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Thread: Making lunch for a visitor

  1. #1
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    Making lunch for a visitor

    Next week the Russian piano technician is coming to my house to spend 4 hours fixing up my piano at a drastically reduced price. I want to make him a Russian lunch with a Russian goody dessert. (I like dessert and from the looks of Dmitry, I think he does too.) I've found several websites devoted to Russian cuisine. I'm not sure what to make, though. I looked at Borcsh. It sounds easy enough, but is it any good? I don't think I've eaten a beet in my life! Would borcsh and bread be a suitable lunch? I'd appreciate other suggestions as well. I am a decent cook and am accustomed to spending hours cooking from scratch. I want something really tasty for dessert. Bliny sounds good to me, but what else is there?

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    Борщ is very delicious, I like it very much! I recommend you to make пельмени (http://shininghappypeople.net/rwotd/...12/pelmeni.jpg). They are very tasty!
    In my opinion, блины are more some kind of dessert.

  3. #3
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    mmmmmm.. you can try "селедка под шубой" (maybe in English: "herring under the blanket"). This is salad.
    And for dessert = Napoleon (cake).

    And also for dessert:
    кисель (Kissel)
    шарлоттка (Russian apple cake (Sharlotka)) = I think this is easy for cooking.

  4. #4
    zxc
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    I love pirozhki, so I vote you make those (and then mail me the leftovers ).

    Piroshki

    This recipe is for a cabbage filling, but like it says you can pretty much use anything tasty as a filling.

  5. #5
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    I agree with the recommendation of пельмени, which can be roughly compared to meat-filled ravioli or Chinese "pot sticker" dumplings, though in my opinion, they're tastier than either of those! But pelmeni can be intimidating for a first-timer to make totally from scratch -- unless you've got quite a lot of prior experience making and working with homemade pasta dough.

    However, I've made pelmeni very successfully using a homemade meat filling and packaged wonton-wrappers from the supermarket (which obviously saves time with making, rolling, and cutting the dough). It'll still probably take you an hour to fill/wrap the dumplings, but you can do this way ahead of time and store them in the freezer. Then, you drop the frozen pelmeni into boiling-hot water (or better yet, chicken or beef bouillon), boil them 7 or 8 minutes, drain, and serve with accompaniments like sour cream, flavored vinegar, melted butter, and chopped dill and/or cilantro. (I studied Russian in college 20 years ago, and when I lived in Moscow 1993-94 as an ESL teacher, I was surprised at how popular cilantro was in Russian cooking... I had only associated it with Mexican food.)

    Anyway, If you think you want to try this option, let me know -- somewhere on my computer I already have a recipe for "wonton-wrapper pelmeni" typed up, so I can send it or post it.

    Another very, very Russian lunch entree to make would be котлеты -- which are essentially jumbo, oval-shaped meatballs that are rolled in bread crumbs and sauteed in a big skillet so that they are brown, slightly dry, and crusty on the outside, but moist and juicy on the inside. Kotlety recipes often start with a фарш (ground meat mixture) that's half beef and half pork, but of course you can substitute turkey, lamb, veal, chicken, etc. depending on your tastes. And they're often served without any kind of sauce, so that people can add their own condiments (sour cream, mustard, A-1 sauce, etc.) to taste. Of course, котлеты are quite easy to make, so these are a good choice for an entree if you plan to do a fancy, labor-intensive dessert.
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

  6. #6
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    By the way, Christineka, what part of the planet are you from? I mean, is it easier for you to work with recipes that are worded:

    add 3/4 cup graham-cracker crumbs, and preheat oven to 350ºF

    or:

    add 90g finely crushed digestive biscuits, and preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180ºC

    ?



    Me, I'm from Пиндостан, and thus I'm used to using American cooking terminology and non-metric measurements, but I've learned from experience that when trading recipes online, it's always best to ask "where are you from?" so that there's no confusion.

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    Throbert, I'd like those recipes. I have visions of making my own dough, but in case I don't, the easier alternative would be good. (I have only once managed to get myself to make tortillas.) I have used metric system directions before, but I'd much prefer the US directions. Thanks!

    I was thinking of perhaps making torte for dessert. It sounds good and like something I could make a day in advance.

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    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    You've never eaten BEETS? One of my fave vegetables. Make a cold borshch, with lots of sour cream.

    Or you could make Olivier Salad оливье салат - Google Search . Throw in some shredded beets!

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    I found a chocolate torte recipe. I'm almost definitely going to make it. Even if I do have to do math to figure out the recipe.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    Me, I'm from Пиндостан
    This might be offtop, but do you know what the word marked bold actually means in Russian? You seem to have been using it and some its forms for quite long, but I bet if you knew what it means, you wouldn't...

  11. #11
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Eric -- yes, I understand what Пиндостан means! Roughly "Damnyankeestan" or "Gringo-land".* From the slang word пиндос, which signifies "a f*cking American."

    I'm using it ironically in a "Say It Loud, I'm Pindos and Proud!" sense. The way that some African-Americans call themselves "Nigga", or some Orthodox Jews who wear kippot/yarmulkes (ермолки) will describe themselves as "Yids with Lids", or some gay people call themselves "Queer" (originally a very rude word), etc.

    * Incidentally, "gringo" (a rude Spanish word for foreigners, but especially for English-speakers from the USA) comes from griego, which literally means "a Greek". Just as пиндос historically meant "an ethnic Greek living in Russia," but now has the slang meaning "f*cking Yankee". But as far as I know, пиндос as rude slang for an American only goes back to the Kosovo war, while "gringo" is at least a century older.
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by christineka View Post
    I found a chocolate torte recipe. I'm almost definitely going to make it. Even if I do have to do math to figure out the recipe.
    If you're working from a metric recipe, here's an excellent conversion page you can use (and bookmark). It's especially helpful because Russian recipes almost invariably measure dry granular ingredients like flour and sugar by their weight in grams, rather than their volume in milliliters. And that can make conversion tricky because in America, we nearly always measure flour and sugar by volume, not weight, and not everyone has a kitchen scale. But a lot of online metric/US conversion calculators only tell you how to "translate" mL to cups, which isn't very useful if the original recipe calls for "90g of flour".

    However, the page I linked to includes an extensive table of weight-to-volume conversions for a couple dozen dry ingredients like flour, sugar, bread crumbs, oatmeal, chopped nuts, etc. (Thus, 90 grams of flour is about 3/4 cup, but 90 grams of uncooked white rice is only 1/2 cup.)

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    Пельмени (Siberian dumplings) made with wonton wrappers
    (yields about 50 pelmeni)

    Traditional pelmeni dough is a bit thicker than wonton dough -- so, if you like, you can buy twice the suggested amount of wonton wrappers and double them up to make a thicker, chewier "two-ply envelope".

    DOUGH (тесто)

    1 package of Nasoya-brand wonton wrappers (these are pre-cut squares about 3 inches on a side, and are available in packages of 50 -- obviously, you can use other brands, but Nasoya seems to be universally available here on the East Coast. If you live near an Asian grocery store, you'll probably be able to find a wider selection of pre-cut wonton wrappers, including round ones -- but look for dough made with wheat flour, not rice flour!)

    FILLING (начинка)

    1 lb. ground meat (фарш) -- I like to use a 50/50 mix of ground beef (говядина) and "spicy pork sausage meat" (острый фарш из свинины)-- the kind sold in a tube from Jimmy Dean or whatever)

    1 egg, beaten

    small onion, minced

    1/2 tsp. dried ground ginger
    1 tsp. garlic powder
    generous dash of salt and pepper

    1/4 cup (or more) bread crumbs (панировка) plain or seasoned

    To make the filling, combine the ground meat(s) with the beaten egg and minced onion, and seasonings. Mix thoroughly with spoon, then add some bread crumbs and work with hands until the mixture is just firm enough that you can shape spoonfuls of it into log-like shapes without it oozing everywhere. I usually add about 1/4 cup bread crumbs and then chill the meat mixture for 20-30 minutes in the fridge to check the consistency before I add any more crumbs.

    SHAPING PELMENI:

    Have ready a cookie sheet covered with wax paper or foil or plastic wrap plus enough free space in your freezer to lay the cookie sheet flat! Also have ready a small bowl of water.

    Keep the wonton wrappers covered with a damp towel so they don't dry out.

    To shape a pelmeni, place wonton wrapper on your workspace -- if it's a square wrapper, orient it diagonally like a "diamond." Place a generous heaping teaspoon of the uncooked filling mix on the center of the dough and, with your fingers, form it into a rough log shape along the diagonal of the square. (Think "tube of Chapstick," but maybe a little thicker and a little shorter -- you do want to leave clearance at the edges to firmly seal the dough-envelope.)

    Dip your fingers in the water and quickly moisten the edges of the wonton square. Fold up the bottom corner to the top to form a triangle, and press the edges closed. Then, moisten the three corners of the triangle and pinch them together. Place the finished dumpling on the cookie sheet.

    Very Important: While shaping the pelmeni, remember the Russian saying Первый блин -- комом! ("The first pancake always turns out lumpy."). In other words, you might eff up the first couple of dumplings, but after a few tries your fingers will get the knack of it and it'll go faster and faster.

    Continue until you've filled the cookie sheet; then put in freezer for 30-45 minutes while you make the rest of the pelmeni. After the pelmeni are thoroughly frozen on the outside, you can remove them from cookie sheet and place in large Ziploc bags to freeze solid until you're ready to use them. (You can cook the freshly-made pelmeni immediately if you like, but freezing them is actually very, very traditional... though, of course, the freezing used to be done by burying them in the Siberian permafrost!)

    COOKING:

    Bring large pot with 3-4 inches of salted water or chicken/beef bouillon to a full boil and drop in frozen pelmeni, allowing 8-10 per person. Return to full boil while stirring gently to prevent sticking. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 7-8 minutes until all pelmeni are floating.

    Remove pelmeni to plates with slotted spoon and immediately drizzle on some malt vinegar (or other flavorful vinegar) and melted butter; garnish with finely chopped cilantro and/or dill. Serve with sour cream (обязательно со сметаной!), salt and pepper, Worcestershire, and/or Tabasco on the side. (Obviously, Worcestershire and Tabasco are less traditional, but they seem to be popular with Russians nowadays.)

    P.S. Using the egg and breadcrumbs in the filling produces a more "meatloaf-y" texture; you can omit these and use just ground meat + minced onions for a more "hamburger-y" texture.
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

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    Thanks! They sound yummy and fairly easy. I can get my kids to help to make things speedier. I love how I could make a bunch and freeze for later!

  15. #15
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    Glad you like how the pelmeni recipe sounds! I'm told it's actually quite traditional to have multiple people help with the filling and shaping of the dumplings... like a "pelmeni bee."

    Anyway, here's another recipe for you:

    Котлеты
    (makes about 10 patties)

    Despite the sound of their name, котлеты have nothing to do with "cutlets" in the usual sense of the English word.

    Rather, as you can see from examining the recipe below, they are made from essentially the same ingredients as a typical American meatloaf -- that is, ground meat "stretched" with egg, bread, and finely chopped or shredded vegetables. But the mix is formed into individual patties instead of being baked in a loaf pan.

    Since the ground meat mixture is coated in breadcrumbs and fried in hot fat, it would be technically correct to call them "croquettes" or "risolles" -- but, to me, both of those names sound much too Frawnch and fancy-schmancy, and fail to capture the down-home comfort-food associations of Russian котлеты.

    For the фарш (ground meat mixture), half-beef and half-pork is pretty traditional, but you can also add ground turkey, or fresh Italian sausage with the skins removed, or whatever.

    Anyway, here's the recipe, with some Russian terminology thrown in as a refresher for your memory...

    один килограмм фарша [2 lbs. "plus change" of ground meat(s) -- remember, "two-and-a-quarter pounds of jam weighs about a kilogram!"]

    два ломтика любого хлеба [2 slices bread, of any sort]

    картошка размером с теннисовый мячик, натерная [tennis-ball-sized potato, shredded]

    одна средняя луковица, мелко нарезана [1 medium onion, chopped fine]

    одно яйцо, взбитое [1 egg, beaten]

    соль и приправы по вкусу [salt and seasonings to taste... I like to use some garlic powder, cumin, crushed red pepper, and caraway seeds -- but traditional котлеты are not highly spiced, so don't overdo it]

    две столовых ложки нарезанной зелени [2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh green herbs (optional)]

    панировка (packaged bread crumbs)

    масло (растительное или сливочное) для жаренья [vegetable oil or butter for pan-frying]

    Tear the bread into large pieces, place in small bowl, and pour over it just enough buttermilk (or plain yogurt diluted with water; or regular milk; or beer; or whatever) to soak the bread so that it gets mushy.

    Place mushy bread, shredded potato, and minced onion in clean cloth or heavy-duty paper towel and squeeze firmly to press out as much liquid as possible (discard liquid).

    In large bowl, combine bread/potato/onion mix with ground meat, egg, seasonings, and chopped herbs. Blend thoroughly with fork. If mixture seems too soggy to be shaped into patties by hand, stir in 1/4 cup bread crumbs (or matzo meal or crushed cornflakes or quick-cooking oats, etc.), and let mixture chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

    With your hands, grab tennis-ball-size portions of the meat mixture and form into slightly flattened oval patties.

    Preheat oven to 375 and have some seasoned bread crumbs ready on a plate as you heat a few tablespoons of oil or butter over medium-high heat in a large, heavy сковорода (skillet). Roll each patty generously in the breadcrumbs and place 4 or 5 at a time in the skillet to saute the exteriors for several minutes until nice and brown, turning occasionally. Transfer котлеты into a 13x9 pan and bake in oven for about 25 minutes until cooked through. (If you have a really huge skillet with a cover, you can do all the cooking on the stovetop -- but my cast-iron pan will only fit about 4 kotlety at a time, which is why I use the stove-to-oven method.)

    P.S. Instead of or in addition to the potatoes and onions, you can use finely shredded carrots or zucchini, or diced marinated mushrooms, etc. (Note that kotlety are a good way to disguise vegetables for finicky young children.) But whatever you use, try to squeeze out as much moisture as possible before you add it to the meat mix.

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    I don't have time to make flavored vinegar (4 weeks the long method, 1 week for the quick method). I do not believe it to be available for purchase in my small town. (And if it is, it's highly likely that it is too expensive.) Would some other sauce or garnish or something go well with pelmeni?

  17. #17
    Подающий надежды оратор
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    Butter or creme fraiche will do.

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    Chocolate torte is in the oven. It smells and looks delicious. The grocery store had no fresh cilantro, though. I don't think I'll have time tomorrow to try the other grocery store. (And silly me didn't think about it when I ran over for parchment paper.) I found a recipe that recommends garlic and dill. Or I could use dried cilantro, which is definitely not the same. I have smetana and butter.

  19. #19
    Hanna
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    Is chocolate (anything) really specifically Russian?
    You are surely giving this piano repairman the VIP treatment! He'll probably fix it for free next time!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    Is chocolate (anything) really specifically Russian?
    Nothing special but really good one.
    If i want to buy tasty chocolate i buy swiss (Lindt) or russian (Россия Золотая марка).

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