Borscht

This brightly colored vegetable-based soup is most commonly made with beets, although it can also be made with tomatoes. Borscht is served hot or cold; the hot version will often include beans, additional vegetables (mushrooms, red peppers), or meat (chicken, pork or beef).

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Ingredients:

2 cups beets, peeled and shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
2 cups water
¼ tsp sea salt
2 cans chicken broth (14.5 ounces each)
1 cup cabbage, shredded thin
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

1. In a saucepan bring the beets, carrots, onion, water, and salt to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20–30 minutes.
2. Add in the chicken broth, cabbage, and olive oil and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice before serving.

Serves: 6

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Russian Pelmeni

These dough dumplings are traditionally filled with minced turkey, pork or lamb. The singular version of the word is a pelmen. In some parts of Russia (west of the Udal Mountains) the dumplings are filled with a vegetable mixture that includes mushrooms, onions or sauerkraut—these are called vareniki. Frozen versions of pelmeni can be found in most grocery stores throughout Russia.

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tbsp light sour cream
1 egg
3/4 cup warm water
½ tsp salt
3 cups of all-purpose flour (can mix up to ½ the flour 100% whole)

Filling:

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 pound ground turkey

Topping options: light sour cream, vinegar, butter

Directions:

1. Make the Dough: In a mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, egg, warm water, and salt. Using a mixer with a dough hook* add 2 cups of the flour to the mix. Slowly add the remaining cup of flour until the dough begins to form a ball.
2. Make the Filling: In a sauté pan, add the olive oil and onion and sauté for 7–10 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the ground turkey and cook for 5–7 minutes.
2. Make the Pelmeni: Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 1-inch thick slab. Cut off 1-inch pieces at a time and roll or pat into small rounds. Fill each round with 1 teaspoon of filling, then pinch the edges of the dough together into a half-moon shape. Prepare 8–12 at a time.
3. Cook the Pelmeni: Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add 8–12 pelmeni at a time. Boil for about 5 minutes, until they float to the top of the pot. Remove from the boiling water using a slotted spoon.

*If you do not have a mixer with a dough hook, stir by hand.

Makes: approximately 60 pelmeni

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Sbiten

A traditional hot honey drink, sbiten got its name from the sbitenschik (sbiten vendors) who sold the warm beverage on street corners in heavy metal pots during the frigid winters.

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup blackberry jam
2 cinnamon sticks, cracked into pieces
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp whole cloves
6 cups water

Directions:

1. In a sauce pan, combine the honey, jam, cinnamon sticks, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and water. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently until the jam is completely dissolved.
2. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Strain the mixture through a fine metal sieve. Serve or store in an air-tight container. Then refrigerate and serve warmed.

Serves: 6

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Syrniki

These cheese pancakes are served as a dessert or for breakfast in Russia. The cheese that's typically used is called tvorog, although cottage cheese or ricotta can be substituted. The tasty pancakes are often topped with jam, honey, or sour cream when served.

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Ingredients:

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2 eggs or 4 egg whites
3 tbsp sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour, divided
Nonstick cooking spray

Optional toppings: light sour cream, honey or jam

Directions:

1. Combine the cottage cheese, eggs, and sugar and add in 2 tbsp of the flour to form a soft dough. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. Form the dough into six small round patties. Lightly dredge in remaining flour.
3. Prepare a skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Over medium heat cook the patties until lightly crispy on each side, about 3–5 minutes per side. Serve immediately with light sour cream, honey, or jam.

Serves: 6

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Blini

These Russian crepes are thin pancakes that are often served with savory toppings, like caviar, minced onion, chopped eggs, or smoked salmon.

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup buckwheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup warm, low-fat milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 egg
Nonstick cooking spray
Optional toppings: chopped eggs, smoked salmon, minced onion

Directions:

1. In a mixing bowl, combine buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the warm milk. Gently mix until smooth.
2. Stir in the melted butter and egg.
3. Prepare a sauté pan with nonstick cooking spray and add batter 1 tablespoon at a time. Cook over medium heat until bubbles begin to form on the blini. Flip and cook for about 1 minute more, until lightly browned. Repeat until all of the batter is used.
4. Serve topped with your toppings of choice.

Makes: 18 blini

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Shashlik

A popular skewered dish, shashlik is typically made with marinated lamb or beef, which is then grilled and served on bread or with similarly cooked grilled vegetables.

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Ingredients:

2 sweet onions
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground red or black pepper
1 pound lamb (leg or shoulder of lamb), fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch cubes

Directions:

1. In a food processor blend onions, garlic, and vinegar until smooth.
2. In a bowl combine the onion mixture, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.
3. Add in the cubed lamb. Cover and marinate for at least 3 hours.
4. Skewer the lamb (if using wooden skewers, soak them first). Over medium heat, grill for 10–12 minutes, or until desired doneness.

Serves: 4