Cookbook Challenge: “Russian Food & Cooking” Part 3

For recipe #3 of my cookbook challenge, I chose Baked Cheesecake (or Zapekanka iz Tvoroga), because I wanted to do a dessert that I was semi-familiar with, and I just happen to really love cheesecake. I’m kicking myself for not trying something new because the cheesecake turned out like junk, and I’m not totally sure where I went wrong. My guess is that altitude made a difference since I live at 4000 feet and I did not make any substitutions or change the recipe in any way. The cheesecake in the cookbook photo shows a cake about four inches thick and mine was barely an inch. It actually tasted good, but the texture was off because the cottage cheese and egg were really grainy. It was like an eggy, grainy, flan. This recipe would probably produce decent results if it were prepared by someone else at a different elevation. I don’t blame the recipe, but I’m not going to give this another try in the future. So even though the third recipe tanked, my conclusion about the Russian Food & Cooking cookbook is that two out of three recipes were really, really tasty, and this book is definitely a “keeper”.

My flat Russian cheesecake.

*A few things about the book itself:
It’s beautiful. Not only pleasing to look at, but the pictures really do a great job at drawing you in to the ‘story’ of the food. Most of the recipes have multiple photos to show you the more complicated steps in the cooking process. This is important because some of the recipes are labor intensive and it saves you time to be able to see what you are supposed to be doing along the way without the guesswork. For those of us who don’t know how to make a perfect Russian dumpling (or peljmeni) we NEED all the visuals we can get.
Secondly, the cookbook has an authentic feel, and that alone scores major bonus points from me. I feel like this is true home-style cooking from a Russian household and not some watered-down American version of what we expect. Russia is a gigantic country with so many varied cultures and regions, that it is hardly the bland, cold weather cuisine I had expected. Shame on me for assuming.
Should you feel the need to make cheesecake from Russia, you can find the full recipe in this cookbook, which is available on Amazon.


“Russian Food & Cooking” by Elena Makhonko


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