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Russian Cuisine Recipes

by Alla Lopatin, photos by Marina Kocherovsky

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Vinegret (vegetable salad):

6 red potatoes
5 medium beets
3 large carrots
2 cups pickled cabbage
1 medium red onion
1 cup peas (canned or frozen)
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes and beets in their skin until tender (about 45 minutes). In a separate pot, boil carrots until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain the cooking liquid and let vegetables cool about 15-20 minutes before peeling (the skins should come right off when the vegetables are at room temperature). Dice the cooked vegetables by hand. Protect your hands from beet juice stains handling beets with plastic wrap or rinsing hands every few minutes. Squeeze excess liquid out of the cabbage. Combine the diced vegetables with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chilled. Note: For best results, refrigerate salad over night or 4-6 hours before serving.

Shchi (Cabbage Soup)

3 quarts beef stock (or water for vegetarian version)
4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, grated
2 large carrots, grated
1/2 head cabbage, coarsely shredded
1 parsley root, shredded
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut in ½ inch cubes
½ cup tomato sauce
Bay leaf
Fresh herb parcel (parsley, dill)

Melt the butter in a sauce pan set over high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and parsley root, reduce the heat to moderate, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are soft but not brown.

Pour the meat stock or water into a 4-quart pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat immediately to medium and add cabbage. After 10-15 minutes, add potato, bay leaf, and onion mixture. Simmer over medium heat until the potatoes are almost soft (10-15 minutes). Add tomato sauce, herb parcel and salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf and herbs once soup is ready. Serve hot with dollop of sour cream.

Kotlety Pozharskie (Ground Chicken Cutlets )

4 slices fine white bread with crusts removed
¼ cup of whole milk
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
8 tablespoons of softened, unsalted butter (1/4-pound stick)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into small bits (same amount of clarified butter can be used)

In a small bowl combine the slices of bread and ¼ cup of milk. Soak the bread for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out and discard any extra liquid.

Cut the chicken into small pieces and grind them through the finest blades of the meat grinder twice. Combine ground chicken and soaked bread, and grind through again. With a large wooden spoon (or with your hands), gradually incorporate 8 tablespoons of softened butter, salt and pepper and continue to beat until the mixture is smooth. Dip your fingers into cold water and shape the mixture into 6 oval patties, each about 1½ inches thick. Roll the patties in the bread crumbs, coating them thoroughly.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the pan. Place over moderate high heat and when the butter is hot, add the patties. Fry about 5 minutes on each side, turning them over with a spatula. Add remaining butter as necessary. The patties are done when the crusts are golden brown and the inside is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Vareniki (sweet dumplings)
5 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour 1 ts Salt 2 tb Butter 1 cup Evaporated Milk; 1/2 c Water, as needed   In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and butter, stirring a few times. With the machine running, add liquids until a ball forms. Allow to rest for a few minutes and then process until smooth. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover for about 30 minutes. (The dough can be made one day ahead, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated; be sure to bring dough to room temperature before rolling it out.) Place a fourth of the dough on a floured work surface, covering the rest with a towel. Roll the dough evenly into a circle, until it is about 1/8-inch thick. With a 3-inch cookie cutter or glass, cut into rounds. Place 1 Tb of the filling* on one round and place another round on top, sealing them tightly with your fingers or a fork. Place dumplings on a floured cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Repeat this process with the remaining dough. Use as little flour as possible in this process to avoid tough, heavy dough. Gently drop varenyky into 4 quarts of boiling water, in a wide pot, making sure they’re not crowded. Boiling them in batches of 15 is best. Stir gently and cook for 3 to 4 minutes—don’t overcook. Drain in a colander and place in a lightly buttered serving bowl. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.   *Sweet cheese filling is made by mixing ricotta or farmer cheese with sugar and vanilla. A fruit filling can be made with stewed black cherries or other fruit.

Medianyk (Honey Cake) 4 oz Butter 4 large Eggs 14 oz Honey 14 oz Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (about 3 cups) 1/2 ts Ground Ginger 1/2 ts Ground Nutmeg 1/2 ts Ground Cloves 1 ts Cinnamon 2 ts Baking Powder Separate the eggs and let stand at room temperature. Cream the butter, and add in yokes one at a time, beating well. Mix in the honey. Sift the flour, baking powder, and spices and add to the butter mixture. Whip the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold in the egg whites into the batter. Preheat the oven at 350F. Pour the batter into a buttered loaf pan. Bake until firm on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the cake to cool on a wire rack.

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