Lublyou: Russian/American Life & Cuisine

life and cuisine

Sun, August 23 2015

Mama’s meatball soup

My mama makes this amazing chicken soup with giant meatballs that are juicy, sweet and rich, and the broth is smoothing and flavorful. It always makes me think of coming home for dinner after a long and busy day, stepping into the hallway and smelling luscious notes of meaty broth with spikes of parsley and sweetness of root veggies.

This morning I was FaceTiming with my family, and after we hung up I got very sad that I don’t get to spend my weekends with them. After fighting back against this sudden moodiness, I turned to food. I called mama back and asked her for the most comforting recipe I could think of: her giant chicken meatball soup. I also experimented and mixed in some ground turkey. It turned out juicy, sweet and comforting, just like I remembered!

Chicken and turkey meatball soup //

Chicken & Turkey Meatball Soup

  • 1/2 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 2 medium white potatoes, washed, peeled and julienned
  • A handful of baby kale (optional)
  • Salt for soup to taste

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together chicken, turkey, carrot, parsley, egg, 1 tsp of salt and a pinch of ground black pepper.
3. When the water starts boiling, scoop meatball mix with a large spoon, roll in your hands to a ball and immerse into the pot. Repeat with the rest of the meat.
4. Add julienned potatoes and a handful of baby kale to the simmering soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and potatoes are soft.
6. Take off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Russian chicken meatball soup //

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In Food, Recipes


Thu, August 13 2015

Gourmet Restyle: Baked Potato Roses, Before & After

I’m a very visual person, it’s incredibly important to me how everything looks. It makes me happy to look at beautiful things, colors, textures and objects. On the other hand, I can get pretty depressed if I wake up in a messy room, and I easily lose my appetite if a cafe table is dirty, the lights are unpleasant or the food looks like it was simply flopped onto the plate.

Because it does affect how I feel, I decided I should start giving extra thought and love to the dishes I cook, even if they’re just simple, everyday things like eggs & bacon or a bowl of oatmeal. I’m going to start sharing the ideas I’ve had for “restyles” of everyday dishes. My goal is to elevate my normal meals, to add an extra touch of respect to all of the food I eat, and to find a way to incorporate more aesthetic appeal into my life.

For my first Gourmet Restyle post I decided to go from regular baked potatoes to a potato-rose bouquet. Here’s my “Before” and “After”: // Carving potatoes into roses

A few years ago my mama gifted me with a large carving knife set and it’s been a huge help and inspiration to me in reimagining how things could look. I made a quick search online but couldn’t find the exact kit I have (it’s Russian), and the big sets I saw on Amazon didn’t look well-made and had bad reviews. But I found this small 3-knife set that has some of the knives I have and use for some of the things I’m going to feature. If you’re interested in trying out carving I’d recommend starting with it! // Carved Potato Roses

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the original dish: thinly-cut potatoes, seasoned with flakey salt and rosemary, baked in a gratin dish until soft with crispy edges. Yum. But a bit boring. // Potato Gratin

Now whenever I have a bit more time on my hands I can use the sharp carving knives to turn the potatoes into roses instead: // Baked Potato Roses

After baking, the layers toast on the edges and curve while softening, shaping into realistically looking flower petals that are also crispy and delicious! // Potato carving // Potato vegetable carving roses

How to carve Potato Roses

  • For each rose use either 1 medium potato or 1/2 of a very large potato.

1. Thinly peel the skin off, round one end of the potato and taper the other end of the potato with five cuts, so the bottom looks like a pentagon and the top is round.

2.Use a thin and sharp knife and cut down toward the base to make five petals (one on each side of the pentagon). Stop just before reaching the bottom.

3. Remove part of the potato flesh around the entire circumference under the first row of petals, forming a base for cutting out the second row.

4. Cut the second row of petals, alternating them with the first row. Again remove the flesh all the way around the potato under the new row.

5. Repeat until you reach the middle.

6. Keep the completed potato roses in a bowl or cold water while working on the rest so they don't dry out.

7. Before baking, quickly dry the roses with a paper towel, place in a greased dish, sprinkle with salt, add rosemary or your favorite seasoning and bake until soft and golden. // Food carving vegetable // Potato carving roses baked

I’m really excited about this post, it was really fun working on it, from carving and baking the potatoes, to photographing them at the end. Let me know if you make potato roses or have questions. I know it’s pretty confusing and tricky the first time around, I’d be happy to help!

Also helpful: Thai carving knives, and this baking stove-to-table dish from Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma.

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In Food, Recipes


Mon, August 10 2015

August conversations


It’s already August, which means all of the guests we eagerly expected to visit us during our first summer in NYC have already come and gone; I have checked watermelon, black and red currants, peas, gooseberries, and all kinds of ice cream off my summer to-eat list; it’s almost our 1st anniversary of moving to this city; and I’m starting to seriously think about taking a Food Writing class in September and going on a Halloween Cemetery Tour in Sleepy Hollow in October.


Over the last few months I’ve cut back on many routines and activities, feeling like I need a little bit of a break, “a soul staycation.” But one of the things I’ve enjoyed doing a lot of lately is having long and probing conversations with Ben. We have been waking up earlier, having extended breakfast and talking before heading off to work. In the evenings we talk more over dinner, long after we scraped the last bits off the plates we imagine, remember and question. On the weekends we do talking all over the city, its parks, cafes, streets and stoops.


At some point I started to wonder if all of this talking, self- and life-analyzing is just my brain sneakily luring me into the Wonderland of Procrastination. Talking, dreaming and planning is a great way to avoid actually doing things. But then I remember all of the times back in the Northwest when we’d drive into the mountains for hours and talk, dream, plan – back then it used to also be one of my favorite ways to spend free time. There is no doubt it helped us create the future we’re living now and to continue being the same best friends we are.


I should go to bed now, so we can talk more over breakfast. Where did I read recently that sleep is a time-travel machine to breakfast…? Absolutely true.

Август наступил, но совсем не собирается задерживаться, как и все наши гости, запланированные на первое лето в Нью-Йорке: прилетели и улетели. Я начинаю мечтательно посматривать в сторону осени. Тыквы, листопад, закрытая обувь, вечерняя прохлада, тёмные вечера невольно вытесняют арбузы, пикники, пляж и мороженное в моём неугомонном сердце.

Поднадоевшая нью-йокрская жара циклично завершает наш первый год в этом городе и замедляет темп жизни. Всё чаще мы встаём по-раньше, чтобы растянуть завтрак и задушевные разговоры перед работой. По вечерам разговоры за ужином перетекают в поздние чаепития и обсуждения воспоминаний, желаний и идей о будущем.

Порой мне кажется, что все эти беседы – лишь очередная уловка моего сознания, которое предпочитает по-дольше поболтать и ничего не делать. Но потом я вспоминаю наши еженедельные многочасовые разговоры в дороге по горам и лесам Северозапада, и понимаю, что все эти планы и мечты не пропали даром, они помогли нам создать то будущее, в котором мы сейчас живём.

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In Lifestyle, Looks, New York City


Sun, August 2 2015

Lublyou New York City


Summer in New York City… I’m spending a whole summer in NYC this year, and not just spending it IN the city but more like WITH the city!

I complain about heat and humidity just like everyone else here, celebrate short bursts of rare storms, hate MTA and scroll through my Twitter feed to see where other New Yorkers are currently stuck and if there is any hope. Sometimes I give up and leave to walk above the ground, marveling at the evening sun reflecting on glass buildings and closing flower shops.

Summer in New York is also a synonym for guests and it was definitely on our “reasons” list for choosing to move here, even if sometimes that means sharing a twin bed with Ben in the kitchen. I love being able to show the bits and pieces of the city to my favorite people and to create memories of them here. Summer and the city itself might physically be a little uncomfortable, but I do love what it does for my soul.


After a few visits from friends and family, I feel like I know the routine. We all change to comfortable flats, pack bottles of water and 2-3 cameras, and set out for long walks up and down the New York city streets and avenues together, stopping for brunches, photobooths, doughnuts, ice creams in the parks, and then escape into various shops with air conditioning. Speaking of AC, it’s also smart to carry a cardigan or a summer shawl in your bag — the temperature drop between the sunlit streets and the subway cars is no joke.

Last week we did some major touristy New York City activities when my mama was visiting: The Empire State Building and The Staten Island Ferry (….and more) all in one day! We got lucky with The Empire State, at 11 a.m. on a Sunday it wasn’t all that crowded, though still a bit confusing. If you’ve been there, you know there are lots of halls, rooms and escalators slowly leading to the top. It took us about half an hour to make it to the observation deck. It’s touristy, but glorious. I’ve visited it at night before and honestly, I can’t pick a favorite, both views are amazing. I wish they had a yearly pass or membership so I could come more often in different weather and times of the day.


Later that day we took a ferry to Staten Island that goes past the Statue of Liberty and offers fabulous views of Lower Manhattan. I took this ferry 7 years ago at sunset, all by myself. I took a picture of my lonely reflection in the ferry window with the Statue in the background and the setting sun. Being there this time with my mama, husband and best friend felt especially meaningful and moving.


Tips for taking the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty:

  • It’s free, there are no tickets, you just show up at the Whitehall Terminal (right next to South Ferry 1 train subway station.)
  • There is no line at the terminal to board the ferry, just join that big crowd in the room, the direction most people are facing is probably the right gate. A ferry comes approximately every 30 minutes, the gates open and everyone rushes in.
  • GO RIGHT and upstairs. The ferry doesn’t turn around as it leaves the dock, it’s double-ended, which means the Statue of Liberty will always be seen from the same side of it. When you board in Manhattan – right side after entering; from Staten Island – left.
  • If you want photos of the Statue (of course you do!) take them on the way to Staten Island, on the way back to Manhattan the ferry passes further away from the Statue.
  • Wind-proof your outfit — watch out for your hat, skirt and cheetos while on board.

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In Lifestyle, New York City, Travel