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Tefteli (Russian Meatballs)

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tefteliRussian meatballs incorporate rice and are served without a side dish.

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Cabbage Rolls (Golubtsy)

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GolubtsyA mixture of meat and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves and stewed in a savory broth, this is a perfect dish for a cold winter’s day and very popular, in one version or another, throughout Eastern Europe. Ideally, it is made with fresh cabbage leaves for the best possible flavor, but if you want to scale down the amount of preparation involved, you can find pickled cabbage leaves in some Eastern European stores. An even less labor-intensive version is “tefteli” — meatballs that are pan-fried and then stewed in the sauce for about 30 minutes. Do not use bouillon cubes for this dish. Use good-quality canned or frozen stock, or, better yet, make your own using beef and veal bones (I make mine in a slow-cooker).

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground veal
½ lb coarsely ground pork
1 large head of green cabbage (the paler the cabbage, the better it will taste)
½ cup parboiled rice
1 large onion, minced
10 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (see below for “How to peel and seed a tomato”)
1 quart strong beef or veal stock
1+ tbsp minced Italian parsley
2+ tbsp minced dill
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 dry cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream for garnish

You will need a large-diameter pot with a heavy lid, possibly two. Also, if using fresh cabbage, you will need a large stock pot and a barbecue or roast fork. More

Lamb Meatballs With Lemon-Dill Rice And Roast Tomato Salad

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Lamb Meatballs

2 lb lamb (do not trim the fat), coarsely ground or minced by hand

1 large Spanish onion, minced

salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil

– Combine the meat with onions and mix well.

– Season with salt and generously with freshly ground black pepper. You can check the seasonings by cooking a teaspoonful of meat in the microwave.

– Separate the meat into baseball-sized portions and shape them into thick, slightly oblong patties (they will take on a more spherical shape as they cook).

– Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush the meatballs with oil and roast on a rack set over a pan of water for 1 hour 15 minutes, flipping them over after the first 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can grill the meatballs until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees.

Lemon-Dill Rice

2 cups medium or long-grain rice, cooked according to package directions (but still better if just slightly undercooked)

freshly squeezed juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup melted butter
3 tbsps minced fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

– Stir the lemon juice, butter and dill into the rice. Adjust the seasonings.

– Sprinkle with additional dill before serving.

Roast tomato salad

1 beefsteak tomato, stem removed, sliced into thin wedges
1 small onion, halved and sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsps sunflower oil

– Place the sliced onions into a non-reactive bowl and pour vinegar over them. Cover and let marinade, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

– Lightly oil a cookie sheet, and arrange the tomato slices on it in a single layer. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and broil until the surface just begins to caramelize. Remove from the oven and let cool somewhat.

– Drain the onions. Transfer the still-warm tomatoes to a shallow serving dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the onions over them, sprinkle with garlic slices and drizzle with sunflower oil.

– Sprinkle with dill before serving, if desired.