Monday, November 9, 2009

Cabbage piroshki

These little Russian pastries are made with yeast dough and filled with almost anything, sweet or savory. My favorites are cabbage, cooked shredded beef, mushrooms with rice, apples, farmer's cheese. The sweet ones are served at tea time, and the savory piroshki go with a soup. You eat one as you would eat bread, or break it in halves and spoon a little soup in it. Then eat it anyway.

My grandma used to make them every weekend. She would get up at 4am, start the dough and make the filling. By the time I (4-6 years old I was when I lived at grandma's) was up, everything was ready, and I would have way too much fun "helping" in the kitchen, play with the dough, decorate the tops of piroshki with funny dough shapes, create braided, knotted and twisted buns out of the leftover dough, and may be even assemble a couple of wierd-shaped piroshki myself.

I make them average once a year, and every time I wonder why I don't do it more often. They are a lot of fun to make, and they require simplest ingredients. Perfect picnic food, by the way. Well, I don't have a large family to feed, and you cannot make just two. They keep for about a week in a plastic bag (or, grandma's way, in a covered enamelled pot), but I always make more than we can eat anyway.

I apologise for the picture quality, I was making pirishki and taking pictures with my well-floured left hand at the same time.

Cabbage Piroshki
makes 16

For the dough:
2 cups bread flour + more for dusting
1 tsp dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk (save the white for the egg wash)
1 cup warm water

For the filling:
1 small white cabbage, stem removed, finely chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped

Egg wash:
1 egg white
1 Tbsp cold water

Make the dough:
In a large bowl mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center, break in the eggs. Mix with a fork, incorporating flour from the sides. Add water in small portions, keep mixing, add more water or flour to make soft pliable dough. With floured hands, start kneading, folding the dough over itself. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and doesn't stick to your hands. Form the dough into a ball on the bottom of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, put in a warm draught-free place to rise. When the dough doubles in size (in about an hour or two, depending on your conditions), fold it a few more times, knocking the air out of it, and let rise and double in size again.

Make the filling:
Pour 1 inch of water into a deep sautee pan. Add chopped cabbage. Bring to a boil over medium heat, season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat to low, simmer, stirring ocasionally, until the cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, let cool, fold in chopped eggs, adjust the seasoning.

Assemble and bake the piroshki:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a baking sheet and dust lightly with flour.
Flour your hands.
Place the dough on a floured surface, cut in half. Cover one half with plastic wrap, work with the other. Roll out the dough onto a log shape. Cut into 8 pieces. Touch each piece's cut surfaces to the floured surface to prevent sticking. Roll out a piece of dough to a circle with a rolling pin, then stretch it a little more with your hands. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling in the center. Fold and pinch the sides together.
Place the piroshok seam-side down on the baking sheet. Space the piroshki evenly, allow some room (1/2 inch or so) to expand. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling. Let the piroshki rest in a warm kitchen for 15-20 minutes.
Make the egg wash by whisking together egg white and water. Brush the tops of the piroshki, and in the oven they go. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you made too many, as I did, keep them in a closed plastic bag, and if they start to dry out anyway, wrap them in a paper towel, spray with a little water, and microwave for about 20 seconds.

And the market update:
It's definitely a fall market, going into winter now. Smallish. Rainy. The figs are out. Chanterelle mushrooms still smell good, but they are seriously overgrown. And it's the last of the heirloom tomatoes. Give me the summer back!


scott said...

This is so great. 20 years ago I lived in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn and I used to purchase these from a push cart vendor.

I am not Russian and these were something different that I never saw before. If I remember correctly there were meat, cherry and cabbage which were my favorite.

Until recently I forgot all about them. Me and my daughter are going to try your grandma's recipe during the holiday break.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Lana said...

this is a very good recipe, just how my russian grandmother makes them too, so they're the real thing :)