Recipe: Pierogi

November 27

For the past five years I have been lucky to celebrate Christmas Eve with a friend of Polish descent. I adore food traditions, and while I had heard of the Italian Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of Fishes, I was not familiar with the Polish custom of Wigilia.

Traditionally, the Polish Christmas eve meal consists of multiple courses of white, usually meatless, dishes. The feast begins when the youngest child sees the first star in the night sky.

Our Wigilia remains Polish in flavor and snowy in color, though we generally throw in a main course of schnitzel or whole salt-roasted snapper. But something that we simply cannot do without are Pierogis.

They do take some time and effort to make, but the beautiful part is that you can you make them all the way to the final step in advance and stock your freezer full so you have their pillowy potato goodness at the ready before the holiday season overtakes you.

So, here, a month before Christmas, I give you a recipe for Christmas Even Pierogi. Call over your some friends and pinch away.

Pierogi Dough:

(Click here for video: https://youtu.be/JDTGCE0eAXU )

Adapted from the Costello Family

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 cup sour cream

Mix egg and sour cream until combined. Add flour and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until dough comes together. If the dough looks dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Refrigerate for 5-8 hours, or if it is cool enough, simply rest on countertop with bowl overturned on top.

Filling

2 lbs russet potatoes

1 tbs vegetable oil, or vegetable oil spray

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, roughly grated

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash potatoes. Poke holes in potatoes. Coat lightly in oil and sprinkle skins with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes on rack in center of the oven, with a baking sheet or a piece of foil on a lower rack beneath them to catch and water or oil that might drop from them. Roast potatoes until tender in the center, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Slice each potato in quarters, and scoop flesh into a bowl. Reserve potato skins for a chef’s snack*.

Add cheddar and pinch of nutmeg to hot potatoes and stir until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Assembly

Divide pierogi dough into quarters. Cover dough with a damp towel to keep from drying out. Roll one quarter of dough at a time on a floured surface to 1/8″ thickness. Cut three inch rounds of dough. Roll scraps into a ball and allow to rest before rerolling.

Fill each dough round with 1 rounded teaspoon of potato filling. Wet the edges of the dough with water and press to seal well. Place sealed pierogi on a baking sheet lined with parchment (or cornmeal) to prevent sticking. Cover filled pierogis with a dishtowel to keep from drying out.

Cook:

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup onion

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Gently drop 4-6 pierogis at a time in the boiling water. Cook until pierogi’s float to the top of the pot, then allow to cook 1 minute more before removing with a strainer. (From this point, pierogis can be frozen and stored for 2 months).

In a large heavy skillet over medium high heat, soften 1/2 cup of onions in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add strained pierogis to the skillet an toss to coat with butter (it is ok if a little bit of the pierogi water splashes into the pan; this will only help emulsify the sauce and give it a creamy body). Lower heat and allow one side of the pierogi to reach a rich golden brown.

Repeat with the rest of the dumplings. Serve with sour cream, apple sauce, and sauerkraut on the side.

Recipe: Blueberry Black Pepper Pie

Double Pie crust

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 2/3 cups flour

1 tbs sugar

1 tsp Salt

1/2 cup ice cold water

Filling

20 ounces cultivated blueberries

10 ounces wild blue berries

1 cup Sugar

3 tbs tapioca ground fine

1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

In a large bowl add berries (frozen berries are fine, there is no need to thaw frozen berries). Add sugar, tapioca powder, lemon zest and pepper. Stir to combine. Pour into uncooked pie crust. Cover with top pie crust. Crimp edge and brush top with egg wash. Bake in 425 degree oven for 35-45 minutes, until crust is puffed and golden, and berries are bubbling.

Cool for 2 hours at room temperature before serving.

Recipe: Dutch Apple Pie

Crust:

1 stick (1/2 cup or 115g)unsalted butter

3/4 cup (115 g) flour

1.5 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp fine salt

1/4 cup ice cold water

Filling:

3 lbs apples, (2lbs granny smith or other tart, firm apple, and 1lb sweet medium firm like fuji)

1/4 cup flour

1 tbs cinnamon

1/3 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup white sugar

3 tbs cold unsalted butter cut in 1/4 dice

Pinch of salt

Topping:

1/2 cup Unsalted butter

1 cup Flour

2/3 cup Brown sugar

1 tbs granulated sugar

Egg wash:

1 beaten egg

1 tbs water or milk

Make the crust. Cube the butter into 1/4 inch cubes and chill. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Toss butter cubes to coat. Smash each butter cube between your thumb and index finger to flatten. When all butter cubes have been flattened, stir in ice cold water and mix until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. On a floured surface roll out dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Fold into thirds, then wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. (Can be made in advance and refrigerated for 1 day or frozen for 1 month)

Make filling.

Peel and core the apples, and slice into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place apple slices in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Toss the apples with the flour mixture, cover loosely with plastic or a tea towel and set aside to macerate for 20-30 minutes. (Can be made up to 1 day in advance. If making in advance, toss apple slices with 1 tbs lemon juice, and add an extra tsp of flour to the flour mixture. Keep refrigerated until ready to use).

Make topping. Cube butter. In a medium bowl combine flour and sugars. Toss butter wth flour mixture and rub together until the mixture is the texture of sand. (Can be made 1-3 days in advance and kept refrigerated)

Assemble and bake:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line glass pie plate with pie crust and crimp edge. Layer apple mixture in crust, sprinkling with finely cubed butter bits as you go. Pour in any juices that have collected at the bottom of the apple bowl. Brush a bit of egg wash on the exposed edges of the pie crust. Top the pie with the streusel topping. Bake until bubbling and apples are soft, but not dissolved, about 35-45 minutes. Cover the crust edged with a strip of foil if they begin to brown too quickly.

Cool for at least 2 hours before serving. All components can be made a day in advance. Assemble the pie just before baking.

Recipe: Pescado Los Feliciano

It is not all pies and Mac n’ cheese molded into giant mozzarella sticks around the Sidework househould. Most of the time I try to eat healthfully.

This dish evolved out of a Pescado Veracruzano that was on the menu at a restaurant I managed several years ago. The restaurant dish featured a feared fish filet atop a bed of rice surrounded by a rich broth packed with lime, onion, olives, oregano and tomatoes. It was delicious.

So I took that idea and amped up the nutritional density by switching out the rice for quinoa and adding the ubiquitous southern california hippie brassica du jour, kale. Thus the name, Pescado Los Feliciano, after the arty-crunchy LA neighborhood where I live.

The result is a forgiving dish that is sustaining yet light, comforting yet healthful. It comes together easily for a weeknight dinner but is impressive enough to serve for company. If you are overcoming a cold, dial up the lemon and garlic and let the steamy broth carry it into your bones. This truly is a go to dish for me.

For a vegetarian version, I double the quinoa and turn it into fritters. Then serve an island of fritters in a rich vegetable stock. Continue reading

Recipe: Mozzarella Stick Mac n’ cheese

Crust

2.5 cups Panko Breadcrumbs

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 tsp dried garlic powder

1/2 tsp dried basil

1 stick unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing the baking dish)

Macaroni

2 cups elbow macaroni

1 12 ounce can evaporated milk

4 tbs butter

2 eggs

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp dried mustard

Pinch of paprika

2 cups Mozzarella, shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

4-6 slices provolone (or other melty cheese)

To serve: 1-2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (homemade, or I like Bertoli’s Tomato and Basil)

Prepare the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a glass loaf pan with butter and set aside. In a large bowl combine panko, parmesan, dried garlic and basil. Gradually add melted butter and stir to combine with crumb mixture until the mixture becomes the texture of wet sand. Add more butter or olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time if the mix is too dry to hold together when squeezed. Press the crust mixture into the baking pan, taking care to pack well into the corners. Using 3/4 of the mixture, Fill shell with baking weights in a sheet of parchment and blind bake until crust is golden. Reserve 1/4 of the mixture for assembly.

Meanwhile, prepare macaroni filling–

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook macaroni noodles 7-8 minutes, until partially softened. Drain and return to pan. Over medium heat, add butter to noodles and stir until melted. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, white pepper and paprika. Add egg mixture once butter has melted and stir until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in mozzarella and parmesan.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees f. Fill the panko shell halfway with macaroni mixture. Layer in provolone slices down the center, pressing gently to pack the macaroni noodles together. Add remaining macaroni until the macaroni nearly fills the pan, about a 1/4 of an inch from the rim of the pan. Top with the remaining panko breadcrumb mixture, making sure the breadcrumbs reach the corners of the dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is golden and the center is bubbling.

Allow to cool 10 minutes. Loosen the edges of the casserole with a dull knife. Place a serving dish over the top of the pan and– using potholders– carefully invert the pan onto the dish, shaking the pan slightly until the crust releases from the pan. Top with your favorite tomato sauce, and serve!