Meatless Meat Pies

Two teenage boys meet and strike a friendship that lasts for decades. One of them, small and quick, with a sly smile and a witty word, is running around a Moscow marketplace peddling meat pies. The other one, tall and gangly, is strolling through the market followed by a small entourage of richly attired older men.

peter-the-great

“I want this, – points the tall boy at the steaming tray of pies, – pay him!”

“But Your Majesty,  – stammers a boyarin, – it’s probably rotten… You can’t eat off the street!”

“I will eat what I want and do what I want, – screams Tzar Peter, famous for his temper, and turns his attention to the dirty grinning urchin,  – What’s your name, kid? Are the pies really filled with rotten meat?”

“Aleksashka, – smiles the boy, – and yours? The pies are good and fresh, here – take a bite, and you’ll love them!”

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And the rest is history, or at least one of the versions of it. The story about humble origins of Alexandr Men’shikov, Peter the Great’s right hand and closest confidante, has found its way to a novel and several movies. His Serene Highness, Prince and Generalissimus, the one and only Russian Duke, the most powerful person in Russia after the Tzar, supposedly started his illustrious career by selling meat pies and running into the Tzar at the marketplace.

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Small pies of all kinds, with meat, fish, cabbage, mushrooms, baked or fried, have always been popular in Russia. Royalty and peasants alike craved this hot, fragrant, easily transportable and quite filling, simple delicacy. I set out to modernize it by using spelt flour instead or regular white flour and my homemade dairy free prostokvasha, or clabbered milk (for instructions how to make it, click here).  If you want to go dairy, use any kefir you like. Please note that spelt might not be suitable for people with celiac disease or those allergic to gluten. Consult your doctor before using spelt or substitute gluten free flour, to be on the safe side. This is the easiest dough in the world: dump prostokvasha into flour, add a pinch of salt and some baking powder, and kneed until you get soft dough. You might want to add some water to soften it, if needed.

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Instead of meat, I used a combination of tofu and baby portobello mushrooms, but you can use any meat substitute of your choice or just mushrooms. Traditionally, the filling is flavored with sauteed garlic and onion.  As a afterthought, I added a handful of fresh parsley.

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Dice everything as fine as you want (some like the filling on the chunky side), and start by sauteing garlic with onions. When garlic is browned and onions are translucent, add mushrooms and tofu, stir, and saute together until most of the liquid evaporates.

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I seasoned it with ground allspice, cinnamon, and cumin, and, of course, salt and pepper, but feel free to play with your own seasoning.

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Let the filling cool off while you play ball with the dough. Dust a board or working surface with flour. Form balls the size of ping-pong balls, then flatten them, keeping the round shape. Make indentations in the center of each dough circle.

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Place a tablespoon of filling into the indentation and firmly pinch the sides closed. Put it on floured surface seam down and continue.

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Now you have to make a decision: bake or fry. If you want plump, fluffy pies, bake them at 350 F for about 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown. We prefer them with a crunchy crust, so I fry them for a few minutes on a barely misted with oil shallow frying pan, until the crust is formed.

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Here they are, fit for royalty, soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and filled with savory goodness. Have a glass of full-bodied red wine (we are having Victor Cabernet Sauvignon Lazio 2012, and it is a perfect pairing), and feel great – like Tzar Peter!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups white spelt flour
  • 1 cup clabbered milk (prostokvasha)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • water per need
  • 1 package (14 oz) extra firm tofu or any meat substitute of your choice
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 – 4 large garlic cloves
  • A large handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • A pinch of ground allspice
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • A pinch of cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE

  • Combine flour with clabbered milk, add baking powder and salt, kneed to form soft dough. Add water if needed. Put aside.
  • Finely dice remaining ingredients. Saute garlic with onions until garlic is browned and onions are translucent. Add diced tofu and mushrooms. Season, stir, saute together until most liquid evaporates. Remove from heat, let it cool off.
  • Form dough balls the size of ping-ping balls, flatten into circles. Place on lightly floured surface, make indentations in the center of each circle.
  • Place tablespoon of filling in each indentation, firmly pinch sides closed, place on floured surface seam down.
  • Fry on medium hot lightly misted with oil frying pan until golden and crusty on both sides. Alternatively, bake at 350 F for 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Serve hot. May be frozen and reheated.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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59 Comments Add yours

  1. Great recipe, my son is vegetarian so he’ll be trying this. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I am glad you like it! If you saute meat instead of tofu, you get “the real ones,” if you prefer those.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you very much 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. These sound and look so good. And I love the fact that you bake them in a frying pan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Myra! I didn’t mention that they could also be deep-fried, but that’s because I dislike deep-frying – it’s a personal idiosyncrasy. But that’s how they are sold on the streets in Russia nowadays.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t like deep frying either, so this is much better for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. B says:

    These sound delicious! I find mushrooms are always great for re-creating that savory flavor without putting meat into the recipe. I’ll have to try these for myself! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I’m looking forward to reading more of yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much – I am glad you like it! I love your recipes, especially the flowered cookies.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. B says:

        Thank you! I do love flowers so what’s better than putting them in cookie format?!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Faultless logic, and they are gorgeous, and I am sure delicious as well!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. lilyandardbeg says:

    yum, pies! I live in the land of pies 🙂 mushroom and onion stuffing is good, too…(and millions of others, pies are great!) and we have a sour milk substitute-if any vegans are tempted to try this recipe 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Word of caution: if you make them with only mushrooms and onions, without tofu or any other liquid absorbing element, add a teaspoon of flour to the filling, otherwise your mushrooms will run away from you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lilyandardbeg says:

        Fat is my answer to any problem…(I’m partial to fatty foods, so my onions and mushrooms are fried in oil first). Yes, I know it’s not good for you, but I can’t help it-I like fat 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I might like it, but it doesn’t like me. Or, perhaps, it likes me too much – it tends to stick to me in all the wrong places.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. lilyandardbeg says:

        Well, I probably just store it somewhere around my internal organs or in my arteries…but it’s so hard to part with my most favourite foods…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Tell me about it! I used to live on cheese and salads (a glass of wine, too, occasionally), and then I had to give up cheese. The trick is in prepositions: once you unobtrusively change WITH for OF, it becomes a part of this, and part of that, and that’s totally bearable.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. lilyandardbeg says:

        oh, well…’in moderation’ is not my forte, unfortunately…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I gathered as much 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. lilyandardbeg says:

        I will try tofu, though – definitely better for me…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Jessica says:

    Yum!! Sounds amazing! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I copies this recipe. My daughter and her husband are vegetarians. They are coming to spend Thanksgiving with us. We can make this!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad – I hope they enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They like to try different recipes.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Of course – food is fun!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Sumith Babu says:

    Great vegetarian recipe. This sounds so delicious!! I will give this a try. Loved it. Thank you for the share Dolly

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Sumith, if you try it, it’s an honor for me! Please let me know how it comes out!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sumith Babu says:

        Will do Dolly. Thank you.

        Like

    1. Thank you – glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ree Ree says:

    Reblogged this on AYE REE and commented:
    😋 yummy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging – I am glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ree Ree says:

        you’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. lookfabkim says:

    OMG this looks so delish. I will definitely be trying out this recipe. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear, I am so glad you like it! Please let me know how it turns out. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lookfabkim says:

        You’re very welcome and I will.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on koolkosherkitchen and commented:

    Today’s word prompt is IDENTITY. Here is a story of two teenagers who found their identity as they grew into great and famous leaders. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/identity/

    Like

    1. Thank you for pingback.

      Like

  11. A_Boleyn says:

    I have a vague memory of eating something like this, that my mom had made, filled with meat (beef, I think) and onions many years ago. Are bierocks/runzas similar?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have never made bierocks/runzas, but my understanding is that both are made with yeast dough. The dough in these pies is buttermilk (prostokvasha) based, which made it much faster and cheaper to make quantities for street vendors on demand.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A_Boleyn says:

        Real buttermilk isn’t cheap locally though curdled milk (using lemon juice or vinegar) is a decent substitute.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agreed, but you can also easily make homemade clabbered milk, dairy or not, without using extra acids to curdle it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Here is my non-dairy method, but it could be made dairy the same way, which is how we did it in the old country. https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/prostokvasha-non-dairy-clabbered-milk/

        Like

      4. A_Boleyn says:

        Thank you. I’ve never had either tofutti or soy milk but I may give them a try one day. No raw milk is available in Ontario unless you have your own cows. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You might try it with pasteurized milk and sour cream, but I don’t guarantee results.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. purpleslob says:

    Meatless Meat pies?? Now my brain is stuck in an endless error loop!!
    But they do look yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can stuff them with meat if you want, girl friend! I just happened to like this stuffing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. purpleslob says:

        Meat! It’s what’s for dinner!! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If that’s what you wish, why not! Although I can’t recall seeing purple meat anywhere… Does it come from purple cows?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. purpleslob says:

        Why yes, yes it does! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Then it makes perfect sense! 😻

        Liked by 1 person

  13. notamigrant says:

    never thought of putting tofu as a filling and as my daughter is increasingly vegetarian, i will definite try this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tofu is one of the most versatile ingredients; you can cook and bake anything with it, and it is full of protein and many other nutritious elements. Good luck using it!

      Liked by 1 person

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