Russian Pelmeni Dumplings with Beef, Spinach and Thyme


Russian Pelmeni Dumplings with Beef, Spinach and Thyme | Culinary Compost RecipesI first discovered this cuisine at Paul’s Pelmeni in Madison, Wisconsin on the UWM campus, and was blown away by how decadent and satisfying these little dumplings were.

This is a dish traditionally served in Russia, originating in the Ural mountains and other areas of Siberia. It is an incredibly popular comfort food made with a wide variety of ingredients. They can even be made as a dessert, using cheese and fruit. Similar to the Polish Pierogi and Slavic Varenyky, the dumplings are either boiled or fried and then served with butter, salt, pepper and sour cream. Other garnishes include chopped scallion, dill, vinegar, soy sauce — or as featured at Paul’s — their signature hot yellow Indian curry powder.

For convenience, a large batch can be made and then frozen for future meals.

You can make these individually by hand, using a two-inch circular dough cutter or by using a traditional Pelmeni form. This is an inexpensive kitchen tool and speeds up the preparation while providing consistent results. Enjoy —

 

INGREDIENTS:

For the Dough~
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
Flour for dusting your work surface

For the Filling~
1 pound ground beef, or 1/2 pound ground pork and 1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
3 tbs. milk
2 cups loose baby spinach, finely chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from the stem


PREPARATION:

To prepare the dough, combine the dry ingredients and beaten eggs in a mixing bowl or food processor with dough blade. Turn on the unit and then slowly add the buttermilk, stopping when the dough mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Remove the dough and knead on a floured surface for two minutes. Shape into a ball and set aside covered in plastic wrap for one-half hour.

To prepare the meat filling, combine the ground beef (or mixture of beef and pork), salt, pepper, chopped spinach, minced onion, garlic and thyme in a work bowl. Add the milk and use two large forks to gently mix so the filling ingredients are uniformly distributed. DO NOT overwork the filling.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Starting with one piece, roll it out uniformly into a 15″ circle on a floured work surface. Flip it over and lightly dust the back with flour. Proceed to the next step by either cutting out circles or placing the dough on the Pelmeni form, floured side down. (This will ensure the dough and filling is pushed through the mold without sticking.)

Using a teaspoon melon ball scoop, add the beef mixture to the dough. If using the Pelmeni form, ensure that the filling is exactly over each hole in the form. Roll out the second dough ball using the same method and cover the Pelmeni form with the dough. Lightly dust your rolling pin and firmly press down on the Pelmeni form, working from the center outward. The individual dumplings should pop out the bottom. If they don’t, you can use an appropriately-sized pestle or your thumb to gently push them through.

If using cut-out dough circles, place the mixture in the center and then gently fold the dough over, forming a crescent. Gently crimp the edges to seal the dumplings.

For either method, arrange the dumplings set aside on lightly-floured parchment paper.

Heat three quarts of water until boiling with one teaspoon salt. Add the dumplings to the water in batches, ensuring you don’t overcrowd the pot.
When the dumplings float to the top, set your timer for five minutes. Then remove the dumplings with a spider strainer, drain and serve immediately with butter, sour cream and salt and pepper. Minced chives, scallion or dill may also be added as a garnish.

Yield: About 60 dumplings. Excess dough trimmings can be reformed and rolled or frozen to avoid waste.

Culinary Compost never endorses products for profit, and has received no monetary compensation for the content of this post.

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Upside-Down Meatloaf


Lodge Upside-Down Meatloaf | Culinary Compost RecipesThis recipe is from the Taste section of the Minneapolis Star newspaper, published in 1974. It is also featured in the book Lodge Cast-Iron Nation. It has always been a favorite of Eleanor Lodge Kellermann’s family, served with cornbread. Use a Lodge 9”x5” cast-iron loaf pan for best results.

People that know me know I’m a sucker for a good meatloaf recipe — and this is an excellent recipe. Enjoy—

INGREDIENTS:

Vegetable oil or Crisco shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
12 cup ketchup
1.5 pounds ground chuck
3/4 cup crushed saltine crackers (oyster or square)
1 small onion, grated
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Ground horseradish served on the side

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease a Lodge cast-iron loaf pan with Crisco or vegetable oil.

Press the brown sugar evenly in the bottom of the pan. Then add the ketchup. Ensure it is spread evenly. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and form into a loaf. Press firmly into the pan. Bake uncovered for 60-70 minutes.

When done, the internal temperature should read 160° F. Use an instant-read digital thermometer for accuracy. Remove from the oven and let stand for ten minutes. Carefully turn the pan upside down on a serving platter.

Slice and serve with horseradish.  Serves 4-6

Mike’s Notes:
I used a medium-sized onion and there was a lot of liquid rendered out after it rested for ten minutes. I’m going to back off to 1/4 – 1/2 cup milk to compensate.  Also, I don’t think there’s nearly enough ground pepper; I would double it, but that’s a matter of personal preference.

Finally, if you’re expecting a perfect presentation when turning the meatloaf out on a serving plate — don’t get your hopes up. This recipe is about down-home convenience, not aesthetics.

Savory Bean and Ham Soup, with Spinach


Not sure what to do with that wonderful leftover holiday ham? Try this recipe. It’s been a family favorite for many years. Go easy on the salt and watch the beans very carefully so they don’t turn to mush. If you’re not sure how many guests you will be serving, or are planning leftovers, *reserve the spinach and add it to each bowl as needed. This will ensure freshness and a vibrant, colorful presentation. Enjoy!


INGREDIENTS:

2 14.5 oz. cans Great Northern beans, rinsed
1 49.5 oz. can chicken broth
3 or 4 cups diced ham (cut in 1/4″ cubes)
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery with greens, diced
4 generous handfuls Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
4 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. dry thyme, crushed in a mortar
1 tbs. dry parsley flakes
1 large dry bay leaf
3 tbs. XV olive oil
2 tbs. salted butter
2 tbs. flour
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

 

PREPARATION:

Preheat a 5-quart soup pot or cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion, celery, garlic, olive oil and butter. Sauté carefully for about ten minutes until the vegetables have softened. Do not allow them to scorch. Add the flour. Stir constantly for another five minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a low simmer, stirring occasionally.

Next, add the diced ham and dry spices. Stir and simmer partially covered over low heat for about 20-30 minutes. Add the pasta and beans and cook the pasta until just al dente, about 11-12 minutes. Shut off the heat and *add the spinach before serving.

Makes about 3 quarts
Serves 4-6

Creamy Sauerkraut, Potato and Kielbasa Soup


Creamy Sauerkraut, Potato and Kielbasa Soup | Culinary Compost RecipesThis hearty Polish/Ukrainian soup is sooooo damn good. The bacon, Gouda cheese and kielbasa sausage add a wonderful, mellow depth of flavor that complements the briny bite of the kraut. The one thing I’ve found in my years of cooking is that people either love or detest sauerkraut — there is no middle ground.

And for those that hate it, I say y’all are crazy.

This recipe is perfect for game day or a cold winter afternoon. You can freeze any leftovers; it keeps wonderfully, and it’s better after a day’s rest in the fridge. Enjoy—

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 strips thick-cut bacon, diced
4 tbs. (1/2 stick) salted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
1 Hillshire Farms® Polska Kielbasa, cubed in 1/2″ chunks
3 large diced red potatoes (scrub clean and leave the skins on)
1 14.5oz. can Frank’s® sauerkraut
1 cup diced Gouda cheese (cube in 1/4″ chunks)
2 tsp. dry parsley
1 dry bay leaf
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. caraway seed, ground in a mortar
Generous amount of fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Dollop of fresh sour cream for garnish

Optional: Bread bowls for serving

Do not add salt until you taste it first.

 

PREPARATION:

Fry the bacon in a heavy skillet until most of the fat has rendered out, but do not let it get crispy. Remove and drain on paper towel.

In a 3-quart heavy soup pot, add the butter and flour and cook over medium-low heat for 12-15 minutes to form a roux. Stir constantly with a spatula so it doesn’t scorch. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes.

Next, increase the heat to medium and add the cubed kielbasa. Saute for ten minutes. Add the heavy cream and chicken stock and bring to a low simmer. Add the rendered bacon and dry spices. Stir occasionally. Add the diced potatoes and the kraut. Cook for 1 hour, partially covered, over a very low simmer until the potatoes are tender. During the last 30 minutes, add the Gouda cheese and cook until melted and creamy, stirring often.

Correct the seasoning and add salt if you need to, but keep in mind that the kraut, cheese and sausage are loaded with it.

Serve in bread bowls or heavy crockware soup bowls with a dollop of sour cream and a nice spinach salad.

Serves 4-6
Yields about 2.5 quarts

Culinary Compost Boycotts Penzeys Spices


Hello fellow foodies. After reading recent commentary from Bill Penzey, the author of Culinary Compost is officially withdrawing all references to Penzeys Spices on this food blog. While I’ve always known that Bill overtly inserts his political opinion in monthly mailings to his customer base, (which, in its own right is wrong on so many levels) I can no longer stand by and let this man spew his rhetoric of hate to conservatives, and to people who support and voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election, by labeling them “racist.”

I am not a racist. I never have been. And I resent being called one.

This is extreme-left socialism, and this kind of bigotry has no place in America.  Make no mistake — my observation is not one of Conservatives vs. Liberals. It is simply a stance of the author not supporting an individual who wants to further divide this country through hate by means of his product.

Shown below are a few articles and a link to Penzey’s official Facebook page:

http://truthfeed.com/owner-of-penzeys-spice-co-trashes-trump-supporters-calling-them-racist-and-saying-they-must-be-punished/39315/

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2016/11/21/penzeys-ceo-comments-ignite-backlash-praise-and.html

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/23/bill-penzey-ceo-trump-voters-just-committed-the-bi/

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/bill-penzey-spices-trump/

http://modernfarmer.com/2016/11/penzeys-spices-condemns-trump-attracts-rage/

https://www.facebook.com/Penzeys/?fref=ts

2/1/18 Article in The New Yorker

 

You be the judge.  Last time I checked, America was still a free country. And my readers, of course, are still allowed to shop where they want and exercise their right to free speech, which I will always respect. However, pitting people against each other in the guise of “Love” is a ruse by Bill Penzey, who’s only concern is making as much money as he can over a very contentious election.  Funny thing is, he’s pissed off a lot of his customers, and I, for one, will not be coming back.

Invariably, comments by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke say it best:
https://twitter.com/SheriffClarke/status/800088603422380033
“This typical hate-filled white elitist lefty doesn’t live around black people or have stores in black neighborhoods.”

Bill Penzey can be reached at bill@penzeys.com

#boycottpenzeys

 

In the interest of an open discussion, leave your thoughts below – none will be censured.
—Mike from Culinary Compost

Bill Penzey's Socialist Sea Salt

Penzey’s Spices announces new product.

Creamy Mushroom Risotto


Creamy Mushroom Risotto | Culinary Compost Recipes

Carefully cook the Arborio rice until al dente, so it retains a firm, creamy texture.

This is a comforting, hearty Italian recipe loosely based on several by Mario Batali and Ina Garten. You’ll note that in my version, the process and ingredients are simplified. This recipe makes a wonderful side dish. It can also be served as a main course meal with a nice, crusty Italian bread and butter or XV olive oil for dipping.

You don’t need to constantly stir the risotto in order for it to turn out correctly. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 tbs. XV olive oil
2 large cloves minced garlic
1 small white onion, diced
1 strip bacon, diced
1/2 pound sliced and stemmed Cremini mushrooms
1.5 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
48 oz. chicken stock
1/2 stick salted butter
2 tbs. minced flat-leaf Italian parsley, OR  4-6 stalks minced fresh summer chives
2 leaves fresh Italian basil, minced (optional)
Kosher salt to taste, about 1 tsp.
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh-grated hard Parmesan cheese (plus a bit extra for serving)

 

Directions:

In a heavy saucepan, heat the chicken stock until simmering. In a large, heavy, 5-qt. cast-iron Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and add the diced bacon. Saute for two minutes until the fat starts to render out. Add 2 tbs. of the butter, the onion, garlic and mushrooms and continue to saute, until the onion is translucent, about five to seven minutes. Do not carmelize the onion or scorch the garlic.

Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat. Continue to stir for two minutes until the rice is very lightly toasted. Reduce heat on the Dutch oven to medium-low. Add the white wine, salt and pepper and continue to cook until reduced. Next add six ounces of the heated chicken stock to the rice and stir occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated. Continue to add stock in six-ounce increments, stirring occasionally, and cook for at least 25 minutes. At this point the rice should be cooked al dente and appear creamy.

Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and add the remaining butter, parsley or chives, the basil and the 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well to incorporate. Serve immediately in large bowls with more grated Parmesan cheese on top, as a garnish.

Serves 6

Creamy Mushroom Risotto | Culinary Compost Recipes

Adding the Arborio rice to the mushrooms, onion, garlic and bacon.

Sauteing the mushrooms, garlic and onion and bacon.

Sauteing the mushrooms, garlic and onion and bacon.

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash


Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash | Culinary Compost Recipes

The final product, after topping with shredded hard Parmesan cheese.

This is a recipe based on one from an Italian friend who uses halved zucchini. After receiving verbal instructions on the preparation, I winged it with an acorn squash I had on hand. Precook the squash in the oven before stuffing it with the sausage and vegetables to ensure it is fork-tender and mellow.  It takes time to set up, but you’ll be impressed by the result. This is an amazing mid-summer garden recipe your whole family will enjoy.

 

Ingredients:

1 large acorn squash – about 8-9″ in length and 6″ in diameter
2 tbs. XV olive oil
2 Johnsonville mild Italian sausage links, casings removed and crumbled
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium-sized green or red bell garden pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium-hot Hungarian wax garden pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium vine-ripe garden tomatoes, diced
2 large, fresh garden basil leaves, minced
Small handful fresh garden Italian oregano leaves, minced
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded hard Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic granules
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°-F. Cut and prep all ingredients so you have them on hand and ready to go.

Wash and pat dry the squash. Using a very sharp chef’s knife and a steady hand, carefully slice the squash in half around the middle, perpendicular to the stem. Use EXTREME CAUTION so you don’t slip and cut yourself. The flesh and outer rind are very tough. Remove the seeds and membrane with a soup spoon. Cut a narrow section off of the base of each half so they sit flat. Place in a medium-sized shallow baking dish with the cupped interior facing up. Brush with 2 tbs. olive oil and season lightly with Kosher salt and black pepper. Bake uncovered in the oven for 15 minutes.

While the squash halves are baking, fry up the Italian sausage over medium heat in a heavy cast-iron skillet, breaking it apart as it browns with a spatula. Drain off the fat. Add the chopped onion. Stir until just translucent, about 7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 tsp. garlic granules. Add the cayenne pepper. Add the diced bell and Hungarian pepper. Continue stirring until slightly softened. Remove and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the diced tomatoes, basil, oregano and Mozzarella cheese. Fold in lightly to combine.

Reduce oven temperature to 375°-F.  Using thick oven mitts, carefully remove the baking tray from the oven. Spoon in the mixture, dividing between the two squash halves.

Place the baking dish back in the oven and bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes at 375°-F.

Remove again and carefully top each half with the shredded Parmesan cheese. Bake again uncovered for ten minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Remove, let stand for ten minutes and serve.

Serves 2

NOTE: When perfectly done, the texture of the squash should not be mushy or soupy. It should easily peel away from the outer rind with a spoon, but still have some firmness.

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash | Culinary Compost Recipes

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash | Culinary Compost Recipes

Pre-baking the squash at 400°-F with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash | Culinary Compost Recipes

Preparing the Italian sausage mixture in a mixing bowl.

Roasted and Stuffed Italian Acorn Squash | Culinary Compost Recipes

The sausage mixture after roasting in the squash for one-half hour at 375°-F.