Pierogi

Potato, Pierogi, Cheese

The first pierogi I ever ate were made by my mother-in-law.  I was instantly hooked. They were pasta filled pockets with creamy mashed potatoes, cheese, and onion…what’s not to like. Pierogi can be filled with many things, other than potato, such as sauerkraut, ground meat, cabbage, and cheese, to name a few. 

Mom made three different kinds of pierogi—two savory and one sweet. The savory are the potato with onion and farmer’s cheese that I mentioned, and the second one is fresh green cabbage with onion and farmer’s cheese. The sweet pierogi are filled with purple plums, a dab of butter and a sprinkle of sugar. They are light and delicately sweet.  My favorite, though, are the cabbage filled.  Mom used fresh cabbage instead of sauerkraut, which I prefer because it has a mild, sweet taste.

I learned to make the pierogi by helping my mother-in-law make them for the holidays. She did not write down the recipe for me, but while we worked, I payed close attention to the ingredients and proportions she used so that I could make them on my own. Soon it was my job to make them for the family holiday meals.

Over the years I have made some adjustments to the recipe. Today I am making my latest versions of both the potato and the cabbage filled pierogi inspired by my mother-in-law.

Potato and Farmer’s Cheese Pierogi

Ingredients:

2 – lbs. Russet Potatoes
2 – 2.5 oz. pkgs. Farmers Cheese
2 – medium-large onions
1 – stick unsalted butter
1/4 – cup whole milk
salt
ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the mean time, peel and cut in quarters 2 pounds of russet potatoes.  When the water comes to a boil; add 1 tablespoon of salt and the potatoes. Cook until fork tender.

While the potatoes are cooking; dice two medium/large onions. 

Melt 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large skillet, then add the diced onion and sauté until they are translucent.

Do not brown the onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper when they are almost done.

When the potatoes are ready, drain them thoroughly and place them in a large bowl.  Add the remainder of the stick of butter, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper and 1/4 cup milk. Using a potato masher, mash them until they are smooth. 

mashed potatoes

Add the sautéed onions and mix well.  Let cool about 15 minutes before adding the cheese.

Once the potatoes have cooled enough you can add the farmers cheese. 

Mix well until all the cheese in incorporated. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Makes 3 dozen pierogi.

Now let’s make the dough . . .

Pierogi Dough

Ingredients:

4 – cups all purpose flour
3 – eggs
1-1/4 – cups sour cream
1 – tsp – baking powder
1-1/2 – tsp salt

Directions

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center then add two whole eggs and one extra yolk only.

Mix with a fork like scrambling eggs. Then add 1-1/4 cups sour scream into the eggs and continue mixing until well incorporated.

Once it is thoroughly mixed start to incorporate the flour a little at a time until it starts to come together. It will appear dry and lumpy. Turn it out onto the board and knead until all the flour is incorporated, and the dough is soft, but not sticky.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To assemble . . .

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a floured surface.

Notice how smooth and silky the dough is. Knead the dough briefly and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Take one of the pieces and place on floured surface and roll out into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. While you are rolling out this piece, keep the rest of the dough covered so it doesn’t dry out. I usually place the dough under a bowl to keep it moist.

Next use a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to make circles in the dough, then remove the excess dough, leaving only the circles. Put the excess dough with the rest of the dough.

Fill a small bowl with a little water. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of one of the circles, then dip your finger in the water and wet the edges of the circle. You can also use a pastry brush to wet the edges if you prefer, but I work better with my hands.

Fold the dough over the filling to make a half moon. You may have to stretch the dough a little to cover the filling completely.

Fold dough into a half moon

Use your fingers to press the edges of the pierogi together. You can dip your fingers in flour to help secure the edges.

Place the finished pierogi on a floured cookie sheet. Continue making the rest of the pierogi.

If you are not going to cook the pierogi the same day that you make them, you will need to freeze them. Fill a cookie sheet with the pierogi and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes, long enough for the dough to start to freeze. This is necessary so the pierogi do not stick together. Next, place a little flour in a large zip lock bag and add the partially frozen pierogi. Freeze immediately. You can keep them in the freezer for about 6 weeks. When you are ready to cook them, do not thaw the pierogi. Add them frozen directly into the boiling water.

To cook . . .

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  In the meantime, dice two large onions and sauté them in 5 tablespoons of butter until they start to caramelize.  This process takes about 40 minutes.  Mix often not to let them burn.  

When the water is boiling, add salt and the pierogi one at a time.  Stir gently with a wooden spoon to make sure they do not stick together.  Cover and bring back to a boil.  Reduce the flame to a slow boil and stir occasionally.  Cook about 5 minutes.  The pierogi should float to the top.  Remove them with a slotted spoon into a large colander to drain.  Transfer the pierogi to a platter and pour the caramelize onions and butter over top.  Serve immediately.

Potato and Cheese Pierogi

Here is the Cabbage Recipe . . .

Cabbage filling

Ingredients:

2 – lb. green cabbage
2 – 2.5 oz. pkgs. Farmers Cheese
2 – medium-large onions
1 – stick unsalted butter
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once it is boiling add 2 teaspoons salt and one tablespoon white vinegar. In the mean time, rinse the cabbage then cut it into quarters.  Cut out the core, and  cut the cabbage into thin slices, cutting across the quartered pieces.

Add the shredded cabbage to the boiling water. Once the pot comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender about -5-7 minutes.

While the cabbage is cooking. Dice onions and sauté in 3 tablespoons butter until translucent. Do not brown.

When the cabbage is tender drain and let cool enough until you can handle it. Once it has cooled take a handful at a time and squeeze out the excess water. Then lay out the cabbage on sturdy paper towels and roll it up to absorb a little more water.

Place the cabbage in a large bowl, add the sautéed onions. Melt the rest of the stick of butter and add it to the cabbage. Add one teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and mix well. Add Farmer’s cheese and mix well. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

The filling is now ready. See instructions above to assemble the pierogi.

Makes about 3 dozen pierogi.

Cabbage and Cheese Pierogi




Tofu Scramble with Potatoes, Peppers, and Spinach

 

Tofu scramble, spinach, potatoes, peppers

Tofu scramble is one of my favorite vegan dishes.  It’s easy, delicious, and versatile.  This recipe uses spinach, potatoes, and green bell peppers, but you can use any vegetables you prefer.  Kale, zucchini, and mushrooms are just a few tasty options.

You can make this for breakfast or brunch, but I like to make it for a light, healthy dinner.  I’m not vegan, as you can see from my recipes, but I do like to eat healthy and prefer not to eat meat every day. Tofu is a good protein source for those days when I want to go meatless.  I find the tofu scramble to be a full-proof vegan dish.  It doesn’t take any special skill to make it taste delicious.

Let’s get started. . .

Ingredients:
2 – tbls. olive oil
2 – cloves garlic minced
1 – large red potato
1 – large green or red bell pepper
1 – small onion
5 – oz. baby spinach
10 – oz. extra firm tofu
1/2 – tsp. cumin
1/2 – tsp. Adobo seasoning
3/4 – tsp. turmeric
1/2 – tsp. oregano
3/4 – tsp. salt
Ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Drain the tofu and wrap it in paper towel to soak up some of the liquid. Cut the potato into thin bite sized pieces, with the skin on. Heat 2 tbls. Olive oil in a large skillet, add the potatoes, minced garlic and sprinkle with a little salt and ground black pepper.

Cook until the potatoes start to brown. Flip over to brown both sides. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

While the potatoes are cooking, dice the onion into small pieces and the green pepper into bite sided pieces. You can use any bell pepper you like.  I happened to have green peppers available, but I prefer red bell peppers.  They are sweeter and they add a nice color contrast to the dish.

Once the potatoes are browned, push them aside and add the peppers and onions.

Cook until the peppers begin to soften then mix together with the potatoes. This will take about 4 minutes.

Add the spinach and mix all together. Cover the pan with a lid until the spinach begins to reduce, which will take about 3 minutes.

Cut the tofu into cubes, then push the potato and vegetables to one side of the pan and add the tofu, leaving a space to put the spices.

Add the cumin, Adobo, turmeric, oregano and salt.

Pour about 1/2 cup water into the spices and mix until completely dissolved, then mix through the tofu, potatoes, and vegetables.

Cook about 5-6 minutes mixing occasionally.

 

Serve immediately with pita bread or any bread of your choice.

This recipe should make 4 servings, but for my family it only makes 3 servings.

Enjoy!




Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and Potatoes in Beer

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut, Potatoes, Beer

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and potatoes cooked in beer is a delicious meal. I like to add carrots and mushrooms to add another level of flavor, and to round out the all-in-one meal.

My husband is Polish and he loves Kielbasa, so I make it on a regular basis.  It is great grilled, on a sandwich, or served with our favorite pierogis.  I am always trying new ways to prepare it, but I especially like this recipe because I don’t feel as guilty eating it because of the nutritional benefits of the sauerkraut.  It is rich in vitamins and minerals and high in fiber, and the fermentation process makes it a probiotic-food.

This recipe is easy to make and works well for family dinner, barbecue with friends, or watching Sunday football.  Give it a try, I think you will like it.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. Kielbasa (use your favorite brand)
32 – oz. sauerkraut
1 – cup diced onion
2 – cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups carrots (sliced in 1/2” rounds)
2 – medium golden potatoes (cut into bite sized pieces)
8 – oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
12 – oz. beer
1/4 – cup brown sugar (use more if you want it sweeter)
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. coriander
1/4 – tsp. sage
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:
Dice the onions and potatoes; slice the carrots and mushrooms, and chop the garlic. Heat one tablespoon canola oil in a heavy pot, then add the diced vegetables and garlic. Sauté about 8 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle with the coriander, black pepper, and sage. I don’t add the salt until the meal is cooked because it depends on how much salt the sauerkraut and kielbasa have.

Cut the kielbasa into one-inch pieces. Push the vegetables to one side and add the kielbasa to the pot.

Cook about 3 minutes or so until the pieces start to brown.

In the meantime, put the brown sugar into a large bowl and add the beer. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Use any beer you like, they all work well. Then open the sauerkraut and rinse under cold water and drain. I prefer to use sauerkraut in the bag, and organic if possible.

When the kielbasa is ready, add the beer and cook about 3-4 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the sauerkraut and 1/2 cup water. Stir and bring back to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium low, cover the pot and let cook about 25 minute.

When ready, taste and add salt if necessary.

Enjoy!

Serves 4

 




Brussel Sprout Hash and Eggs

Brussel Sprout Hash, Bacon, Potato, Eggs

Brussel sprout hash and eggs is a delicious and healthy meal any time of day—breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner.  I don’t know about you, but my family and I like all-in-one meals, and this hash fits the bill perfectly. The shredded brussel sprouts are enhanced with a little bacon and diced potato to make a very tasty hash. The egg on top balances out the meal perfectly.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. brussel sprouts
1 – large red potato
2 – slices of thick-cut bacon
1/2 – cup diced red onion
1/4 – tsp. red pepper flake
1/2 – tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
4 – eggs

Directions:
Peel the potato and dice it into small pieces about the size of a blueberry. Finely dice the bacon and add about 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet. Once the oil is heated, add the bacon and cook about 2 minutes. Next add the potatoes and diced onion. Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and black pepper, red pepper flakes, and stir well. Cook about 5-6 minutes until the potatoes are about half way cooked.

While the potatoes are cooking, thinly slice the brussel sprouts. Add a little more oil to the skillet if needed, then add the brussel sprouts along with the remaining salt and black pepper. Stir well, and add 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook about 10 minutes until the spouts are tender. Stir occasionally.

When the hash is ready, turn off the heat and set aside. In a small skillet, fry one egg over easy for each serving. Add a little salt and black pepper to taste.

Place a helping of hash and top off with the fried egg.

Makes four servings.

Enjoy!

Brussel Sprout Hash, Bacon, Potato, Eggs




Chicken Stew

Chicken Stew is the perfect dish for the winter months. It’s hearty, healthy, and delicious. Stew is a great way to use up vegetables you have in the refrigerator or freezer.  This recipe includes, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes, but you can use any vegetables that you prefer.  Brussel sprouts, green beans, or any root vegetable works nicely.

Ingredients:
2 – lbs. skinless, boneless, chicken thighs
2 – stalks celery
1 – large onion
1/4 – tsp. red pepper flake
4 – large carrots
1 – tbls. tomato paste
8 – oz. crimini mushrooms
2 – large potatoes
32 – oz. chicken stock
1 – can diced tomatoes
2 – cloves garlic
1/2 – tsp. oregano
1/2 – tsp. Herbs de Provence
Salt
Ground black pepper
Adobo Seasoning

Directions:
Using a food processor, finely chop the celery and onion. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add the chopped celery and onions, and red pepper flake. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle a little salt, black pepper, and Adobo on both sides of the chicken pieces. Move the celery mixture to one side of the pot to make room for the chicken. Add the garlic and chicken pieces, and brown on both sides.

Clear a small spot and add the tomato paste and carrots.

Cook for 1 minute then add the mushrooms and potatoes. Stir and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, herbs de Provence, oregano, and salt to taste.

Stir and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn the flame down to a simmer and cook about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve with a crusty bread and enjoy!




Potato Pancakes

Potato pancakes were not something I grew up eating; needless to say, they were not something that my Italian mother made.  As a matter of fact, the first potato pancakes that I ate were made by my mother-in-law.  I liked them so much that I made sure to learn how to make them.  The pancakes are made of basic ingredients, but they are packed full of flavor.

Potato Pancakes make a great side dish.  They go well with pork chops, kielbasa, or chicken.  They also make a great appetizer or work very well as a vegetarian main dish.  I like to serve them with apple sauce and sour cream. The combination of the savory sour cream and sweetness of the apple sauce enhance the flavor of the pancakes.  You can get creative and use any condiments or sauces that you prefer.

Ingredients:
2 – large russet potatoes
1 – heaping tbls. flour
1 – egg
1 – level tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
Apple sauce
Sour cream
Canola oil for cooking

Directions:
Peel the potatoes and place in a bowl of cold water until you are ready. Peel and quarter a small onion. Attach the medium shredding disc to your food processor (you can also you a block grater). Quarter the potatoes and grate them in the food processor.

Next grate the onion directly into the grated potatoes.

Empty the potato and onion mixture into a large bowl. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and add it to the potatoes along with the rest of the ingredients: flour, salt, and black pepper.

Mix well.

Heat a little canola oil in the bottom of a large iron skillet. Add a large spoonful of the potato mixture to the skillet and spread out with the back of the spoon.

You can make them any size you like, but I generally make them about 3″ in diameter. Cook on a medium-low flame until golden brown, then flip onto the other side and do the same.

Do not be in a rush. Let them cook through slowly. Place on paper towel to absorb some of the excess oil.

Serve immediately with sour cream and apple sauce.

Makes 9-10 pancakes.
Servings 3-4




Chili Pie with Potatoes and Cheese

img_1124I created this recipe just for the Super Bowl. The combination of the Chili with the potatoes and cheese put together in a pie crust, meets the challenge of Super Bowl food criteria; it is filling, satisfying, and delicious. It is not finger food, but you will not mind taking out a plate for this.

I use the Pillsbury pie crust that you can find in the refrigerated section at the grocery store for convenience, but the Chili is homemade. It is easy to prepare, and to save time you can prepare the Chili the day before and assemble the pie on the day you want to serve it.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. ground sirloin
1 – cup diced green pepper
1 – cup diced onion
2 – cloves garlic minced
3 – tbls. tomato paste
1 – tbls. chili powder
1 – tsp. ground cumin
1/4 – tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 – cup chicken stock or water
1/4 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper
1 – 15.5 oz. can black beans
1 – large Idaho potato
1 – cup Pepper Jack Cheese
1 – cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 1/2 – tbls. butter
Sour cream for serving

Directions:
Pour about 2 tablespoons of canola oil into a large skillet. Mince the garlic and dice the onion and green pepper, then add them to the oil. Sauté until they start to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Push the onion mixture to one side of the skillet and add the ground beef. Break up the meat into crumbles and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Stir often. Once the pink color is gone, mix it together with the peppers and onion.

Clear a small space in the skillet and add the tomato paste, cumin, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Stir and cook about 1 minute, then add about 1/4 cup chicken broth (or water) to deglaze the pan. Combine the seasoning with the meat and onion mixture. Add salt and black pepper. Drain and rinse the black beans and add to the skillet. Stir to incorporate the beans into the meat and continue cooking for about 10 minutes on a medium-low flame, stirring often.

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In the meantime, place the pie shell in a deep pie plate. Peel the potato and slice it into 1/8″ thick rounds. Once the chili is ready, add it to the pie shell.  Real cheese lovers can add a little extra cheese to the meat mixture.img_1105

Top off with a layer of potato slices. Start from the middle and place the slices around in a circle, overlapping rows until you reach the edge of the pie pan. img_1106

Brush the entire surface of the potatoes and the rim of the pie crust with melted butter. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

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Put the pie into a pre-heated 425° oven. Cook for 40-45 minutes. The pie crust should be golden brown.

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Remove the pie from the oven and top with the grated cheeses. Return it to the oven and turn the oven to broil. Cook until the cheese is bubbly and starts to brown. Watch the pie carefully as it will brown very quickly under the broiler.

You can serve this with sour cream, salsa, or guacamole.

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Makes 6-8 servings.

Enjoy!