Tag Archives: Mains

A Sunday Pierogi (or Pyrohy) Making Session

As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, I’m a big fan of any food that consists of something encased in a carbohydrate such as meat pies, samosas, empanadas, ravioli, pastizzi, etc.  So it was only a matter of time before I discovered pierogi, which are eastern European dumplings filled with cheesy mashed potato – an epic combination. I’ve wanted to learn how to make them myself but haven’t been able to get the recipe out of anyone until recently. Sure, I could have googled it, but I wanted a true family recipe.

One of my friends at work is Ukranian Canadian and said that her grandma made the best pierogi (or pyrohy/пироги as they say in Ukranian) so she invited me over for  a Sunday afternoon pyrohy making session with her roommate.  When she said that her grandma’s recipe didn’t have exact measurements for several of the ingredients since she always made it from memory I knew this was going to be the real deal.

My friend had never actually made pyrohy before so we had her grandparents on skype in the kitchen to walk us through the tricky parts (in Ukranian!), such as what consistency the dough should be, which involved my friend squeezing the ball of dough in front of the webcam for her grandma.  It was a pretty cool cooking experience and it all ended up working out perfectly, thanks to some help from her adorable grandparents!

We learned that having Frank Sinatra playing in the background makes the time go faster and that when in doubt, add more butter. So tell your gallbladder to man up!

It took us over 3 hours to make about 6 dozen pierogi but the reward was well worth it.

Pyrohy with Cheesy Mashed Potato Filling – A Stefaniw Family Recipe



  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup warm water


  • 9 small (or 6 large) russet potatoes
  • ¾ cup (about 200g) butter
  • 1-2 yellow onions (shredded with a mandolin or finely chopped)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Sour cream
  • Chopped onions sautéed in butter


To make the dough, whisk the egg and the cup of water and the oil and stir until combined.

Combine the liquid mixture with the flour.  Mix by hand to form a ball of dough.  If the dough does not come together, add 1 tbsp of water at a time until it comes together. It should not be a sticky dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 3 minutes.  The more you knead it, the softer it will be, so if it is tough then keep kneading.

Let the dough rest on the counter or in a warm spot for 20 minutes.

While the dough is resting, peel, chop and boil the potatoes.  While boiling the potatoes, sauté the onion in a frying pan with ¾ cup of butter.  There will be much more butter than onions, but it will be absorbed by the mashed potatoes.

The potatoes are ready to be mashed when you can easily insert and remove a sharp knife from the potato.

Drain the potatoes and mash them.  Add the sautéed onions and butter along with the cheese.  Stir until all the ingredients are mixed together and the cheese is melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the dough into quarters and roll out one quarter of the dough until it has the thickness of a wonton wrapper (2-3mm high).  Use a glass or a cookie cutter to cut the dough into rounds.

Place a spoonful of the potato filling into each round.

Pinch the edges of the dough together to make a half circle.

Pinch the edges of the dough together to make a half circle.

Once all of the pierogi have been assembled, bring a pot of water to boil.  Place the pierogi in the pot.  They will initially sink to the bottom.  They are ready when they rise to the top of the water. Instead of boiling, you can also pan fry them with butter.

Serve with carmelised onion in melted butter and topped with sour cream.


Moroccan Lamb Meatball Tajine

Last year I posted a few Moroccan dishes including how to make preserved lemons.  I dipped into my stash of preserved lemons (which are still going well!) to make this tajine that’s bursting with citrus flavors.

I made this in a shallow enamelled cast iron pot, similar to the Le Creuset Buffet Casserole disk that was just the perfect size and served it over a bed of couscous.

Moroccan Lamb Meatball Tajine with Herbs and Lemon adapted from Moroccan Cooking



  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 2 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 egg
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) minced or ground lamb or beef
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Herb and Lemon Sauce

  • 1 tbs butter or oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and sliced (or ¼ tsp cayenne pepper)
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbs cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbs flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • ½ preserved lemon, optional (but recommended!)


To make the meatballs, process the onion and parsley in a food processor until finely chopped.

Tear the bread into pieces, add to the food processor along with the egg and process for a few seconds.

Add the lamb or beef, cumin, paprika, pepper and 1 tsp salt and process to a thick paste, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally. (Instead of using a food processor you could grate the onion, chop the parsley, crumb the bread and add to the meat in a bowl with the egg, spices and seasoning, then knead until paste-like in consistency)

With moistened hands, shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and place them on a tray.  Cover and refrigerate until required.

To make the herb and lemon sauce, heat the butter or oil in a saucepan and add the onion.

Cook over low heat until soft and golden, then add the paprika, turmeric, cumin, and chilli or cayenne pepper and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock and coriander and bring to a boil.

Add the meatballs to the pan and shake the pan to settle them into the sauce.

Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add most of the parsley and lemon juice and season if necessary.

Return to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

If using preserved lemon, rinse well under running water, remove and discard the pulp and cut the rind into thin strips.  Add to the meatballs.

Transfer to a tagine or bowl, scatter with the remaining parsley and serve hot with couscous or crusty bread.

Ossobuco Alla Cipriani

Ossobuco is a classic Milanese dish that is made with slices of veal shanks that are braised in a tomato based broth until they are tender enough to be eaten with a fork. The name ossobuco translates to ‘bone with a hole’ because the cut of veal shows the circular cross section of the shank surrounded by meat.

This ossobucco recipe is from Harry’s Bar in Venice, which is famed for it’s invention of the Bellini and classic Italian food that have attracted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Humphrey Bogart and many others.

We tried this recipe on Sunday night and it was fantastic.


Harry’s recommends for you to ask your butcher for the hind shanks because they are meatier and more tender than the front ones and not to remove the membrane that surrounds the meat.

Ossobuco Alla Cipriani recipe adapted from The Harry’s Bar Cookbook


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 1 ½ – 2 inch slices of veal shank
  • salt
  • pepper
  • flour for dredging
  • 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ lb mushrooms, finely chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 to 4 cups hot chicken stock or beef stock

For the gremolada:

  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary


Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed casserole or Dutch oven large enough to hold the veal slices in a single layer (it’s very important to keep them in only 1 layer).

Season the veal with salt and pepper and coat the pieces with flour, shaking off any excess.  When the oil is hot, add the veal pieces and cook over medium heat, turning once, until they are browned.  Try not to let the veal curl up at the sides.  Remove veal from the pan and set aside.

Pour off the fat from the pan and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the celery, carrots, onion and mushrooms.  Cook the vegetables, stirring frequently, until they are soft – about 15 minutes.

Turn up the heat, add the white wine, and boil, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated.  Stir in the crushed tomatoes and 2 cups of the hot stock.

Carefully arrange the veal slices in the casserole dish in a single layer and spoon the vegetable mixture over them.  If the liquid does not cover the meat, add more stock.  If you need more than 4 cups of stock to cover the meat, then you should transfer everything to a smaller casserole dish.

When the liquid comes to a boil, lower the heat, cover the casserole tightly, and simmer gently for 2 to 2 ½ hours or until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork.  Uncover the casserole during the last 30 minutes of cooking to reduce the sauce a bit.  (Alternatively, you could bake in the oven at 350F for the same length of time0.

While the meat is cooking, chop the ingredients for the gremolada and combine them.

Ten minutes before serving, remove the meat to a deep serving platter and keep it warm.  Boil the sauce to reduce it a bit more if it’s very thin.  Stir in the gremolada and simmer for a minute or 2.  Then spoon the sauce over the meat.  Serve with Risotto or other accompaniment.

Lamb Tagine with Peas and Lemons (Moroccan Cooking Part 2 of 2)

In my last post I explained how to preserve lemons, which are frequently used in Moroccan cooking.  You were probably wondering why on earth you would go through all that trouble, but this recipe should answer that question – a million times over because the preserved lemons are definitely the hero of the dish and should not be left out.

I’ve adapted this recipe for cooking in a tagine, which causes the lamb to be melt-in-your-mouth tender.  But don’t worry- I’ve still included stovetop directions in case you don’t have a tagine.

This photo: wishlist.com.au

Lamb Tagine with Peas and Lemons adapted from Moroccan Cooking


  • 1kg  (2lb 4oz) diced lamb
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 235 g (1 ½ cups) peas
  • 2 tsp chopped mint
  • ½ tsp sugar


Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat and brown the lamb in batches, removing to a dish when cooked.  Add more oil if required.

Reduce the heat to low, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft.  Add the garlic, cumin ginger and turmeric and cook for a few seconds.  Add 375 ml (1 ½ cups) water and stir well to lift the browned juices off the base of the pan, then return the lamb to the pan with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.  Add the coriander, parsley and thyme.  Transfer the stew to a tagine.  Bake in a 150 degree oven for 1 ½ hours.

If you don’t have a tajine, you could also just leave the stew in the pot on the stove, cover it and simmer on low heat for 1 ½ hours.

Separate the preserved lemons into quarters and rinse well under cold running water, removing and discarding the pulp.  Cut the rind into very thin strips and add to the lamb, along with the peas, mint and sugar.  Return to the oven (or a simmer if you are cooking it on the stove top for a further 10 minutes, or until the peas are cooked.

Serve hot with cous cous.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

This recipe comes from the Skinny Food book of the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook series, which is just full of great ideas for healthy, but still interesting meals.

There’s no cooking involved and it takes less than 15 minutes to throw together so it’s great if you are in a rush to an impromptu dinner.  It’s the perfect way to jazz up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store with a Vietnamese flair.

The salad is one of the most popular salads in Vietnam, where it is known as ga xe phai.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad recipe adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly


  • 100g (3.5oz) snow peas, trimmed
  • 4 cups shredded chicken (we used a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery)
  • 4 cups finely shredded Chinese cabbage (can also use iceberg lettuce if you are in a pinch but be sure to slice it very finly)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce (or soy if you are vegetarian)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup crispy fried wontons (optional)


Place snow peas in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water.  Drain immediately.  Then cover the snow peas with cold water and let stand for 2 minutes.  Drain and then slide thinly.

Combine snow peas in a large bowl with shredded chicken, cabbage, chives, onion, and mint.

Combine sambal oelek, oil, lime juice and sugar in a bowl and mix well (it works even better if you put it in a container with a lid and shake well).  Drizzle salad with chilli lime dressing; toss gently to combine, then sprinkle coriander and crispy wontons over salad.

Serves 4

Nutrition: 8.5g fat, 222 calories per serve

Japanese Beef, Tofu and Noodle Soup

If you are looking for an interesting soup that’s healthy, but still full of flavor then you’ll love this Japanese beef, shitake mushroom, tofu and noodle soup.

The broth in this soup gives the soup such a strong meaty flavor that you don’t actually have to use much beef in the actual soup, and can fill it up with healthier ingredients like mushrooms and tofu instead, which as also much more affordable.

Japanese Beef, Tofu and Noodle Soup recipe adapted from Noodles by Murdoch Test Kitchen Staff

Serves 4 -6


  • 10g (1/4 oz) dried sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 100 g (3 ½ oz) dried rice vermicelli
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 leek, halved and sliced
  • 1 L (4 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dashi granules dissolved in 500 ml (2 cups) boiling water
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) soy sauce
  • 2 Tsp mirin
  • 1 ½ Tsp sugar
  • 90 g (2 cups) shredded chinese cabbage (wong bok)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot (optional)
  • 300 g (10 ½ oz) silken firm tofu, cut into 2 cm (3/4 in) cubes
  • 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) rump steak, thinly sliced
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), sliced on the diagonal


Soak the shiitake mushrooms in 125ml (1/2 cup) boiling water for 10 minutes.

Soak the vermicelli in boiling water for 5-7 minutes, or until soft.  Drain the noodles.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the leek and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until softened.

Add the chicken stock, dashi broth, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and mushrooms and their soaking liquid.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the cabbage and simmer for a further 5 minutes.  Next, add the peas, carrot, tofu and beef and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the beef is cooked but still tender.  Divide the noodles among the serving bowls and ladle in the soup.  Serve garnished with the spring onion slices.


We found some lovely eggplants ,or aubergines as they call them here in Australia, at the market and bought so many that we had to get rid of them before they ‘went off’ as Aussies say.  We couldn’t think of a better way than in a tasty moussaka!  This recipe was in one of my boyfriend’s mum’s old fashioned cookbooks called Day to Day Cookery for Home Craft Students.  There’s a handwritten note on the recipe for moussaka saying “Approved by Maria!!!”, who I found out was Greek, so I knew it would be tasty.

We combined this recipe with another so I’ve provided the hybrid that we concocted.  The eggplant and lamb is from the Day to Day Cookery book and the bechamel sauce is from Cooks Illustrated Editor’s Choice Cookbook Collection, which can be access through their website http://www.cooksillustrated.com for a yearly fee.


  • 2 medium eggplants (aubergines)
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1 1lb ground lamb
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 peeled sliced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine or stock
  • 1/4 lb tomato puree
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)


Slide unpeeled eggplants and fry in hot oil for 2 minutes on each side.  Arrange slices in shallow oven proof dish.

Fry lamb mince in oil in pan until the fat has rendered and the lamb is no longer pink.  Stir constantly.  Drain the lamb, reserving the drippings.

Cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the lamb drippings until softened.

Stir in the tomato paste, oregano, garlic, sugar, and cinnamon and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in the lamb, tomatoes, tomato puree, and wine (or stock) and simmer on low until the sauce has thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

When all liquid is absorbed place on top of eggplant.

For a thick bechamel sauce that will sit on top of the eggplant and meat but wont drip through, melt the butter in a  saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and stir, for about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until the sauce thickens and no longer tastes of flour, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, whisk in the parmesan and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste; cover and set aside.

Pour over top of meat, sprinkle with cheese (we used crumbled feta) and bake in a 180C degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes until sauce sets and becomes golden brown.