Alena Solodovichenko, brand chef at Varenichnaya N1 cafes in MoscowPress photo
Alena Solodovichenko, brand chef at Varenichnaya N1 cafes in Moscow, has perfected the art of making vareniki (dumplings). In her recent book Miss Varenichnaya: Favorite and Unusual Vareniki, Pelmeni, and Other Treats (published by KhlebSol), Alena reveals her culinary tips and secrets.
For example, to make vareniki dough more elastic, add vegetable oil. Plus the berries for the filling should not be mixed with sugar beforehand, otherwise the juice will flow out. And if the filling does end up leaking out around the dough edges (which just can't be persuaded to stick together), sprinkle them with flour and try again.
1. Make a mound of flour and starch on the countertop, and create a hollow in the middle. Add salt and sugar, and pour in water and oil.
2. Fill the hollow with flour from the edges, and knead for 10-12 minutes until the dough turns into an elastic, not-too-sticky ball.
3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and leave for 30 minutes at room temperature.
4. Remove the apple and pear cores, cut into small cubes, and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
5. On the flour-dusted countertop, roll out the dough into a thin layer, and cut into circles with a shape-cutter. Place the filling in the middle of each circle, pinch the edges, and mold into a dumpling.
6. Boil the vareniki in slightly salted water for 4-5 minutes.
1. Make the dough as in the first recipe, but use dill juice instead of water.
2. For the filling, defrost frozen spinach, place in a colander, and squeeze dry (fresh spinach should be washed and sorted.)
3. Coarsely grate the feta cheese, and mash the garlic and butter in a blender until smooth. Add the cheese and butter-garlic mix to the spinach, add salt, and mix thoroughly.
4. Roll out the dough, cut into circles, lay out the filling on top, and mold into dumplings.
5. Boil in slightly salted water for 4–5 minutes.
1. Boil and mash potatoes, leave to cool slightly.
2. Pour flour onto the countertop, and make a hollow at the top. Pour in water, add the warm mashed potatoes. Adding flour from the edges, knead the dough. The dough should be a little sticky, but add more flour if it sticks too much to your hands. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with a towel, and leave for 30 minutes.
3. Cut peeled vegetables and mushrooms into small cubes. Heat oil in a frying pan, add eggplant and marrow, and fry until tender. Fry onions in a separate pan, add the mushrooms, and fry until ready. Throw in the vegetables, drain off excess liquid, add chopped garlic, salt, pepper, and basil, and mix.
4. Roll out the dough into a thin layer, cut into circles, lay out the filling on top, and mold into dumplings.
5. Boil the vareniki in salted water for about 4 minutes (the dough boils soft in no time).
1. Make the dough (see first recipe) and leave under plastic wrap for 30 minutes.
2. Boil the chicken thighs, remove the skin, separate the meat, and run through a meat grinder. Dice the onion, fry in vegetable oil, add diced mushrooms, and fry everything together. Add the fried mushrooms, onions, salt, and pepper to the minced meat, pour on the chicken stock, and mix.
3. Roll out the dough into a thin layer, cut into circles, lay out the filling on top, and mold into dumplings.
4. Boil the vareniki in slightly salted water for 4–5 minutes.
1. Dissolve cocoa powder in water. Make the dough (see first recipe), cover with plastic wrap, and leave for 30 minutes.
2. Mix the frozen cherries with sugar, vanillin, and cinnamon.
3. Roll out the dough, cut into circles, lay out the filling on top, and mold into dumplings.
4. Boil in salted water for 4–5 minutes. The vareniki can be served with “vanilla smetana” sauce: mix smetana with condensed milk in any proportion, and add a pinch of vanillin for flavor.
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