Russian salad recipe

Russian salad and other ‘Ensaladillas’

Forget about  the Russian salad  you might have had more often than not  at school.

The origin of a recipe known internationally as Russian Salad (Ensaladilla Rusa) is associated with a rather baroque cold dish that included game meat and mayonnaise. It appears that it was invented by Lucien Olivier, a 19th Century chef from Belgium working in Moscow.

Russian Salad Recipe

Traditional "Ensaladilla!

As it is, the original recipe has very little to do with what today is known in Spain as Ensaladilla Rusa which is not a salad (ensalada) in the old fashion way, nor does it comes from Russia. 

Traditionally an ensalada tends to include lettuce leaves among other ingredients such as tomatoes and it is always dressed with olive oil and vinegar. 

 In Spain Ensaladilla which always includes mahonesa sauce has become a recipe associated with excellence and the best tapas bars in town.

Canalones as a Festive Dish

In the 1950’s Spain, Ensaladilla Rusa became synonymous with a dish cooked with potatoes, carrots and mahonesa sauce as well as a number of other ingredients that would follow cooks taste : boiled eggs, tuna, olives, gherkins or roasted red peppers. 

To complicate things even more, in the last few years professional kitchens have included in their menus numerous Ensaladillas that have changed the term Rusa for the name of one of the ingredients, normally a less traditional one. This is the case of my own Ensaladilla de Gambas.

The photograph comes from a superb small gastro bar I recently discovered in my beloved Aracena : VITA VINUN Espacio Gastronómico. 

Here not only the food is outstanding, the selection of wines offered is a true showcase of what Spain is producing today at very reasonable prices. To enjoy with their ensaladilla de huevas (cod roe) I was served an utterly delicious wine from Rueda – Valtravieso Nogara 2018 from Bodegas Valtravieso in Puras, Valladolid.

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Ensaladilla de Gambas

The photograph comes from a superb small gastro bar I recently discovered in my beloved Aracena : VITA VINUN Espacio Gastronómico.

  To serve 4 people 

recipe  To enjoy with their ensaladilla de huevas (cod roe) I was served an utterly delicious wine from Rueda – Valtravieso Nogara 2018 from Bodegas Valtravieso in Puras, Valladolid.
Russian salad recipe

Ingredients

3 medium size potatoes, unpeeled 

3 carrots, unpeeled

1 egg

6 large prawns

2 to 3 tablespoons home made mahonesa (see recipe in blog Mayonnaise or Mahonesa)

Salt and black pepper to taste

In a saucepan bring to the boil the potatoes, the carrots and the egg. After 12 minutes remove the egg and set aside. 

Carry on cooking the potatoes and carrots for another 20 minutes or until tender. As the carrots will be well cooked, place them on top of some ice. 

The colour and texture will improve. The potatoes should be tender but still slightly firm. Peel the eggs and separate the yolks, as only the whites, finely chopped, will be used. Peel the potatoes and chop them very small. 

Do the same with the carrots. In a bowl mix the potatoes, carrots and chopped egg whites. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for two to three hours. 

Meanwhile cook the prawns in boiling water until they turn pink. Do not overcook. Place them on ice for a few minutes. Peel them and reserve under cling film. Prepare the mahonesa. 

Remove the cling film from the potato and carrot mixture. Adjust the seasoning if needed. 

Now is the time to add the prawns cut into two or three pieces. Mix together well and serve accompanied by some bread sticks.

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Delicious Mayonnaise Recipe

Real Mayonnaise, or Mahonesa and the history of the Russian salad or Ensaladilla Rusa.

Quite often the paternity or maternity of well known recipes is difficult to establish, particularly when two or more countries claim ownership.

This is the case with one of the most distinguished sauces of all: a perfect emulsion made with oil, egg yolks, a little salt and lemon juice or vinegar and little else. The French called it Mayonnaise and the Spanish Mahonesa.

mayonnaise Recipe

Mayonnaise History

As far as the French are concerned , the sauce was invented in the middle eighteenth century by the chef of the Duke of Richelieu after the successful French siege of Port Mahon, in the island of Minorca. 

Port Mahon had been in British hands since 1708. Apparently mayonnaise was served at the banquet given by the French to celebrate the taking of the Port in 1756.

However the people of Mahon maintain that the recipe had been taken by the French chef from a local preparation. Olive oil emulsions have been recorded in Spain since early Medieval times while they were never mentioned in French cookbooks up until that time in the middle of the eighteenth century

However the people of Mahon maintain that the recipe had been taken by the French chef from a local preparation.

Canalones as a Festive Dish
In the late nineteenth century, a prestigious chef from Aragon, Teodoro Bardají, wrote a convincing booklet in defence of the Spanish provenance of the sauce. Chef Bardají insisted this sauce should be called Mahonesa .

However, whether the French or the Spanish are right, it has now been accepted that similar recipes could well have been born in different places without having been copied. 

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How to prepare an authentic hand made Mahonesa

The right proportion between the egg yolks and the oil is essential to form a perfect emulsion. A metal whisk and a deep bowl should be used.

Ingredients

2 egg yolks

100 g sunflower oil

20 g olive oil

salt

a little lemon juice or vinegar

white pepper (optional)

A few drops of hot water

In a deep bowl whisk the eggs together with the salt working fast, until well blended. 

Add the pepper. 

Using a jug and without stopping start adding, little by little, first the sunflower oil and then the olive oil. 

As it takes quite some time, whisk in both directions and change hands if needed.

When ready, adjust the seasoning adding a few drops of hot water and another of lemon or vinegar to taste, the emulsion will become slightly lighter and more creamy.

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canalones a la catalana 2

Canalones a la Catalana

Surprise, surprise, one of the most popular foods among young Spaniards is pasta which today is prepared, like in most countries, following best known Italian recipes.

Long gone are the days in which with some exceptions in Catalonia, macarrones con tomate y chorizo or with carne picada (mincemeat), recipes well adapted to the ‘Spanish taste’ of the past (never al dente) were almost the only pasta dishes included by home cooks in their weekly repertoire. To evolve from the Macarrones con Tomate to the delicious Canalones a la Barcelonesa took a long time. 

Let’s trace its History.

Canalones' Origen

Going back ten centuries, historical records confirm that in Spain pasta was originally introduced by the Arabs

There were recipes for fideos, a thicker version of angel air, as well as another  type of pasta shaped as little rounds. 

Macarrones known in Arabic as Aletria were equally popular with the upper classes and yet since medieval times  and until the 17th century pasta dishes were difficult to find in Spanish cookbooks.  To prepare Macarrones con Tomate y Chorizo, the pasta is boiled first and then blended with a rich tomato and chorizo sauce before the dish is cooked in the oven with cheese on top. 

 

In Andalusia there have always been Cazuelas con Fideos and in the rest of the country rich soups prepared with angel’s hair.

Canalones as a Festive Dish

By the 19th century the arrival in Barcelona of Italian cooks hired by the Catalan high bourgeoisie brought to the city an unstoppable interest for pasta that can still be seen everywhere, although these dishes tend to be adapted to the Catalan taste.

The canalones which is a festive dish, is an adaptation of the famous Cannelloni Rossini. In the Catalan version the pieces of meat are first sautéed or roasted, and then minced, while in the Italian dish the meat is used minced from the beginning.

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Canalones a la Catalana

This recipe which takes time to prepare, looks great and tastes even better. This is a perfect dish to serve in a dinner or festive party.

  To serve 6 to 8 people (2 to 3 per person)

  You will need 2 packets of Spanish canelones which I buy on the internet.

Ingredients

400 g quality stewing beef, cut into medium size squares
400 g pork loin, cut into squares
550 g chicken drumsticks
2/3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 pieces
1 leek, chopped, green parts removed
2 small onions, peeled and half
4 ripe tomatoes
½ head garlic
dash ground cinnamon
1 dry bay leaf
dash grated nutmeg
a generous dash black pepper
60 ml olive oil
20 g lard (optional), cut into small squares
30 ml brandy
1 slice of bread without crust, soaked in cold milk, drained

For the béchamel sauce

1 L whole milk
150 ml fresh single cream
45 g flour
55 g salted soft butter
a dash of grated nutmeg
a dash of white pepper
salt to taste
25 ml dry fino or amontillado Sherry

Place the meat and the vegetables in a roasting pan in one layer. Sprinkle with the cinnamon, nutmeg and the black pepper. 

Add the garlic, the bay leaf and the lard. 

Pour in the olive oil, season with salt and pepper. 

Roast for 30 minutes at 190 degrees C. 

Turn the meat and vegetables and pour the brandy in. 

Reduce the heat to 170 degrees and carry on roasting for another 25 minutes. 

Turn the meat and vegetables again and reduce the heat another 20 degrees and cook for another 20 minutes or until the meat is very tender. 

Remove the chicken bones and using an electric robot or mincer blend all the meat coarsely together with the soaked bread. 

Pass all the vegetables through a sieve. 

Reserve the rest of the pan juices. 

Blend the meats with the vegetables and reserve.

 


 

To prepare the béchamel sauce, bring the milk to the boil. 

In a separate saucepan add the butter and when melted add the flour stirring constantly. 

Cook for a few minutes at medium heat without taking colour. 

Add the milk and working with a metal whisk blend well before adding the nutmeg, and the pepper. 

Carry on stirring and return to the boil. 

Cook until the milk reduces by ¼. Reduce the heat slightly before pouring the cream. Cook until the taste of flour has disappeared completely and the sauce has reduce by a 1/4. Remove from the heat, Add the Sherry and set aside. Add a few spoonfuls béchamel to the meats, blending well.

Set aside a large bowl with water and ice. In a large saucepan , boil the pasta for a few minutes until just tender. 

Remove the pasta one by one and place then in the cold water. Again, one by one, place the canelones on top of a clean tea towel, covered with another one. When dry, start stuffing the pasta. 

Place a spoonful of the meats in each square and roll but not to tight to a canelone shape. 

Line an oven proof dish with some of the béchamel Place the canelones in one layer in an oven proof dish or several individual dishes , and cover with the rest of the béchamel sprinkled with grated Mahon or Parmeggiano cheese as well as a little butter on top. 

Return to the oven and cook for a few minutes at 200 degrees (just to take colour).

Serve on top with a little of the slightly reduced pan juices.

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fideua

Fideuà

One day the cook of the fishing boat, Santa Isabel working off the Alicante coast was preparing a fish and shellfish rice for the crew.  Realising that he had run out of rice he decided instead to use some pasta known as fideos.

 A new dish was invented; Fideuà cooked in a paella pan

 

Fideuà Recipe
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

150g. olive oil
Sea salt
500g. Dublin bay prawns

250g. unpeeled large prawns

500g. monk fish, cut into small pierces

1 ts. sweet pimentón

200g. finelly shopped fresh tomatoes, peeled

1 clove garlic pounded together with some chopped parsley

1 pinch saffron dissolved in a little hot stock

600g. fideo pasta, number 3 or4 (Amazon)

2 L. unsalted hot fish stock made with fish or shellfish, some vegetables 

2.2 L water

Heat the oil in the paella pan adding some salt to avoid the oil splashing. 

Sauté the shellfish lightly until it begins to change colour. Set aside. 

Sauté the onions until translucent stirring constantly. 

Add the tomato, followed by the pimentón and the garlic and parsley. 

Add the monkfish stirring gently to avoid flaking. 

 Cook for another minute before adding the pasta, evenly. Stir until the pasta takes the colour of the sofrito. 

Pour in the hot stock and the saffron. 

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook at a moderate heat for another 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked but separated

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