Original Appetizer

I have to tell you that I did not invent this name for it! Had I done that, I would’ve come up with something a bit more – ummm… – original.  But this is the name you find in the menus of all Russian restaurants (Original’naya Zakuska), and the reasons it has made its way to our Shavuos table are twofold: first, “the original” original appetizer is dairy, although I make it pareve; second, it’s the combination of colors again, white and green.  Once it appeared, years ago, it has become everybody’s favorite, and justifiably so – it is delicious. It is also fast and easy to make – but it disappears even faster!

Zakuska 1.jpg

I apologize for a blurry photo, but my feline helper Barmalei was again nudging my elbow. By the time I realized that looking at this picture, you might think you’ve already had a few shots of vodka, it was already done. There isn’t much to it, really. As a dairy variation, you need some cream cheese, or a combination of farmer cheese and sour cream mixed to a consistency of cream cheese.  As I serve it not only on Shavuos, but any time kids and grandkids grace this house with their presence, I had to create a pareve alternative, since meat would usually be served as a main dish. So – Tofutti is my best friend! – I use Better than Cream Cheese. And it is, really! You put as much garlic into it as you can stand (vampires never dare to visit this house), and lots of fresh dill. A dash of salt, a pinch of pepper, mix well and serve.

Zakuska 3

I use an ice cream scoop to form balls, but you can be as creative as you want. Hollow out small tomatoes or cherry peppers and fill them, carve cucumber cups, or make rosettes, in other words, look at it as play dough and play with it.

By the way, my cousin says that it isn’t originally Russian because she and her husband had it in Turkey. I looked it up, and sure enough, it is similar to one of the Turkish meze, or starters, but the Turkish meza is made of strained yogurt, sometimes with added feta cheese. Although quite tasty, it is a dip, rather than a spread, and we want something substantial to spread on that chunk of pull-apart challah (for recipe, please click here) traditionally made for Shavuos.


  • 1/2 lb cream cheese or Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (alternatively, mix farmer cheese with sour cream to the consistency of cream cheese)
  • 3 – 4 or more garlic cloves, squezeed
  • 1/2 cup or more chopped fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients and mix well.



24 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on koolkosherkitchen and commented:

    A Russian table is always covered by an array of appetizers, and a Jewish Russian table is no exception. Here is one of them, served on Shavuos. More coming up…


  2. Lovely! Sounds like a great app.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Christina, I am so glad you like it!


  3. Mmmmm garlic and dill. Tasty! Makes sense that it would be similar to Turkish meze. It looks like a relative of Greek tzatziki sauce. The Greek restaurant near us makes the best I’ve ever had — LOTS of fresh garlic.

    We would rub garlic cloves directly on toasted rye bread — something you only want to do on Friday night because it takes about two days to get rid of that much garlic! (Can’t have too much garlic if you’re Czech.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Eva! I make tzatziki a little differently, with finely diced cucumbers and crushed walnuts, and, of course, lots of garlic and dill. And we also used to rub garlic directly on rye bread, especially to have it with hot red borscht.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your tzatziki sounds delicious. The borscht as well!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you so much, dear Eva! I am so glad you like my recipes!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reblogging.


  4. LOL at your feline helper :):) I make a variation of this I use the garlic but then divide the mixture and add green onion to half and roasted red pepper to the other half.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that sounds really good – I’ll try it next time, thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you enjoy it:) You share such delicious things with all of us 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So do you, dear Margaret, and I appreciate your kind words!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You are most welcome 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! My feline helper bestows this honor on my husband. 😻

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Getting ready to go to work. Have a great day, my friend!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Getting ready to go shopping…may all your joys be full!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy New Year, dear Dolly! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

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