Beyond Borscht: Old-World Recipes from Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Russia, Poland & More, written by Tatyana Nesteruk, features a delicious collection of Slavic family recipes that have been passed down over the generations and adapted with the home cook in mind. A few highlights include Draniki (Stuffed Potato Pancakes), Solyanka (Sweet and Sour Beef Soup), Vareniki s Vishney (Sweet Cherry Pierogi), Salat Shuba (Layered Holiday Salad), and Plov (Beef and Garlic Rice Pilaf). I will also be sharing her recipe for Cheboureki (Чебуреки, Beef and Garlic Meat Pies) following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Tatyana Nesteruk is a food blogger, YouTube video creator, and cookbook author. She was born in Yekaterinburg, Russia, raised in the United States, and currently lives in Sacramento, California. She created the food blog, Tatyana’s Everyday Food, as a way to share classic desserts and international recipes with others. Tatyana is also the author of The European Cake Cookbook.
Tatyana begins with a short introduction and a guide to ingredients/tools to help get you started before diving right into the recipes. I absolutely love the level of variety found across the pages with a focus on the cuisines of Ukraine, Russia, and Poland. She states, “This cookbook has a little bit of everything—dishes for every day and every occasion, from easy soups and refreshing salads to hearty braised meats and tasty hand pies. There are also plenty of pickled and stuffed veggies. And this cookbook wouldn’t be complete without some of the delicious desserts enjoyed in Slavic culture!”
The chapters are divided according to course: Unique Bites and Small Dishes; Comfort Foods and Meaty Main Entrées; Warming Soups and Easy Side Dishes; Hearty Salads and Pickled Vegetables; and Beloved Desserts, Drinks and Old-World Pastries.
Tatyana also took all the photography. Every single recipe is accompanied by a full page photo of the finished dish. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Titles are written in English with the original language underneath (I appreciate that the Cyrillic script is included as well). Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, personal stories, and helpful tips.
Cheboureki (Beef and Garlic Meat Pies)
Cheboureki (Чебуреки, Beef and Garlic Meat Pies) are a favorite of mine and I was so excited to see them included in Beyond Borscht! This Crimean Tatar classic street food is popular throughout Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. A simple flatbread-like dough is filled with a savory beef mixture, folded over to seal, then deep-fried until flaky and golden. The thin layer of beef cooks through while frying and the grated onion mixed into the filling adds the perfect amount of moisture.
This recipe makes 8 large or 16 smaller Cheboureki. I personally love the larger pies, but went with the smaller size this time to easily portion for the kids.
The dough comes together with minimal effort, though it does require about 30 minutes of rest to make it easier to handle and roll out. It can be prepared up to the day before and refrigerated until needed. Make sure to roll the dough as thinly as possible without tearing to allow the layer of meat filling to cook completely.
Have leftovers? After frying, set aside the Cheboureki until they come to room temperature, then refrigerate in an airtight container. Reheat in a 425˚F oven for 5 minutes until heated through.
I also made the Booterbrod s Morkov’yu (Creamy Carrot Tea Sandwich), Makaroni po Flotski (Navy-Style Pasta with Beef), Oladushki s Yablokami (Sour Cream Apple Pancakes), and Compot (Warm Fruit Compote).
The Booterbrod s Morkov’yu (Бутерброды с Морковью, Creamy Carrot Tea Sandwich) is the perfect addition to teatime. Grated carrots and diced onions are sautéed in butter, combined with cheese and seasonings, then spread over baguette slices. They are baked until the filling is set and the bread is toasted. I especially love that the carrot spread can be made up to three days in advance.
The Makaroni po Flotski (Макароны По Флотски, Navy-Style Pasta with Beef) was a favorite with the kids. It is a great option for weeknights too! Originally served to maritime soldiers, pasta (we used penne) is topped with a ketchup/tomato-based meat sauce.
The Oladushki s Yablokami (Оладушки с Яблоками, Sour Cream Apple Pancakes) were especially perfect for the season. These light and fluffy apple-filled pancakes can be served any time of day. They are best warm from the skillet alongside sour cream, fruit preserves, and a light dusting of powdered sugar.
The Compot (Компот, Warm Fruit Compote) is a versatile way to use up leftover fresh or frozen fruit. Tatyana states, “This sweet and flavorful fruit drink is made by boiling together various fruits and berries, along with a touch of sugar. It can be enjoyed warm in the winter months and chilled in the summer.” We made it with a variety of frozen berries. For an adult version, mix in a shot of vodka.
Beyond Borscht is a great pick for those interested in Eastern European cuisine. Recipes range from quick and easy meals and snacks perfect for weeknights to more elaborate cakes and spreads made for entertaining. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. A handful that may require further searching include buckwheat, oil-marinated herring, hazelnuts, hazelnut extract, dulce de leche, and salmon roe.
Cheboureki (Beef and Garlic Meat Pies) Recipe
Excerpt from Beyond Borscht
Cheboureki (Beef and Garlic Meat Pies)
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) canola or grapeseed oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 lb (450 grams) 85% lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic pressed
- 2 tsp (10 g) salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp (2 grams) finely chopped fresh dill
- 1 tbsp (2 grams) finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- 3 to 4 cups (720 to 960 ml) canola or grapeseed oil
To make the dough:
- Whisk together the water, oil and salt in a large bowl. Gradually stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or spatula. Mix the ingredients well after each addition.
- Once all the flour is added, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for 4 to 5 minutes, until it’s elastic and smooth. (It needs to be firm and not sticky; add more flour if necessary.) Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The dough can be prepared the day before.
To make the filling:
- Place the beef into a large bowl. Grate the onion into the bowl, then add the garlic, salt, black pepper, dill and parsley. Use a spatula to combine the ingredients, until the mixture is uniform.
- Once the dough has rested, knead it again for 1 minute, then use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 8 pieces for large meat pies or into 16 pieces for smaller pies.
- For each meat pie, roll the dough out into a circle on a lightly floured work surface until it is very thin and almost transparent: 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter for larger cheboureki and 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter for smaller cheboureki.
- Place the filling—1⁄2 cup (120 g) for large cheboureki or 1⁄4 cup (60 g) for small cheboureki—onto one half of the dough circle, flattening and spreading the filling to within 1⁄2 inch (13 mm) of the edge. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling, then use a fork to seal the dough tightly.
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until the oil reaches 300°F (148°C). Fry 2 to 3 meat pies at a time for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until they are golden brown and crispy. Transfer the meat pies to a wire rack lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
- Serve the cheboureki while they are still warm. Keep leftovers refrigerated and bake them for 5 minutes in an oven preheated to 425°F (218°C).