Russian Cuisine: New York’s Onegin Restaurant and Pelmeni at home!

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I’m always up for exploring new cuisines — I might not be able to travel to international locales in real life, but I can travel around the world in New York alone hopping from restaurant to restaurant. You’ve got Chinatown, Little Italy Indian food in Murray Hill (nicknamed Curry Hill) and Jamaican in Crown Heights!

Lately, I’ve been on an Eastern European food kick! I’m slowly working my way through cooking favorites such as stuffed cabbage and pierogi at home (you can cheek out these dishes here). And I finally have an excuse (and craving) to try such New York institutions as Veselka, which if you haven’t been to, run do not walk!

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Recently, I stumbled upon Onegin, a Russian restaurant in the West Village. The restaurant is modeled after the literary works of Alexander Pushkin, the founder of modern Russian literature. One of his most famous works is Eugene Onegin (after which, you guessed it, the restaurant is named), which tells the story of a cynical aristocrat in opulent St. Petersburg. Breakfast in Bed(stuy) / Onegin

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy when my meal comes with a little literary education! And siting in Onegin, you really do feel like you should be wearing a decadent fur while sipping vodka and discussing Anna Karenina or Crime and Punishment. My high school English teacher would be so proud!

As expected from the Russians, the vodkas here are amazing! They have infused vodkas to drink straight — I recommend the pear and ginger and the spicy horseradish. And their cocktails are fun and inventive. I couldn’t refuse a “Son of a Peach,” a cocktail with Jameson, Combier Peach, White Peach Puree, Muddled mint and lemon, topped with Russian cream soda.

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The menu is expansive and is filled with hearty Russian favorites such as smoked fish and herring, meat stews and chicken Kiev. We only sampled a small portion of it and my favorites were our two appetizers, which I highly suggest. If you’re looking to break into Russian cuisine, these are great gateways!

I sampled the Blini with salmon caviar which are classic Russian pancake, served with chopped hard boiled eggs and sour cream. These are a must have!

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We also tried Pelmeni, which are Russian dumplings, with a filling of pork and veal or veal. These are delicious!

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If you’re looking to be transported to 19th century Russia, or just sample a different cuisine, I highly recommend Onegin. It’s perfect for fall and winter with hearty, rich flavors of Eastern Europe that will warm your mind, body and soul. Embrace your inner Ruskie and head over to Onegin!

But if you can’t make it to Onegin, Russian cuisine is not too difficult to replicate at home. I even tried my hand at making pelmeni! (There is a pelmeni mold that I’ve seen but alas, shaping them by hand will have to do).

I only had whole wheat flour on hand so I made whole wheat pelmeni for a different take. I might prefer the pelmeni at Onegin, but it was a fun experience making these at home nonetheless.

Pelmeni
Adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen

Dough:
2/3 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp sour cream
2 large eggs
2 cups warm water
1½ tsp salt
7 cups plus 6 tbsp all-purpose flour

Filling:
1 lb ground ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, pressed
½ tsp ground pepper
¾ tsp salt

Mix together buttermilk, sour cream, warm water, eggs and salt until well blended.

Add 4 cups of flour and mix by hand or with a mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add 3 more cups of flour (one cup at a time and wait for the dough to become well blended with each cup). Add remaining flour, until the dough is no longer sticking to the bowl. Continue mixing for about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and sauté until golden and soft. Add garlic and sauté another minute.

Mix together pork, ground beef, onion and garlic, ¾ tsp salt, and ½ tsp ground pepper.

Shape a portion of the dough into a 1 to 2 -inch thick log. Cut off 1 piece at a time (about gum ball sized) and roll into disks to form a 1.5-inch circle with rolling pin. Sprinkle rolling pin and surface with flour if needed.

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Place 1 tsp pelmeni filling in the center, close the edges and pinch together.

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Place pelmeni onto a well-floured cutting board. Arrange pelmeni evenly on the cutting board, sprinkle with flour and either freeze them or cook them immediately.

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Bring a pot of water to boil. They should float to the top, then boil for 3 mintues longer (or until meat is fully cooked). Drain pelmeni and place them in a clean bowl. Toss pelmeni with butter and sprinkle with dill.

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Pelmeni
 
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cups buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 7 cups plus 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 lb ground ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Mix together buttermilk, sour cream, warm water, eggs and salt until well blended.
  2. Add 4 cups of flour and mix by hand or with a mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add 3 more cups of flour (one cup at a time and wait for the dough to become well blended with each cup). Add remaining flour, until the dough is no longer sticking to the bowl. Continue mixing for about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and sauté until golden and soft. Add garlic and sauté another minute.
  4. Mix together pork, ground beef, onion and garlic, ¾ tsp salt, and ½ tsp ground pepper.
  5. Shape a portion of the dough into a 1 to 2 -inch thick log. Cut off 1 piece at a time (about gum ball sized) and roll into disks to form a 1.5-inch circle with rolling pin. Sprinkle rolling pin and surface with flour if needed.
  6. Place 1 tsp pelmeni filling in the center, close the edges and pinch together.
  7. Place pelmeni onto a well-floured cutting board. Arrange pelmeni evenly on the cutting board, sprinkle with flour and either freeze them or cook them immediately.
  8. Bring a pot of water to boil. They should float to the top, then boil for 3 mintues longer (or until meat is fully cooked). Drain pelmeni and place them in a clean bowl. Toss pelmeni with butter and sprinkle with dill.
 

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