Thursday, April 27, 2006


oh dearie, I have been a bad blogger. if anyone cares, well I offer my heartfelt apologies. It's not for lack of baking either - I've been getting back into the kitchen in a major way. Soon, inspired by my latest soba and seaweed rye bread success I'm going to write a little guide to sourdough. There really isn't much better than a house that smells of freshly baked bread and the loaves are getting fluffier, sour-er and altogether better by the week.

Otherwise, well it's autumn and that means quinces (poached Armenian style with a little rosewater and lemon), hearty soups and feijoas falling from the trees.

Meanwhile can I say again how much I love the chocolate lady? today she has a post about the historic practice of box socials - a kind of wife swapping in which men would bid for a box meal (picnic) and the chance to eat it with its maker. the chocolate lady seems a little aghast at the misogyny of it but i want to throw one immediately. what a great fundraiser...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

little bundles of joy

these little babies date back to long long ago.. i made them prior to the arrival of my favourite little baby. see in the lead up to my sister giving birth i was unemployed and anxious to be of some assistance. i wasn't sure what i could do to help - pregnancy being kinda a one woman job and all. then i remembered cooking - that old failsafe neighbourly help out. i think bringing people food in times of trouble is one of the best things you can do. even times of joy like breeding because people tend to get overwhelmed and are not necessarily in a real state to be cooking.

so anyway i snapped into action with a mission to fill marion and andy's freezer. and these little pirozhki from my new russian cookbook turned out so good. they are just a little flaky with moist fillings and the perfect size to serve to all those pesky guests who drop around to look at cute babies. plus i like the way they look all snug-as-a-bug.. just like isaac when he's all bundled up in his favourite cocoon impersonation. they freeze real good too. oh now i'm not scared of pastry i just want to make pies all day long.

To make these I used a quick yeast dough - you could substitute puff pastry but they wouldn't be quite as good. Then I made a potato filling and a cabbage filling.. mushroom would also be great.

The recipes are below but basically all you need to do is get your pastry and roll it out until it's about 1/8 inch thick. I dunno how thick that is but i reckon 2 - 3 cardboard coasters thick is about right. Now use a big drinking glass to cut out rounds. Flatten them between your fingers and place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle. Fold the edges together and press firmly to seal. Then press the edges back against the pirozhok and pat it into a nice little snug shape. Place on a baking tray with the seam down. Brush your little babies with an egg wash (1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp milk) and bake them at 180C until golden brown - 25 to 30 minutes. Now freeze for your loved ones or just eat them. Maybe with some sour cream? Definitely with strong tea with lemon.

ps - my book also helpfully clears up some worries I'd had about pirozhki, pierogi and all that. basically in russian a Pirog is a big pie. piroghi is the plural - many big pies. Pirozhok is a little pie and pirozhki is the plural. Pierogi on the other hand is Polish for dumplings. got it?

(according to my book this recipe is "well known to every working Russian woman."
1 package dry yeast or 2 tsp fresh
2 tsp sugar
2/3 cup lukewarm milk
1 cup unsalted butter - melted and cooled to lukewarm
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/4 - 3 3/4 cups unbleached plain flour

In a large bowl combine the yeast, sugar and milk and let stand until foamy - about 5 minutes.
Add the butter, egg and salt and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Stir in 3 1/4 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing real well so you can get a big strong forearm like a true russian woman.
Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead gently until you have a smooth, rather loose dough, about 3 minutes, adding just enough of the remaining flour to prevent sticking.
Shape into a ball, cover with a tea towel and let stand for ten minutes.
Divide into thirds, stick them in plastic bags and refrigerate until you're ready to roll.

Potato filling:
3 tbsp vegie oil
2 large onions, chopped oh so fine
4 large boiling potato, boiled and mashed
1/2 cup famer's cheese (this is an american term for a white firm cheese - I used a polish one from the market but use what you can find - nothing strongly flavoured though)
4 tbsp butter, melted

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and saute the onions over a medium heat for a good long time until they're all browned - it should take about 15 minutes. Now mix them with all the rest of the stuff and season it well.

Cabbage filling:
1/2 head green cabbage chopped up real fine
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vegie oil
2 hard boiled eggs, also chopped finely
2 tbsp or more chopped fresh dill

Blanch the cabbage in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain well and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
Heat butter and oil in a large frypan. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring, until soft and coloured, 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Season well and cool before using.