Romanian Potato Salad – Salata Boeuf

Salata Boeuf - happy face decoration

Salata Boeuf - happy face decoration

Come to the Christmas dinner in any Romanian home and you’ll most probably have the opportunity to try Salata Boeuf. After that, chances are that you’ll fall in love with it and miss it wherever you go.

Salata Boeuf, or Salata de Boeuf, is a typical Romanian dish, a potato salad served as appetizer at festive dinners, especially during winter time. Why winter time? Well, because that’s the time when people have pickles in their pantries and because the Boeuf Salad calls for lots of pickles such as gherkins and red bell peppers.

As “boeuf” is the French for “beef”, you’d be tempted to think this is a French recipe. I thought so, too. However, it seems the recipe has Russian origins: it’s similar to the Olivier Salad, which is Russian.

This is my Romanian potato salad recipe, a classic that can’t go wrong.

Take about one pound beef meat and wash it. Since we are going to use the pressure cooker, you can buy cheaper cuts of beef such as brisket, because it’s going to end up tender anyway.

Beef for Salata Boeuf

Beef for Salata Boeuf

Peel three carrots, a celery root, a parsnip and an onion. Put them in the pressure cooker together with the beef and a teaspoon of salt and fill it about three quarters with water. It is important not to fill it above that limit because if you do, the cooker will spit hot water on you and on everything on a 2 feet range around the stove. Please don’t ask me how I know that. I just know ;)

Pressure cooker ready to go

Pressure cooker ready to go

Cook the food for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, wait until all steam is gone, then remove the lid and check to see if the beef is cooked. The vegetables will be cooked for sure. If the beef is tender, you’re done. If not, take the vegetables out of the pressure cooker, put the lid back on and keep on cooking for 30 minutes more.

In another pot, boil 4-5 medium size potatoes. If you want, you can add the potatoes into the pressure cooker with the other ingredients. Be aware that if you do so, they will end up overcooked and you may not be very happy about that. I’m not, so I boil them separately.

After you boil all vegetables, let them cool before you chop them. If you want, you can put them in the fridge and finish the salad in a few hours or even the next day. Anyway, retain the beef broth for other meals. I, for instance, used it for my French onion soup recipe and for the mushrooms quesadilla recipe.

Vegetables for Salata de Boeuf

Vegetables for Salata de Boeuf

Dice the carrots, parsnip and celery root.

Chopped carrots

Diced carrots

Dice 6-7 gherkins.

Diced gherkins

Diced gherkins

Chop 3-4 pickled red bell pepper halves.

Pickled red pepper

Pickled red pepper

Chop the beef.

Chopped beef

Chopped beef

Mix everything in a very large pot. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Optionally you can add two tablespoons of mustard.

Romanian potato salad - work in progess

Romanian potato salad - work in progess

Add about 1/2 pound mayonnaise and mix well.

Spoon the potato salad mixture into bowls. If you prepare this for a festive dinner with more than 4 guests, it’s a good idea to split it into a few bowls, in order to make it easier to reach for everybody at the table.

Salata Boeuf in bowls

Salata Boeuf in bowls

Pour some mayonnaise on top of each potato salad bowl.

Pouring mayonnaise on the potato salad bowls

Pouring mayonnaise on the potato salad bowls

Spread the mayonnaise onto the salad surface as if you were painting a wall. You can use a spoon, fork or knife to do that.

Salata Boeuf with mayonnaise topping

Salata Boeuf with mayonnaise topping

Now it’s time to decorate the bowls. This will turn a simple potato salad into Salata Boeuf. Use gherkins, picked red bell peppers and black olives and let your creativity flow. If you have kids, you can ask them to help you. They will love it. Here’s what I did with my potato salad bowls:

Salata Boeuf decoration ideas

Salata Boeuf decoration idea

… and the second one:

Salata Boeuf - another decoration idea

Salata Boeuf - another decoration idea

Chill the salads in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium size potatoes
  • 1 onion ( to be discarded after boiling or used for some other dish)
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 celery root
  • 1 pound beef
  • 6-7 gherkins + 2 for decor
  • 3-4 pickled red bell pepper halves + 2 for decor
  • 5-6 black olives (for decor)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound mayonnaise + three tablespoons more for decorating the bowls
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Mushroom Quiche With Potato Crust

Yummy quiche with pickled beetroot decor

Yummy quiche with pickled beetroot decor

Basic quiche recipes call for pastry for the crust. However, if you want, you can replace the pastry with potatoes. I did this and here’s my potato crust quiche recipe, which you can use as base for any kind of quiche you like: mine has mushrooms, red bell pepper, parsley, dill and onions, but variations are welcome.

The first step is to make the crust. You need two onions…

Two peeled onions

Two peeled onions

and about 6 medium size potatoes. Don’t ask me why my onions were one yellow and one red. Use whatever you have, the color makes no difference in this situation.

Peeled potatoes

Peeled potatoes

Peel and grate the onions. Here’s the part where you start to cry, so take your time, wash your face, grate some more, cry some more… the whole operation shouldn’t take you more than 5-6 minutes.

Grating onions

Grating onions

Peel and grate the potatoes. I grated them coarsely, but if you want a finer crust, use the fine side of the grater box.

Grating potatoes

Grating potatoes

Pre-heat the oven at 450F.

Squeeze the grated onions and potatoes very well to drain the liquid, then put them in a bowl and mix them.

Mix grated potatoes and onions

Mix grated potatoes and onions

Use both your hands, not one like I did. You won’t have to hold the camera, I guess ;)

Add a teaspoon of salt, some ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of all purpose white flour. If you want, you can add spices. I added about a teaspoon dried thyme. Mix everything very well.

Grated potatoes - onions - flour mix

Grated potatoes - onions - flour mix

Oil a baking dish (bottom and edges). Shape the onion-potato mix into a pie crust, trying to get even thickness all over.

Raw potato quiche crust

Raw potato quiche crust

Bake the potato crust at 450F for about 15 minutes.

Take the baking dish out of the oven, brush the crust with extra virgin olive oil and put it back in the oven again for 10 more minutes. If you don’t have a special brush, you can use a folded paper towel to oil the crust evenly.

Oiled quiche crust

Oiled quiche crust

While the crust is baking, we are going to prepare the filling for our quiche. You need one onion, 15-20 button mushrooms, half red bell pepper, parsley and dill.

Button mushrooms

Button mushrooms

Peel and chop the onion. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan, add the onion and fry it for about 2 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

Chopped red onion in pan

Chopped red onion in pan

Thoroughly clean the mushrooms, chop them and add them to the frying pan. I also added about a teaspoon of fresh rosemary, minced, but that’s optional.

Chop about half of a red bell pepper. Add it to the food. Stir and cook over medium heat. Chop the parsley and the dill and add them to the pan.

Vegetables in pan

Vegetables in pan

Continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables are soft and there’s a lot of liquid from the mushrooms in the pan. This process should take about 10 minutes.

Remove vegetables from heat, transfer them into a colander and drain them very well. You can use a wooden spatula or a spoon to squeeze them dry.

Draining stir fried vegetables

Draining stir fried vegetables

Pour the vegetables over the quiche crust, spreading them evenly onto the surface.

Quiche recipe - work in progress

Quiche recipe - work in progress

Grate the cheese. You’ll need about 1 cup of grated cheese. I used feta, but you can use any cheese you want such as Cheddar or Swiss cheese.

Grated Feta cheese

Grated Feta cheese

Spread the grated cheese on top of the baking dish.

Spread the grated cheese over the quiche

Spread the grated cheese over the quiche

In a small bowl, beat 3 eggs. Please note that there are only two eggs in the photo, but after I beat those, I decided to add one more.

Beat three eggs and add milk

Beat three eggs and add milk

Add about 1/4 cup of milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon paprika powder and some freshly ground black pepper.

Beaten eggs - milk - spices

Beaten eggs - milk - spices

Mix well and pour over the grated cheese layer in the quiche dish.

Quiche - ready to bake

Quiche - ready to bake

Bake over medium heat for one hour.

Mushroom quiche with potato crust

Mushroom quiche with potato crust

Let the quiche cool for 10 minutes after removing it from the oven. Cut and serve hot.

Mushroom quiche slice

Mushroom quiche slice

Serving suggestion: decorate the quiche slices with pickled beetroot or gherkins.

Mushroom quiche with potato crust topped with beetroot

Mushroom quiche with potato crust topped with beetroot

Ingredients for this quiche recipe:

  • 3 medium size onions
  • 20 button mushrooms
  • 6 medium size potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose white flour
  • 1 cup parsley and dill, chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated cheese

This recipe serves 4-6 people. I ate two big slices while writing the recipe for you, however :)

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Roast Whole Chicken Recipe

I like roasting the whole chicken. Although I know a big part of it will eventually end up in the soup, I still like to roast it whole, then tear apart those juicy, tender pieces, covered by the golden, crispy skin.

Here’s how it goes:

Take one piece free range chicken, as small as you can find. Mine was about 2 pounds.

Free range chicken - ready to roast

Free range chicken - ready to roast

Bigger chickens take longer to cook, so if you want to also roast some vegetables with your meat, they will be overcooked. If you cook for more than 3-4 people, you’ll probably need two chickens like this.

In a cup, mix one teaspoon of salt with half teaspoon black pepper, one teaspoon paprika and one teaspoon rosemary. If you can find fresh rosemary, that’s nicer. I only had dried rosemary, so that’s what I used. You can add whatever other spices you like. Red chili flakes and garlic powder are also excellent.

Roast chicken spices mix

Roast chicken spices mix

Rub the chicken thoroughly with the spice mix you prepared. Don’t be afraid to use your hands. In order to minimize the mess, I put the chicken in a big pot before rubbing it. It’s much better than doing it on the kitchen bench, believe me!

Rub the chicken with spices

Rub the chicken with spices

Don’t forget the interior and the underarms :)

Rub the chicken all over

Rub the chicken all over

Use plenty of spices, because this is how your roast chicken will get a nice color and amazing flavors. Rub the interior of chicken as well. You can also sneak some spices between the meat and the skin on the breast (you’ll see that there’s a kind of a pocket between the skin and the breast itself). That’s nice, because it helps the usually dry breast to become more tender and flavorful.

Don’t forget to pre-heat the oven now, you’ll need it soon. 400F should be a good temperature.

Free range chicken - ready to roast

Free range chicken - ready to roast

Oil an oven tray. Add some salt and the chicken. Now you don’t want your chicken to get bored for a whole hour in that hot oven, so add several potatoes, an onion and some 5-6 garlic cloves. Wash and cut the potatoes in halves or quarters. Do not peel them. Peel the onion and cut it in half. Don’t peel the garlic cloves.

Chicken and vegetables in the oven tray

Chicken and vegetables in the oven tray

Roast the chicken and the vegetables for about 45 minutes over medium heat. Take the tray out of the oven, turn the chicken and the vegetables upside down and cook them for 15-20 minutes more.

Roast whole chicken with crispy skin

Roast whole chicken with crispy skin

If you have guests for dinner, you can bring the whole roast chicken at the table, on a big plate, decorated with lettuce leaves. If you eat alone, like I did this time, you can simply grab whatever parts of the chicken you like most, put them on a plate with some of the roast vegetables and eat it using your bare hands.

Roast chicken leg and potatoes on a plate

Roast chicken leg and potatoes on a plate

I had that with pickled beetroot salad, which I was too hungry to photograph, so you’ll have to imagine it.

Now, the list of ingredients for this roast whole chicken recipe:

  • 1 whole free range chicken, about 2 pounds weight
  • 7-8 medium size potatoes, halved or quartered, not peeled
  • 1 medium size onion, peeled and halved
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, whole, not peeled
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
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Bacon Potato Soup Recipe

Ingredients for 4-5 servings:

  • 2 large potatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 1 celery root, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 4 bacon slices, crispy, freshly cooked, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 cups water

Directions:
In a covered pot, boil the onion, potatoes, celery and parsnip in salty water for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Add the carrot and the bacon and continue cooking for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat. Serve hot, topped with sour cream and fresh parsley.

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Vegetable Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 celery root, chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup cabbage, chopped
  • 1 cup kidney beans
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt, pepper

Directions:
Put the onions, celery, carrots, parsnip, beans and potatoes in a soup pot, half filled with water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt, tomatoes, cabbage, corn and bell pepper. Simmer until all vegetables are tender (which is probably 10-15 minutes). Add parsley. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve hot, with fresh ground black pepper sprinkled on top.

Recipe variant: for more flavor, you can saute the onions in extra virgin olive oil before adding them to the soup.

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Leek And Potato Soup

Leek and potato soup is one of the cheapest and easiest homemade soups. Besides, it’s so tasty that even fussy eater children will love it. Here’s a basic recipe which you can tweak by adding your favorite spices.

Ingredients:

  • 2 leeks
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • salt and pepper

Directions:
Clean the leek, trim the top and bottom and remove the outer layer. Section the leek longitudinally in quarters, then chop them. Rinse the chopped leek thoroughly in running water. Peel and dice the potatoes.

In a deep skillet, melt the butter, then add the leek, garlic and potatoes and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir for a few times. Add water, vegetable stock cubes and a little salt (if stock cubes are already salty, you may not want to add more salt at all). Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are done. You can check them with a fork after the first 15 minutes of cooking to see if they are soft.

If you prefer your leek and potato soup to have a chunky texture, you’re done. Ladle it into bowls, sprinkle some chopped fresh parsley and some ground pepper on top and serve it hot.

If you’d rather have your potato leek soup creamy, just let it cool for several minutes, then blend it with a handheld food processor. You’ll need to reheat it a little before serving.

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