Blini spiral pie

 Maslenitsa or Butterweek is going on in Russia right now. It’s a winter festival, saying goodbye to the cold winter days and greeting the warm and sunny spring. During this week people prepare and eat lots of blini. For breakfast blini can be served simple and quick with melted butter and sugar or some homemade jam, for lunch – again blini, and for the dinner, especially when the whole family is getting together, is really nice and festive to serve the delicious salmon pie or this one – soft, aromatic and nourishing spiral meat pie.
 Blini and the filling can be prepared a couple of days ahead, so you can assemble the pie whenever  you have the time or just before the dinner. Succulent stewed cabbage, tasty beef and aromatic dill along with coriander and parsley make the filling truly wonderful! Moreover, blini will be soaked in a mixture of sour cream and eggs, that adds extra moisture and taste.
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 Maslenitsa is a very kind and light time, each day has a special meaning according to old tradition. For example, Wednesday is called “Gourmand”. On this day huge tables and stalls were settled on main squares, where people could drink hot honey-based sbiten and aromatic tea, enjoyed gingerbreads, fresh buns and some other sweet treats, and definitely taste the unlimited blini! But the main event was the visit of son-in-law his mother-in-law, and the mother tried to prepare the best blini she could to show respect and love to her daughter’ husband.
 On Friday, the mother-in-law returned the visit, then her daughter made pancakes and the son-in-law had to please the mother and her other relatives.
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Blini spiral pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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The quantity of the ingredients is given approximately, as it totally depends on the taste, quantity of blini, etc. 
*For the pouring mixture, you can use either sour cream or double cream; even milk will work, just reduce the quantity.
Ingredients
~8 blini
Filling
250g mince beef
250-300g raw white cabbage
1 medium red onion
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
dried herbs: dill, crushed whole coriander, marjoram
salt&pepper to taste
some oil for frying
2-3 tbsp sour cream (15-20%)
100ml double cream (30-35%)*
2 eggs
Garnish
sour cream
Method
  • Make blini. The recipe is here.
  • Heat some oil in one frying pan, add chopped onion and beef, season with marjoram and salt and pepper. Fry on a high heat for few minutes, breaking up the lumps with spatula. Reduce the heat to medium and fry for 10-15 minutes more. Then add some warm water, if the meat is too dry, cover with the lid and simmer until tender or while you’re preparing the cabbage.
  • In another pan, heat the oil and shredded cabbage, fry on a medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, allow cabbage to brown but not to burn. Fry until cabbage is brown, then sprinkle with dill and coriander, season, cover with a lid and cook until the cabbage is soft.
  • To assemble, you need any round baking dish, covered with baking paper and drizzled with oil. Mix meat with cabbage and fresh parsley. Take one blin and put one-two tablespoons of the filling into it, roll. Make as much as fits to the baking dish.
  • Mix creams with eggs and pour over the blini pie.
  • Bake in preheated 190C oven for 30 minutes.
  • Serve warm with  a dollop of sour cream.
Enjoy! 

Russian schi (cabbage soup)

 
 Today is 3rd day of Butterweek (Rus.-Maslenica) in Russia. It’s spring festival, saying goodbye to the winter, and the week before Lent. During the week we bake pancakes (we say exactly bake, not cook, even though we fry them on a pan) almost everyday, invite relatives and friends, and our hearts fill with joy of the upcoming spring.
 Every day of Butterweek has the name and meaning. Today (Wednesday) is ‘Lakomka’ – Gourmand. When wife’s mother invites son-in-law and treats him with pancakes. Unmarried boys and girls usually went to slide from snow hills. Old folks bantered with guys, who hadn’t married that year, and played various pranks to them. And guys bribed with pancakes and candies.
 More you can read in my previous post here. 
 
 I’d like to tell you about another no less famous Russian dish – Schi, it’s cabbage soup, similar to Borsch (with cabbage and beetroots). Everyone knows and enjoy it. 😉
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 Schi is the main hot Russian dish over a millennium. Peasants started to cook it long time ago in 9th century, when cabbage has begun to cultivate everywhere in Russia. In spite of the fact that people’s tastes have been changing, the soup is always been eaten.
 Of course, schi was not the same for all social classes. Full of content, with meat and thick cream, was called ‘rich’, other ‘empty’, as it was cooked only from cabbage and onion.
 To create a special and unique schi’s taste, it was prepared in clay or cast-iron pot in Russian petch/oven. ‘Schi’s spirit’ was always in homes, that means everybody cooked it. Russian proverb says ‘Schi and kasha is our food’, as they were eaten everyday.
 
 Schi consists of six major components: cabbage, meat (or mushrooms rarely), roots (carrot, parsley), spice part (onions, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper) and sour part (sour cream, apples or cabbage brine). First and last parts are the essential and absolutely compulsory. Thus, the simplest schi could be done from cabbage and sour cream 🙂
 The notable feature of schi (that you cook not just a simple cabbage soup) is a slightly sour taste, which usually archived by adding sour cream, sour/salted cabbage and brine or salted mushrooms into the soup.
  
 Originally, flour was added as well to make schi thicker, but such ‘dressing’ spoiled the taste, and then began to add potatoes or buckwheat.
 
 Considered that the ideal schi is so thick, that if you put a spoon into the soup, it holds vertical position and doesn’t fall. 😀 or when a huge piece of meat is risen above a plate of schi.
 
 Health-giving properties of the soup allowed to consume it frequently. There are many schi versions: ‘summer schi’ with fresh cabbage or sorrel, ‘winter schi’ with sour cabbage, ‘lenten/lean schi’ without meat and etc. Mine is with fresh cabbage and meat.
 For the meat part better to choose fatty beef, belly or rump, bone in. Even you can add some pork. I used boneless lamp, because couldn’t find a proper piece of beef.
 When the soup is ready, leave it for 15-30 minutes to get the enhanced flavor. Similar principle is brewing tea, we keep it for 3 minutes to get wonderful aroma. So, you can make a big pot of schi and eat it all week long. 🙂
 
Serves 5-6

Ingredients
500-600g lamb or beef
300-400g cabbage
3 medium potatoes
1+1 onion, for broth and frying
1+1 carrot, for broth and frying
2-3 tsp tomato paste
small bunch of parsley and/or dill
2 bay leaves
5 whole peppercorns
2 tbsp. sunflower oil, for frying
1 garlic clove
sour cream, good quality 
rye or wholemeal bread
salt, black pepper to taste
 
Preparation
  • Put the meat inn a large soup pot, cover with 3 litres of water, bring to boil and remove the foam.
  • Meanwhile, grate carrot and dice onion. Sauté vegetables until they are soft for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and sauté for 3-4 minutes more.
  • Take and throw carrot and onion out, we won’t use them anymore.
  • Take the meat out as well. Cut into small cubes and keep aside.
  • To get the clear soup, you can strain the broth through cheesecloth (optionally).
  • Season the broth with salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Slice potatoes, add into the broth and boil 15 minutes.
  • Thinly shred the cabbage and add to the potatoes (when they are half way done) along with meat cubes.
  • Again bring to boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are soft.
  • Add sautéed carrot and onion to the pot along with bay leaves, whole peppercorns (you can smash them little bit), salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add chopped parsley/dill and crushed garlic.
  • Turn the heat off, cover the pot with a lid and let it stand at least for 15 minutes.
  • Serve with a dollop of sour cream and rye or wholemeal bread.
 
Enjoy Russian lunch! 🙂

 

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