Are you ready for Defender of the Motherland Day? It’s right around the corner you know, February 23. If you’re not used to celebrating this Russian holiday, try it this year, and bring lots of dill.
Just say, “Приятного аппетита!” (Prijatnogo appetita)
It’s like the equivalent of “Bon Appetit!” Only in Russian.
Russian dishes are certainly not as prominent in the American culinary vernacular as Italian, Mexican, or Chinese food (probably because these “foreign” cuisines evolved domestically). But the cuisine of Russia is appealing in its diversity, and interesting as it reflects its agrarian and religious roots.
Vegetarianism breeds creativity
Grains and vegetables are the predominant foundation of Russian food. The heavy influence of the Russian Orthodox Church has meant that, historically, there were a number of fasts in which meat was off the menu. Think of it as a precursor to Meatless Monday, only it would also nix eggs, butter, and olive oil on the strictest days. And by the way, this is also one of the often understated elements of the Mediterranean diet.
Also, to keep things from getting boring, Russian cuisine relies heavily on herbs and spices to punch up otherwise bland grain and veggie meals. Meats as well, when the Church allows.
Fragrant dill to the rescue
A common herb in Russian dishes is dill, which fortunately is common in American supermarkets, as well. This herb packs a distinctly spicy flavor profile.
It’s frequently found spicing up pickles, salmon, and the very Russian borscht.
Today’s recipe isn’t exactly Russian, and it includes eggs and dairy, but it’s probably a bit easier on young, inexperienced palates than an authentic recipe would be. It’s a homemade bread that is relatively easy to prepare and works great in a countertop convection oven. These rolls are a good complement to a meaty fish entrèe like salmon, or even a haddock.
If you have some dill left over, don’t let it go to waste. Add it to a vegetable; try this recipe for carrots with dill butter.
Easy Dill Rolls
- ¾ cup small curd cottage cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ⅓ cup water
- ¼ cup finely minced onion
- 1 teaspoon dill seed
- 2¼ cups flour, divided
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- In a blender or food processor, process cottage cheese until smooth. Combine in a small saucepan with butter and water. Heat over low heat until butter melts, stirring frequently. Stir in onion and dill seed. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
- In large bowl, combine 1¼ cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Make sure the cottage cheese mixture is lukewarm. Add to flour mixture along with egg; beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour to form a stiff batter. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
- Spray 6 muffin cups with nonstick baking spray and dust with flour. Stir down batter by beating with spoon, about 25 strokes. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tins. Let rise, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes until batter fills cups.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake rolls for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter and remove from pan; cool on wire rack.