Russians like hearty foods that are warm and filling

November 07, 1990|By Phyllis Brill | Phyllis Brill,Evening Sun Staff

Russian people like simple, hearty foods that are warm and filling. Here are some recipes for the most popular foods among the Moscow Circus performers:

Oladii

Oladii are small, raised pancakes about three-inches in diameter. They are thicker and sweeter than American pancakes and are delicious served with jam or sour cream.

4 eggs, separated

2 tblsp. unsalted butter, softened

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 level teaspoon baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tblsp. sugar

2 cups buttermilk or kefir

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted clarified butter, or 3/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying

6 tablespoons sour cream or berry preserves

Blend the egg yolks with the softened butter. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the buttermilk and beat to blend (in an electric mixer, use the lowest speed). Add the yolks and butter and beat at a higher speed until blended and smooth, about 1 1/2 to two minutes.

Prepare a bain-marie by placing a large bowl in a larger pan of very hot water and use it to keep the oladii warm.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the batter.

Heat a large nonstick skillet and melt some of the clarified butter in it. Use one-quarter cup of batter for each pancake and space them one-inch apart in the pan. Cook over moderate or slightly lower heat for about two minutes on the first side, until batter sets; and about 1 1/2 minutes on the other, until the pancake is golden.

Serve piled on a heated dish. Pass the sour cream and/or berry preserves in separate bowls.

Yield: 24-26 oladii to serve six.

-- "The Art of Russian Cuisine," by Anne Volokh with Mavis Manus.

Pel'meni

Pel'meni are meat dumplings that resemble Chinese wonton or Italian ravioli. In Siberia they are prepared in large quantity and frozen in the snow, where they can keep for months to be used as needed. Serve them steaming hot with a mustard-and-vinegar sauce, as the Siberians do; or slather them with butter and/or sour cream, as is popular in Moscow.

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons salt

3 whole eggs

1/4 cup warm water

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef and pork, mixed

1 medium onion

Freshly ground pepper to taste

12 tablespoons butter, melted

Russian-style mustard

Strong vinegar

Sour cream

To make dough, mix together flour and one teaspoon salt in a medium-sized bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs and water. Toss the mixture together, then knead by hand until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a ball and place it on waxed paper or a floured surface. Cover the dough with an overturned bowl and let stand at room temperature for one hour.

hTC To prepare filling, in a food processor or meat grinder grind the beef, pork, onion, one teaspoon salt and the pepper very finely, until there is a smooth mass with no lumps. Set aside to "season" while the dough is resting.

Divide the dough into four pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough out onto a floured board as thinly as possible (one-sixteenth-inch thick or less) and with a cookie cutter or a glass cut out two-inch rounds.

Place a heaping teaspoon of the meat filling on each round. Bring one edge of the round over to meet the other and seal the edges tightly, forming a half-moon. Then take the two pointed edges and bring them together in the center of the half-moon, along its straight edge. Lift these edges slightly to form a ball. Make sure the edges are securely pressed together in the center. As each ball is formed, place it on a clean dish towel.

Cover pel'meni with dish towel so they don't dry out. When ready to serve, bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the water to keep the dumplings from sticking. When the water has reached a rolling boil, drop in the pel'meni and boil them gently for five minutes, or until they rise to the top of the water. Make sure not to crowd them in the kettle; they may be cooked in several batches.

Drain the pel'meni and immediately pour melted butter over them. Bring them to the table piled high on a platter, and let each person choose his own garnish: mustard and vinegar or sour cream and more butter.

Makes eight to ten dozen.

Plov

Plov is what we know as pilaf. It is perfect for entertaining because it is easy to prepare for a lot of people. Serve it with sliced raw onion.

2 pounds boneless shoulder or leg of lamb, with some fat

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions ( 3/4 pound), cut into julienne strips

3 carrots ( 1/2 pound), cut into julienne strips

2 1/2 cups raw rice

4 1/2 cups boiling water

1 teaspoon crushed red hot pepper or 1/2 teaspoon adzhika (recipe below) to taste

3 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon saffron

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Raw onion, sliced paper-thin

Cut the lamb into chunks. Heat the olive oil in large dutch oven. Stir in the lamb and brown on all sides. Remove to a platter and keep warm.

Stir the onions and carrots into the fat remaining in the pan, adding a little more olive oil if necessary. Cook over medium heat for ten to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but not brown. Then return the lamb to the pot and stir in the raw rice. Cook, stirring, for five minutes, or until the rice begins to turn golden in color. Then pour in the boiling water, stirring to mix well.

Add the red pepper, salt, saffron and black pepper. Cover the pan; cook over low heat for 20 minutes, until the rice is done.

Serve liberally garnished with raw onion.

Makes six to eight servings.

Note: To make adzhika, grind together equal amounts of red bell peppers, cleaned and seeded, and hot red peppers, including seeds. Add crushed garlic to taste. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

-- "A La Russe: A Cookbook of Russian Hospitality" by Darra Goldstein

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