This traditional Russian dessert is similar to a no-bake cheesecake. Dried-Pineapple cutouts embellish this cake, but Martha sometimes uses jelly beans instead. Her paskha molds come from Maxim Kudinov, in West Nyack, New York (etsy.com/shop/varusha). You can also use an 8-to-10-inch flowerpot or a fine-mesh strainer.
Martha's favorite kielbasa is "chunky, meaty, slightly garlicky, with natural casing and not too much fat." Her two favorite purveyors are Sikorski Meat Market, in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood, and Chester's Smokehouse, in Albany, New York.
These savories were originally crumbly pancakes with a strong buckwheaty, yeasty flavor. Nowadays, they're more cohesive, subtle, and sophisticated. Served with spoonfuls of creme fraiche and sevruga caviar, blini make wonderful hors d'oeuvres alongside glasses of chilled vodka.
Pirog is Russian for "pie," and piroshki means "little pies." They can be filled with almost anything, from cabbage to meat to kasha, and are eaten by themselves as a snack or with a meal. Ours are filled with gribi, or wild mushrooms, which are a Russian passion: in the spring the whole extended family heads to its secret spots in the woods to gather any of hundreds of different kinds of gribi, which are pickled, dried, or just cooked in a little butter.
The correct mold for a kulich is a tall, thin can that holds about one and a half quarts; try a tomato-juice or coffee can. Kulich can be very fragile when first unmolded--the traditional cooling place is a small pillow.
The renowned nineteenth-century Moscow restaurateur M. Olivier's original recipe has been much copied and varied over the years. This version, a mix of vegetables and lemon mayonnaise, can be changed slightly to allow for all the wonderful choices in the markets. For a lighter touch, use your favorite vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise.
Paskha is a crowning glory of the Easter table, the rich cheesecake that symbolizes the end of Lent and its prohibition of dairy products. The traditional paskha mold can be replaced by a tapered clay flowerpot eight inches in diameter, and the decorations (ours are dried fruits) can be as fantastic as you want.
Salmon coulibiac, a combination of Russian ingredients and French techniques, was perhaps the epitome of imperial Russian cuisine. It can be a daunting task for even the most experienced cook, but our version can be made in a short time and is every bit as delicious as the classic.