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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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Borsch

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Autumn is here, and that means making borsch again. As is often the case with iconic ethnic dishes, no recipe is definitive. Every Russian family believes their borsch is the only right borsch, and broaching the subject on Russian cooking message boards can lead to some spectacular showdowns. Truth is, the recipe varies — depending on the region, the season and personal preferences.

However, there are certain basics that define a true Russian borsch. To begin with, the term refers to a category, not a specific dish. Any soup made from a fresh leafy vegetable is a borsch. Without qualifiers, however, the word describes a specific kind of borsch that has three main ingredients: cabbage, tomatoes, and beets. Other ingredients, as I’ve said, vary greatly — although whatever the variation, the ingredient list is typically long.

Most Russians are Orthodox, and historically, the observance of Lent was of paramount importance. This means that, while borsch typically contains meat, vegetarian versions are not unheard of. Kidney beans and/or mushrooms are typically added to Lenten borsch to enhance its flavor.

So here is my family’s recipe. A couple of things: do not add any sour cream during the cooking. Sour cream is added to individual bowls only at the table. Also, use the palest green cabbage you can find, the kind whose color actually tends more towards white or yellowish. Truly green cabbage leaves are too bitter and have to be salted and drained before cooking. 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.

Baked Haddock In Tomato-Cream Sauce

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This recipe works with any mild-flavored, firm-fleshed fish.

1 lb haddock fillet, cut into portions
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped (see notes at the end)
2 cups fish stock
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
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Basic Tomato Salad

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4 medium tomatoes, halved vertically, stems removed
2 small cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced across
2 tbsp thinly sliced purple onion and shallot
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tbsp minced fresh herbs, such as dill, parsley, cilantro, or a combination of the three
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
⅓ cup sunflower oil
salt and pepper to taste

– Slice the tomatoes crosswise into edges with a base about ⅓ inch wide.

– Toss the vegetables together with the herbs, season with salt and pepper, and dress with lemon juice and sunflower oil.

The ingredients can be sliced up to an hour ahead of serving. Cover them and chill in the refrigerator. Once you add salt and dressing, the vegetables will begin to give off their juice, so do it just before serving.