The Chef, the Computer, and the Baltic Apple Pie

I usually don’t speak about my day job on this blog, mostly because it has nothing whatsoever to do with adventures in Eastern Bloc cuisine. Or rather, it didn’t until recently… About two years ago, a small team of researchers at IBM (including yours truly) started working on computational creativity. By winning on Jeopardy, IBM […]

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Prune and Chocolate Custard Tart

Here’s a recipe that should come in handy for the upcoming holidays. The idea for this dish stemmed from a popular dessert at family Thanksgiving dinners. The original was a plain chocolate custard tart, covered with whipped cream and cocoa powder. While most of the other desserts would be barely touched by the turkey-stuffed guests, the […]

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Nesselrode, Part 1: the Count, the Cook, and their Pudding

March 31, 1814. With the Austrian, Prussian, and Russian armies having defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Paris, the War of the Sixth Coalition is now over. Tsar Alexander I of Russia receives the key to the French capital from Talleyrand, and enters the city at the head of the army, cheered by the crowd. Talleyrand, master of political flip-flopping, started […]

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Dalmatian Fritters

Dalmatian Fritters

Among other things, Hippocrene Books offers an unparalleled collection of  international cookbooks. Sure, the layout is rather dry (no pictures), and the titles aren’t updated very often, but where else can you find a Belarusian or Albanian cookbook? (Amateurish, self-published booklets written by US-based church people don’t count.) Liliana Pavicic’s and Gordana Pirker-Mosher’s The Best of […]

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Cherry and Pistachio Gratin with Cherry Kompot

During cherry season, try this yummy dessert that I’ve adapted from Silvena Rowe’s Feasts — though Rowe mentions getting it from Carmel Pince, “possibly the best Jewish restaurant in Budapest.” In other words, it’s far enough removed now that if you were to show this post to Carmel’s chef, he’d probably vehemently deny having created anything remotely like […]

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Apple, Vodka and Birch Syrup Babka with Cranberry Mors Sorbet

Here’s a recipe that gives me lots to talk about: Babka is a brioche-like yeast cake found in many Eastern European countries, from Albania to Russia. It’s often baked for Easter Sunday, and it’s not infrequent that you see dried fruits added to the mix. The babka was the inspiration for the more widely known French rum […]

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Apricot Kernel Ice Cream

Apricot Kernel Ice Cream

Every apricot pit conceals an intensely aromatic kernel. Eaten raw, this kernel is unpleasantly bitter, but once toasted its taste gets somewhat milder, reminiscent of almond. This should be no surprise, since it can contain up to 5% of amygdalin. In fact I just learned while writing this post that apricot kernels are sometimes used […]

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Sachertorte, Chocolate-Apricot Cake

The Sachertorte is a great example of a cake that was created nearly two centuries ago and needs a serious update to impress anybody nowadays. The original dessert was invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 and became popular in Budapest and Vienna several years later. However, similar recipes already appeared in the 18th century — after all, we’re […]

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