Tag Archives: Russian cuisine

Russian Winter Salad (Olivier salad)

 This salad is a traditional dish in Russian cuisine, and most of the time it is associated with New Year celebration, when it’s always served on a festive table along with another popular salad – “shuba”.

 The very first and original version of this salad was invented in the beginning of 1860s by chef Lucien Olivier, who was the owner of the renowned Moscow restaurant “Hermitage”. “Olivier Salad” quickly became popular among restaurant visitors, the salad brought him a great fame and became the signature dish. The recipe and especially the dressing was kept in a big secret, and unfortunately the fact is that the exact recipe is still unknown. But according to some notes, it’s known that the salad contained hazel grouse, veal tongue, black caviar, fresh salad leaves, crayfishes or lobster, some pickled, fresh cucumbers, capers and boiled eggs. And the secret dressing was prepared from fresh raw eggs, some secret herbs and olive oil. 
 As you can see, all ingredients were posh and expensive. So, lately during Soviet time, these fine ingredients were replaced by cheap and widely-available, like boiled kolbasa (bologna sausage) or meat, boiled potatoes and carrots, pickled cucumbers and peas, dressed with store-bought mayonnaise instead of home-made French dressing. Such simple and nourishing salad was widely-popular, and soon it became a staple and traditional dish of Soviet holiday dinner, and particularly of New Year’s Eve. Lately, it’s even got a second name – “Winter Salad”. Beyond Russia this salad is often called as “Russian Salad”.Russian Winter salad
 Nowadays, the salad is still a traditional part of New Year celebration, but there are lots of versions – with boiled beef or chicken, beef tongue, fish and caviar, fresh or pickled cucumbers and so on. My recipe is a common version of the Winter Salad – with boiled beef, pickled cucumbers and mayonnaise. It’s a little bit on a dark/unhealthy side of my diet 😀 but consuming it on the holiday dinner is also a part of Russian tradition, so eating it once a year don’t make anyone fat. 🙂 Enjoy!
Olivier or Russuian Winter salad

Russian winter salad (Olivier salad)

  • Servings: approx 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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You can garnish the salad with some peas and chopped dill or parsley.
*Add more cucumbers if using small gherkins.
Ingredients
350g beef (one whole piece, without any bones)
300g/ 2 large potatoes
1 large or 2 medium carrot
4 medium eggs
4 medium pickled cucumbers*
1/2 medium brown onion
1 can of green pea
mayonnaise, to taste
salt, to taste, optional
Method
  1. In a pan, put meat and cover with cold water, bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for about 50 minutes or until meat is ready. Completely cool and cut the meat into small cubes (about 1 cm).
  2. In another large pan, put potatoes and carrot in their skin, cover with water, bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer until veggies are soft. Cool, peel and cut into small cubes (about 1 cm).
  3. In another pan, hard-boil eggs. Also cut into cubes.
  4. Finely chop the onion, put in a bowl, drizzle with some apple vinegar and cover with hot water. Leave for 15 minutes, then drain.
  5. Also cut the cucumbers into small cubes.
  6. In a large serving bowl, add all ingredients along with drained peas. Dress with mayo to suit your own taste.
You can keep the undressed salad in the fridge up to 2-3 days.
Enjoy Russian Winter Salad!

Tsvetaeva Apple Pie

On this day, 8 of October, 123 years ago one of the greatest poetess in Russian literature – Marina Tsvetaeva drew the first breath.

She was born in the intelligent family: her father Ivan was a famous philologist, art critic and a professor of Fine Art in Moscow University and mother Maria was a pianist. Marina Tsvetaeva begun to wrote here first poetry being a 6 years old child, her poetry was written not only in Russian, but also in French and German languages. Her mother was terminally ill with tuberculosis and that time was believed that a change in climate could help to cure the disease, so young Marina spend quite a long time in Italy, Switzerland and Germany; lately she studied French literature in famous Sorbonne University.
 Tsvetaeva published the very first poetry collection in 1910 on her own money..
 Russian Civil war (1917-1922) was severe time for the poetess and here own family. She rejected Russian Revolution and wrote the cycle of poems about the war, glorifying those who fought against the communists. While here husband joined the White Army (anti-communist), she had no support and lived in starvation with her daughters.
 In 1922 Marina Tsvetaeva left the Soviet Union and moved to Berlin, lately her family lived in Prague and finally settled in Paris. Unfortunately, living abroad didn’t made here life easier, they lived in poverty and were homesick for Russia. Tsvetaeva did whatever she could: began to write more prose because it made more money than poetry. Meanwhile, her husband and daughter were involved in NKVD (predecessor of KGB), and when French police interrogated Marina Tsvetaeva, she was shocked about news that her husband was a spy. Furthermore, police implicated here son in the murder of former Soviet defector.
 Finally, in 1939 she returned to Russia..
Tsvetaeva apple pie/ Slice
 Returning to the apple pie recipe and its name. It’s being said that such apple pie was served in the house of Marina Tsvetaeva and her sister Anastasia. Young Marina spent a lot of time with famous poets and writers on the literary evenings, and it’s been known that she served an apple pie to her visitors. I really want to believe that she really had an opportunity to participate and enjoy such evenings, where this tender and delicious apple pie was served. At least there was something striking and good in her life.Tsvetaeva apple pie (after the name of Russian poetess)

Tsvetaeva Apple Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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You can make the dough one day ahead and keep it in the fridge.
Ingredients
Dough
150g butter, at room temperature
250g plain flour
4 tbsp sour cream, 30%
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp apple vinegar or lemon juice
Filling
3 sour medium apples
1/2 lemon, juice
250g sour cream, 30%
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract, optional
100g white sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
Method
  1. For the dough, in a large bowl, add butter, sift  the flour and mix until mixture resembles crumbs. Add sour cream. Dissolve soda in vinegar or lemon juice and pour in the dough mixture. Mix to combine. Knead a dough a bit, shape into a disk, cover in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Take the baking tin, grease it and line with baking paper. Roll the dough into the circle to fit the baking tin. Put the tin into the fridge.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  4. Peel (optional), core  and thinly slice apples, sprinkle with lemon juice.
  5. In a bowl, with electric or hand whisker beat sour cream with egg and sugar. Add vanilla, if using. Sift the flour. Whisk to combine.
  6. Take the baking tin with dough from the fridge. Arrange apple slices. Pour over the sour cream mixture.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 180C and bake for 25 minutes more. If the top begins browning too much, cover it with a foil.
  8. Allow the pie to cool completely in the baking tin. Then carefully transfer the pie onto the serving plate. Slice and serve with cup of hot tea.
The remaining pie cover with a foil and keep in the fridge up to 2 days. The pie will be even better on the next day, as the cream becomes thicker.

Classic Beef Stroganov

 Beef Stroganov is a well-known Russian dish, which become extremely popular in many countries. It consists of fried beef cubes mixed with sour cream sauce. Various explanations are given for the name, one says that such dish was firstly appeared at the count Alexander Stroganov’s dinners, who was the Russian minister of the interior from 1839, the member of the state Council from 1849 and the governor general of Novorossiia from 1855. The sauteed beef was among other different dishes, which were served at ‘open tables’ when all decorous and presentable people could came in straight from the street and tried any meal.
 The first known Beef Stroganov recipe doesn’t contain onions or mushrooms, only floured beef cubes, which fried and sauced with mustard, bouillon (stock) and some sour cream. Thus, you may guess that it’s not the best recipe. The dish becomes much tastier and aromatic if you add onions and mushrooms (it tastes fantastic with cep mushrooms, even if you add only one), such recipe is considered now as classic Beef Stroganov.
Beef Stroganov

Classic Beef Stroganov

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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You can also serve the beef with buckwheat instead of mashed potatoes.
IngredientsRussian Beef Stroganov
500g beef fillet, cut into medium cubes
2 medium brown onions, thinly sliced
200-300g mushrooms, sliced (cep mushrooms or brown champignons)
2-3 Tbsp plain flour
150-200ml sour cream
2 tsp dijon mustard
2-3 Tbsp beef stock
butter or sunflower oil
sea salt, black pepper to taste
mashed potatoes, chopped dill or parsley, rye bread, for serving
 
Method
  1. To make the sour cream sauce, in a small bowl, combine the sour cream with mustard, add stock to make it more thin (it should be liquid like kefir).
  2. Mix the flour with a good pinch of salt. Lightly flour beef cubes from all sides, shake off any flour excess. Heat the heavy frying pan, when it’s hot, add butter or sunflower oil. Then sear beef cubes in 2 or 3 batches, so you don’t overcrowd the pan and steam the meat. Cook for 2-3 muntes or just until browned. Transfer to the plate.
  3. In the same frying pan (reduce the heat to medium), add a knob of butter, mushrooms and onions. Fry onion until it’s soft. Then add fried meat, season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, you need to warm the meat mixture for 2-3 minutes. Now add the sauce, stirring continuously for 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with lid and let it rest for few minutes.
  4. Serve with mashed potatoes, sprinkle with dill or parsley. Enjoy!
You can keep the dish in the fridge up to 1-2 days. Keep the fried meat and sour cream sauce separate in the different containers. Just mix it together and rewarm before serving (but don’t let the sauce bubble).