Pelmeni – Russian version of Tortelini

There is nothing more cozy on a cold December day than a bowl of hot soup. To me, even cozier is a bowl of Pelmeni (or Dushbere in Azerbaijan, except back home we serve it as a soup, with the water). These are pieces of heaven (ok fine, dough) stuffed with a delicious meat mixture, boiled in hot water, served with butta (ha ha), sour cream or yogurt and just a tad of herbs. If you can get past the annoying process of making the dough and stuffing each little circle and wrapping it, then you are in for a delicious meal. Sadly, I cannot get over it so I only make it once in a blue moon. Like today. I should have bene studying for my law school finals, but alas, cooking seemed like a better way to spend my day (don’t you worry, I will pay for this).

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Pelmeni

This recipe makes about 50-70 pelmenis

For the filling:

  • 1-1.5 lbs of ground beef
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Handful of Parsley (you can add Dill also, I didn’t have any)
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Peel and cut the onion into quarters
  2. Peel the garlic
  3. Wash the parsley/dill
  4. Add everything into a food processor or blender and blend until becomes mushy.
  5. Add everything to the ground meat and mix; the mixture should become soft and watery
  6. Set aside

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Herb and onion mixture

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Meat mixture ready to go

For the dough:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  1. Add the flour and salt to a food processor and mix
  2. Add the egg and the water and process some more
  3. if the mixture is too watery, add more flour little bit at a time; be careful not to over-flour
  4. Alternatively, dump everything on a board or counter covered with flour and knead until the dough comes together and is soft. Be careful not to add too much flour, the dough will become hard.
  5. Let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes.

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This is what the dough should look like

Assembling Pelmeni:

  1. Divide the dough into 4 parts
  2. Take each part and roll out as much as you can, not too thin, you don’t want the Pelmeni to rip
  3. Take a class or anything else you have at home that can cut out small circles and press it into the rolled out dough over and over again.
  4. Take the circles, roll it out again (just run a rolling pin over it once) and put about a teaspoon or so of meat filling into it.
  5. Now close the circle, pinch the corners very well
  6. You should now end up with a half moon shape; now take the ends and pinch them together.

At the end your Pelmeni should look like this:

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Finished pelmeni

 

Cooking Pelmeni:

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil; salt it, add a little bit of olive oil to it
  2. Slowly submerge Pelmeni into the water.
  3. As soon as they come up to the top of the pot, they are read. If you are hesitant, wait about 5 minutes and take out with a slotted spoon carefully or drain the whole pot.
  4. Once in your plate, top the Pelmeni with butter, sour cream or yogurt and any herbs you wish (dill, parsley, garlic).
  5. As always, enjoy!

pelmeni-with-yogurt

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See how the dough is not too thin or thick, it cooked through and held the meat in. If you made too much and feel that you won’t eat it all in one sitting, don’t boil it all at once. Put it in the freezer and save it for next time. No such luck for me, my husband devours food so I had to play it safe and cook it all -_-

Here is two ways to eat it: with butter and herbs, or butter and yogurt. You can go crazy and do all three: butter, herbs and yogurt. I promise you can’t go wrong!

Borscht with Homemade Beef Broth.

Soups in general and borscht specifically is not my favorite thing to eat. I grew up eating my fair share of it, but never really viewed it as OH SO GOOD. But it is, don’t get me wrong. It’s a quintessential Russian (depends on who you ask, of course) soup. Done the right way, it is one of the most satisfying winter dishes on earth. The first time I’ve tried making it on my own, it tasted too much like the vegetables, and my husband thought it was not so tasty (to which I replied “well, you try making it then”).  But, I figured the trick to making it taste SO MUCH BETTER is to of course, sauté the vegetables first, in butter for even more flavor, and adding something like garlic, parsley or whatever other spice you like. The vegetables, while still retaining their authentic flavor, will also take on the flavor of whatever you add to them, and the combination is just divine.

Another important step in making delicious borscht is making the broth at home. I try to make my broths at home no matter what I cook, but I fail to make enough of it to save it for next time.  That’s my goal for near future, make and can my home-made broth. To make a satisfying flavorful broth, you need to get meat that has some fat on it. Or get a combination of a good chunk of meat and some meat bones with the marrow still in it. The smell of your kitchen while the broth is cooking will be very homey.

Note:  You can make this dish strictly vegetarian, which I’ve never tried, but it is an option. Just make vegetable stock and use it instead of the beef one.

Ready? Here we go.

How to:

You want to make the broth first, since it takes the longest. Now, if I was a hands on–perfect-Martha Steward like- cook, I would make tons of this and just store it, but alas, I don’t.  So I am reduced to running home, loading it all up and then going about my duties. This is how you make the broth:

Place all the meat in a pot, cover with water, toss in bay leaves, onion, add salt and bring to boil on medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium, and let boil for an hour and a half, or until you feel the meat becoming tender. VERY IMPORTANT: DO NOT FORGET TO CLEAR THE SCUM THAT COMES UP. In Russian we call it “Penka”, and sometimes I forget to clear it. But it’s very important to do so, because otherwise it mixes in with the broth and changes the texture of it…plus it makes it look ugly. So don’t forget to do that.

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Beef stock

Meanwhile, cut up and shred/grate all the vegetables. I don’t use a lot, just the basics. Some people tend to get fancier and use some other root vegetables. I don’t. I like it simple. Grate all the carrots and beets and set aside. Roughly chop up the cabbage, by simply taking the biggest knife you have and cut along the half of the cabbage head. You can really cut it up in any way, it all turns mushy in the broth anyways. Slice the onion and add to the cabbage/beet mixture. Heat up 2 tbs of butter or oil, or a combination of both in a pan. Add the grated carrots, beets, sliced onion and crushed garlic and sauté until everything becomes soft. You can add salt as well at this point.

Carrots, beets, garlic and onions.

Carrots, beets, garlic and onions.

Assembly of the Borscht:

Once the broth is done, drain it and remove the meat. Toss the onions/bay leaves, you don’t need them anymore. Once the meat has cooled, either slice it, or tear it with your fingers (which is what I did, just pull it apart and if it’s cooked enough, it will be easy to do so). Add the meat slices to now clean-of-everything broth and turn the heat on low, so it keeps warm.

This is what the broth will look like once done and drained. I had already cut up the meat and added to the broth.

This is what the broth will look like once done and drained. I had already cut up the meat and added to the broth.

Once the vegetables have sautéed to your liking, add them to the warm broth and mix. Add the chopped up cabbage and the potato wedges. Turn the heat to medium and let it boil for 30 minutes or so, or until the potatoes are soft (you can check this by literally sticking a fork in them to see if they are done!).

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At this point, the Borscht is done as well. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!

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Borscht with Homemade Beef Broth

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

For the broth:
1 pound of beef bones (oxtail works great)
1 pound of Beef Shank
Enough water to fill a medium size pot (I didn’t measure how much, I just filled it all the way up)
1 tbs salt
4 bay leaves
1 medium onion – cut in 4 pieces

For the soup:
3 organic beets
4 carrots
Half a Savoy cabbage (or less)
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Butter/sunflower oil for sautéing the vegetables.
2 smaller potatoes – cut up

Broth:
1) Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized pot bring to boil, while remembering to clear the scum while it’s boiling. Reduce the heat and boil for additional 1.5-2 hours or until meat is tender.

Soup:
2) Grate the carrots/beets, slice the onion, and crush the garlic.
3) Sauté the mentioned above vegetables in butter/oil until everything is soft and well combined. Add salt, pepper, spices, if desired.
4) Chop up the cabbage and set aside.
5) Drain he broth, remove and tear up or cut up the meat into chewable sized pieces.
6) Add the sautéed vegetables, cut up potatoes and cabbage to the broth and boil on medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft
7) Serve Borscht with a dollop of sour cream.

NOTE(s): 1) don’t forget to clean the scum off the broth 2) depending on how “thick” you like your soups, you can add more/less of the cabbage, it tends to shrink.