Cheese salad (aka cheese spread, aka cheese dip)
December 10, 2011 in Recipes · No comments
It’s December, which means that people all over Russia are starting to prepare for New Year’s, by far the most widely celebrated holiday of the year in my home country. Most people will put up and decorate a tree, and presents for the children will be placed under the tree, for them to discover when they wake up on January 1.
It is also typical to celebrate the holiday with a midnight meal – at your own home, at the home of a friend or relative, or, less frequently, at a restaurant. There is champagne, of course, and a lavish spread of zakuski, or hors d’oevres. There is usually an entree as well, and a cake, and the obligatory tangerines, but in my mind, the New Year’s table is really centered around the zakuski. I already wrote about one of them, Olivier salad, on this site - it is a real classic and a “must” for New Year’s. Unlike Olivier, the recipe that I want to share with you today may not appear on every family’s New Year’s table, but it is definitely my favorite of all the Russian appetizers. It involves a lot less prep than Olivier, consists of only six ingredients (three if you don’t count the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper), and is incredibly flavorful. It is also very versatile. In Russia, it is known as a “salad,” and you would generally scoop some onto your plate and eat with a fork, following up with bites of bread. However, for an American-style party, you can use it as a dip for crudites or spread it on crackers or baguette slices. The latter option is the way I am choosing to serve this dish tonight at a staff holiday party that my employer is throwing.
4 hard-boiled eggs, finely grated
1/3 lb hard cheese (try cheddar, jack, or gouda), finely grated
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated or crushed
3 tbsp mayonnaise
Salt and finely ground black or white pepper, to taste (pepper optional)
Mix eggs, cheese, garlic, and mayonnaise, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with chopped fresh herbs for a festive presentation. That’s it – enjoy!