Russian pies or “pirogi” are probably the most distinctive dish in Russian cuisine. The word “pirogi” itself derives from the Russian word “pir” meaning “feast”. Indeed historically, pirogi were a must during any celebration. Today we are going to review the most famous types of Russian pies and learn how to cook them.Coulibiac – a True Masterpiece Traditional Coulibiac is a fancy savoury Russian pie usually made from a brioche or puff pastry shell, and several complex fillings including white fish, salmon, or sturgeon. Modern cuisine also allows meat or vegetarian based fillings.Ideally, the crust should be very thin but strong enough to be able to hold the many layers of fillings. The ability to make a dough that can deliver these qualities defines a true master.Make a Coulibiac yourself with this recipe, or try it on one of our award-winning tours to Russia.RECIPEINGREDIENTS For dough:3 and ? cups wheat flour1 and ½ packs fresh yeast1 and ½ cups milk6 and ½ tbsp butter1-2 eggsSalt and sugar to tasteFor fish filling:1 pound white fish fillet1 tbs vegetable oil2 tbs bread crumbs1 tbs sour cream? cups milk1 medium onionSalt and pepper to tasteFor rice filling:1 and ¼ cup rice2 and ½ cups water1 tbs butter1 tsp saltAlso:Egg yolk (for coating)Salmon/ sturgeon fillet PREPARATION1. Prepare a sponge dough. In case you don’t know how, here is a brief instruction: soak yeast in warm water or milk (85-95 ?F), add ? of the flour and stir well till the mixture is smooth. Leave the dough sprinkled with flour rest in a warm place for 3-4 hours. Consider that the dough will grow 3-4 times so pick the container of a proper size. When the dough is “on the peak of its beauty” (reached its max volume), take it out and pour the remaining milk (lightly salted beforehand). Then add sugar, eggs, flour and knead the dough until it is slightly tacky and doesn’t stick to your fingers. Then add butter, and continue kneading until butter is completely merged with the dough. Leave the dough rest for 2 more hours. The whole thing will take you about 5 hours! 2. While the dough is resting, cook the rice, let it cool, spread in the generously buttered form, and bake until golden brown.3. Mince the white fish fillets together with onions, add finely chopped egg and the rest of ingredients for the fish filling. Stir well.4. When the dough is ready, roll it out to get a finger-thick pat. Put layers of the filling one by one on the top of the dough: fish mixture, rice, salmon/ sturgeon fillet, and repeat until all filling is used.5. Roll up the dough and “close” the pie on the top. Decorate the pie with various shapes made of dough (flowers, leaves, fish, anything that comes to your mind).6. Leave the Coulibiac rest for 20 minutes, coat it with the egg yolk and make holes with the fork (quite a few) so that the pie doesn’t “explode”.7. Bake at 390-428 ?F from time to time using a wooden spike to see if it is ready. Enjoy!Kurnik – a Tsar Pirog Kurnik is a savoury pie that originated in the south of Russia in Cossack communities and was traditionally for weddings. Unlike any other Russian pie, kurnik is dome-shaped and is usually filled with a chicken or turkey-based mixture, which is suggested by its name (“kuritsa” means “chicken” in Russian).During a wedding, kurnik was prepared for each of the spouses, the one for husband was decorated with human figures symbolizing strength, while for wife it was with floral designs and represented beauty.This pirog was also served at Tsar’s table on special occasions while you can taste it anytime on one of our premium tours to Russia! 3Rasstegai and Pirozhki While a traditional pirog requires a lot of time and effort to prepare, and thus is cooked only on special occasions, there are two more casual recipes developed to accommodate working man’s lifestyle.Rasstegai is an individually-sized open pie that is served with traditional Russian soups instead of bread, this way making it a full meal. Depending on the type of soup various pies are served: fish rasstegai for fish broth, meat or mushroom pirogfor meat broth, vegetarian pie filled with rice, onion, carrots, and onions is served with a thick fish or meat soup. Pirozhki, on the other hand, make an independent dish and are mostly served as an appetizer or a dessert if a sweet filling is used. They are same individually-sized pies as rasstegais, prepared with same yeast dough but unlike the latter are closed and may include variety of fillings.During Soviet times, pirozhki became a popular street food and were sold everywhere from train stations to markets. However, when you next time travel to Moscow or St. Petersburg we wouldn’t recommend you to buy pirozhki from street vendors, better stop by a nice bakery, or cook them at home using the recipe below. We’ve got two, sweet and savoury, for your choice!RECIPEINGREDIENTS For dough:2 cups warm milk1 tbsp active dry yeast½ cup sugar, devided6 cups + 2 tbsp flour3 eggs1 and ½ tbsp melted butter1 tsp salt1 egg, beaten for egg washFor savory filling (cabbage):½ medium head cabbage, finely chopped1 tbsp butter6 hard-boiled eggs, choppedSalt and pepper to tasteFor sweet filling:2 medium apples¼ cup sugar PREPARATION1. Pour 2 cups milk into a bowl, sprinkle with 1 tbsp yeast, and let it sit for 5-7 minutes. Add 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup sugar. Whisk together until blended and let it rise at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. Add the 3 eggs, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1,5 tbsp butter and 1 tsp salt. Now either using a dough kneader or your hands knead the dough adding 1 cup flour at a time. Add the last cup half by half to be sure you have the right proportions. You know you’ve added enough flour when the dough is no longer sticking to your fingers or the walls of the bowl. Keep kneading the dough for about 15 minutes more. Now cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest at a room temperature for about 2 hours. Alternatively, use an oven preheated to 100 ?F. In this case, you need just 1 hour. Be ready for the dough to triple in its volume so use a properly sized bowl.2. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.Apple filling:Saute finely chopped apples with ¼ cup sugar over medium-high heat for 10 min stirring often until most of the juice has evaporated. Set aside to cool.Cabbage filling:Heat the pan and add butter. When the butter is melted, add onions and saute for a couple of minutes until the onions are slightly caramelized. Add cabbage, salt, pepper, and cook on a medium low heat until crisp tender (about 20 minutes). Remove the cabbage from the pan and let it cool before mixing in the eggs.3. Take out the dough and cut it into 5 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time. Roll the dough into 13-14 inch circles, then cut each circle into 8 equal triangles using a pizza-cutter. Put about 2 tbsp of the filling in the middle of each triangle and fold them.4. Now place the pirozhki ½ inch apart in the baking dish (use baking paper for your convenience) and let them sit for about 30-45 minutes at room temperature or 20 minutes in the oven (preheated to 100 ?F). Once they rise, pirozhki are ready to be baked.5. Beat one egg and coat the pirozhki with it. Bake at 360?F for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Enjoy! 4Karelian pasty – Karjalanpiirakka Karelian pasty originates from Karelia – the northern region of Russia, bordering Finland, and is quite different from other Russian pies: unlike them, these pasties are usually made with purely vegetarian filling and rye crust.Today Karelian pirogi are also eaten throughout Finland and Estonia and were even granted Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) status in Europe which means that baked in any other region, the dish cannot be called Karjalanpiirakka, just like champagne!Next time you take a cruise up to Kizhi Island or travel to the north of Russia to see the Northern Lightsdon’t miss it! 5Vatrushka – a Sweet Treat The last but not least on our list today is Vatrushka – an individually-sized sweet pastry (pirog) made from sweet yeast bread dough and filled with sweet cottage cheese. Vatrushka is a typical dessert in Russia and is usually served with tea.Fun fact is that the recipe of Vatrushka stayed the same for centuries and until now it is an extremely popular pastry that can be easily found on the shelves of any grocery store as well as in fancy bakeries.Try the best vatrushkas in Russia from Moscow all the way to Vladivostok!