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Potato Vodka Tasting and Russian-Themed Dinner Party

Last night, I hosted an Idaho Potato Vodka tasting for an upcoming article in the Boise Weekly. I used the tasting as an excuse to whip up some Russian-themed snacks, including smoked steelhead trout and cream cheese on rye-caraway crackers and crispy potato latkes with sour cream and fresh cherry compote.

I based the latke recipe off this one from America's Test Kitchen. To get the latkes extra crispy, you wring out the raw shredded potato and onion mixture then wait for the potato starch to separate from the water and add it back in with the egg. It's a pretty genius method and the outcome was decidedly delicious.

I also chopped up some fresh cherries and cooked them down with a little sherry vinegar, apple cider vinegar, dry vermouth, salt and pepper. The thick compote was an awesomely tart, lightly sweet, vinegary complement to the rich sour cream and crunchy latkes. Oh, and they were epic with a chilled glass of potato vodka.

For the main course, I spent way-too-long making dozens of onion-y, pork-stuffed pelmeni. I used this super-eggy dough recipe, which is more than a bit confusing since it assumes you own the author's specific plastic measuring cup. Though the dough came out a little wet, it was plenty pliable and held up great in a pot of boiling water.

After I cooked and drained the pelmeni, I coated them in some melted butter, a little vinegar, salt and pepper. I served these adorable little dumplings with a ruby hued scoop of boiled beets that were tossed in a little salt and vinegar and topped with a dollop of sour cream. Though the two apps were a perfect pairing with the potato vodka, the pelmini was amazing with a dark, malty glass of Deschutes' Abyss.

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