Ukrainian Borshch (Украинский борщ)

BorshchI lived in Moscow through the summer and fall of 1991, the last months of the Soviet Union, when food could only be reliably found in open-air farmers’ markets, at prices jacked up to market levels.  During these days, I spent many hours with my friend Sergei Maslov who, like me, was studying at the Moscow Energy Institute.  Often I would visit his family in their cozy apartment in the southeast corner of the city, and his mother Marina would make dinners for us.  One of my favorite dishes was her authentic Ukrainian borshch.  One day I took out my notebook and wrote down the recipe as Marina prepared the soup.  I have scanned the original handwritten page and included it below. Continue reading

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Olivier Salad (Салат Оливье)

Salat OlivieThis is quintessential Russian salad, and an indispensable part of every New Year’s Eve table.  Since my first visit to Russia in 1987, I can remember being served this salad in various forms and combinations.  On New Year’s Eve 2012, we decided to make it for friends, and I searched my Russian cookbooks for a recipe.  Inevitably, Anya von Bremzen, in her classic Please to the Table, included a quirky variation from her childhood, made with shredded cabbage, which bears no resemblance to any salat oliviye I’ve ever tasted. The version from the Russian-language cookbook had no measurements — because what self-respecting Russian housewife would ever write down the amount of peas, carrots, ham, potatoes, and eggs she uses in a salad?  So I improvised based on the ingredients I remembered, and this version came out pretty well.  When I try it again, I might use a little less potato. Continue reading