Saturday, April 16, 2011

Can Russia Possibly Be Interesting?

Well, today we have, on the Finished Book Pile, The Dream Life of Sukhanov, an elegantly written and richly imagined novel by Olga Grushin.

At first, I wasn't so sure. A quick glance over the jacket copy left me reluctant to plunge in. The story centers on the 50-something protagonist. Who wants to read a book about someone in their 50s? I thought before I, of course, remembered that I'm in, er, that is, near, er, that is, closer than some of you to my 50s.

And who would want to read a book set in Russia, the most frozen and depressing place on earth? But Sukhanov's Russia is a place of champagne, fine wool coats, parties under chandeliers. He belongs to the privileged class, you see, although events fix that. Best say no more, lest I give things away.

The story can get a little confusing as it shifts between the real world and Sukhanov's dream world. It took me a couple rounds to recognize the we're-in-dream-world signals, but I picked up on it. At the very end, though, I wasn't sure what was real and what was not.

I liked it. And no cow patties.

As for your recipe, I've got a menu for you today. When I fixed this for guests, they accused me of cooking all day. Nope, this meal wasn't all that back-breaking. I spent a half hour in the afternoon, making (and I have posted this one before):

Cashew Turkey Pasta Salad (except I use chicken)

An hour or so before serving time, you can start on:

Creamy Chocolate Mousse

When the mousse is done, start right in on the main dish:

Raspberry Chicken Sandwiches

I find Taste of Home's version a little unwieldy, so here's my version:

1 cup chili sauce
3/4 cup raspberry preserves
2 TB red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 TB dijon mustard
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 TB olive or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 sandwich buns
6 slices Muenster or Provolone cheese
Shredded lettuce

Flatten chicken breasts to 1/4-in. thickness. Place in a ziploc bag. Add oil, salt and pepper. Seal bag and turn to coat.

Coat grill rack with PAM before starting the grill. In a small saucepan, combine chili sauce, preserves, vinegar & mustard. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Set aside half for serving and use the remaining sauce for basting.

Grill chicken, uncovered, over medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until juices run clear, basting frequently the raspberry sauce. Top with cheese. Remove and place on buns. Serve with lettuce and more raspberry sauce. YIELD: 6 servings, 495 cals. ea.

My guests brought Sun Chips and a salad of spinach, strawberries and almonds. We ate hearty, then we played games in which the quiet ones among us revealed their competitive side.


  1. I think I found a new blog to spy on :) You are as good at writting as you are at cooking! Thanks for the recipes ... I do believe I will be stopping by often!

  2. Why thank you, Kim. And you do know that I spy on yours, right?