Paloma loves to eat. In that way, we are very fortunate. It’s quite a rarity for her to turn down food, and she’s always eager to try anything I put in front of her. I’ll never forget an impossibly bitter dandelion smoothie that I made. No one could drink it, except for Paloma, who joyfully slurped down a whole glass. I dearly love to cook and feed people, especially family and friends, and her approval makes me one happy mama.
Our days usually start with me cooking breakfast and impatient Paloma sitting at the kitchen table, spoon in hand, narrating my preparations and hurrying me on. It’s quite humorous. She is not the calmest of children (a little tornado to be exact) and becomes very excited when food is in sight.
This is where the idea for the edible puzzle stemmed from. I imagined a game that would occupy Paloma, and, since she puts everything in her mouth, be safe and tasty to eat. I thought about the obvious educational qualities of puzzles such as teaching about shape, colour, size, structure, and included two more – flavour and nutritional value.
Life has been quite hectic around here lately. I’m sure you know what I mean, we get caught up in the whirlwind of time and soon enough it’s been entirely too long since our last post. I often find myself missing this little nook in the world-wide web and sharing all that’s delicious and healthy with you, Golubka’s lovely readers.
This time it’s a simple savoury meal, one that we find ourselves coming back to this winter due to its satisfying, earthy flavours. Falafel and tabouleh. My love affair with falafel started years ago, when my Middle Eastern cuisine loving husband took me out for a falafel pocket with tabouleh, hot peppers and yogurt sauce. I was, of course, hooked. Since then I’ve made my own falafel the traditional way and, more recently, this much healthier and very delicious version.
As for Paloma, she is often the first one to wipe her plate clean, busily switching between eating with a fork, spoon, and her hands. We often have to remind her to chew her food. She takes after her parents. We’ll be back with more elaborate meals soon, as well as a few stories. But for now, I hope you enjoy this flavourful meal and have a tranquil weekend.
The other day, we were taking a walk on the beach and recollecting our many summers spent on the Black Sea shore. Sochi (where the 2014 winter Olympics will be held) was where we usually stayed with family, in a charming old house. Whole days were spent on the beach, bathing in the gentle water and soaking up the sun, completely content. Summer in Sochi is truly magical, with warm windless days, chilly evenings, fireflies, and water temperatures that are refreshing yet welcoming. And that is where we got our yearly dose of figs. In our hometown, figs were a rarity – expensive and shipped from afar. But Sochi was a different story. Come the “velvet season”, at the end of August, and the many fig trees in the streets and backyards exhibited the plump fruit. For some unknown reason, the locals did not care for them. So we became fruit thieves in neighbor’s yards, justified by the fact that the figs would go to waste without our rescue. It’s a known fact that the less the time between harvesting and eating, the better the flavour. And freshly picked, those figs tasted like honey, and their sweetness lingered on our lips all season long.
The other true jewel of those times in Sochi was hazelnut. Hazelnut trees were abundant and beautiful with their trios of ready to pick nuts hidden in green cocoons. We would take bags of freshly harvested hazelnuts to the beach and crack the nuts with smooth sea rocks. They made for an unforgettably tasty snack. Folk medicine is rich with tales of the nut’s healing powers. In fact, one such remedy calls for the mixture of figs and hazelnuts to be taken at the end of the meal to aid digestion.
Now that figs have come into season, we decided to build this pizza around them with the addition of hazelnuts, caramelized onion, and basil sauce.
Now, here’s a cooking mystery that I’ve been trying to solve. The original fig bar recipe calls for coconut oil in the “dough” part instead of the almond butter that I used in my adapted version. I’ve tried to use coconut oil, but it immediately went rancid in the dehydrator. I didn’t give up easily and tried to use different brands of coconut oil, but the result was always the same – rancid. I’m puzzled – it never happens when I use coconut oil in other recipes that require dehydration. If you happen to know the reason, please let me know. I’m truly curious.
During the summers at our Russian dacha, meals were always accompanied by small, curiously shaped cucumbers that we picked from the garden that very day. Sometimes they were so perfectly sweet, that we would simply cut them in half and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Other times, we would toss a basic cucumber and tomato salad. Either way, this vegetable served as a cooling, hydrating, and nutritional companion to any summer meal. Cucumbers are at their best from May to July, and while we are at the peak of their season, here are two undemanding cucumber salads. One is a deserved favourite, and the other – a new addition. They are simple in preparation, and work well as side dishes or as snacks, on top of crackers.
I’ve always liked to pair cucumbers with dill, but came across the idea of combining them with apple cider vinegar in Carol Alt’s book.
Todays salads are the Cucumber and Dill Salad (an old favourite) and Ginger Cucumber Pickles (a Japanese salad).
The first time I tried macarons was at the Macaron Café in Midtown, Manhattan. I had seen many photos of them prior to that and always wondered if they were as tasty as they were pretty. And were they ever. Those macarons melted in my mouth and made my eyes close with pleasure. Even today, whenever I am in the area, I indulge and buy a box of six.
Since preparing healthier alternatives to old favourites is what I love, I decided it was time to conquer the macarons. And what better time to do it than the winter holidays? They are sweet, colourful, and overall cheerful – a wonderful treat and a nice gift. For the flavours, I went with seasonal fruits like persimmon and pomegranate and two powders I had on hand – matcha and blueberry. Each created a beautiful colour, no artificial dye required.
We decorated our tree yesterday. It’s a beauty and fills the home with the smell of pine. Paloma was thrilled when she came home from day care and found the tree all lit up in our living room. She couldn’t stop singing this song, which is a traditional Russian jingle about the New Year’s tree.
The macarons were a success, everyone in the family enjoyed them with a hot cup of tea or two. The persimmon kind were voted the popular favourite.
Golubka (“dove” from Russian) is a mother-daughter collaboration telling a story about a life revolving around fresh and delicious food. We started a blog to share our love for mindful cooking and eating, photography, and storytelling. The kitchen is the heart of our household, where all our days begin and end, with much laughing and experimenting.
A., the mom and mastermind behind many recipes on Golubka, found her way to raw foods through postpartum health problems that occurred after the birth of second daughter Paloma, now a two year old green smoothie fiend. After regaining her health, A. became fascinated with the idea of taking raw food preparation to an artistic level. With the help of M., the older daughter, Golubka was created.
We enjoy traveling and experiencing different cuisines. Our fondness for adventurous flavours is often reflected in our own cooking, with fearless combination of fresh ingredients.
Our day jobs have nothing to do with food preparation or styling, but we’d very much like that to change, and Golubka is a first step towards our dream.
Some foods have a distinct seasonal disposition. Ice cream for summertime, apple pie in the autumn, hot soup during winter, and roasted artichoke in the spring. Well, I have a feeling that this soup surpasses seasons. It’s both light and hearty and is just as delicious chilled as it is warm.
I often daydream about food and make up different recipes while doing things unrelated to cooking. Well recently, in the middle of a daydream, I got an idea for making a soup that would have nut milk for its base. I imagined a bowl full of soup that is “blond” and creamy, and became excited about the possibilities of the milk’s earthy flavour.
It took quite a bit of experimentation until I was able to minimize the ingredients to two simple companions to almond milk – apple and fennel. Combined with the milk’s nutty taste, the two bring a sweet and fresh presence to the bowl. The spice of chili and coriander deepens the flavour and ties the whole thing together with a slight kick. The use of nut milk instead of whole nuts makes for a much lighter soup.
Well recently, in the middle of a daydream, I got an idea for making a soup that would have nut milk for its base.
Pumpkinseed cheese is a fairly recent discovery. The first time I made it, I could not believe what a wonderful result I got with so few ingredients. It’s a bit like a cracker. A cheesy, healthy, and delicious one. I’ve made it very frequently over the past couple of months. It’s simple, and works as a wonderful snack or part of a meal. I like to serve the soup with this “cheese,” but it’s very possible to pair it with any crackers of your choice.
The idea behind this post is quite simple. During my childhood back home, street vendors sold all kinds of snacks in small paper cones – toasted sunflower seeds, berries, nuts, candy, and other homemade treats. The food varied depending on the season and the part of the country. The cone is an inexpensive, simple container that was usually rolled and filled right on the spot.
During recess at school, we would often run across the street to a small market and buy whichever snacks were sold that day. Then we would proceed to sit in the schoolyard with our paper cones, gossiping and munching away.
Inspired by those memories, we had the idea to serve salad in an edible cone, just like ice-cream. We wanted to create a cone that would reflect the colours and flavours of the salad and add a nice crunch to the overall effect.
This Halloween is not only the first one that Paloma (now a 2 year old) can understand as a holiday, but, in a way, the first one for me. Although I’ve been living in the U.S. for twelve years, not having a young child and growing up without this tradition left me somehow indifferent to all the festivities. This year, everything’s changed.
Paloma is in daycare now, and is very curios about all the Halloween decorations and pumpkins that they’ve acquired. It’s funny how having a little kid can bring back the long gone excitement of the holidays.
I loved the challenge of making these raw cookies, playing with the shapes and colours. As for the flavours, I wanted to evoke true autumn tastes like pumpkin spice, carrot cake, nutmeg and clove, as well as include some new additions like matcha, mango, and black sesame. I was thrilled when everyone who tried the cookies loved the result.
I wanted to evoke true autumn tastes like pumpkin spice, carrot cake, nutmeg and cloves
This was a chance for me to experiment with sprouted oat flour, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I started with making a basic dry mix, and then added different ingredients for various cookie flavours.
Matcha powder (green tea powder) is another ingredient that I just started using. It’s been getting lots of good great publicity, as I always see tempting matcha recipes on food blogs and in magazines. Delicious! The multi-coloured oak leaves are also edible. Made of fresh coconut meat, flax seeds, and various fruits and vegetables – the recipe is coming soon!
I am ever-captivated by the creativity and extravagance of Japanese cuisine. I could stare at this set of photos for hours on end, mesmerised and intrigued by the mysterious ingredients and the form they take. Only the Japanese can make food so aesthetic, vibrant, and unique – all at the same time. The combination of ancient traditions and brave modernism bring their food culture to untouched heights.
Here, we combined maki-sushi rolling techniques with our favourite spicy Thai wrap recipe. The result was exactly what I’ve imagined and dreamed of making – a flavourful and striking dish. This particular rolling technique is called Rokusha or colour wheel, a very appropriate title. The colourful wrappers alone can be eaten as a snack, kid-approved by Paloma. (The same recipe was used to make the edible leaves that accompanied our Halloween cookies).
I am always in a state of excitement when cooking, but preparing this dish left me especially exhilarated – so much visual stimulation!
For this recipe, you might end up with some extra filling, which is still very good by itself, with a green salad or crackers. Knowing my family’s appetite, I made a double portion of the crust “dough”, and used it for a variety of tart sizes, making individual ones for Paloma. She now eats entirely on her own and enjoys being in charge of her meals, not letting anyone interfere with her spoon. Having a quiche all to herself made her one happy girl, and there may have been a few second helpings involved.
As predicted, I didn’t regret making the extra quiches, as all of them were gone in no time.
The quiche is particularly good when combined with a simple watercress and pea salad, my newfound culinary delight. I’ve tried watercress many times before, and always believed it to be too strong and tangy for me to enjoy. Well, I’ve recently realized that that’s not always the case. If you try it in a right combination of flavours that balance the tang just right, it’s quite refreshing and delicious.
We’ve been enjoying milder weather, which is always exciting after months of lazy summer heat. Consequently, our farmers market has opened for a new season, and the lengthy wait for the freshest local produce is over. We’re happy.