How I Beat My Post-Vacation Blues

6 Jun
This Holodetz is my cousin's creation - she made a Swan Lake out of it.

This Holodetz is my cousin’s creation – she made a Swan Lake out of it 🙂

I had a pretty full list of things-to-do after I came from my trip and I started right away playing catch-up, yet I never really caught up.  I wasn’t working on the things I really wanted to be working on, I was feeling guilty about not getting back to people, and I didn’t feel like the fact that I wasn’t making much progress. Plus I had a moderately busy calendar of social events for the last two weeks in May.  Then I caught myself having a terrible thought – no more long vacations this year 😦

To beat my post-vacation blues I decided to make some dishes that we ate in Ukraine and France.  One of them is Holodetz.  This cold appetizer is traditionally served on Easter, Christmas and New Year and is one of those dishes that people in North America strongly dislike.  This dish is eaten in Europe and  known as “studen’ or “zalivnoye”  in Russia, “galaretki” in Poland, “rǎcituri” in Romania, “aspik” in Germany, and “pitcha” to Ashkenazi Jews.

I believe the texture (jiggly) is the hardest thing to get past.  Even though people do eat Jello-Os the meat jelly is not very appealing to them.  I do think the dish is fairly healthy – fat is separated from the the meat and broth, all the ingredients are simple and healthy, and think of the protein!  Give yourself a little pep talk you may actually like it!


2-3 pork or beef knee bones or feet

1 lb chicken thighs

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • several bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • salt to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 sliced hard-boiled egg (for decoration)


  1. Ask your butcher to chop the pork or beef foot (is using) in several pieces; wash well.
  2. Place the meat in a deep pot, cover with 1 1/2 amount of water.  Bring to a rapid boil and skim until clear.
  3. Tie the chopped onion, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns into a cheesecloth bag. Add the bag to the pot and cook on a very low heat for 4 hours or until meat has come off the bones.
  4. Remove the meat from the pot and let it cool.
  5. Discard the spice bag and strain the cooking liquid into a bowl. Add minced garlic, salt and pepper to the broth.  Strain the liquid  again and slightly cool in the fringe so you can scrape any solidified fat from the surface.
  6. Pick the meat from the bones and set it aside; discard the bones,  gristle, and chicken skin.
  7. Lay chopped meat, cooked carrot slices, and  egg slices and  in several serving bowls, pour the broth over and refrigerate until set.
  8. Serve with grated horseradish with beets or vinegar.
Our Easter appetizers

Our Easter appetizers

As Ukrainians say “Smachogo!” ( Bon Appetit!) 🙂





12 Responses to “How I Beat My Post-Vacation Blues”

  1. bearspawprint June 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    My mother used to make this, she called it aspic. Mothers did not have such pretty carrots or eggs that looked like lotus or seashells. She did use some other vegetables, such as celery and peppers. For us squeamish kids she would heat it up and call it soup.—— Did your Holodetz lift your blues?

  2. wiolakk June 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    Oh yes, this is really good. Typical festive and party dish. For long nights 😀 I do sometimes only from a chicken and is great for a supper – well, at least for us.

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves June 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      I can have it even for breakfast :). Do you have to add any gelatin if only chicken is used?

      • wiolakk June 6, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

        Actually I don’t mind having it for breakfast, too 😀
        As to the gelatine, you do not need it, if you are using whole chicken with skin and feet (more feet is even better to add, although usually the chicken has only one pair :D) and use small amount of water and cook for a long time, apart breast.
        But if it is hot outside or you see that it is not enough to solidify just use gelatine.

      • The Kat and The Falling Leaves June 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

        Good tips, thank you!

  3. Boomdeeadda June 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    That’s a really pretty presentation but as a vegetarian I won’t be trying that one. I remember my dad eating something similar when we were visiting neighbours near their farm, I think they called it ‘head cheese’.

  4. Ese' s Voice June 8, 2013 at 1:16 am #

    Looks delicious and, must admit, when I read about “zalivnoye”, the phrase from “Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!” flashed in my mind and made me smile. Yes, it was about the fishy one, yet…seems to fit the theme. 🙂

    • The Kat and The Falling Leaves June 10, 2013 at 11:39 am #

      It does fit the theme 🙂 Zalivnoye (holodetz) is also can be made with fish. In this case I would be adding some gelatin as I don’t think the fish is gelatinous enough on its own. To this day I MUST watch “Иронию судьбы” on the New Year’s Eve to make my day complete:D

  5. Radhika June 10, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    Haven’t seen you in a while 🙂

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