Tashkent Lemon Cake with Pomegranate Buttercream Frosting

Dear Oleńka,

Walking around Almaty's main bazaar in the winter months, you get the impression that all good things come from Uzbekistan. Aside from the amazing local apples, most of the produce is imported from more southerly climes. It is impossible to find parsnips (believe me, I've tried), but there are seemingly inexhaustible supplies of pomegranates, citrus, and apparently infinite varieties of persimmons.

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Posted on March 28, 2015 .

Cooking with Hemingway - Trout, Bacon, Fennel

Dear Marysia,

Some time ago I stumbled on an absolutely amazing dish. Imagine a very elegant meal which consists  of only 2 ingredients and requires almost no work!  But that’s not even the best part – this is a recipe by Ernest Hemingway. I was hooked right away! As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try Hemingway's fried trout with bacon. And we all know that bacon makes EVERYTHING awesome! But when I decided to make it for dinner I realized that I needed a perfect companion to complement the fish. Since I was addressing a legend I knew I had to bring on my A-game, so I prepared my warm fennel salad – something that I’m famous for among my family. In the winter I make it with tangerines, but you can replace them with lemons, limes, or oranges, although tangerines are the best option. This time I used lemons. Also, you can experiment with the bacon. I used a fancier option – Italian pancetta – and it worked perfectly.

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Posted on March 28, 2015 .

Nutella Cookies for the Highly Improvised Itinerant Scholar’s Kitchen, or: How to Bake Without Equipment or Ingredients, In Moscow or Elsewhere

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Dear Ola,

When I packed my bags for a fifteen-month research trip at the end of May, I knew that among the things I would miss most about Somerville were my kitchen and its assorted contents, the farmer’s market down the street, and our neighborhood supermarket, a local institution that has a cult following (and recently became the focus of international media attention). My first stop was Moscow, where finding decent housing is notoriously difficult.  I was lucky enough to share a centrally located apartment with two friends, right by the Moscow River, complete with air conditioning, a view of one the Stalin-era Seven Sisters skyscrapers (close cousins of Warsaw’s Palace of Culture), and even a relatively large kitchen.

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Posted on March 28, 2015 .

Sausage, Cabbage, Potatoes—My Last Resort

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Dear Marysia,

Let me state the obvious – it’s March. I hate March. I’m so tired of winter—shivering in cold weather and trying to remember what a sunny sky looks like… Don’t get me wrong—I love this time of year… when I go skiing. But unfortunately I spend most of my time in the city simply trying to survive, so I try to look forward to nice things. First I count the days till Christmas. Then comes New Year’s Eve, finally Valentine’s Day. Every weekend I watch ski jumping tournaments. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve found something magical about people flying through the air with just two boards attached to their feet. I watch them on TV, every January I go with my husband to Zakopane (Poland’s so-called “winter capital”) to watch them live, and when the competition is over I stand in a crowd of screaming 16-year-old girls to fight for the autographs of my idols.

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Posted on March 28, 2015 .

Miso Caramel

Dear Ola,

I am writing to you from somewhere above the Tien Shan mountains. Boston has been undergoing a veritably apocalyptic winter, below me stretch out seemingly endless waves of snow-covered peaks, and I am returning from the subtropics to the snowy steppe (actually Almaty is in the foothills, not in the steppe, and the snow has probably melted by now, but Google tells me that the temperatures are still hovering around freezing, so I feel entitled to some poetic license).

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Posted on March 28, 2015 .