When I first came to America I had three jobs.  That was just what I needed to do.  Making money in America is not like the movies.  My language skills were very bad and I didn't know any skills.  I got a job with an agency as a home attendant in Manhattan.  I worked with some very friendly ladies but they all spoke Russian, this was not helpful for me.

I would come home from work and spend a little time with my children, but they were fast becoming American.  Sometimes they forgot Russian words, and they were often frustrated with me because I didn't know English well enough.  It was a new battle, my children didn't want to be immigrants, they wanted to be American.  I wanted them to love both countries.  It was a bad time.

I used to remember visiting my grandmother each winter, just before the New Year.  We would sit in her kitchen and together we would make Pelmeni, this is a dumpling from Russia and one that we eat for the New Year celebrations.  My grandmother would tell me about her life, not just the history, the gossip, she always knew everything about everyone, while we rolled and filled the dumplings. This was a favorite way for me to connect with my grandmother, I don't know if I appreciated it at the time.  Now I take one afternoon every two weeks, and with my children, we sit at the table and roll Pelmeni.  They tell me about their lives and I tell them of life back home.  It is a time of peace and new traditions mixed with old.  So, for me, Pelmeni transports me back to Russia, my Grandmother's table, but also connects me to my new American life.

Here is my recipe.  Pelmeni is a cheap and warming food....I make mine with beef, but other people use other fillings.


Ingredients: (dough and filling)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup warm water or milk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


  • 18 ounces ground beef
  • 1 white onion
  • icy water

How to make it!

  1. Mix the egg, vegetable oil, and salt in a measuring cup; top up with water (milk) to fill to 1 cup. Pour the whole mixture into a bowl, add the 3 cups of flour, and knead into a smooth, stretchy dough. Cover and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust a baking tray with flour.
  3. Mix the ground beef, onion, water, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mix vigorously by hand.
  4. Roll  the dough very thinly on a floured surface and cut out 2 1/2-inch rounds with a cookie cutter, if you do not have one, use a shot glass. Keep the rest of the dough covered with a towel to avoid drying out. Place 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of filling on the dough. Fold the dough over and seal the edges using fingers, forming a crescent shape Join the ends and pinch them together. Place on the baking tray. Keep repeating until you have used all the dough and then freeze pelmeni for  about 30 minutes. 
  5. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a simmer and drop a few  frozen pelmeni into simmering water. Cook and stir until the meat is cooked and pelmeni float to the top, this should take about 5 minutes. Continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. 
  6. Serve with sour cream and herbs for added flavor.