Taste of Russia

A while back, a BiteClubber asked about local Russian restaurants or bakeries.
Well, I’ve been doing my homework, and the news wasn’t especially good. Despite
a growing population of Russian and Slavic folks in the area, they’re woefully
under-represented in the restaurant department. In fact, the only spot where
you could reliably buy piroshki in Sonoma
County, Moosetta’s,
closed recently.

Looking to my pals in the food community for any signs of borsch, the answer
was pretty much universal: The best Russian food you’ll find is in the home.
Not at a restaurant.

Well, this weekend, we’re all in luck as the home cooks of the Sisterhood of Sts.
Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Church
are holding their annual Christmas
Luncheon and Bazaar. Stop by Saturday, Nov. 3 (10am to 4pm) or Sunday, the 4th (11:30am to 4pm) to chow down on a whole mess of goodies, including borsch, piroshki, pelmeni, beef
stroganoff, cabbage rolls, homemade pastries and other specials. It doesn’t get
much better than this, if you’re missing a taste of Mother Russia. Stop by and
tell them BiteClub sent you. (850
St. Olga Court, Santa Rosa
(on Stony Pt. Road,
1/4 mile north of Todd. Look for the Golden Domes.) They’ll have food to go, if
you’re in a rush.

If you miss this weekend’s event, the kind folks over at St. Seraphim Orthodox
–you know, the folks that put on the Glendi Fair each year in
September–have offered up their own recipe for piroshki to BiteClub readers. (Recipe follows below)

Need a little piroshki in a hurry? We found some pre-made piroshki at Holy
(490 Mendocino Ave.,
Santa Rosa. 707.523.3137). They’re distributed from a
San Francisco company called Paramount who claim their recipe hails from
an old family recipe handed down for generations.

PS: Wondering about piroshki? They’re essentially meat pies in a dough pocket. A
sort of Russian Hot Pocket, but way better. They can be filled with everything
from mushrooms to hamburger, but are usually savory in nature.


Piroshki Recipe
(Alexandra Hrenoff, from the Our Daily Bread Cookbook)

Raised Dough
1 cup milk
1/4 c. margarine
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp salt
1 pkg. yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 tsp. sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
4 1/2 – 5 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. oil

Heat milk, margarine, the 2 tablespoons sugar and salt until margarine is
melted and sugar and salt are dissolved. Proof yeast in water with 1/4 teaspoon
sugar for 5-10 minutes or until foamy. Combine when heated mixture has cooled
to lukewarm. Beat in eggs and oil. Add flour gradually. Mix well, and then
knead until smooth and elastic. Dough should be easy to work with, not too hard
or too soft. This can be done by machine if you have a dough hook. Cover dough
and let it rise in a warm place bout 2 hours or until double in bulk. Dough can
be refrigerated up to 3 days at this point.

Meat Filling

2 lb. hamburger
2 small onions
4-6 Tbsp. oil
2 tsp. chopped parsley
1 tsp. dry dill weed
2Tbsp flour
1 cup boiling water
2 beef bouillon cubes or 2 tsp
beef bouillon cubes or 2 tsp. beef bouillon granules
8 hard boiled eggs, chopped

Dissolve bouillon cube in water;
set aside. Chop onion and sauté in oil until golden. Add hamburger (ground
chuck is best) and cook until meat is browned but not dry. Sprinkle flour over
the meat and work it in with a fork. Add bouillon, parsley and dill. Heat until
it is bubbling, then remove from heat and cool. Add eggs. Adjust seasoning to

Assembly: Divide risen dough in 24 equal pieces (or more if you want smaller
piroshki). For each piroshki, form piece of dough into a ball; then, roll it
into a circle 3 to 4 inches in diameter, about 1/2 inch thick. Put 1 1/2 tablespoon
meat mixture on dough; fold dough in half and crimp the edges tightly. Fry
piroshki, a few at a time, in skillet with about an inch of oil heated to 350 degrees
to 375 degrees. The depth of oil should be such that the piroshki cannot turn
over by themselves but still float. Place them in oil seam down or seams will
open no matter how tightly they have been crimped. Don’t let the oil get too
hot or they will brown on the outside before the center is done. There are many
different fillings for piroshki: Cabbage, mushroom, fish, potato, carrots, etc.
This dough will keep well in the refrigerator about 3-4 days.

Yield: 24-30 piroshki. There might
be some leftover dough. With this you can make circles, as for piroshki, and
make a hole in the middle. Let rise about 10 minutes and deep fry on both
sides. When ready, sprinkle with sugar. In Russian it is called “lepioshki”.
Serve with jam at breakfast.