Authentic Russian pirogi

I first tasted pirogi (perogie) when I was on a volunteer vacation in Russia couple of years ago. The lady who cooked for us at the volunteer home in Yaroslavl made this authentic Russian bread stuffed with mushrooms. Being a fan of both breads and mushrooms, this was one of my favorite dishes in Russian cuisine.

No wonder then when my house guest, Marsha from Russia asked me if I would like for her to cook something traditional for me, I asked her for pirogis. We planned for an entire evening of cooking (making pirogi is easy but time consuming). Since we were going to a farewell dinner for the GCIV hosts and delegates the following day, we decided to make two kinds – one stuffed with mushrooms and onions, and the other stuffed with cabbage and boiled eggs (like it is done traditionally).

Here is the basic recipe for one pan of dough: In a stand mixer, combine .5 liter of milk, 8 cups of flour (one cup at a time), 2 eggs and 250 grams butter until well blended. Add 40 grams wet yeast, 2 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt and leave paddle on medium setting until a thick dough is formed.

Add more flour if needed. This will take a few minutes. Once the dough is not sticking to the sides of the mixer, transfer to another bowl and allow to rise for an hour.

In the meantime, prepare the filling. Boil 4 eggs. Finely chop 1 medium onion and shred 1/2 green cabbage. Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a large wok on medium heat. Add the onion and cabbage and let it sweat for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Finely chop the boiled eggs and add to the cabbage mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep aside.

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 12×16 cookie sheet. Divide the prepared dough into two. Flour a flat surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough till it fits a cookie sheet. Fit it directly onto the sheet.

Spread the filling mixture evenly onto it. Top with remaining rolled out dough to form a blanket covering the filling. Use the left over dough to make the decoration.

Roll out thin long strings of dough with your fingers and create a criss-cross pattern on the pie. Beat one egg yolk and baste the top of the dough lightly with a brush. Bake in oven for one hour or until golden brown.

We also added a 5 Ruble coin into the pie. It is believed that whoever gets the piece with the money will have his/her wish granted. It happened so that Marsha got it (among the 20 people at dinner) and her wish is to return to US very soon!

While we drank wine and nibbled on snacks, we got our hands into pounds of dough. The final result was three pans of pirogis – much more than we anticipated. So we decided to make a breakfast type as well  – topped with sliced bananas and apples, sprinkled with sugar and baked till crispy.

Everyone at the party loved the pirogis. The Russian delegates were very excited to get a taste of home during their visit!

10 ways to eat your boiled eggs

Have a lot of leftover Easter eggs and don’t know what to do with them? Well, there is good news for you! You can use your hard boiled eggs in lots of international recipes that your family won’t get bored with. Some of these are even good for entertaining. So take a stroll around the world and see how you can expand your egg-horizon within the boundaries of your own kitchen.

 

1.      Deviled eggs – A tradition at every backyard party, but you need not stick to the basic flavors. Mix taco seasoning and a sliver of avocado. Dot some salsa on the top and serve it on a nacho. There you have a Mexican bite deviled egg.
2.     Egg Biryani – Biryani is a rice dish cooked with a meat (chicken, goat), fried onions and saffron. Boiled eggs can be sliced and used for decoration or eliminate the meat entirely and make it an egg biryani.
3.     Egg salad sandwiches – Chop the eggs in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Toast bread slices, layer with a spoon of butter, lettuce, tomato and the egg salad and enjoy on a summer afternoon.
4.     Egg curry – A simple Indian style curry can be prepared with green peas and potatoes. Fry whole boiled eggs till the skin crackles and add to the curry. Serve with naan.
5.     Egg pâté – A Russian egg pate is so easy to make that you would want to take it to every summer gathering. Grind the eggs with dill, scallions, butter, mayonnaise and salt to make a paste. Pour into a mound and chill in refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, decorate with sliced cucumbers, olives and crackers.
6.     Egg pakora – Pakora is an Indian style fritter. The batter is made with gram flour, water and spices (cumin seeds, red chili powder, garam masala and salt). Cut the eggs in half and dip each piece in the batter. Deep fry in a wok with vegetable or canola oil until golden brown. Serve as a snack with mint chutney.
7.      Eggplant parmesan – Make traditional eggplant parmesan with slices of fried eggplant, layered with slices on mozzarella, marinara sauce and sprinkled diced boiled eggs. Top the final layer with sauce and bake in a 35oF oven for 30 minutes.
8.     Use in salads – Adding protein to any salad makes it a more wholesome meal. Add sliced or halves boiled eggs to potato salad, spinach salad or a smoked salmon salad.
9.     Meat balls and patties – Sounds strange but mashed up boiled eggs do magic to your meat. It makes it soft, retains the moisture and adds more flavor. For meatballs, combine ground beef, onions, parsley, eggs, bread crumbs, fresh garlic cloves, paprika and salt. Grind all the ingredients in a food processor till chunky but not mushy. Shape into balls and pan fry with olive oil till completely cooked.
10. Nicoise salad – The French version of the American Cobb salad, the Nicoise salad makes a complete and healthy meal. Use light vinaigrette and honey mustard dressings for the veggies before plating them. Place canned tuna meat, cooked whole green beans, and boiled potatoes on a plate lined with lettuce leaves. Decorate with olives, cut tomatoes, slices red onions and quartered boiled eggs.

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