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Olivier (pronounded o-liv-ee-ay) is a staple of any Russian New Year table. The original recipe was invented in the 1860’s by Lucien Olivier, the French chef of the Hermitage restaurant in Moscow. The exact original recipe is unknown, but it’s said to have contained grouse (a type of bird), veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, pickles, cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs and possibly soy beans.

One of the Hermitage sous-chefs, Ivan Ivanov, secretly attempted to learn the recipe by observing Olivier. Soon after, Ivanov left to work for a rival restaurant called Moskva. There, he began to serve a suspiciously similar salad called “The Capital Salad” – although it was reported that the recipe was of a lower quality than Olivier’s and that it was missing something.

Ivanov eventually sold the recipe to various publishers. In 1905, the Hermitage restaurant closed and Chef Olivier left Russia. From then on, the salad could be referred to as “Olivier”.

One of the first printed recipes for the Olivier salad (1894) called for half a hazel grouse, two potatoes, one small cucumber (or a large cornichon), 3-4 lettuce leaves, 3 large crawfish tails, 1/4 cup cubed aspic, 1 teaspoon of capers and 3-5 olives and 1 1/2 tablespoon provencal dressing (mayonnaise).

Because many of the salad’s ingredients were rare, expensive, or seasonal, they were gradually replaced with cheaper and more common foods, until it evolved into today’s version.

If you try to Google “Olivier recipe”, you’ll notice that no two recipes are alike – everyone seems to have their own version. Meat or no meat… if there is meat, it may be either tongue, chicken or bologna… white onion, red onion, or green onion… straight mayonnaise or a mixture of mayonnaise and sour cream… etc.

This was my first attempt at making the salad. Beware that my recipe makes A LOT! I started with a medium-sized bowl and quickly had to upgrade to a larger bowl.

Olivier (Russian Salad)
serves a lot!

1/2 lb. – 1lb. bologna
1 (15 oz.) can of sweet peas
3 medium-sized potatoes
4-5 medium-sized carrots
5 eggs
1 bunch of green onions
1 bunch of fresh dill
4-5 pickled dill cucumbers (pickled with salt, not vinegar)
ground black pepper
salt
mayonnaise

1. Boil the carrots and potatoes ahead of time and hard-boil the eggs; make sure they are cooled to room temperature before making the salad.

(A trick to boiling the potatoes is to quarter them and boil them with the skin ON – this will prevent them from turning to mush)

2.  Skin the boiled potatoes and dice them into small cubes. Add to a large bowl:

cubed boiled potatoes

3. Skin and dice the carrots into small cubes (about the same size as the potatoes); add them to the bowl. The goal is to keep everything to about the same size:

diced boiled carrots

4. Drain the can of peas and add the peas to the bowl:

canned sweet peas

5. Dice the eggs into small cubes and add them to the bowl:

diced hard-boiled eggs

6. Dice the pickles into small cubes and add them to the bowl:

cubed dill pickles

7. Dice the bologna into small cubes and add them to the bowl:

cubed bologna

8. Slice the green onions (tops and whites) and add them to the bowl:

sliced green onions

9. Chop the dill and add it to the bowl:

chopped dill

10. Season with salt and pepper and add the mayonnaise – no specific amounts here – just add them all to taste. Mix everything well.

finished salad

Enjoy – and Happy New Year 🙂

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dilled-zucchini-1

I found a zucchini recipe that Stas likes!

It wasn’t a huge surprise, though – this dish contains dill and sour cream (the 2 components of what I call ‘Russian crack’). If I haven’t mentioned this before in my blog, I have a theory that no Russian can resist dill or sour cream. This irresistableness (is that a word?) increases tenfold when the two are combined.

Anyway, on to the recipe…

Dilled Zucchini

equivalent of 6 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream (I used a combo of 1/4 cup fat free and 1/4 cup regular)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt
pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, garlic, and onion and cook for 8-10 minutes (or until zucchini is light brown), stirring occasionally.

IMGP4489

zucchini and onions, before going into the pan

zucchini and onions: before

zucchini and onions: before

zucchini and onions: after

zucchini and onions: after

2. Season to taste with salt and pepper; remove from heat.

3. Mix the sour cream and dill; stir into the zucchini mixture.

sour cream and dill mixture

sour cream and dill mixture

dilled-zucchini-6

the finished side dish

4. Serve warm or at room temperature.

serves 6

(Weight Watchers points will depend on the type and amount of sour cream you use – adjust accordingly)


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one of the chicken breasts plated

I love the May issue of Cooking Light- so many good recipes to try! I made this recipe earlier in the week, one one of our non-gym nights. It took awhile, but it was worth it. The wine added a delicious stew-like flavor, and the little pearl onions were so yummy!

My only gripe is that the carrots were nasty – but I hate carrots, so I’m biased! I only left them in the recipe because I thought they looked nice and spring-like 🙂

The original recipe also called for 12 baby turnips (to be added with the carrots and onions), but I couldn’t find any at the grocery store.

Braised Chicken with Baby Vegetables and Peas
adapted from Cooking Light, May 2009

2  tablespoons  butter, divided
2  bone-in chicken breast halves, skinned
2  bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
2  chicken drumsticks, skinned
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
2  (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1  cup  dry white wine
1/2  teaspoon  chopped fresh thyme
12  baby carrots, peeled (about 8 ounces)
12  pearl onions, peeled (about 8 ounces)
6  fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2  bay leaves
2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
3/4  cup  fresh green peas
2  tablespoons  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan.

browning the chicken

browning the chicken

Add broth to pan; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add wine and next 6 ingredients (through bay leaves); stir. Add chicken to pan, nestling into vegetable mixture; bring to a boil.

after adding the liquids

after adding the liquids

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Discard bay leaves and parsley sprigs. Remove chicken and vegetables from the pan.

Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour cooking liquid into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top).

letting the fat rise to the top

letting the fat rise to the top

(Watch out… this next part is a little tricky and semi-messy!) Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings back into pan, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Return liquid to pan. Bring liquid to a boil; cook until reduced to 1 1/2 cups (about 5 minutes).

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Add flour mixture to cooking liquid; cook 2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Return chicken and vegetable mixture to pan; stir in peas. Cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish with chopped parsley (I forgot to garnish mine!!)

serves 4

finished!

finished!

a close-up of the finished product

a close-up of the finished product

braised-chicken-plated-2

one of the chicken breasts plated

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