Saturday, October 17, 2020

Focaccia Pizza

With Coronavirus came the bread making craze of 2020. I jumped on that bandwagon and bought 100 lbs of flour and a pound of yeast in March at the beginning of quarantine and started making this easy and delicious focaccia bread. Then over summer I became obsessed with making pizza in my grill pizza box. What I quickly realized is that the entire process of getting the right gluten formation in the dough, then getting the pie dough nice and thin and then cooking the multiple pies took too much of my time. I love pizza but was tired of making pizza. Then I remembered my husband saying that on his last trip to NYC he had Roman pizza and was blown away. A couple of google searches later I determined Roman pizza was very similar to focaccia pizza. Focacia is delicious- crispy crusts baked in olive oil and salt. The dough is relative easy to make and proof. There is no kneading involved and no pulling the pie crusts to form individual pizzas.  It just takes a little work in the morning and then it's all downtime while the dough rises. So my love for pizza and making pizza was reborn because it was delicious and easy!!! 

To make the dough use this recipe.  My one tip is that I don't think it is necessary to refrigerate the dough for 2-3 days. A slow proof add flavor, which is great for bread but with all the flavor of the sauce , cheese, and stopping I just don't think it is necessary. Instead make the dough in the morning, allow it to rise all day, and then a couple hours before dinner put it in a half sheet pan for it's final proof. 

Pizza Sauce:

1 can of tomatoes

1/2 can tomato paste

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more if you want it spicier

3 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

Add these ingredients to a blender and blend until pureed. 

A couple hours before dinner grease a non stick baking pan with olive oil and liberally sprinkle kosher salt onto the pan. Then place the dough onto the pan. Pull the dough to fill the pan but don't over stretch and break it. If it isn't pulling or contracting back, then allow the dough to rest and try again in 20-30 minutes. Eventually the dough will fill the pan and start to rise. 

I like to use a whole milk mozzarella and cut the cheese into 1/2 inch cubes. Then I push the cheese into the dough.  Then top with ample sauce. It is imperative to put a lot of sauce onto this pizza because it makes it delicious but this is a think doughy pizza and you need that sauce to balance the dough. 

Then pre-heat and oven to 500 degrees and bake on the lower rack for 40 minutes, or until the dough is golden. IF you are adding toppings that need to cook like salami or sausage you can put them on the pizza after its been cooking for 20 minutes. In the last 5 minutes I add fresh mozzarella and let it gently melt onto the pizza. I remove the pizza from the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan then remove and place onto a baking sheet. 

In the photo above, I made two pizzas- one cheese and one salami and roasted red pepper (doubled the recipe). My go to topping for my cheese pizza slice is arugula and prosciutto! Give it a try, it's fantastic. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Cream Cheese Brownies

First recipe back and it is a family favorite dessert- Cream Cheese Brownies. I don't usually like to bake but when I do I want recipes that are easy and delicious. These brownies are made from scratch, yet they  they surprisingly easy to make and absolutely delicious.  This recipe was Baba Peter's and she passed it to my mom, my sister, and me. It is a family favorite and the smell of them baking in the oven brings me back my childhood. 


Baker's German Chocolate  8 ounces

Butter 10 tablespoons

Cream Cheese 8 ounces

Sugar 2 cups

Eggs 6

Baking powder 1 teaspoon

Flour 1 cup and 2 tablespoons

Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon

Salt 1 teaspoon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the chocolate from the wrapper and use a sharp knife to chop the chocolate bar into small pieces. Put the chocolate and 6 ounces of butter into a microwavable bowl. ON low heat and in intervals of 20 seconds, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir after each interval with a spatula. Go slow, stir and allow the residual heat to melt the chocolate, avoid scorching the chocolate. Once fully melted, set aside to cool 

Place 8 ounces of cream cheese and 4 tablespoons of butter in a microwavable safe bowl. Warm the cream cheese/butter mixture in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to soften. Add 1/2 cup sugar and cream with a hand mixture until fluffy. Blend in 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, beat 4 eggs until they are lightly colored, slowly add in 1.5 cups of sugar and beat until thick. Add 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt,  1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup flour and blend in the cooled chocolate mixture. 

Grease a 8*8 baking pan with butter and lightly dust with flour. Add half the chocolate brownie batter to the pan, then spread the cream cheese mixture, and add the remaining chocolate brownie batter over the top. Use a toothpick, knife, or fork to swirl the cream cheese into the chocolate. Tap the pan on a counter surface to remove air bubbles in the batter and place in the over at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Use a toothpick to test the brownies for done-ness. Error on the side of the brownies being underdone. 

Allow the brownies to cool and place the pan in the refrigerator overnight, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap. This is essential- resting overnight in the fridge makes everything fudgy and the flavors of cream cheese and chocolate just pop. After they have rested in the fridge you can cut them into pieces and enjoy at room temp or warm in the oven. These also freeze well. Just place the brownie bites into a zip lock bag and store in the freezer. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

A return to blogging

    It's been 7 years since I've posted. A lot has happened. After years of infertility and loss I had my now 5 year old son, Jonah. Jonah was a micro preemie, born at 560 grams at 28 weeks. We as a family endured a long hospital stay with what seemed like endless complications. He is now 5 happy and healthy, we have delays from prematurity but we are thriving as a family. 

    Last May I lost my grandmother, my Baba Peters. She was the matriarch of my family and a  huge reason why I love to cook and eat. Her death inspired me to want to share my recipes on this forum again.  The tile of this blog is "Foodie Relation's" and since her death it's taken on a new meaning. I want to create a place to document my families recipes and a place to give my family and friends easy access to my favorite recipes. I still love to cook dishes with big flavor using fresh seasonal ingredients. My hope is to also bring an array of family dishes from my Russian background- and maybe modernize them- while paying tribute to my roots. 

    I also have a great group of friends from college that have been encouraging me to get back to posting my recipes. Over the last year we've reconnected, we chat daily about all the important things in life-  like what we are eating or making for dinner and how we are all surviving motherhood during COVID while throwing flashback memories of being 20 somethings in college. 

So Foodie Relations is back. Here's to great family, friends, and to the yummy food and great memories that bond us all.  


Monday, February 4, 2013

Lemongrass Pork Rib Bun

Sometimes it feels like yesterday - the sounds of motorbikes zooming past, the smells of incense in the muggy air, the vibrant colors of produce at the food stalls, and the wonderful tastes of Vietnam. It was over two years ago that my husband and I got to backpack around beautiful Southeast Asia. We ate everything in sight and were never disappointed with the flavors of the food. I brought home great memories and stories from this trip, but I also developed a whole new respect for balancing flavors. We ate what inspired my post today, lemongrass pork, one Friday night at an outdoor restaurant in Ha Noi. We sat on tiny plastic chairs and drank beer and rice wine, listened to a man sing karaoke, and ate one of the most memorable meals of our lives with a few local businessmen.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Minestrone Soup

Here's my minestrone soup recipe to get you through the last of the cold weather. This recipe was inspired by my mom - she would make this soup to help warm us up during the cold and foggy San Francisco summers! It's hearty, flavorful, and healthy, packed with lean protein, whole grains, and tons of vegetables. It's a perfect meal any time of the year!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Jenga" French Toast with Mascarpone-Honey Whipped Cream and Plum-Cardamom Jam

The title says it all - this decadent brunch will have your guests drooling for more!

Initially I thought french toast "Jenga" just sounded like a fun idea. But once I ate it I realized that this was the perfect form for french toast. The sticks absorb the egg mixture and the increased surface area allows for more caramelization, giving the french toast extra texture and flavor.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Eggplant and Zucchini "Parmesan"

A little while back I ate out and had an amazing eggplant parmesan. It was decadent - battered, fried, and layered with loads of mozzarella cheese. I enjoyed every bite of my dish but started to think about how to lighten this brick of a meal up a bit.

So here's my version, a healthier but equally delicious and fulfilling meal. I used grilled eggplant rather than batter-fried eggplant, toasted sourdough bread circles, and a little bit of asiago and provolone cheese to give a great punch without the guilt of eating a whole ball of mozzarella. In addition, I used my homemade tomato jam instead of a traditional sauce. At the end of summer I canned over 75 pounds of tomatoes into sauces and jams. My recipe for tomato jam calls for slow roasting in the oven with olive oil, garlic, and herbs - the flavors become so concentrated and delicious. I decided this would be the perfect sauce for my dish, since I am cutting back on the fat and making this dish healthy - I wanted something that packed an extra flavor punch.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mac and Cheese

It's been a while since I've updated this blog with a new recipe. Here in Utah we've moved from warm weather in early fall to cold days with occasional small snowstorms, which have left accumulation in the mountains on the Wasatch Front.

So during these winter-like days I am craving and making comfort food. For those of you that are familiar with my cooking style, you know that I try to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients. I avoid eating processed foods - heck, when I lived in DC for the last 6 years I never owned a microwave. I do however have a weakness, and it's Stouffer's mac and cheese - I LOVE it! Even when I was microwave free I would buy it (on occasion) and bake it in my oven, which was a 45 minute commitment to get my cheesy, starchy fix.

I've made mac and cheese from scratch at home and it has never really satisfied my craving - somehow it's always been granular and lacking in flavor. So this week I attempted to make macaroni and cheese again, learning from my many mistakes in the past, and I feel like I finally found a recipe that's a keeper. It isn't low fat, and it's not healthy, but it's good, tasty, comfort food at its best.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Niçoise Salad

It's officially Fall, and I am basking in the sunny, warm days of Utah. Since we had a late growing season here. I am  taking full advantage and stocking up on the great end-of-summer produce that's overflowing from my local farmers market. This week I got ripe tomatoes, green and yellow wax beans, and the sweetest corn on the cob. To utilize my great produce and use some recently gifted items, I decided that a niçoise salad would be an appropriate dish for an early dinner.

The niçoise salad is from Provence, traditionally consisting of fresh vegetables, hard boiled egg, canned tuna, anchovies, and olives (specifically niçoise olives). In my version I decided to use the principle of local seasonal ingredients to build my salad. It's not a traditional niçoise but everything was chosen based on what's in peak season, in my pantry, available to me in the market, and - most importantly - what I love!

My parents visited recently and brought me some high quality canned tuna from their last visit with Sasha in Victoria. The tuna was the perfect protein for this healthy salad. I bought lettuce and potatoes from the grocery store to go with my seasonal produce from the farmers market. I also have fresh eggs from a neighbor with a chicken coop. Fresh eggs from free-grazing chickens are something special! Just look at the color of the yolk - orange, vibrant, and so incredibly flavorful! I love oil-cured olives and decided that I would forgo the traditional niçoise olive in this recipe to get in a few of these delicious ones instead. Here's my version - delicious, healthy, and satisfying!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wasabi Soy Salmon with Pineapple Fried Rice & Pickled Daikon

I recently bought some amazingly fresh wild Copper River salmon and have been brainstorming ways to do this fish justice. Here's what popped into my head - pineapple fried rice with salmon and pickled daikon. The pineapple fried rice is sweet, savory, spicy and tart, and it pairs nicely with the rich buttery salmon. To tie it all together I pickled radish and cucumber to cut the fattiness of the fish and to highlight the freshness of the herbs in the rice. This meal was outstanding! The fried rice was my favorite - the flavor combination of sweet, salty, spicy, and tart transported me back to the streets of Bangkok.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Made it! Salty Oat Cookies

These salty oat cookies are something special. Sasha and I have been making these cookies for the last couple of years and getting rave reviews from friends and family. This recipe has been tried, tested and approved!

I love this cookie because it's easy and versatile - I've made this recipe with raisins, craisins, dried blueberries and cherries. I'm not a huge fan of nuts in my cookies, so, I leave them out. Go ahead and make your favorite salty oat cookie. Below, I'll tell you how I made mine!

Everyone has a favorite dried fruit, and right now mine happens to be cherries. Sweet and tart, these goodies are my current addiction, so they had to make an appearance in my cookie post. I also added 1/4 of a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to make this a "chocolate salty oat cookie." I love the combination of chocolate and cherry. Since I live in the mountains now I left out the baking soda and baking powder because I didn't want to make it too cake-y. I also added nutmeg to the recipe to give it more spice. I was thinking about adding cayenne pepper but decided to hold off - perhaps next time?

If you're like me and have a hard time just eating one cookie, here's a great tip to conserve the waistline. Take the cookie batter and mold it into a log that has about a 2-inch diameter. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap and freeze. When you are craving your salty sweet snack, just cut a slice off the cookie dough log and bake in the oven.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Made It! Sweet Corn Salad

I made this sweet corn salad for a potluck BBQ the other day and received rave reviews. I altered Lisa's recipe quite a bit, to cater to my own taste buds.
Rather than raw corn, I decided to use grilled corn - to give the salad some extra flavor. I love the taste of grilled corn, but sadly I don't have access to a grill or gas stove. However, I discovered that you can "grill" corn right on top of the burners of an electric stove. Simply turn the burner on the highest setting and place the corn on top for a few seconds, rotating the corn until all the sides have some grill marks. Adding this simple step gives the corn a deeper, subtly smokey flavor. To the salad, I also added cucumber, avocado, and cilantro. I omitted the red onion since I don't like the taste of it raw. Instead, I minced a shallot and added it to the lime. The acidity of the lime breaks down the shallot to mellow its flavor. I also added a good quality olive oil to the dressing. That was it!!! This salad is so simple and quick to prepare. Just a few veggies to chop, a dressing to whisk together, mix it all together and you're ready to enjoy this healthy, fresh, and flavorful dish.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sweet Corn Salad

Nothing is a better representation of summer's bounty than biting into a freshly picked cob of sweet, juicy, crunchy corn. I am so lucky that I moved to Utah just in time for sweet corn season. Farmers are selling freshly picked corn cobs on a daily basis on the streets in my town. There are a million delicious ways to eat corn but here's one recipe that I love to make as a healthy side dish. No cooking necessary here - who wants to stand over the stove top in the summertime heat? Just some basic knife skills and a little marinating time and you're done!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just Desserts: Salty Oat Cookies

People always ask me, "What is your specialty?" In the past, I would have been stumped. But after making these Salty Oat Cookies for many different occasions and receiving rave reviews, I concluded that this recipe IS my specialty. These cookie have everything...sweetness from the chocolate, tartness from the dried fruit, and crunchiness from the nuts. They are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. The salt topping adds a surprising taste that brings all the delicious flavors together. For all of my family and friends who have asked me for the recipe, here it is! And for those that haven't tasted these cookies yet, I suggest heading to the kitchen and giving them a try!