Before we jump into my obligatory ramble about the recipe, I would first of all like to wish you all an outstanding 2018. May you achieve everything you wish to achieve, finally live up to your New Year’s resolutions. May all of your dreams and intentions come true. And if they don’t? Well, any experience whether successful or unsuccessful, is worth learning from. You still have your entire life ahead of you. My 2017 was a year characterised by uncertainty and interminable ups and downs: I experienced some brilliant moments, many lows and had to make a few life-changing decisions. I learnt a lot not only about myself, but also the world around me and how I fit into it. Regardless of what it may be, I cannot wait for anything 2018 shall bring forth.
Anyway, as I am writing up this blog post I am totally dreaming of the celebratory meal we had last night. As you may or may not know, I grew up in Russia, and while Russian people do not celebrate Christmas, they have a strong New Year’s Eve tradition and much like Christmas it is a time for spending time with family, giving gifts, eating copious amounts of food (I am talking to the extent that at times, there isn’t enough room on the table for people to actually set down their plates). There is even a Russian Santa (‘Ded Moroz’), but he wears blue as opposed to red. And in general, food happens to be an enormous part of Russian culture: for example, if someone visits your home and you hadn’t prepared a three course meal for their arrival and brewed several cups worth of tea, you become the definition of impertinent.
Anyway, while my mum and I pour the bigger part of our efforts into Christmas, we still like to do something special on the 31st as homage to our ethical origins – most of the time, that is a big celebratory meal composed mostly of traditional Russian dishes. Yesterday’s feast gave me the perfect opportunity to try and veganise ‘pirozhki’, which always strike me with intense childhood nostalgia. If you’ve never heard of these before, Wikipedia describes them as ‘individual-sized baked or fried buns stuffed with a variety of fillings’ which, to me, sounds pretty accurate. They have a reputation for being quite unhealthy and often feature egg- or meat-based fillings, but just as with anything else, making this healthier, plantbased version should not be beyond anyone’s culinary competence.
Pirozhki are an ideal treat to keep in the fridge/freezer and reheat for a quick lunch, or serve alongside a big salad (a blog featuring another Russian classic is coming soon so stay tuned for that!).
If you are looking to experiment a bit more in the kitchen/go vegan/simply eat vegan meals with greater frequency in 2018, I would highly recommend trying these out. Plus, you will get a taste of a new cuisine if you have never tried Russian food before. Their versatility means that anything you have on hand can be used as filling. I have put together two potato-based ideas for you to try out, however feel free to switch them up as much as you’d like depending on your preferences (the proportion of potato to mushroom, for example – or eliminate the mushrooms completely as I understand they can be quite a controversial ingredient, lol).
Vegan Pirozhki with Two Potato Fillings
Inspired by traditional Russian cuisine, this vegan and healthy dish brings variety and a unique addition to any table. Can be stored in the fridge and reheated for a quick bite.
- For the dough:
- 3 cups flour of choice (I used 1 cup plain and 2 cups wholewheat)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup plant milk of choice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp yeast
- pinch of sea salt
- extra flour for dusting
- 2 medium white potatoes, boiled and peeled
- 200g baby button mushrooms
- 1 small white onion
- 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
- splash of soy milk
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 small sweet potatoes, boiled
- 3 bunches spring onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- salt and black pepper to taste
For the potato and mushroom filling:
For the sweet potato filling:
- Preheat a conventional oven to 200 degrees C/ 392 F.
- Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and the plant milk into a large mixing bowl. Stir together using a large spoon, incrementally adding the water but ensuring that the mixture does not get too runny. Once the ingredients begin to stick together, use your hands to form a dough, kneading for at least 5 minutes. Leave to stand aside while you make the filling.
- Add the mushrooms and the white onion to a food processor and blend. Add the resulting mix to a non-stick saucepan with some cooking spray/oil of choice and stir for 5-10 minutes, until browned.
- Add to a mixing bowl with the white potatoes, spring onions, soy milk, cumin, salt and pepper. Crush the potatoes using a fork and combine the filling thoroughly.
- In another mixing bowl, combine the sweet potato, spring onions, cumin, turmeric, nutritional yeast, soy sauce paprika, salt and pepper. Crush the potatoes using a fork and stir until combined.
- Tear off a piece of dough and form a ball around 3cm/1.2 inches in diameter. Coat in a light layer of flour and roll out into a thin sheet on a flat surface. Place around 1.5-2 tbsp of filling into the centre and bring together opposite edges to form the pirozhok shape, sealing them together using a fork. Place on a lightly greased baking tray.
- Repeat the above with the rest of the dough, alternating between fillings. Brush thoroughly with some soy milk and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Serve immediately or cool for as long as desired.
Lots of love, Maria ♡