Tag Archives: food

Pelmeni (Пельмени), the Famous Russian Dumplings

12 Aug
Pelmeni / Пельмени

Pelmeni / Пельмени

Originally popular in Siberia, pelmeni spread all across Russia and its neighbouring countires and they are still a favourite dish for many people.  In modern Russia and Ukraine pelmeni are commonly made at home and can be bought in stores. The store-bought variety is considered to be a fast food and is associated with students’ or bachelors’ lifestyles.

Pelmeni come from the family of dumplings, and are cousins to Ukrainian varenyky and Polish pierogi. There are 3 important differences between pelmeni and varenyky:

  1. The size – a typical pelmen’ (singular) is about 2 to 3 cm in diameter, varenyky are often twice that size.
  2. The dough – as thin as possible,  with a higher proportion of filling to dough
  3. The filling –  always raw meat (varenyky filling is typically precooked), and never made with anything sweet (varenyky could be made with cherries, sour cherries, sweet cottage cheese, blueberries, etc.)

Russian people are somewhat obsessed with their pelmeni, same as Ukrainians are obsessed with their varenyky, and each family has their own recipe and preparation method. Pelmeni could be a royal pain in the you-know-where to make 🙂 During my recent trip back home my aunt gave me her old pelmeni mold (pelmennitsa / пельменница) – it speeds up the process tremendously!  Enlist some help if making pelmeni by hand – I am a great believer in child labour in kitchen 🙂

Pelmeni Mold / Пельменница

Pelmeni Mold / Пельменница

Yields about 65

Pelmeni filling

  • ½ lb ground beef
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Finely grate the onion or chop it into very small pieces in a food processor.
  2. Add it to the ground meat along with salt and pepper and mix everything very well;
  3. Use any leftover filling to make meatballs, chili, or meatloaves.

Note: 50/50 mixture of beef and pork is traditional; you can also try lamb, chicken, or turkey or any combination you may like.

The doughclick here

Toppings:

  • Butter, vinegar, sour cream – my favourite combination
  • Chopped dill, chopped green onions, ketchup

Instructions:

If using a pelmeni mold: 

1. Roll out a chunck of dough into a circle.
2. Place over mold. Place 1/2 tsp meat into each pocket space on the mold.

Making pelmeni in the pelmennitsa

Making pelmeni in the pelmennitsa

3. Roll out another chunk of dough and place over the mold.
4. Use a rolling pin, roll the top, working from the center – outwards

Making pelmeni in the pelmennitsa

Making pelmeni in the pelmennitsa

5. Turn the pelmeni maker over and push the pelmeni out onto a well-floured cookie tray.  I used some waxed paper to invert pelmeni on.

Ready to boil or to freeze

Ready to boil or to freeze

6. Arrange evenly, sprinkle with flour and place the tray in the freezer.
7. Once pelmeni are fully frozen, put them in large plactic or ziploc bags, and keep them in the freezer for future meals.

If making pelmeni by hand:

  1. Roll out dough, cut out small circles by using a tall shot glass or the smallest round cookie cutter
  2. Place meat in the middle, and seal, by pinching the edges together.
  3. Connect the two edges together like so

Making pelmeni by hand

Cooking Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot (to allow apmle floating space) of water to boil and add 1 tsp salt
  2. Add FROZEN pelmeni and return to a boil. After pelmeni float to the top, boil for another 3 mintues
  3. Drain pelmeni and place them in a clean bowl. Toss pelmeni with your favourite toppings and serve hot.

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Ukrainian Green Borsch / Зелёный Борщ

9 Aug

Ukrainian Green Borsch / Зелёный Борщ

Unlike its’ hearty cousin (red beet borsch ) with strong flavours that warm you up during cold winter days, this borsch is light and can be eaten hot or cold. It is known in all Eastern European cousins and sometimes also called Sorrel or Shchav Soup.

As with many other traditional recipes, there are endless variations of this borsch.  I am going to share the version made in my family.  I “eat with my eyes” first and 4 simple but colourful ingredients make this borsch very appetizing.

Still steaming!

Still steaming!

Green borsch is traditionally made from lemony sorrel.  I am yet to find sorrel in Toronto so I made it with spinach and some vinegar to re-create that light tangy flavor of sorrel.  You can substitute sorrel with any other leafy greens too (swiss chard, beet greens, etc).

TIP: Add your greens just before turning off the heat, or your borsch will be brown instead of bright emerald.

My dad liked this borsh garnished with roughly chopped hard-boiled egg; my mom preferred it in the manner of an egg drop soup where you gradually pour in beaten egg into the boiling liquid.  I equally like both versions.

To serve – do it as Ukrainians do: with sour cream and chopped dill.  I can’t think of anything that is served without either sour cream or dill or both 😀

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, cut any way you like (cubed, chopped, grated or sliced)
  • 1 large or 2 small potatoes, cut in cubes
  • 4 cups chicken stock or water
  • 3 cups sorrel or spinach, thick stems removed
  • 2-3 tsp vinegar
  • S & P to taste

Garnishes:

  • 1 egg (either hard-boiled or beaten), sour cream, chopped dill

Directions:

  1. Bring chicken stock or water to boil, add carrots and potatoes.
  2. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until tender, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add your greens, vinegar and beaten egg (if using) and turn off the heat
  4. Garnish and serve hot or cold.

Old-Fashioned Russian Dill Pickles – No Canning

6 Aug

Homemade dill pickles

Homemade Dill Pickles / Домашние Малосольные Огурчики

This Russian classic recipe for малосольные огурчики (malosol’nuye ogurchiki) is a breeze to make and oh-so-tasty.  The combined smell of cucumbers, fresh dill, and garlic is taking me right back to my mom’s kitchen when I was helping to make these.  My job was to line up the jars on the counter and fill them with cucumbers.

One of my favourite summer dinners was a meal of pan-fried potatoes with malosol’nuye ogurchiki and fresh black bread (чёрный хлеб).

BTW, don’t throw out that pickle juice which is full of natural healing salts and minerals.  According to the popular Russian remedy it cures the worst hangover!
Ingredients:

  • cucumbers, whole or slices
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 sprigs of fresh dill (ideally – the flowered heads if you can find them)
  • 1 tsp pickling spices (mixtures of coriander seeds, mustard seeds, crushed bay leaves & pepper flakes)
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp salt

Optional (to make your dill pickles crispy & extra flavourful):

  • Fresh grape, raspberry, black currant, or cherry leaves or 2-3 pieces fresh horse radish root.  I didn’t have any this time.

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil, add salt and let it simmer.
  2. Wash cucumbers in cold water and cut the ends off (about ¼ inch)
  3. Add pickling spice, peppercorn, bay leaves, 2 sprigs of dill and some garlic to a clean jar.
  4. Pack the cucumbers and pour the simmering water over and top it with the remaining dill sprigs. Leave about an inch of space between the water and the top of the jar
  5. Put a top on your jar and leave it on the counter.  Wait at least 24 hours; for best flavor – 1 week.
  6. Test a pickle on day 3. If it is to your liking, put the jar in the fridge to stop the fermentation process.
  7. They can keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.  Garlic may turn blue or green in the jar but don’t get  alarmed  –  it is only the effect of fermentation.

Dinner Made Easy

12 Jul
Oven-Roasted Tomatoes & Mushrooms

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes & Mushrooms

Oven roasting brings out the incredible flavour of tomatoes and is a great method for intensifying the sweetness of just about any vegetable.  Pair some roasted vegetables with either grilled fish, chicken or steak, and some kind of salad (click here and here).  Your family or guests will be impressed!

OVEN-ROASTED TOMATOES AND MUSHROOMS  (serves 4):

Ingredients:

  • 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 16 white mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper or red-pepper flakes if you like it hot

Directions:

  1. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Toss everything in a large bowl and arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the tomatoes are very soft but still hold their shape.
  4. Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm or at a room temperature.
Oven-Roasted Tomatoes & Mushrooms

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes & Mushrooms

Spinach Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese

5 Jul

Spinach Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese

This is one of my favourite salads, I have it at least 4 times a week 🙂

Blue Cheese goes very well with any nuts and berries or fruit.  Strawberries, melon, or peaches make suitable stand-in.  I’ve used different nuts  – almonds, pecans, and pistachios.

The combination of all ingredients is exquisite and just right for a festive table.

Adapted from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or any other nuts you like)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1 large red or green pear (quartered, cored, and cut into thin slices)
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins
  • 1 bag pre-washed baby spinach
  • 3 oz Blue cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Toast the walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant, no more than 4 minutes.l
  2. Whisk the oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in a salad bowl.  Stir in the onion, then the pear and raisins.  Add the spinach and toss to coat.
  3. Divide the salad among plates and top each with the reserved walnuts and Blue cheese before serving.

Millet Salad with Oranges, Fennel and Olives

1 Jul

Millet Salad with Oranges, Fennel and Olives

It’s a long weekend in Canada!  I just came back from a 3-day stay in Mont-Tremblant where I had this wonderful and colorful salad.  The ingredients are simple but full on flavor.  It can be eaten on its own or as a side dish.

Millet has numerous health benefits but feel free can experiment with different grains; barley or quinoa will work equally well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked millet, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 large or 2 medium fennel bulbs, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 large orange, washed and unpeeled, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup pitted olives
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Toast millet in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and just golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and carefully add water. Return to heat and bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and millet is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer millet to a large bowl, fluff with a fork and set aside to let cool.
  2. While your millet is cooking preheat the oven to 450 F.
  3. Lay the fennel, olives and orange slices into a pan and pour 2 tbsp olive oil over the top; toss with your hands
  4. Place in the oven to roast for about 35 minutes, or until fennel has softened and browned around the edges.
  5. Transfer the cooled millet into a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with white wine vinegar and pour over the millet; stir to combine.
  6. .Fold roasted fennel, olives and orange the millet. Add salt and pepper, stir and serve.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or coriander (I didn’t have any this time).

Millet Salad with Oranges, Fennel and Olives

Steamed Asparagus With Poached Egg and Pesto

18 Jun

Asparagus with Poached Egg

I had this one night as a light dinner when I hardly had anything in my fridge.  I wouldn’t even call it a recipe as it is very easy to make.  For a bit more flavour add some lightly grilled prosciutto and/or Parmesan cheese.  It will be equally good for either breakfast or light lunch.

Ingredients (Serves 1):

  1. 1/2 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 tbsp pesto

Directions:

  • Fill a pot with water.  Make sure you don’t add too much water – you only need enough to create steam.  Place the asparagus in a steamer basket and put it inside the pot.  Cover with a lid a steam for a couple of minutes – your asparagus should look bright green.
  • Place it on a serving dish and top with a poached egg topped with pesto.  Salt and pepper to taste.

 

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