Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Soviet Recipe Postcards--Cooking With Potatoes

“All in all, no other garden craze has been surrounded by so many legends, fairy tales, myths and fables as the potato….” So begins the introduction to this collection of potato recipes produced by Lenizdat, a Soviet publishing house. (I’ve previously blogged about their soup and sandwich recipe cards.)

Potatoes are indeed big in Russian cooking, but I usually think of them in simple recipes, like soups or maybe boiled or fried and served as sides to meat. Let’s go on a retro-photo tour and see just how much you can do with potatoes in Russian cuisine. Like most old recipes, these are vague about proportions and cooking times. Email me (yulinkacooks at yahoo dot com) if you’d like specifics, and I’ll do my best to translate and clarify.
Potato Kebabs--Who says there’s no vegetarian food in Russia? Granted, the editors suggest you deep fry the potatoes in lard before skewering them, but feel free to use vegetable oil.

French Fries!--Again, the recipe calls for lard, but these fries are to be served with cucumbers and pickles, tomatoes, sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, salad, mushrooms and pickled lingberries and apples. Take that, McDonald’s!

Soup With Potato Dumplings--called ooshki (ушки), or “little ears” in Russian, which aren’t unlike gnocchi. 
Waldorf Salad (from French cuisine—editor’s note)--Boiled potatoes, apples and walnuts, with mayo, lemon juice, salt and sugar for the dressing.

Potato and Meat Casserole--Call it Shepherd’s pie. You mix mashed potatoes with eggs, butter and sour cream, and place the mixture in a buttered pan. Top with browned onions and ground beef, and bake. Serve with pickles, sauerkraut, vegetables and “greenery” (zelen'/зелень in Russian, meaning fresh herbs like parsley and dill). This recipe, and the one below, make good use of leftover mashed potatoes.

Potato Roll Stuffed With Eggs--Make dough out of mashed potatoes, stuff it with hardboiled eggs and bake. Good with schi (sauerkraut soup), according to the recipe!

Beef and Potato Stew--I like this photo because it shows the essential condiments to the Russian stew—rye bread, pickles, sauerkraut, tomatoes, dill and peppers. And that’s probably kvass--rye bread beer--in the mug.

Other recipes included in this set are stuffed potatoes, deep-fried potato dumplings (smazhenzi/смаженцы, from Slovenia), and, from Belarus, potato dumplings with mushrooms and pork (kalduni/калдуны) and potato pancakes (draniki/драники, which I once made). Contact me for recipes.


Anonymous said...

Hi Julia, could you send me the recipes for the ushki and kalduni? Thanks!

Alina said...

Thanks a bunch for this post. You reminded me of how many awsome dishes can be made from a plain old potato, which in turn reminded of an old russian movie that I liked - "Devchata".
Probably gonna make "shepherd's pie" tomorrow.

Michael said...

Substitute vegetable oil for lard? God forbid! LOL! :P

Check out my post In Praise of Lard

You will find a couple good links in the comments on the...oh dear...the health benefits of lard (but not your typical store bought stuff).

By the way, thanks for the post. I love potatoes!

Michael said...

By the way, I would like all the recipes. :P

Julia (alias Yulinka Cooks) said...

Foodperestroika--Could you send your email to yulinkacooks@yahoo.com? I'll try to scan the recipes this week.

Julia (alias Yulinka Cooks) said...

Michael--Thanks for the nice comments. :)

Alina--I don't think Russians get that creative with potatoes in everyday cooking. It's mostly boiled or fried potatoes, or stuff like salad Olivier. We all need a reminder!

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