Ninotchka's Kitchen


Every Saturday we get a taste of Russia at Ninotchka’s Kitchen. Chef Nina Zakharova said she gets bored baking the same old recipes, so luckily for us that means each week we get to try new creations that she's baked.

Nina was born in Russia, then moved to Ukraine and had children. When her daughters moved to the U.S. with her ex-husband, she decided to come over and won a green card in a lottery. She worked as an electrical technician for years till she lost her job.

Nina had always cooked for her family, and had been baking since her she was in her 20s. “I have hundreds of recipes that I brought over from Ukraine,” she said. “I keep my recipes for decades.”

So she embarked on her new career: a baker. “I liked baking sweet things, but a few years ago I started looking up pierozki recipes and I combined recipes that I liked,” Nina said. “They’re a very traditional russian food. Lots of people bake them on the weekends.”

Pierozkis are pastries stuffed with sweet or savory ingredients. Nina’s favorites are the cabbage and carrots, and cinnamon apple, but the most popular one is potato portobello.

Sometimes you’ll see one of Nina’s daughters Maya and Veronica at market with her. Veronica bakes vegan cookies, and Maya helps run the stand occasionally.  And so far, this career change is working out pretty well.

“I discovered baking late in life,” Nina said. “It’s the most exciting thing in my life right now.”