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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Secret of Baking Potato Pie a la Russe

In response to "Russian Potato Pie Proves Fit for Export," a column by Vladislav Schnitzer on Dec. 24.

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Email the Opinion Page Editor


I wish you had seen fit to include the potato pie recipe in the article. It sounds like a perfect winter food and I became hungry for it as I read about it! I imagine something structurally resembling an Italian calzone -- an egg- and butter-enriched dough filled with mashed potato and onion softened and flavored with the addition of a little broth.

I will make some this weekend and if it comes out well I will e-mail photos of the New York version. I think I will add some chopped steamed spinach to a couple of them.

The simplest foods have universal appeal. I worked in restaurants for three years and all the chefs I know prepare simple meals using about five ingredients when they cook at home. Thanks for Mr. Schnitzer's wonderful story and have a peaceful and prosperous 2002.

Robin Lester
New York


I was intrigued by Vladislav Schnitzer's article on potato pie. Is the recipe available?

John Gilliam


I read Vladimir Schnitzer's "Pensioner's Pen" without fail. It is a most interesting column, and gives us Westerners an inkling of life in Russia with its many nuances.

Perhaps Mr. Schnitzer's wife might be kind enough to share the recipe of her wonderful Russian potato pie with her husband's faithful readers? But maybe it is a secret family recipe.

Just thought I would ask.

Carol Head
Ontario, Canada

Editor's Note: This is a selection of the dozen or so letters requesting the potato pie recipe, which is provided below courtesy of Vladislav Schnitzer and his wife Maria.

Russian Potato Pie Recipe

1. Take half a kilo of puff pastry dough (it can be bought ready-made) and divide it into two sheets.

2. For the filling, boil 6 large potatoes in their skins, then peel and mash.

3. Finely chop two large onions, fry them with butter on a low setting and then mix with the mashed potatoes.

4. Add salt and pepper and finely chopped dill according to taste.

5. Rub a baking tray with butter and lay one sheet of the dough on it. Spread the filling on the dough and cover it with the remaining sheet of dough so that the filling is completely covered.

6. Brush a beaten egg on the upper sheet of dough.

7. Bake the pie in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at a temperature of 150 to 200 degrees Celsius. Check on the pie's progress and remove when it is browned on top.

Pay Judges More

In response to "Doing Business in Russia Again?!" a comment by Martin R. Snyder on Jan. 9.


I am a young Italian legal scholar at the University of Verona, a former intern at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and a practicing lawyer. I study and teach international trade law and I often travel to Russia.

My little understanding of the Russian legal system, both through practical experience and legal studies, but mainly through strong ties with Russian lawyers, has brought me to believe that the traditional "economic" approach to the issue of business in this country is out of step with real commercial practice.

For the sake of clarity, I believe that before even taking into account the immense economical resources of this country (which are indisputable), business men should be looking closely at the progress made in the Russian legal system.

Basic issues such as bank guarantees, enforcement of decisions, protection of foreign investments, judges' impartiality and rights of shareholders are still far from being satisfactorily dealt with in the Russian legal system. It may be pointed out, for instance, that waivers of jurisdiction in favor of foreign courts are still not enforceable under Russian law.

Bank guarantees can still cause problems when issued by a Russian bank. There have been cases in the Moscow courts where foreign business entities have been denied the right of due process. In other cases, property held by foreign companies in joint venture agreements was nationalized under arcane administrative legal provisions.

Obviously, large enterprises tend to have less trouble than medium-sized or small ones, since they can afford to pay large legal fees or can solve problems through political pressure rather than through the courts.

However, it is a fact that up to the present time, foreign business entities seeking redress in Russian courts are quite unlikely to receive full protection of their rights against Russian parties. This is largely due to the lack of a true separation of powers (i.e. the independence of judges from legislative and executive branches), which never existed during the Soviet times.

I believe that before speaking about Russia's accession to the WTO (which, of course, is of extreme importance), President Vladimir Putin should endeavor to create a truly independent judiciary system. There is no point in encouraging businesses to come to Russia if, once established, they cannot be sure that their rights will be protected in case of default by the Russian party.

Someone once said that a system where a judge is paid less than a mediocre lawyer is not a democratic system. This still seems to be the case with Russia.

Leonardo Graffi
Verona, Italy