Tuesday, November 23, 2010


A bowl of pelmeni with sour cream and dill
I love dumplings and it is one of my many goals to make dumplings of all cultures. Pelmeni seems to have sidetracked me from my lofty goal because I can't stop making them. I even have a pelmeni mold from Russia.
Pelmeni are a fair bit of work but with my professional grade mixer (with a dough hook) they have become easier to make. They take some time to master and are time consuming. Why do I love them so? First of all, they are versatile; I change the fillings based on my mood. Second, they freeze really well. Third, when I cook them, they take about 15 minutes total to cook. Fourth, they are delicious. They are a perfect dumpling. Having said that, this pelmeni recipe took me a while to develop.

The Dough
A word of warning- the dough is difficult to work with. I now have arm muscles. It is a lot of work to get the dough to roll out in a thin layer.The thinner the dough better the dumpling.

To make the dough mix together:

2 to 2 1/2 Cups (250 g to 313 g) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup (125 ml) of Water
1/2 Tsp of Salt

Start with 1 1/2 cups (188 g) of flour and add a 1/2 cup (63 g) at a time until the dough is the correct consistency. It should form a ball and be elastic.
This dough needs more flour
This dough is ready to be kneaded
At this point I switch over to a dough hook and knead for 4 minutes (you need to have a professional mixture to do this- if you don't knead the dough by hand).
This dough is ready to rest
The next step is to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

The filling
Ok so maybe I am a little obsessed with pelmenis. I grind my own meat for the filling. That way I can grind the spices into the meat and I choose the cuts of meat I use. I usually use a mixture of half pork and half beef (sometimes I throw lamb in as well). I don't measure the amount I use because I use left over meat in other recipes or I freeze it for later. So back to the meat mixture. The meat mixture is ground park and beef, one grated onion (small) and a spice mixture. I really like Penzey's Tsardust Russian spice. I also will make the following spice mixture: salt, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg (sometimes I throw in some cayenne- just because).

Making Pelmeni

Note: The dough drys out quickly so whatever dough you are not using, keep wrapped up in the plastic wrap.

Using a Pelmeni Mold
My pelmeni mold

Take a piece of dough and roll it out thin. Place the dough on top of the pelmeni mold and place a bit of the meat mixture into each hole.
Filled pelmeni mold
Next roll out another thin sheet and place on top of the mold. (it looks like a pie)

Dough layer, meat layer, and then another dough layer
Next roll a rolling pin over the mold and the pelmeni are almost done.
The pelmeni mold after a rolling a rolling pin over it
Finally take the pelmeni out of the mold and place on a cookie sheet and freeze.
These pelmenis still need to be separated
Once the pelmenis are frozen, they can be place in a plastic freezer bag until you are ready to eat them.
Holding a pelmeni
By Hand 

Roll out the dough as thin as possible- use a round cookie cutter to cut the dough into 3 inch (7.5 cm) circles.
The first step of making pelmenis by hand: cut out the dough

Place about a teaspoon of the meat mixture onto one side of the circle and fold the other side on top of the filling.
The second step: placing about a teaspoon of meat in the dough

Then crimp it shut using your fingers. You may need to lightly moisten the edges.

The third step: crimping the pelmeni closed
Make the pelmeni into a crescent shape.

The fourth step bending the pelmeni into a crescent shape

Repeat this process until all of the dough is used.

Cooking Pelmeni

A bowl of pelmeni with sour cream and dill
Pelmeni are amazingly easy to cook. Drop frozen (you should freeze them before you cook them) pelmeni into boiling water, beef broth, or chicken broth. Cook until done (5-7 minutes). You could serve in the broth like a soup, drain and serve as is, or drain and fry in butter. I usually serve pelmeni with sour cream with a bit of dill. Vinegar is a traditionally served with pelmeni. I gave up on trying to pair pelmenis with wine-- if you have any ideas I would love to hear about them. I think the best pairing for pelmenis is ice cold vodka-my current favorite is Nemiroff Honey Pepper Vodka.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and Brunswick Stew

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
On November 9th the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published final regulations (effective January 2011) implementing Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act or GINA.

Congress enacted GINA because it believed that a national and uniform basic standard is necessary to protect the public from discrimination and allay concerns about the potential for discrimination, thereby allowing individuals to take advantage of genetic testing, technologies, research, and new therapies. There are a patchwork of state laws that address the use of genetic information. The majority of states have laws that prohibit the use of genetic information in underwriting decisions in health insurance (remember state laws are preempted by ERISA so these laws would not apply to ERISA plans, generally employer sponsor health plans. (A chart of state laws concerning health insurance and genetic information is available at http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14374) State genetic nondiscrimination laws in the employment context are in place in 34 states and Washington DC. The protections afforded vary by state (A chart with state laws concerning employment and genetic information is available here: http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14280) Finally there are a few states that have passed genetic nondiscrimination laws for long-term care, life, and disability insurance. Once again these vary by state (A chart of state laws concerning life, disability, and long-term care insurance and genetic information is available here: http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14283)

GINA is divided into two titles. Title I prohibits discrimination in health coverage based on genetic information. Title I applies to group health plans sponsored by private employers, unions, state and local government employers, issuers in the group and individual health insurance markets, and issuers of Medicare supplemental insurance.

Title II prohibits discrimination in employment based on genetic information and limits the acquisition of genetic information by employers, labor unions, employment agencies, and joint labor-management committees. The individuals protected by Title II of GINA are job applicants, current and former employees, labor union members, and apprentices and trainees.

The article I am working on applies GINA and its regulations to HHT. HHT is short for Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia, a dominant hereditary disease of abnormal blood vessel formation. Some background information about HHT:

· It is nonsex-linked dominant hereditary disease (therefore, each child had a 50-50 chance of having the disease)
· It occurs in 1 in 5,000 to 8,000 people
· A person can have no symptoms and still have the disease
· The symptoms of the diseases usually worsen with age
· HHT is a multisystem disorder and can strike the skin, nose, GI tract, lungs, liver, and brain. (More information about HHT is available here: www.hht.org)

The issue with HTT and GINA is when has the disease "manifested". Once a disease has manifested it a current health condition and no longer protected by GINA (family history still is and so are the genetic test and counseling but the fact that a person has the disease is no longer protected). According to the literature, the current diagnostic criteria for determining if a patient has HHT are the Curacao Criteria (Scott E. Olitsky, MD, Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia, 82 American Family Physician, 785, 788 (October 1, 2010)) The criteria are: (1) spontaneous, recurrent nosebleeds; (2) a first-degree relative (sibling, parent, child) with HHT; (3) multiple telangiectasias at characteristic sites (lips, mouth, nose, fingers, finger nail bed); (4) visceral lesions (gastrointestinal tealngiectasia, lung AVM, liver AVM, or brain AVM). The HHT diagnosis is made if three of the criteria are present, it is suspected if two are present, and not likely if less than two.

Brunswick Stew

While I grappled with HHT and GINA, I made Brunswick Stew. There are two place that claim to be the originator of Brunswick Stew. One is Brunswick, Georgia; the other is Brunswick County, North Carolina. I have no idea which one was the first. . Brunswick stew it is a thick tomato-based stew that can have a variety of meats—pork, chicken, rabbit, and squirrel. Every Brunswick stew I have made has had corn and either lima or butter beans. Brunswick stew is like gumbo-- everyone has a different recipe and everyone thinks their recipe is the best My recipe for Brunswick Stew (like gumbo) changes based on the leftovers I have.
Here is how I made today’s version of Brunswick Stew:
Cover 4 chicken leg quarters, pulled pork (with the bone), and a couple ribs of celery with water and cook for approximately 45 minutes (until the chicken is done). *** Meanwhile- sauté 4 cloves of sliced garlic, chopped up celery, one onion diced, and chopped green peppers (I also threw in a hot pepper). Remove the celery, pork bone, and chicken. Pull the meat off of the chicken and put back in to the pot. Add the sauteed mixture, 2 large cans of small-diced tomatoes, three peeled and diced potatoes, one cup of bar-b-cue sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. Cook for about an hour. (At this point I put it in the refrigerator overnight so I can skim the grease off). When you are ready to serve, add frozen lima beans and corn and simmer for approximately an hour. My stew was not thick enough so I added some mash potatoes.