Russian Cuisine Master-Class in Geneva

Jan 12, 2018 | Homemade | 0 comments

SUISSEPIC, inspired by Russian food specialties which were once discovered at La Berezka, epicerie russe in Eaux-Vives, decided to visit Lidiya, a unique supplier of the store, to discover the secrets of the baking process and get to know all about her occupation.

Pirozhki

“Pirozhki” (singular: a pirozhok) could definitely be named the favorites among Russian cuisine specialties. They are individual-sized baked or fried buns stuffed with a variety of fillings. The most popular fillings are fried mincemeat with onion, eggs & onion, cabbage, and apple or potato with mushrooms. Now their fame has spread all over the world, from Japan to the United States.

Photo: Maria Talanova / suissepic

We set up the date for a master-class a couple of days before Christmas at Lidiya’s kitchen. It was a very cosy place, connected to the living room with a wonderfully-decorated Christmas tree and a huge table, where the whole family likes to talk and enjoy their tea with chocolate, candies or “pirozhki”. The kettle was already hot and a warm herbal tea (the best for cold winter days) was prepared just at the moment of our arrival.

A mathematician in the past, Lidiya precisely prepared all the ingredients in advance, to perform the cooking and illustrate each stage.

The process starts with preparing “opara”. It is the dough base – the preliminary stage.

Take yeast, one cup of warm milk, 1 egg and 1 spoon of sugar and a glass of flour. Mix together.

An important detail: use a sieve for the flour to avoid lumps.

Leave the opara for 30-40 minutes, so the yeast can start working. After this time has passed, add 2 more eggs, a pinch of salt, 100 grams of melted butter and 500 grams of flour. Mix until you have a smooth consistency. One more secret here: add a tea-spoon of vodka to make the dough more delicate. Cover the dough in a bowl with a towel, and leave in a warm place for 2 hours.

Photo: Maria Talanova / suissepic

After the dough rises, knead it one more time and make some holes to allow it to breathe. Put in the bowl, cover with a towel and leave for 1 more hour.

While the dough rises, prepare the fillings. I like cabbage, meat + onion and apples.
Chop 300 grams of cabbage and some onion, and fry in a hot pan for 20 minutes. Put in the bowl. Take the mincemeat, chop the onion, and fry both for 10 minutes until the mince changes color from red to brown and the onion becomes golden. Put in the bowl.

Cut the apples into small cubes. Put in the bowl. Mix with sugar.

Photo: Maria Talanova / suissepic

The most interesting stage is making the final products. Grease your working surface with butter. Take small balls of the dough (2 inches diameter), put them on the table and make small crepes with a rolling pin. To prevent these crepes from sticking to the surface of the table, use some flour.

Put fillings inside and carefully pinch the edges of the pirozhki. Put the ready-to-bake products onto a baking sheet. A secret here: use a fork to make some holes in the dough where the fillings were too runny (like the apple one). This will help to prevent the pirozhki from bursting.

Bake the pirozhki in the oven, preheated to 200C, for 15 minutes.

Photo: Maria Talanova / suissepic

The popularity of Genevan pirozhki is growing. They are often requested at La Berezka.

While we were watching how our pirozhki were baked, Lidiya proudly stated that sometimes she received huge orders – at the end of January, for example, one of the employees of a big organization decided to arrange a party and ordered 250 pieces.

Fresh and soft pirozhki are available every day in Geneva

La Berezka (Rue de la Terrassiere, 48), CHF 3 per piece