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Smokey Russian Potato Salad


(serves 8-10)
The Russian Potato Salad (some people say Ukrainian) is the king is potato salads, so much so it is more of a cold appetizer than a side dish. It has great texture, being the perfect blend of starchy vegetables, crunchy vegetables and meat. It also looks great, its a kaleidoscope of colours bathed in a milky white dressing. Most importantly Russian Potato Salad tastes great. A perfect dish to make ahead of time so there is less time-pressure when you are cooking and serving your meal.   
 

IngredientsPotato Salad

  1. Potatoes (6 = 3 cups)
  2. Carrots (3 = 1.5 cups)
  3. Frozen Peas (1.5 cups)
  4. Red Onion (1/4)
  5. Eggs (4)
  6. Ham (200g)
  7. Heinz Sandwich Spread (1/3 cup)
  8. Sour Cream (1/3 cup)
  9. Mayonnaise (1/3 cup)
  10. Liquid Smoke
  11. Dill Weed

Preparation 

  1. Boil 4 eggs in a pot, starting with cold water. Simmer for 10 minutes once it is boiling and then place the eggs in cold water.
  2. Peel the carrots and potatoes and cube them into 1cm blocks. Place the cubed potato and carrot in a large sauce pan and add boiling water from a kettle. Add just enough water to cover everything and bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 8 minutes once it is boiling. Strain
    Boiling in Pan

    better to cube first, then boil

    through a colander and after a minute pour into a large salad bowl lined with some paper towels.

  4. Rinse the peas in water to remove any ice and then place those into the same pan. Again add just enough water to cover everything and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes once it is boiling. As with before strain through a colander and then add to the salad bowl.
  5. Julienne 1/4 of a red onion and cube 200g of ham.
  6. Mix 1/3 cup Heinz Sandwich Spread, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1T of dill weed, 1T of liquid smoke in a bowl. Add also 0.5t each of sugar, pepper and salt.
  7. Remove the paper towels from the vegetables.
  8. Peel the eggs and put them through an egg slicer a few times. The whites should end up cubed while the yolk should fall apart. Add the egg bits to the bowl together with the chopped onion and ham. Mix everything up gently and then add the dressing and do a second mixing.
  9. Refrigerate at least for a few hours before serving.
Potato Carrot Pea

everything the same size

Notes

  • Some people call this the Olivier Salad, after a Chef Olivier who served a similar style salad in the Moscow Hermitage Restaurant. That may well have been the original inspiration for this salad but its quite different, containing more exotic ingredients like grouse, crayfish and capers.
  • One important feature of the Russian Potato Salad is all (except the onion) the pieces should be of the same size. Since you can’t change the size of the peas, that becomes your standard.
  • Do not use canned peas, they are too soft and mushy and will get mashed.
  • Heinz Sandwich Spread provides the taste of pickles and additional layers of flavour. It is the ‘secret ingredient’ of my recipe. If you can’t find some you can chop up some pickled gherkins with 1/3 cup of Crosse and Blackwell Salad Cream as an alternative, that’s how I used to do it. 
  • Everybody has their own version so feel free to experiment. You can use roast chicken or bologna instead of ham, these are the common alternatives for meat. Swap in beetroot if raw onion is not to your liking. You can also choose to leave the egg yolk out.
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Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Appetizers, Recipe, Salad

 

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Insalata Caprese


(serves 4)
Insalata Caprese, literally translated as salad of Capri, comes from the region of Campania in Italy. It’s a tasty salad of tomatoes and mozzarella, suitable as a starter and is also typically found as part of an Italian antipasto buffet.  This paticular version comes with a twist, it uses a reduced balsamic vinegar, sort of like a vinegar syrup, to enhance the natural sweetness of the tomatoes.  

Ingredients

  1. Soft Mozzarella (300g)
  2. Tomatoes (4)
  3. Balsamic Vinegar (1/2 cup)
  4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (1/4 cup)
  5. Honey 
  6. Thyme 
  7. Fennel Seeds 
  8. Arugula (optional)

Preparation

  1. As with all raw dishes, quality of the ingredients is extremely important. Make sure you get the right type of soft mozzarella, not the variety you use for pizza. The tomatoes should also be fresh and crisp. Don’t substitute any other kind of inferior vinegar or olive oil.
  2. This dish is best served cold, so refrigerate the tomatoes and cheese until the last minute.
  3. You’ll need to make the vinegar syrup ahead of time. In a small sauce pan, put a 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar, together with 1t thyme, 1t fennel seeds, 2t honey on a slow simmer. Simmer with the occasional stir until you have reduced the vinegar to a third of its original volume, about ten minutes. You’ll need good ventilation as some vinegar will boil off.  While still hot, filter through a fine tea strainer to remove the herbs.
  4. Next cut the mozzarella into tomato sized slices each 1/3 to 1/2 an inch thick.  As the cheese is soft and slightly sticky, use a sawing motion with a teethed knife that has been pre-dipped in olive oil or best results.
  5. The tomatoes should be sliced likewise. Cut parallel to the tomato’s ‘equator’, i.e. don’t cut from top to bottom.
  6. In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil with 1/2t of salt and 1/2 t of black pepper. If you have coarse steak salt, use that. 
  7. Arrange your tomato and mozzarella slices on your plates (and perhaps some arugula if you fancy having accompanying greens) and spoon on about 1.5T of the seasoned olive oil per serving. You can use single stacks as shown in the photo, or arrange them alternately like fallen dominoes. Finish off with a light drizzle of the vinegar syrup.

Notes

  • If you are not familiar with the ‘fresh’ kind of mozzarella, refer to my Cheese Page for more information.  
  • Some reduced vinear recipes call for low non-boiling heat for hours to prevent burning the vinegar. The secret is to use a small pan (like those for frying single eggs) such that depth of liquid is still maintained even when it is reduced.     
  • If you don’t have fennel seeds, you can try any kind of tuber derived spice. The thyme can also be substituted with other types of chopped herbs. 
  • In more traditional settings, Insalata Caprese is served with whole basil leaves, which conveniently allow the colours of the salad to match those of the Italian flag. In more contemporary restaurants, arugula is used nowadays.
  •  

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2010 in Appetizers, Italian, Salad

 

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Pesto Marmalade Salad


(serves 6-8) 
I discovered the pure magic of combining marmalade with pesto one time when I was trying to use up some leftover ingredients for a salad. The result of my thriftiness was this unique salad-hater’s salad. It’s slightly sweet but best of all, it contains all your regular breakfast staples like jam, toast and eggs. If you like coleslaw but hate ‘regular’ green salads, this is the salad for you.  

Ingredients 

  1. Arugula (12 oz)
  2. Marmalade (1t, heaped)
  3. Olive Oil (1/3 cup)
  4. Balsamic Vinegar (4T)
  5. Pesto (4t)
  6. Pine Nuts (1/4 cup)
  7. Croutons (1 cup)
  8. Eggs (2)
  9. Black Pepper
  10. Cardamon

Preparation

  1. Hard boil 2 eggs and if you are not buying ready-made croutons, dice some overnight bread and toast them into croutons in a toaster oven.
  2. Spoon the marmalade and pesto into a bowl that will hold the dressing and microwave for 15 seconds to soften the marmalade.
  3. Add the olive oil and vinegar, plus 1t of black pepper, a pinch of salt and a pinch of cardamon (use nutmeg if you don’t have any). This completes the dressing.
  4. Put the hard boilled eggs through the egg slicer 3 times, each in a different direction. On the third time, each egg will literally fall apart, so do it over your salad bowl containing the arugula to catch the little egg bits. In anycase, have all the egg end up  in the salad bowl when you are done.
  5. When its time to serve your salad, drizzle your dressing into the arugula and eggs and then toss. When the yolks have melded into the dressing, add the crutons and pine nuts and toss lightly a second time. Serve immediately to keep your arugula crisp.

Notes

  • On occasion I also use baby spinach and it works well, and that results in a different look. I only used arugula in this recipe because its supposed to (actually it does) pair nicely with fruit and nuts.
  • I’d recommend heavier breads like farm bread for the crutons, so they stay crunchy longer.
  • I swear by coarse-cut marmalade, the tiny bits of peel add character I think.
  • In smaller portions, you can also use this salad as decorative side-salad on your main dishes or hot appetizers.
 
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Posted by on October 14, 2009 in A Kobi Original, Appetizers, Recipe, Salad

 

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