Adventures in Russian Cookery

On a class trip to the Russian enclave in West Hollywood, my roommate bought a bag of frozen chicken-and-pork pelmeni (Russian dumplings that honestly look kind of like tortellini to me–hope that’s not blasphemy). We cooked the first half of the bag in chicken broth, except we didn’t have sufficient chicken broth to make up the amount of liquid the instructions said to use, so I added water. Since one way of eating pelmeni is in soup, like wontons, we tried eating them that way first, but dumplings in watered down chicken broth are really not that good, so we stopped. We read that traditional condiments for pelmeni include butter, sour cream, mustard, vinegar, and tomato sauce, but most of those things didn’t really appeal to me (and we didn’t actually have any tomato sauce). Mustard was the best of the lot, and even that… I don’t know. For the second half of the pelmeni, I wanted to make a sauce, even if it wasn’t a Russian sauce.

Inspired by a meal of homemade gnocchi a couple of my college classmates prepared sophomore year, I decided on a sage brown butter sauce. I had never made a brown butter sauce, nor did I know exactly what it was, except that it sounded vaguely classy, the sort of thing they rhapsodize over in BuzzFeed Food lists. Turns out it’s precisely what it sounds like and simple to make.

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Making the sage brown butter sauce

I sautéed some onions in butter to put on the pelmeni as well. Overall, it was a success; I liked the pelmeni better this time around.

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Pelmeni with onions and sage brown butter sauce

In other news, I spent several days tracking down a traditional French Canadian song that was stuck in my head but whose words, for the most part, I couldn’t recall. I found it in the end, but I must say, Googling is hard when you don’t know how vocables might be spelled (ridon or ris donc? laridaine or laridène?) or even the lyrics, when some texts try to be more phonetic than others (On prend une platée de crème vs. On prend un’ platée d’crèm’). Anyway, in case you’re curious, the song is variously called “Ridondon,” “Ridondon laridaine,” or “Ris donc la ridée,” and there are recordings by groups with such splendid names as La Vesse du Loup (means Puffball, as in the mushroom), Le Bal à l’huile (The Oil Ball? Like, with dancing?), and Le Diabl’ dans la Fourche (The Devil in the Pitchfork–am I missing something here?).

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