Tag Archives: cheese

Spring Cleaning or Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette

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Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinegrette
When I look outside all I see is grey misery but I can tell spring is not far away by the way my orchids are sprouting new shoots in preparation to bloom. Sometimes things are not what they appear and in those moments we need to apply faith, observe signs in nature and enjoy a springtastically healthy salad for lunch! With summer fast approaching I know I need to clean up my eating habits and get ready for the swimsuit season. Are you with me? I am excited to put away my pie plates and casserole dishes and employ my grill and salad spinner for the coming season. This Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad is such a great mix of light and satisfying because nobody wants to starve by 3 o’clock and reach for that trusty pack of Timbits or a Walnut Crunch. Have I lost you with my Canadianisms? If you don’t know what timbits and a walnut crunch are do yourself a favour and visit a Tim Hortons!
Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette
There is a salad bar place not far from my work where I like to go for lunch. There are dozens of options which allows you to taste different flavours and combinations. Although great, it’s not too budget friendly and that is why I try to make my own salads at home and take them to work. What I learned from visiting the salad bar place is that I really love quinoa+lentil+feta cheese combo. When I make my salads at home I try to use it as the base and add whatever greens and vegetable I have in the fridge. Dressing is also very important for the overall success of the salad-my latest favourite is Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette.

Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro VinaigretteQuinoa andPuy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette
Ingredients:

  • Quinoa (cooked)-1 cup
  • Puy Lentils (cooked)- 1/2 cup
  • Pomodorino or Cherry Tomatoes( cut lengthwise)- 1/2 cup
  • Red Pepper- 1/2
  • Sugar Snap Peas – 1/2 cup
  • Mixed Salad Greens- 2 cups
  • Feta Cheese- 2 tbsp.
  • Fresh Cilantro/Coriander (chopped)- 2 tbsp.
  • Fresh Parsley (chopped)- 1 tbsp.
  • Lime (juiced)-1
  • Olive Oil- 1/4 cup
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Avocado-1

Method:

Cook quinoa and lentils according to package directions, in separate pots, and cool completely. (This step could be done in advance. I usually cook more than I need and keep the ingredients in the fridge to use throughout the week.)

Chop up cilantro and parsley, juice the lime. In a mortar combine the herbs, salt and pepper and lime juice and crush the herbs with a pestle to a coarse paste, slowing add the olive oil while stirring. Set aside for the flavours to meld.

Combine all the remaining ingredients together except for avocado. Dress the salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette and top with sliced avocado.

Quinoa and Puy Lentil Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette Note: As I mentioned earlier I use whatever vegetable I have in the fridge so go ahead and improvise. Make this gorgeous salad your own!

Saturday morning brunch-Russian sweet cheese fritters “Syrniki”

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Syrniki Russian sweet cheese fritters.
As a child I always liked Saturday mornings. They meant special breakfast for us. I grew up with a mom who worked full time. She had an important job as an engineer so every morning my brother and I had pretty simple breakfasts before heading to school. She loved to spoil us on the weekends by making something special for breakfast. I still remember waking up to the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. Syrniki (seer-nee-kee) were one of her Saturday treats and one of my precious childhood memories. I missed them terribly when I moved away from Russia. Syrniki are made from a farmer’s cheese called ‘Tvorog’ in Russian and I couldn’t find a good substitute in the US or Canada for the longest time. It’s very similar to cottage cheese and ricotta cheese but is drier and has a tangy taste. This is what it looks like in texture.

I have used well-drained cottage cheese in the past but it really lacks the slightly sour kick of ‘Tvorog”.

However, I am getting reports that all the major supermarkets in North America are now carrying this item under the name of ‘Farmer’s Cheese” and you can always find it in any Russian or Eastern European store if there is one close by. I bought mine from a local Eastern European Foods shop in my neighborhood in London. Imagine my excitement! It’s been so long since I last made the recipe that I had to pull out my Russian cookbooks for a refresher. As I often say I am not a recipe follower, I only use it as a guideline. I had to combine two different ones, tweak them in a few places and this is what I came up with.

Russian sweet cheese fritters "Syrniki"

Ingredients:

Farmer’s Cheese- 1 lbs/450 gr

2 eggs

2 tbsp. oil

4 tbsp. sugar

3/4 c. flour plus extra flour for dusting and rolling

1/2 tsp. baking powder

vanilla

Directions:

The method of preparing syrniki is pretty much the same as old plain pancakes. If you ever attempted to make pancakes you will manage this recipe with ease. Combine cheese, eggs, sugar, oil, flour, baking powder and vanilla in a medium size bowl and mix all the ingredients with a hand mixer until you get a homogenous mass- no longer than 2-3 minutes. The mixture will be very sticky. Don’t panic, that’s what you are supposed to get!

Put your non-stick or cast iron frying pan on the stove on medium heat and add 3 tbsp of oil to it.

Dust a clean work surface with some flour. Take a regular soup spoon and start scooping the mixture from the bowl. Put it directly on the floured surface and roll it in the flour, then flatten it with your palm to make it into a patty. Continue the process with the rest of your cheese mixture until it’s all gone. You should get about 14 patties.

Before you start frying your syrniki make sure the oil in the frying pan is very hot by sprinkling a bit of flour into it. If it sizzles it’s hot enough. Fry your syrniki the same way you would pancakes. When you turn them over they should puff up a bit. The flour coating will make the outside slightly crispy while the mostly cheese filling will taste light and delicious.

Dust syrniki with icing sugar as the final touch and serve them with your favourite jam or a fruit sauce. If you want a truly Russian experience enjoy them with a bit of “smetana”-creme fraiche. I love mine with blackcurrant jam! Yum!  This one tasted just like my babushka used to make. If only my kids had the same appreciation for it. They rejected it and went for the maple syrup. However they LOVED the syrniki and I have one of the pickiest children in the world. I call it- Success!


Russian sweet cheese fritters "Syrniki"