An Estonian girl who has found a home in Sweden.

Tuesday, February 17

A Russian Party

February 17, 2009 Posted by Vaire

Some of my friends came over for a dinner party on Saturday. This time I chose to cook Russian food which none of them had had before. Similar, yes, but not exactly the same.

On the menu were: filled eggs with spicy sprats, pelmeni with two sauces, quark cake, and tea with baranki.

Filled eggs with spicy sprats

Take hard boiled eggs , cut them in half and carefully remove the yolks without breaking the whites. Cut a sliver off of the bottom of the egg white so that it's stable. Mix the yolks with a little mayo, sour cream, salt and pepper (add some sprat liquid if you wish) and mix into an even paste. Spoon the paste into the egg halves, arrange them on a plate and decorate with parsley or dill.

Remove the heads, innards and tails from the sprats, and de-bone them. Slice some lemon and arrange the sprat fillets with lemon slices on the egg plate.


Pelmeni are filled dumplings similar to Chinese jiaozi and Japanese gyoza. The main difference is in the filling ingredients, although the dough can vary as well.

They are something that I have not been able to find here in Sweden and have eaten every time when I've been back to Estonia. I've been talking about them a lot and I also wanted to share one of my favourite foods with my friends.

There are several different varieties of pelmeni, I made the simple "home" variety with minced beef and pork, onion, salt and pepper. Me being me, I added some garlic too.

Pelmeni are simple, if somewhat time consuming to make. I'd spotted a package of frozen dumpling skins in an Asian grocery store so I used those instead of making the dough myself. Next time I'll buy thinner ones, these looked right, but didn't cook quite through. I also used store bought mince because I don't have a meat grinder.

I grated a medium onion for half a kilo of mince (shall use half an onion next time), and chopped two cloves of garlic (shall use one in the future). Oh the tears! My tear ducts got a serious workout grating the onion. Much worse than chopping it, but I didn't want any onion bits in the filling.

Mixed everything thoroughly, put a spoonful of filling on a thawed dumpling skin and crimped the wetted edges together. Then I laid the dumplings on a freezer tray and put them in a freezer. One can cook them immediately, but I prepared them a day ahead to save time before the party.

When it was time to eat, I put the frozen pelmeni into a pot of boiling water and boiled until they rose to the top, and then some. The boiling time is usually 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the pelmeni.

When they were done, used a slotted spoon to put the pelmeni on plates and served them with sour cream sauces (dill and garlic) on the side.

Quark cake

I made my own quark following these instructions and used this recipe for the cake only omitting the cinnamon and using vanilla sugar instead of vanilla essence.

I served it with sour cream and blackcurrant jam. It was one of the most delicious cakes I've ever had. There was nothing left of the cake, we ate every last crumb. I must make it again soon. All the waiting and making my own ingredients is so worth it!

Russian tea

There is no one blend of black tea that is Russian, any black tea (ONLY black) tea will do, but not all of them will be good. Tea in Soviet Union was mostly grown in Georgia, although there were some imports from China and possibly India as well.

One can add lemon, jam, sugar, milk or vodka to one's tea, for some variation, or one can enjoy one's tea as is. None of that makes tea Russian, what makes tea Russian is the way it is brewed. First you make a tea concentrate, then dilute it to your preferred strength with hot water in your cup. Samovar would have been good for that, but we made do with a simple tea pot and a kettle.

There are a variety of baked goods one can enjoy with tea. I wanted to serve pryaniki, but the ones my Mum so kindly sent me turned out not to be good. Fortunately she also had sent me some baranki with poppy seeds and those were good.

It was lovely to have the friends over and I'm glad I got to share some of my favourite cuisine with them.