All I need, is a samovar

In Recipies on November 10, 2010 at 1:51 pm

The Russians are a people of large appetites.  Meals of potatoes, barley, sausages, and dumplings cooked in mixtures of butter and sour cream comprise a typical Russian menu.


Next to the English, the Russians have perfected interludes to the day where tea is featured.  The poorest Russian household has a charcoal-fired samovar smoking merrily in a place of honor.


A samovar is a combination water heater and tea-brewer.  At the top of its chimney resides a small metal pitcher or flask where the tea is brewed into a concentrated essence and around the chimney’s base, a water jacket keeps water just below boiling.  A bit of tea essence is placed in a glass and hot water is added to give just the right dilution.  Sugar, enough to induce a diabetic coma, is added before serving.


The Phyne Dyner has coveted having a samovar for many years, along with a hookah.  I have since acquired a decent hookah, but a modest samovar runs to a month’s wages.


Clearly, the Russians place a value on tea.


It only stands to reason that Russian tea is served with something a bit more substantial than a delicate puff pastry.


Enter, the lepeshki.


These almond-flavored biscuit-cookie-dinner rolls are dipped in thick gobbets of extremely sweet whipped cream.  The lepeshki itself has a firm, not doughy-not crisp, consistency that makes dipping in “something” an almost necessity.


I have tried these with coffee, with a “meh?” result.  A tea, flowery or stout, is the best accompaniment for lepeshki.


2 C self-rising flour


1 egg

½ C confectioner’s sugar

½ C sour cream, best (OR buttermilk)

½ tsp almond extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tbs milk (omit if using buttermilk)

½ sliced almonds


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Sift the flour, a pinch of salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.  Separate the egg.  Reserve a tablespoon of the white and mix the remainder with the sour cream (or buttermilk), almond extract, vanilla extract, and milk (if using).  Add this mixture to the flour-sugar mixture and kneed to a soft dough.  Roll the dough, in batches, into a sheet about ¼-inch thick.  Cut into 3-inch circles with a cookie cutter or drinking glass.  Place on a well-greased cookie sheet.  Add about 1 tsp water to the reserved egg white and mix thoroughly.  Paint the egg white mixture on each cookie with a pastry brush and sprinkle with sliced almonds.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden.  Cool on a wire rack.  Serve with a bowl of whipped cream and steaming glasses of tea.


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