Saturday, May 17, 2014

Russian Salad Bulgarian way

Russian salad with some slices breadNo, this is not the recipe for Salad Olivier, although many of the recipes for Russian salad throughout the Internet refer to it as if both salads were one and the same.
Frankly said, I don’t think anybody prepares Salad Olivier at home (or anywhere at all) nowadays. 
Salad Olivier was created (predictably) by a Belgian or French chef Lucian Olivier back in 1860. 19 century was obviously tolerating mayonnaise, salads with mayonnaise were seen as more sophisticated - for reference see the original recipe for Waldorf Salad
Unlike Waldorf salad, created in New York, Russian Salad Olivier was invented in Moscow. It was not intended to be a simple everyday meal – it contained boiled veal tongue and grouse (a type of bird), crawfish tails and aspic. 
Boiled potato The salad called Russian salad nowadays and served widely around the world represents a distant echo of Olivier Salad and although this is one of the recipes which are not followed exactly and which contain varying ingredients according to the local taste or the ingredients available, it still shall contain mayonnaise, pickled cucumbers, boiled carrots and potatoes. Many people add diced ham, boiled eggs, apples. I prefer the version without them. 
And actually this is the recipe perceived as Russian salad in Bulgaria. 
Sandwich with Russian Salad

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Stuffed Lamb Shoulder for St George's Day

St George - Bulgarian icon
St George's day is celebrated widely in Bulgaria. Along with Ivan, Dimiter and Nikola, George is one of the most common names here and all the people having the name George celebrate their nameday today. That means, a lot of relatives and friends gather around the table and have a long, long lunch and the main dish is based on a lamb meat - whether a whole lamb turned on a spit (the so called 'cheverme'), lamb roasted with potatoes, or my favorite recipe - whole lamb shoulder stuffed with rice, stewed lamb offal and a bunch of herbs - 'drobsarma'.
This impressive dish is served widely for the Easter lunch and for St George's day. 
As a result of the long roasting, the meat remains tender, the skin is crispy and the stuffing is full of aroma.
There are some significant differences between the Bulgarian recipe for stuffed lamb shoulder and all the recipes popular abroad.

First - This recipe does not call for boned shoulder, to the contrary - it is based on the idea of stuffing the pocket between the outer membrane of the shoulder and the meat.

Second - Offal is important part of the recipe. Lamb liver and lung shall be boiled in advance and included into the stuffing.

Third - The typical strong taste of the lamb pairs well with the fresh and grassy flavor of mint and green onion, so the combination of tastes in this recipe includes a lot of spring onion, mint and freshly ground black pepper.

Slow cooking makes the flavors blend, so this dish requires a lot of time to be prepared properly. Women get up early on St George's day, only the roasting in the oven takes about three hours.
Stuffed lamb shoulder

Roasted lamb shoulder