Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Reporting from the New Year’s table…

I know you’re all wondering how we survived the New Year… Well… It was… a smash! No nasty surprises or last minute things going down hill. At 6 pm we stopped all preparations and solemnly (read: screaming like a bunch of crazy maniacs) ushered in the Russian New Year, accompanied by the Kremlin Tower Clock Chimes served directly via the Internet. And then by 10:30 pm we were lazily spread around the dinner table enjoying each other’s company and scrumptious (and pretty traditional) food. By 12 am we felt like boa constrictors – in need to hibernate for about a week – but we bravely got up, and loudly cheered again to usher in the actual New Year as it finally hit our own time zone. After which there was some gift exchange, an amazing feat of stuffing cake into our already stuffed selves, and the traditional movie watching… (Cause honestly, no one wanted to get off the couches.)

And when I say stuffed, I mean it. Cause Russian food is not something that is low fat or low cal or low anything. At least not for the holidays.

As for that flu… Well it gave me a run for my money on Saturday. And I was seriously mad and furious. But then I slept for about 14 hours (thank you kiddo!) and woke up feeling human again. So it was all good.

Now, I’m sure you’re dying to see the table. So I actually took some pictures.

Behold our New Years Dinner Table:

Trying to fit the whole thing in one pic.


Chicken and Pork steaks, and baked Salmon (for me)…

The scrumptious caviar sandwiches. A staple. Spread some butter on thin slices of white French bread. Spread thin layer of caviar on top. Bite and go to heaven…

Another staple – cold cuts and cheese. For some reason Russians are obsessed with Deli products. I don’t know why. But if you ever see a Russian grocery store in North America, you can bet that half of it will be a Deli section. Same goes for Polish and Ukrainian stores, by the way. Maybe it’s a Slovak thing… Or an Eastern European in general.

The egg salad spread. Basically it’s a mix of minced garlic, grated cheese, egg and mayo (5-6 hard boiled eggs per 350 grams of cheese, garlic to taste, enough mayo to coat and blend everything). Best way to enjoy is to spread it over a nice slice of thin rye bread. Though some people (notably my hubs) eat it with a fork, off a plate, just like a regular salad…

Ahh… The herring “under a coat” salad… What can I say. If you’re not Russian, you’ve probably never tried anything like this. It’s a layered thing, consisting of shredded boiled potatoes, beets, eggs, herring and mayonnaise. The secret is in the layering and proportions. Done right, it is the most divine thing that melts in your mouth and hits you with just the best amount of salty/creamy/slightly sweet/satisfying experience you’ve ever had. Done wrong, it’s salted fish with potatoes and mayo. And unfortunately I don’t know the secret. The only person I know who makes this dish time and time again to perfection is my Dad. And he did this one too. So any questions should be addressed in his direction.

And this is the view 2 minutes later:
(and you can see the perfect layers... yum...)

The notorious “Olivie” salad. This salad on a Russian New Year’s table, is like Turkey on North American Christmas table. Everyone has it. And the recipe varies slightly from one cook to another. Here is the recipe used in this house:

About 4-5 boiled potatoes (peeled)
1 can of green peas/carrots mix
1 small onion
4-5 hard boiled eggs
10-12 pickles (Polski Ogorki type is the best)
mayonnaise (The amount you’d put in potato salad. Basically enough for everything to be coated in it. Probably a cup or more.)

Cut potatoes into little cubes. Same with eggs and pickles. (Let the pickles be about the same size as the peas). Cut the onion into very small peaces too. (Half, then put on the cut side, then cut that side into thin strips, turn around 90 degrees, and slice again so you get small squares.) Now, traditionally people also add some kind of meat product (also cut into small cubes). It can be boiled sausages (about 10) or bologna, or previously baked chicken breast etc. Our family doesn’t do that since I stopped eating meat. But if you’re a passionate carnivore, you can certainly add some. Just make sure it’s some kind of plain meat in a sense that it doesn’t overpower the taste of the salad.

Put all the ingredients in the bowl, add mayonnaise and mix very well. Let it blend together a little before you eat it. Half an hour to an hour in the fridge ought to do that.

So, as you can see, we had a lot of fun. And now you can join our festive dinner vicariously :-)

Bonne appetite!

And Happy New Year!

PS: Just so no one thinks I’m taking all the credit here – most of the actual cooking was provided by my Dad, while decorations and setting were arranged by yours truly. Though I did bake the salmon and make the sandwiches. And the garden salad. And the mushroom appetizer. And maybe a few other little thingies… So I’m a good girl too :-)

Posted by vasilisa @ 10:50 p.m.

Read or Post a Comment

Glad the new years off to a great start. Just looking at all the food makes me full.

Here's to many more great experiences throughout the year!


Posted by Blogger Alexys Fairfield @ 12:44 a.m. #

Boy, that is some feast! After the feast, I wouldn't want to get off the sofa either. Glad to hear you got over your flu just in time.

Posted by Anonymous Daddy Forever @ 2:18 a.m. #

Wow, what a spread! Sounds like a fabulous celebration.

Happy New Year!

Posted by Anonymous Leslie @ 10:52 a.m. #

Today I learnt a thing or two about Russian food. If you hadn't described what went into the "herring 'under a coat' salad" I would have mistaken that for pink lasagna!

Happy New Year to you too!

Posted by Anonymous simcooks @ 11:54 a.m. #

WOW!! Somebody had their fill!:D Looks great, I am glad you had a wonderful celebration!

Well,I am back,little tired still but in action already!:)Hope you are 100% better now Lisa!

Happy and healthy 2007 to all of you!:))

Posted by Blogger Asha @ 3:58 p.m. #

Mmmm...that egg salad on rye sounds so delicious! Now I'm craving egg salad...

Happy New Year! Glad you all had such a great time!

Posted by Blogger Kelley @ 4:12 p.m. #

It all looks scrumptious! Happy New Year!

Posted by Blogger PunditMom @ 7:15 p.m. #
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I'm a 29 year old mom of two! A toddler (kiddo one) and a new baby (kiddo junior). I am also the most horrible (as in I barely ever do it) cook that I have met in my life. This blog is a diary of my attempts to feed my hungry growing family

PS: My name is not actually Vasilisa... But I find that honest reporting comes easier when there is a shred of anonymity. (Apparently, posting pics of my sons doesn't count...)

PPS: For those of you wondering where on the planet I am: I'm cosily tacked away in the Torontonian suburbia of the Great White North (Canada).

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