walk in the  nearby forest?

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Traditional Slovak food exposed part 4. 1957 cookbook review

Bittersweet memories from the past: I was not a very healthy kid and spent most of my childhood on a very strict diet. What was a boy, who was allowed to eat only boiled or steamed food dreaming about? About “normal” food of course. I was drawing my first food illustrations, inventing recipes and reading famous “The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food” – staple cooking book of the Soviet Union, published in 1952. Since  then, I have felt a special connection to old cookbooks, as by reading them you can understand cultural background of the country where they were published. Do I need to say that I was very excited to discover “Cooking for the healthy and the sick” (original title: Varíme zdravým a chorým) by Imrich Sečanský, first published in 1957? So what was Slovak cuisine about 60 years ago?

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Chickpea ravioli with potatoes, bryndza cheese and leek

Short intro: I love to visit Oriental food shop in Vysoká street in Bratislava, as it always inspires me to try something new. Last Friday, I was looking for a tahini for humus, but I found myself paying also for oyster sauce and chickpea flour (because why not, it’s gluten free with a lot of proteins). At first I had no idea how I would use this flour, but the decision was found quickly: I decided to cook chickpea ravioli with potatoes, bryndza cheese and leek.

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Orthodox Easter cake recipe

It took me over a week to write down this recipe, but finally here it is. Some general information to start: paska (the name of this cake in Ukrainian) probably is the most difficult  cake I’ve ever baked. You have to be calm and patient to perform all steps of its making in a right way. As a result you will get absolutely stunning cake which can be fresh for some months after being baked. A popular question is “what is the  taste of paska?” Well, if you know what  Italian panettone is, you know  the taste of paska. These cakes are not twins, but they are very close relatives. Paska is one of the staples of Easter celebration for Orthodox Christians. Every family bakes paski to share them with friends and family members.

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Rare plant fair in Vienna

One of the perks of living in Bratislava is its great location:  it takes just a little bit more than 1 hour to get to Vienna by train and 14 eur for  a return ticket. So the whole tour to the “Raritätenbörse” held in Botanical garden of Vienna University took me only 5 hours.

Despite the fact that this Botanical garden is “just behind the fence” of my beloved Belvedere museum with Klimt paintings, I’ve never been to the garden before and  the fair was a great reason to finally visit it.

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White asparagus with soft broccoli polenta

It’s time to make a confession: until this weekend, I’ve tried asparagus just once in my life. In Ukrainian south where I have grown up asparagus is not a traditional crop. It was not widely known until the last few years when some farms started to grow it on commercial basis. First asparagus I’ve bought was planted in the West of Slovakia (Veľké Leváre city) where a big farm that grows asparagus is located. Last year I baked it with cheese and butter and it was so delicate that as soon as I noticed that fresh asparagus is available at our market in Žilinská street, I bought it immediately.

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Indoor jungle discovery. Greenhouse in Bratislava (SK)

Decision to visit Bratislava botanical garden and its greenhouse was very spontaneous. I returned from a farm market on Saturday morning (with fresh asparagus so try to guess what will be this week recipe about) and realized that it’s actually 1st of April and it’s the first day when the botanical garden opens after a winter break. I tried to google some pictures from the greenhouse a few month ago and didn’t find anything exciting, but the weather was good, magnolias were in a full bloom in Bratislava so I decided that If nothing special from urban jungle is found, I will just enjoy a spring day in a beautiful garden with friends and magnolias.

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