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Siberian Dumplings

(Nastoyashchie Sibirskie Pel'meni)

Smooth and rich with a slippery outer dough and a piping-hot meat filling, these dumplings are well-suited to the freezing climate in the Siberian steppes, which helped make them famous.

FOR THE FILLING:

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef

1 onion, finely chopped

Juice of 1 onion

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

FOR THE DOUGH:

1 lb. or about 4 cups flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon salt dissolved in 1/2 cup water

In a large bowl, mix ground beef, onion, onion juice (created in a blender or food processor), salt, and pepper.

Prepare a stiff dough from flour, eggs, and salted water, adjusting if needed. With a rolling pin, roll out dough until it is thin but without holes.

Form balls with about 3 teaspoons of filling. Arrange balls in rows on the dough. Enclose the filling securely by folding over the dough -- to form a long rectangle -- and pressing down firmly around each ball. Cut out shapes of half moons with a mold or pastry knife. Pinch edges to keep filling securely inside the pocket. (Should make about 40 small dumplings.)

Drop into boiling salted water and test after 10 minutes. With slotted spoon, carefully transfer cooked dumplings from water onto a platter.

Serve dumplings on a platter with vinegar, or drenched in sour cream.

You can also serve dumplings in bouillon (only half the amount of meat and dough are needed.) Boil the dumplings in bouillon in a separate saucepan. Serve them in clear strong bouillon combined with some of the bouillon in which they were boiled.

Siberians prepare dumplings for many occasions at once, serving some and freezing the rest. To freeze: After pinching dumplings, sprinkle them with flour (so they do not stick together), store in freezer, and boil as needed.

-- Adapted from ''Classic Russian Cooking: Elena Molokhovets'

A Gift to Young Housewives,'' translated and introduced in the US by Joyce Toomre (Indiana University Press)

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