Posts from October 2015

Russian Pelmany




Gary and I took a brief trip to Illinois to visit his family and our Russian friends, Sergey and Lena. It was great to get caught up on life with everyone and to see the beautiful fall colors.

Lena taught me to make Pelmany, a dish from both her and Sergey’s childhoods (though Lena was born and raised in Kazakhstan). Pelmany is known as Russian comfort food: they’re pockets of bready, meaty goodness. Both of them grew up in the mountains where it got cold–really cold–in the wintertime, so a hearty warm meal was desired. Because the recipe is fairly labor-intensive, the entire family would be involved to roll out the dough and make the little pillows. They would make large batches of Pelmany, and spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and set them outside where they would freeze individually. Later that week, they had instant delicious meals!

I can only imagine the -35 degree temperatures they talked about during their Russian winters, but to have warm Pelmany for dinner with your loved ones around the table would warm anyone’s heart.




For the dough:
3 c white flour
1 c water
Pinch of salt
2 eggs

For the filling:
1 lb venison
1 lb wild boar
2 onions, minced


First, make the dough, for it will need about an hour to rest. Put the flour in a bowl, and carve in a little hole. Put the eggs and salt inside, and start to stir until it forms a craggy ball. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Next, knead on the countertop until smooth by kneading for 5 minutes, then letting rest for 10-15 minutes. Repeat this again. The dough should be smooth when finished. Let sit for an hour in room temperature before using.

To make the filling, mix all the raw meat together. Coarsely chop an onion, and put in a food processor. Add the onion to the meat, and mix. Add salt and pepper here.

To make the “pillows”, roll a small section into a tube. Cut one-inch sections, and then flatten in flour. Roll with a rolling pin to make a 3 inch circle of dough. Add a small spoonful of the raw meat mixture, and fold in half. (Another Russian woman posted how to do this step-by-step here.) Bring the corners together, and tighten, making sure no water will be able to get inside the dumpling when boiling.

When finished, bring a pot of water to boiling on the stove. Gently put the Pelmany into the water with a slotted spoon. Boil for 5-7 minutes, or until the dumplings start to rise to the top. Garnish with sour cream, and sriracha or other hot sauces. Nasdarovje!





While making cheese, Gary likes to quote Monty Python: “Blessed are the cheesemakers!”

This French style recipe was taken from Artisan Cheese Making at Home.


2 quarts pasteurized goat’s milk
1/4 t MA 011 powdered mesophilic starter culture
1 drop liquid rennet diluted in 5 T cool nonchlorinated water
2 t kosher salt
Fresh rosemary
2 t whole mixed peppercorns
Herbs de Provence
Extra virgin olive oil


Along with the ingredients, you’ll need two stockpots (one set inside the other) and a kitchen or dairy thermometer. To start, you’ll want to make a water bath with your pots. The smaller pot will need to be at least 4-quarts. You’ll want to fill the larger pot with water just enough so the water goes up to halfway up the smaller pot’s sides. Take the smaller (empty) pot out, and heat the water to 85 degrees. Once it reaches that temperature, put the smaller pot back in the water, and pour the milk into the smaller pot. With a whisk, whisk with an up and down motion for 20 strokes. Cover, and slowly warm the milk to 75 degrees over about 10 minutes making sure the temperature isn’t rising too quickly.

When the milk reaches 75 degrees, sprinkle the mesophilic started over the milk and rehydrate for 5 minutes. After the time is up, use a whisk to stir the starter into the milk for 20 strokes. Next, add the diluted rennet to the milk, whisking up and down for 20 strokes. Take the pot out of the water bath and set on a counter at room temperature for about 18 hours, or until it coagulates. During this time, don’t touch or move the milk, for the curds are forming.

After 18 hours, set four molds on a draining rack. (I got small dixie cups and cut small holes in the bottom and sides because I didn’t have molds.) When the molds are full, cover the rack with a towel, and let drain at room temperature for 2 days. During this time, they’ll shrink in size by about half.

After this, take the cheeses out of the mold, and salt on all sides, then set in the refrigerator for 2 days on mesh cheese mats, turing once a day. Keep them uncovered during this time to allow to dry out.

Next, put the disks of cheese in sterilized jars. I used 4 four-ounce masons. Pour a little olive oil in the bottom of each one, put a disk of cheese in, and sprinkle peppercorns, herbs de Provence, and put a sprig of rosemary on top. Fill the jar with olive oil to coat and preserve the cheese.

Age for at least one week. In the olive oil, the cheese will last a long time in the fridge. If you don’t use all the cheese in one sitting, top with more olive oil before putting back in the fridge. Enjoy!

Fisherman’s Stew




It was our friend Sam’s birthday, so we had him over to celebrate. As another friend of ours (who battled cancer in her 30’s and won) once poignantly said about birthdays: birthdays are awesome. It’s another year to celebrate your life, and to give thanks to being alive.

I made a riff on our friend Sergey’s recipe (Italians call this recipe “Cioppino”). I used what I had; you can also add potatoes, white fish, salmon, or clams.

Rack up those birthdays, people! They’ll make your loved ones happy.


3 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
1 t dried oregano
Crushed red pepper
2 quarts canned tomato juice (or 1 28 can diced tomatoes in juice)
1 c fish stock (or chicken or vegetable)
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
2 bags frozen mussles
1 lb shrimp, shell on


In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute until cooked, or about 5 minutes. Next, add green peppers, oregano, crushed red pepper, and S&P. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Next, add tomato juice and stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 30 minutes. Right before serving, put the frozen mussels, uncooked shrimp, and basil and parsley into the boiling pot. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the seafood is done.

Quick Pickled Vegetables




Due to the nice fall weather, I’ve neglected my garden. I knew my crazy yard-long beans were way done, but I had just left the crazy mess of vines alone. But I came out one day last week and found that another climbing bean that I forgot I planted had taken over and there were green beans everywhere! Surprise gifts from gardens make me so happy!

I decided to pickle some of them since they were in abundance. I used a recipe from my new fabulous cookbook (thank you, Sally!!!) from Bert Gill and Erika Nelson, our local chef and artist. Bert puts delicious pickled things on many of his salads he serves at his restaurant in town, the Blue Gill; I’m excited to create similar ones at home. What’s nice about this recipe is that it only takes 24 hours to brine, unlike my other pickle recipes, which take about a month. However, they have to be kept in the refrigerator and will only last about a week.

I amended Bert’s recipe and just added the veggies I had from my garden. He includes corn, green tomatoes, okra, fennel, and experiments with spices and herbs such as thyme, cloves, mustard seed, nutmeg, and paprika. Basically it sounds as if you can’t go too wrong.

Ingredients (makes one pint mason jar):

1 c green beens
2 yellow banana peppers
2 jalapenos (optional)
small bunch green onions, most of the green tip cut off
1 t black peppercorns
1 T Dijon mustard
2 T kosher salt
1/2 c sugar
1 c water
1/4 c vinegar


Trim the edges off the beans, and cut the peppers into strips. Combine the mustard, salt, sugar, water, and vinegar into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. While cooking, put all the washed vegetables and peppercorns in a cleaned mason jar. Pour the boiling liquid over the vegetables. Screw on a lid, let cool, then put in the refrigerator. They’ll be ready to eat in 24 hours.

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