Last year I asked Chef Andrei Litivinenko to write about Blinis and Butter Week. This year I asked him write about the food that he most associates with Orthodox Easter. -Justin
Orthodox Easter was this past Sunday, April 15th, the most important church holiday for the Russian Orthodox community. Our family gathered at Mama’s house following midnight mass (around 2:00 AM Sunday morning) and started to celebrate this grand holiday with a “Feast of Feasts.”
The table was set with dozens of holiday dishes that my mother and father had been working on for the past couple of weeks. After giving up meats, eggs and dairy for lent, everything was especially delicious.
One of my favorite cookies that my mother and grandmother made for the feast was Jam Prianiki. They are usually served during lent because they are made without dairy products, but I love them anytime of the year. My mother usually fills them with homemade blackberry jam that we make at the end of summer.
In July and August, the blackberries in the Russian River area are sweet and juicy. Every year, we pick about 5 gallons of berries and make a simple jam that my mother uses in these cookies. Below is the recipe for Jam Prianiki – this year Mama tried them with peach jam and they turned out just as delicious. They were wonderful paired with our Late Harvest Chardonnay.
Mama’s Jam Prianiki
Yield: Approximately 50 cookies
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup room temperature water
- 1 packet of instant yeast
- 1 (16 ounce) can Crisco vegetable shortening
- 1 cup of your favorite jam
- 1 cup granulated vanilla sugar
- Preheat the oven to 300˚F.
- In a stainless-steel bowl, combine the flour, water, yeast and shortening. Mix by hand, or in a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, for 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Repeat 3 times or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Roll out dough to approximately ¼-inch thick and cut out circles approximately 2½ inches in diameter. Arrange the circles of dough on a baking pan and place ½ teaspoon of jam in the center of each. Fold the circles over to form a half moon and bake for 45 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
- The cookie should be very light and flaky. While still hot, toss the cookies in vanilla sugar and let cool. These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.