Working with a Perfect Recipe

Recently, a friend and I were tasked with preparing a traditional Russian dish for the Russian speakers club. Neither of us had any real experience in cooking from scratch, but she did have a family recipe for Вереники (sweet dumplings) that she thought shouldn’t be too difficult. 

We began the process by gathering the necessary ingredients. Luckily, Trader Joe’s had everything we needed and this process wasn’t prolonged. When the actual process began, things got messy. The most important part of the recipe was to make a very thin dough into which fruit could be placed. The dough was then folded over to make a dumpling resembling pierogi. The mixing bowl we had wasn’t large enough, so we had to use two. This required us to split the quantity of required ingredients in half (3 1/2 cups of flour total, so 1 3/4 cups per bowl). Doing this for each ingredient however became difficult, and resulted in some ingredients being unevenly distributed. For my friend and I, this wasn’t a problem. We were cooking for the fun of doing it and were certain the end result would still be delicious. 

Once the dough was formed, we rolled it into a thin sheet using a glass (another substitution–no rolling pin), and cut circles out of the dough. We decided to use cherries for the filling, and the ones we purchased required straining. There was no proper strainer, so we used a cheese grater! This substitution was sloppy and messy, but it got the job done. We placed two cherries in each circle of dough, folded them over, and boiled them. 

The end result was indeed delicious! They were completely sold out at the bake sale and we had a few for ourselves. The recipe we used was described by my friend’s family as “идеальный вареники” (perfect vareniki). We did not follow the “perfect recipe” for this dish, and ended up with an extremely satisfying product, even if it was one not considered perfect by some. I believe most people are this way when following recipes–they substitute when they have to, and adjust when something goes wrong. Finn’s article is largely irrelevant (at least in my case it was) and the practical effects it details of perfect recipes are largely nonexistent. 


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