March can be a very tricky month. One day the sun is shining and birds are singing, but the next day you wake up and find a pile of snow from overnight snowstorm on your doorstep. That is what happened to us a couple of days ago. School was cancelled, train service was suspended and life came to a complete standstill.
My family was very happy; the fireplace was burning and I have treated my husband and kids with Russian traditional meal. The cooking took me 40 minutes most, simple and rustic, but very unique and delicious. Our day off was perfect - good food, the beautiful snowy view from our dining room and cozy atmosphere. We would like to see the first spring flowers, but have yet enjoyed one of the last tricks winter has played on us. Welcome to our home!
For the Cornish Hens:
- 1-2 Cornish hens, 1-1 1/2 lb. each
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
For the potatoes:
- 1 lb. young potatoes, skin on
- salt to taste
- fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, dill, rosemary)
- 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
For the cucumber salad:
- 1 long cucumber (or 2-4 small ones), cleaned, peeled
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- fresh herbs of your choice (parsley or dill)
- 2-3 Tbsp. plain yogurt or sour cream
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
To make the cucumber salad:
Peel and thinly slice the cucumbers, then place the slices in a salad bowl. In another bowl mix together the garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and stir until well mixed. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and toss gently. Serve it as a side dish for Cornish hens.
To make the roasted potatoes:
Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).
Put the potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover the potatoes by 2 inches. Season the water with salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes almost done, 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes well.
Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Pour the melted butter over them and turn to coat well. Sprinkle with the salt, and turn the potatoes again. Roast until the skins are slightly wrinkled and the insides are tender and creamy when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, 15 minutes. Serve with fresh herbs.
Note: Scour streets and buildings sites for a couple of house bricks, then wrap them in foil. When placed on Cornish hens or chicken, the bricks very effectively keep them pressed flat on the frying pan, giving an unbelievably crisp skin. This is how it was done in "the old days". If you don't have brick (I didn't have it-)), a cast-iron pan, bottom covered with foil, will do the trick.
To make the Cornish Hens under a brick:
Cut out the backbone of the Cornish hens and open up flat on a cutting board, pressing down well with your hands to flatten the cornish hen completely. Brush both sides with oil, season well with garlic, salt, pepper and paprika.
Preheat a frying pan, and pep are the bricks or cast-iron pan. Place the Cornish hens skin side down on the hot pan, put the bricks/ cast-iron pan on top, and cook until the skin is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Turn over, and cook the other side until just cooked through and the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced, about another 10 minutes, depending on size.
Serve hot with roasted potato and salad.