But before their sleigh ride, Alexei made sure that Paige had a wonderful authentic Russian meal, which was served in a cozy sumptuous library in front of the fire. After all, he didn't want her hunger to end that sleigh ride prematurely.
One of the dishes they had was a meat stuffed dumpling called pelmeni. I admit, I haven't tried to make this yet, but I intend to this weekend. If I can't have a sleigh and snow, I can have my own prince and this yummy sounding dish.
Thanks to USA Today bestselling author, Lynn Raye Harris for my ticket to this special place. You should visit too.
Before getting on with the recipe, I have to share this line of description. It makes me laugh every time!
". . .she wore a conservative black pantsuit with a high-collared white shirt. The suit fit well enough, but she looked like a penguin."
Pelmeni are very popular all over Russia. They are closely kin to "pot stickers," "pierogies," and other similar dumplings found in many cultures.
The Russian variety traditionally is made of flour, milk, one egg, and salt. The dough is rolled out fairly thin, and cut in circles approximately two inches in diameter. The filling is usually a mixture of minced pork, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper.
3 c flour
warm boiled water
1 tsp salt (amount may vary to taste)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1 pound beef
I pound pork
1/2 c beef broth
1 tsp salt
seasoning to taste
For making the dough: Sift the flour with the salt onto a smooth clean surface. Start adding the mixture of the liquids into the pile of flour in small amounts, trying to incorporate the liquid into as much flour as possible each time. After a while all the flour will be moistened; keep adding the liquid in small amounts, kneading the dough very vigorously after each time. The dough might seem soggy right after you add the mixture, but after you beat it for about minute, it takes in the moisture out, and more has to be added, actually. Keep adding the liquid until the dough becomes mixed throughout very evenly, soft enough to manage, but resilient to the touch, and very stretchy. I usually have 1 or 2 ounces left of the water mixture after the dough is done. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30-40 minutes.
For the filling: to save time, you can load all the ingredients into a good food processor with a meat-cutting blade, and ground them evenly, but not too finely. Add seasonings to taste. Now you are ready for the fun part.
To assemble pelmeni, first you have to make thinly rolled circles of dough. You may roll out large portions of dough and cut the circles out with a glass, or roll out the pieces of dough separately. The dough should be very thin, approximately 1/32 of an inch, and look translucent. While one person is making the circles, the others can be putting the filling by tablespoons onto the middle of each circle and sealing the meat tightly.
Fold the circle over in half, squeeze the edges together all the way around, and gradually pinch the edge down as you would on a pie crust, until it looks like a braid. To make the process go faster, you can use Pelmeni mold. When you are wrapping, please make sure there are no holes in the dough if there are holes, the meat tends to be hard after cooking. As you are making the pelmeni, put them onto a flour-dusted plate, and keep dusting between layers, so they don't stick together.
To cook the pelmeni, bring a large pot of salted water or broth (for better flavor) to a boil, and load you pelmeni into the pot. They will be ready when they float to the top. Take the pelmeni out with a strainer, and serve hot, drizzled in butter, with lemon juice, vinegar and sour cream in separate dishes to be used as a garnish. You could also add a small salad made of coarsely chopped tomatoes and cucumbers in sour cream to add some refreshing color and a burst of vitamins. If you feel you have made too many pelmeni, feel free to freeze them before they are cooked; they keep in a freezer for a very long time.