BELIASHI (FRIED YEAST PASTRIES WITH MEAT)
- 1 pkg. active dry yeast
- 1/4 tsp. sugar
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2c. lukewarm milk (110 to115º F.)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
- 3/4 c. finely chopped onions
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 3 to 4 Tbsp. butter
- 2 to 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Sprinkle yeast and sugar over 1/4 cup of lukewarm milk in a small bowl. Let the mixture stand for 2 to 3 min., then stir to dissolve the yeast completely. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place for 5 to 8 min., or until mixture doubles in volume.
Pour the flour into a deep mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture and the remaining milk and gradually stir the flour into the liquid. Then beat vigorously until firm dough is formed.
Gather the dough into a ball and place it on a lightly floured surface. Knead it by pressing down and pushing it forward several times with the heel of your hand, then fold it back onto itself. Repeat for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a large lightly buttered bowl. Dust top with flour, cover loosely with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place for about 45 min., or until the dough doubles in bulk. (Using an electric mixer with dough hooks eases this part of the process).
Combine the meat, onions, salt and pepper in a large bowl and knead with your hands or beat with a large spoon until smooth.
On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a circle about 1/8- inch thick, then cut out 16 circles with a 4-1/2 inch cookie cutter. Place 5 teaspoons of filling on each circle and moisten the edges of dough with cold water. Fold up all the edges of the dough, enclosing the filling and making a flat, round cake, leaving a quarter-size circle opening in the top.
Preheat the oven to 250º F. In a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet set over high heat, melt 3 Tbsp. of butter and 2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil. When the fat begins to turn light brown, add half of the flat cakes with open side down first, and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook for 10 minutes on each side, or until the cakes are crisp and brown. Then transfer them to an ovenproof platter and keep warm in the low oven while you cook the rest of the cakes. Add additional butter and oil to the pan if necessary.
Serve at once.