Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Welcome, Journal Sentinel readers

My longtime dream has come true: this little blog got a shout-out in a real, live newspaper. I was interviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a story on leftovers, which you can read here.

New readers, start with this post for my wit and wisdom on leftovers. Got a favorite leftover recipe? Share it in the comments.

Here are some more ideas on using up leftover food:

Milk: Make homemade cottage cheese (aka farmer's cheese, curd cheese or tvorog).

Cottage cheese: Bake muffins.

Cooked, cold chicken: Make chicken-stuffed crepes or chicken and spinach hachepouri.

Raw chicken, random vegetables: Make stock.

Tomatoes past their prime: Roast 'em.

Roasted tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or tomato paste: Make chana masala soup.

Cooked vegetables: Make salad.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Salad Olivier

“A young woman, trapped in Brighton Beach by her immigrant parents’ expectations, finds her place at the family table by sitting down with a knife to make Salad Olivier. It is the Russian party dish par excellence: a mound of hard-boiled eggs, canned peas, pickles, potatoes and meat, diced and bound with a tangy mayonnaise. For particularly swanky occasions, the salad is covered with aspic.”

The above passage is from a New York Times article about the Russian immigrant writer Lara Vapnyar. A lot of Vapnyar’s stories reference food, and I was amused to see Salad Olivier singled out. The Times makes it sound like Olivier is a joke, a dish on par with jello salads or sloppy joes on the American table. Yet no Russian celebration is complete without it. I usually bypass Olivier because clumps of mayo turn me off, but I wouldn’t mind a lighter version, made with yogurt-based dressing and frozen rather than canned peas—a gentrified, upscale Olivier, if you will. In fact, this weekend, I had a request to make Olivier for a family cookout. I hemmed and hawed for a while, but then gave in. My version is pretty traditional, save for the dressing.


Peel and boil 3-4 potatoes and a couple of carrots until soft—be careful not to overcook the carrots. Cook 3 eggs until hard-boiled. Cool the eggs and vegetables completely.

Cube the potatoes and carrots; place in a salad bowl. Add ¼ cup finely chopped red onion and 3-4 cubed dill pickles. Peel and finely chop the eggs; add to the salad, along with ¼ cup of finely chopped parsley or dill (or both). Add a couple of cups of cubed ham, cooked chicken or cooked beef. Add ½ cup peas (the frozen kind, defrosted beforehand—not canned, please.)

For the dressing, get a bowl and mix some sour cream, plain or Greek yogurt (or mayo), ½ tsp. sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of pickle brine and some kosher salt and black pepper. Dress the salad right before serving. Spruce up with a parsley sprig and a tomato slice.
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