суббота, 1 марта 2014 г.

Maslenitsa - Hello, Spring!

Well, since I was hooked up with studies for the previous months, I didnt have much time to work on new stuff. But I still have something interesting for today's "show & tell"!

In Russia this week was rather celebratory - not an official holiday per se, but a national tradition. Maslenitsa is the week before the beginning of the Great Lent and also the week we say goodbye to winter. The traditional food is blini or pancakes - but unlike the western "pancakes" blini (plural of "blin") are thinner and often serve as a wrapping for various fillings, such as cottage cheese, mushrooms, mashed potatoes, but also they can simply be dipped in sour cream or jam. They are both a tasty treat before a long fasting and a pagan symbol of the sun, that brings spring.

Traditionally relatives and friend would visit each other during the week - different days meant different visits. Also mass festivities take place and end on Forgiving Sunday (if you'd like to ask forgivnes from someone for anything - no day is better) with the burning of the Maslenitsa - a hay and rag doll that's meant to symbolize the winter. Of course most traditions aren't as common as when people lived in villages, but even in cities on Sunday there are organized events in parks and squares - snow fights, bonfires, contests, dances, sleigh rides! Perhaps it's the biggest celebrated holiday that isn't strictly religious and keeps national traditions, which means a lot since most of the populace is rather out of touch with them (except for seniors).

I didn't have the chance to take photos of the blini that I baked (they where too yummy to survive that long), but if anyone would like to try them, the recipe is quite simple! You'll need:
  • 300 ml of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 5 tablespoons (heaped) of flour (I use wheat or a mix with oat)
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • a pinch of salt

Mix the egg, milk, sugar and salt, add flour and then the oil. They are baked on a very hot frying pan (I'd recommend slightly (!) oiling it before the first pancake and in-between if necessary) by pouring some of the dough in a thin layer and, when baked, flipping it over with a spatula. Took me some practice, but the result was totally worth it! My fave is eating them hot while dipping in cold sour cream or condensed milk - it's out of this world!

For those on the vegeterian side - here is a recipe I also tried that doesn't include eggs. But it still contains milk... I guess you could use water, but I don't think that'll still clasify as blini and not some form of plain bread.
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 l of milk
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of bakers powder
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
 The instructions are the same - give it a good mix, bake and feast! These turn out a bit thicker than the firt ones,  but still about only 2mm.

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