Ruski Recipes

Maya Silver |
Food And Dining

With the Olympic ceremonies kicking off Friday in Sochi, you’ll have two glorious weeks to explore Russian cuisine. You may have encountered the luscious pierogi settled on a circle of applesauce and crowned with sour cream. And you’ve probably had memorable encounters with vodka in shot or cocktail form. But Russia’s the largest country in the world and its collection of recipes is as enormous as the Siberian tundra. So go buy some beets and potatoes and channel the creative genius of Dostoyevsky in your kitchen.

Start off with the Soviet version of Chicago’s giardiniera: pickled everything! A platter of pickled herring, vegetables, and watermelons will warm up your digestive system with some fermentation-produced probiotics. Serve with a Potato and Pink Radish Salad, wherein the tuber meets gherkins, radishes, and dill in a Russian dressing.

Hydration is paramount for any athlete, so make like a cross-country skier and prepare your glass for an Olympic drinking game. Sure, you could just take a shot each time a figure skater takes a spill, but why limit yourself to those rare moments? In camaraderie with Team USA, take a sip of your White (or Black) Russian every time an American athlete steps up to the plate. Knock one back for every lap of speed skating. Or grab your drink each time a hockey player throws a punch.

Next, baffle and then impress guests with misleadingly titled Porcupine Meatballs in a carrot, tomato cream sauce from Olga’s Flavor Factory. Nyet, they are not made with porcupine. Da, they are so named because of the rice incorporated into the ball, creating little spikes.

With all the cold weather outside and snowy sports on TV, warm things up with a bright bowl of Borscht. This healthy soup epitomizes Russian flavors—beets, potatoes, cabbage, and aromatics are cooked together, partially puréed, and served with dill and sour cream.

Chicken Kiev is perfect this time of year when comfort food is on the mind and a little insulation in the cold weather is welcome. At its essence, the dish is a roulade of pounded chicken breasts filled with an herbed butter compound, breaded, fried, and finished in the oven.

Finish the night off light and right—with a Pavlova, a meringue cake named for the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. It's pure and crisp on the outside, light within.