Russian fried meat pies – Чебуреки

I have never made them before. I have made pelmeni or Russian meat dumplings many, many times, but never the chebureki. But I have recently had a lot of discussion regarding Russian food and chebureki is something that I always speak about. My mother made them at least once a month and we used to eat it with a cup of homemade hot chicken stock – the meat pie in one hand and a big mug of broth in the other. It’s my first time that I made them yesterday, and today I had to tell my mother what every mother is bittersweet to hear – my chebureki came out a bit better than yours. Because who on earth can cook better than your mother?

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The dough I made was very soft. And a bit crispy. And thin. And I know when you roll it out too thin it might break and all the wonderful juices from the meat drip out, but that is the risk I was willing to take. The recipe is translated from Russian, and sometimes they use imperial system, which is the case for this recipe. I do not approve imperial system, because it simply lacks accuracy, but I also know that when you are dealing with cakes, pastry and dough, even metrical system produces different results, since every flour, water, oil or seasonings used acts differently.

I used 4 cups of flour and 1¼ cups of water, teaspoon of sugar and salt, 8 tablespoons of oil and one tablespoon of vodka (it helps to crisp up the exterior). Everything was mixed in the stand mixer. The dough should not be sticky but quite soft and pliable. This makes about 10 quite big chebureks. IMG_3829

For the filling I used lamb meat 50% lamb mince and other 50% was a mixture of pork and veal, all together around 700 grams of meat. I grated 2 big onions and 3 garlic cloves on a small grater. Added some chopped coriander too, also salt and pepper, and about 100 ml of heavy cream to bring the mixture together. My cat, Maurice, was morally supporting me through the process. IMG_3826

The dough is rolled out into rounds, about 12 cm in diameter, then filled with about 90 grams of the minced meat, then sealed into half-moon shaped and sealed with the help of a fork. Rustic looking and easy. At the same time you can already heat up a large pan with about 2 cm of oil. Next time I will try to fry them in deep fryer, to ensure an even cooking. Be careful when frying them – if they break and juices come out, bad things can happen. Fry on both sides until golden brown, approx. 3 minutes. Place them between kitchen papers to soak up the extra oil. And enjoy the wonderful, simple creation of thin dough filled with tender meat and be careful not to drip out any of the precious juices residing inside.IMG_3844

Peasantry at its best.IMG_3831

 

 

White asparagus and smoked eel

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I made this dish prior to leaving on a vacation. I had previously bought the last of the white asparagus season on a market, so that needed using up. And god knows white asparagus and fatty smoked eel are divine together.

I also had to use up fresh peas and they really fit the picture of this taste palette. I poached them in butter.

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The white asparagus I first steamed, then added some colour on a grill pan to increase its’ nutty flavour. To bring all together, I made beetroot hollandaise, because asparagus pairs so good with hollandaise and I absolutely love the beetroot and eel pairing (another time on that), so it seemed like a good idea. It was.IMG_3111A light meal enhancing wonderful spring-summer produce.

Russian Fish Soup – Уха

When I was buying the main ingredients for the soup I was actually torn between making bouillabaisse or Flemish waterzooi. Then day later I decided as it is summer and I have cooked the other two fish stews in the last six months, it would be nice to go back to my roots. Aside from that, Russian fish soup or Ukha is very light, it’s mostly just intense fish stock. Different varieties of fish is not important, unlike in bouillabaisse, as long as it’s just fresh. My mother used to cook it just from the whole skeleton of salmon, including the head. I ended up with salmon, black halibut and salmon’s head.

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To cook the stock you need to cut out the gills (they can make the stock bitter, especially if the fish is not freshest, which you can tell by the colour of the gills – you want them dark red) and wash the head, put it in a crock pot and cover with 1.5 l of water. I also added celery, onion, carrots, bulb fennel and leeks. Let it boil around 1.5 hours and you have a beautiful stock ready to be strained. Don’t forget to take out meat off the salmon head, especially the cheeks. You will be surprised how amazing these things are in both taste and texture. A fish parallel to chicken oysters. (Why is all food always compared to chicken?).

I then bring the stock to a boil, add some julienne’d aforementioned vegetables which have been sauteed in butter beforehand. When the stock comes to a boil, I add a shot of vodka in it, take it off the heat and put pieces of fish inside the hot stock. Cover the soup for 10 minutes, and the fish is cooked perfectly to it’s utter tenderness. Serve, with a shot of cold vodka, obviously.

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A вы уху ели?

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First blog post.

I would like to start my blog with how I like to start my day, ideally – poached eggs with wilted spinach, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce.

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I like the sturdy older type of spinach, none of that baby-this baby-that what was so massively popular couple of years ago and thankfully now in declining trend. This spinach still has a bite to it and more earthy flavour, which goes perfectly with hollandaise, as does asparagus. I just blanch the spinach until wilted (5 seconds) and drop it back in the warm pot with butter and salt.

For this picture I will tell honestly, I did 4 sous-vide eggs, taking them out from the fridge at 2°C and putting them in a water bath heated to 76°C with an immersion circulator, left there for exactly 13 minutes. I used fresh eggs but I am quite sure I just can’t rely on store-bought eggs freshness, because they didn’t come out right – the egg white didn’t settle well and was watery, which happens with old eggs. I’ve had great results using the same method when I bought my eggs straight from the farmer, so I knew they were fresh.

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Onward I went to the poaching method, where I used the same eggs and could clearly see the egg whites did not hold up as they do in fresh eggs. Nevertheless, I managed to poach some of them successfully. Those that seemed too loose I used in hollandaise. Although in some cases I can say I am traditionalist, this time I could not be asked anymore to go the old way making of hollandaise after sous-vide failure. I put 2 egg yolks and a bit of lemon juice in a cup that fits my immersion blender and melted 120 g of butter until foam subsided. I poured the melted butter slowly into the egg yolk mixture, blender constantly running. Very easy.

And now, much deserved yolk porn:

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It was that good.

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