Chopped Herring Buterbrodi

Russian cuisine is largely known for stealing from the French tradition and “Russifying” those recipes, but there is even more cross-over with their Nordic neigbors, just like our Scandinavian friends, the Russian’s love herring and open faced sandwiches.

Bread and Salt are the symbols of Russian hospitality and friendship. It is traditional to greet special guests with a loaf of fresh bread with a container of salt on top of it. The guest breaks off a small piece of bread, dips it in the salt and eats it. This combination of salty fish on bread is a tasty way to great your guests and make them feel welcome.

from Please to the Table by Anya von Bremzen and John C Welchman

2 salt (schmaltz) herring fillets
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 slices white bread, crusts removed
1 small green apple, peeled, cored and quartered
1 small onion, quartered
1 hard cooked egg, quartered
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste

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-Soak the herring in milk, covered in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours
-Pour the water and vinegar over the bread and let it stand for 10 minutes. Squeeze the bread to remove the excess liquid.
-Rinse the herring, pat dry with paper towels, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place the herring, bread, apple, onion, and egg in a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth but not over pureed.
-Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the sour cream, lemon juice and sugar, if desired. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

Serve on cocktail squares of buttered rye bread, topped with a slice of apple to balance the salty flavor of the fish.

 
 
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Fresh Cabbage Salad with Apples and Sour Cream Dressing

This recipe is from “A Year of Russian Feasts” by Catherine Chermeteff Jones.

Russia produced over 4 million tons of cabbage per year, and the Ukraine produces 1.3 million tons. They are 3rd and 7th on the list of top ten producers in the world. It is a hearty vegetable that thrives in the colder climate  and short growing season. It is a tremendous source of  Vitamin C and is easy to preserve as an important nutrient source over an extremely long and harsh winter.

Of course in the brief Russian Summer it is wonderful to savor fresh, raw vegetable as much as possible. And this recipe is so quick, easy and the result so refreshing, it is a natural for a summer party… no hot stove, out of the kitchen in a flash.

Sour cream is another staple of Russian cuisine. Dairy products in general have traditionally been in strong supply in Russian, and as a culture (I’m sorry I couldn’t resist it!) they seem to have a real penchant for fermentation, so a proliferation of “soured” cream makes sense.

8 oz. white cabbage, tough outer leaves and core removed, quartered and very thinly sliced.
Salt
1 small apple, peeled and coarsely grated
3 tablespoons sour cream, creme fraiche or mayo
Freshly Ground pepper
 
Place the Cabbage in a medium Bowl, Add 1/2 tsp salt and mix well by hand, crushing the cabbage to release the juices, about 1 minute. Add the apples, sour cream and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve immediately.
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Hungarian Sour Cream Potato Salad (Tejfeles Krumplisalata)

No backyard BBQ is complete without a good and hearty potato salad, and luckily no Hungarian Feast is either. This recipe comes from June Meyers Authentic Hungarian Recipes, who appears to be the American authority on Hungarian cooking.

Ingredients:

8 good sized red potatoes
1 small onion minced
2 ribs of celery, sliced thin
4 eggs hard boiled and peeled
1/4 cup of Pimento, diced
1 pint of sour cream
1/4 cup of good white vinegar
1 heaping Tbs. of sugar (do not omit)
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper

Steps:

Wash potatoes and cook in boiling water until tender. Do not over cook or salad will get mushy.

Drain potatoes, cool and peel.

Slice into small pieces and place in mixing bowl with minced onion, sliced celery, chopped eggs, and diced pimento.

Into bowl with these ingredients place the sour cream, vinegar, sugar and salt.
Mix all with two large spoons, or as grandma did with your hands.

Taste, if more salt is needed, add and add a few dashes of pepper.

Let the Potato Salad rest in the refrigerator for a few hours to blend flavors.

Put into a serving dish.

Sprinkle a little Paprika on top and sprinkle some chopped flat parsley on for beauty.

Serve cold.