Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From Russia with Love

I'm not a giant fan of Russian food. Most of what we ate while I lived there was only a "meh" on the Yum scale, and the stuff they served us at the school was enough to make me gag half the time. I'm pretty sure I subsisted on Milka Bars and Passion Fruit Fanta. (Oh how I dream of thee!)

It did have its moments, however. Here a a couple of things I loved from my time in the motherland:

In Russia, the New Year and Christmas are celebrated twice as a result of the Orthodox Church's decision to abide by the "old" or Julian calendar, putting Christmas on January 6th/7th and New Year on January 13th/14th, and the Soviet shift to the "new" or Gregorian calendar. (The one we use.)

Salad Olivier is a special dish served on Russian New Year or Christmas. It's a twist on potato salad, you might say. I served it to my family at our annual Christmas party the year I went to Russia (I got home right before Christmas) and it got rave reviews.

Salad Olivier (Russian New Year Salad)
2 lg. potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced
2 lg. carrots, boiled, peeled and diced
1 small bag frozen peas, cooked and drained (And I must add that we should be grateful for frozen peas. Canned peas are gross and that's all we could find there.)
1/2 small jar dill pickles, diced
1 c. diced ham
1/2 med. onion, minced
1 egg, hard-boiled and diced
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Blini were a Friday ritual. Marissa always made them best. They were such a satisfying way to end a week of teaching. We would fill them with jam, honey, nutella-like spread, ham and cheese, and on one occasion they substituted for tortillas on fajita night. (Not a very satisfying substitute...)

I'm not really sure what the difference is between these Blini and crepes, but they're excellent!

1 c. flour
3 c. milk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2-3 eggs
salt and sugar to taste (you won't need much of either)
vegetable oil, or cooking spray
desired toppings/fillings

Mix eggs and milk. Add in flour, soda, salt and sugar. Mix until smooth.
Pour a little oil in pan (or use spray) and ladle in a thin layer of batter.
Tilt and turn pan to fully coat with batter. Cook only a minute or two on each side.
They should be golden, but tender and crispy only on the very edges.
Fill as desired and fold into quarters.

Suggestions for fillings:
1. deli-sliced ham with havarti cheese
2. nutella. need I say more?
3. cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk
4. sour cream, smoked salmon and caviar -- not my idea of a good time, but this is the most traditional way to go. Russians like to serve it with good-quality vodka. (I'm pretty sure most of them like pretty much anything with vodka of any quality...)

Get creative! Sweet and savory fillings are both scrumptious.
(Blini can also be a "raised" pancake made with buckwheat flour. I have a recipe for that, too, but I haven't tried making it yet. If it's good I'll share it with you.)


  1. Thank you for putting the blini up for me! I'm so glad I found your new blog locale... love!

  2. L O V E the layout, especially the header! Good job!

  3. Thanks Madeline! And you're welcome Cam.


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