Russian Potato Salad

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One day, way back in December, it was brisk and sunny in St. John’s, and then by the afternoon it looked like this:

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Fortunately, a few days after that, we had a rare sunny day, where the light poured into my kitchen even into the afternoon (which, considering my windows face north and east, is amazing).

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But BAM.  It was that alluvasudden-it’s-winter phenomenon that seems to happen to many Canadian cities.  I was preparing for a pre-holiday potluck and Kª had just informed me (online from tropical Kansas) that Kº had gotten a job in Russia and that they were moving back there in February, and taking Il Principe and the Incredibly Little Hulk with them (not like they would have left them behind, of course).

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Having recently read Sasha’s recipe for Russian Potato Salad (or Olivier Salad) over at Global Table Adventure, I thought that it would be fitting for me to make this easy and cheerful salad for our holiday potluck (and I definitely left a substantial chunk of it with Kº when we left for Ottawa).  So this one’s for you, the Russians-who-formerly-lived-downstairs.  Прощайте и удачи.  Have a safe trip!

First, we boil.

Plop 4 large eggs into a pot of water, bring that to boil, then turn the heat off and let that sit with the lid on for about 20 minutes.  In another pot, boil up 3 large carrots and 2lbs potatoes.  Boil them until they’re just tender, not mushy.  Rinse them with cold water to cool them down and then peel them.  It may sound tricky, but it’s actually easier.

Then, we chop. Gren helped/cleaned the floor.

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Chop up those eggs quite fine.

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As well as 3-4 large dill pickles.  Make those into tiny cubes.

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In fact, cube everything, your potatoes, your carrots, as well as 1lb cooked ham.  You’ll also want about 2 cups peas (I used frozen), but you don’t need to chop those.  That would end badly.  I also chopped up those green onions I’d been saving.

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Mix all that cheery goodness together and season with salt and pepper.

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I also decided that potato salad isn’t potato salad without some paprika.  This is a sweet smoked variety from Spain.

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Then you slather on the mayonnaise, about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups, depending on your preference.  Only dress the salad you plan to eat, as it will get soggy after a while.

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Tasty!

Peanut Butter Spaghetti

This recipe is actually called something like “Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Snow Peas and Carrots”, but the Pie and I have made it so many times that our version is better.  It came out of an Every Day Food from eons ago, and it’s kind of like a lazy man’s pad thai.

We made it for Kª one night when Kº was off gallivanting in Russia, leaving her alone with Il Principe and the Incredibly Little Hulk.  Served with our crispy won ton crackers, it was a great and easy meal.  Even Il Principe approved.

Start some water a-boilin’.  Like enough to cook about 8-10oz of whole wheat spaghetti (to serve 4).  Then you can, you know, cook that there spaghetti for about ten minutes, or according to your package instructions.

While you are waiting for the water to boil and for your pasta to cook, prepare the following mis en place:

3 medium carrots, shaved with peeler

8oz snow peas, tough strings removed

1 (300g) package of firm tofu, cut into small cubes (if you’re not a fan of tofu it’s conceivable that you could replace this with thin strips of cooked chicken or steak)

Prepare as well this wee bowl of sauce:

5 tablespoons organic peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, it’s your choice)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce

Stir that all together.  If you can’t get the peanut butter to go, don’t worry, the heat from the pasta will melt it.

When your pasta is cooked, scoop out about a cup of the pasta water.  You may or may not need it later.  I like to keep you guessing.

Drop all the vegetables and tofu into the pot with the pasta and let sit in the boiling water for 2 minutes before draining the whole thing.

Toss the pasta to make sure everything is mixed around.

Pour in your peanut butter sauce and toss to coat.  If the sauce is too thick and won’t coat properly, pour in some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out a bit.

Garnish with crushed peanuts and serve.  Fantastic cold the next day.