Tag Archives: Vegetarian

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

Ingredients:

Dough:

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

Filling:

  • 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

Toppings:

  • Sour cream
  • Chopped onions sautéed in butter

Preparation:

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.

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ANZAC Biscuits

In honor of the Australia v. NZ Rugby World Cup game that’s on tonight I thought it would be appropriate to write about Anzac biscuits.  Anzac biscuits are the most traditional Aussie biscuit (or cookie) that I can think of, due to their Australian origins during World War I.  Anzac stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and these biscuits were the creation of Australian women during World War I who were looking for a food that would be able to survive the 2+ month Merchant Navy ship journey to the soldiers and still have the maximum amount of nutritional value.

In order to withstand the long journey, none of the ingredients in the biscuits are perishable.  Instead of eggs these biscuits used golden syrup or treacle as a binding agent.

They were first called Soliders’ Biscuits but after the ANZAC soldiers’ landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 they were renamed ANZAC biscuits and are commonly eaten on ANZAC Day, which is celebrated on 25 April to honor all Australia and New Zealand War Veterans.

This recipe is from an Australian Day to Day Cookery for “Home Craft” Students that’s from my boyfriend’s mum’s high school home economics class.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup sugar (raw sugar is best)
  • 4 oz butter
  • 3 level tbsp. golden syrup (or corn syrup in the U.S.)
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 level tsp baking soda

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C (320F)
  2. Sift flour into a bowl.
  3. Add rolled oats, coconut and sugar.
  4. Melt butter in a saucepan, add syrup and water.
  5. Add soda, allow to foam and pour immediately into dry ingredients.
  6. Mix well the take small pieces of mixture and press out thinly on greased baking trays, allowing space between each biscuit for spreading.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

US Southern Style Biscuits

I knew that I’d miss southern biscuits when I moved to Australia because their interpretation of the word ‘biscuit’ is a cookie.  The closest thing that I can find to a true southern biscuit here is a scone, but even they aren’t the same since they are sort of a cross between a dinner roll and a biscuit and have sugar in them.

I’ve resorted to making my own here so I thought I’d share the best recipe that I’ve found from Neal’s Deli in Carrboro, North Carolina – just down the street from my alma mater the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  On a recent trip back to Chapel Hill my friends and I decided to try out the biscuit at Neal’s deli to see how it stacked up against it’s local rival, Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen – and boy it did.  The secret to their biscuits is using quality local butter and buttermilk from the Chapel Hill Creamery  down the road.

There are a couple of secrets that I have learned to making good biscuits:

  1. Use shortening and butter.  Using butter alone will not achieve the fluffy texture that you need.
  2. Freeze the dry mixture before incorporating the buttermilk – the colder the butter the fluffier the biscuit because cold butter will release more air than room temperature butter which creates pockets of air inside the biscuit.
  3. Folding the dough like a letter (as described in the recipe below) creates layers within the biscuit that are necessary to achieving the desired flakiness.

 Neal’s Deli Buttermilk Biscuits recipe adapted from Food & Wine 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (or bi-carb soda in Australia)
  • 2 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter—3 tablespoons thinly sliced, 2 tablespoons melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk (can be made by mixing 1 tbsp white vinegar with 1 cup plain milk)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 475F (250C).  Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.  In a large bowl, whisk the 2 cups of flour with the salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Using your fingers, rub in the sliced butter, leaving large flakes of coated butter.  Freeze the mixture for about 15 minutes.
Stir in the buttermilk until a raggy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and press or roll into a 9 in. by 7 in. rectangle, about ¾ inch thick.  Fold the rectangle in thirds like a letter, then fold the rectangle in half to make a little package.  Press or roll out the dough to a 9-by-7 inch rectangle again.  

Repeat the folding process once more, then roll the dough out one more time to a 9-by-7-inch rectangle.  Using a 3 ½ inch round cutter, stamp out 4 biscuits.  Pat the scraps together and stamp out 2 more biscuits.


Arrange the biscuits on a large baking sheet and brush the tops with the melted butter.  Bake for about 14 minutes, shifting the baking sheet halfway through, until the tops and bottoms are golden and the biscuits are cooked through.

Pastizzi from Malta

Pastizzi (sing: pastizz) are and insanely addicting filled pastries that hail from the country of Malta, which for those of you who don’t know, is a small group of islands located in the Mediterranean Sea just below Sicily.  There’s a reason that these pastries are the number one culinary export of Malta – because they are amazing pockets of flaky goodness!

I’d never heard of pastizzi before my trip to Sydney, but my friends there know my obsession with food that comes in pockets so they knew that I would love pastizzi!  They were dead on.

They took me to The Original Maltese Café in Darlinghurst, just off Oxford Street on Crown Street.  Luckily, we got there just as the shop was closing and each bought about 6 pastizzi.  Traditionally, pastizzi are made with a ricotta or pea filling but the café had really jazzed them up with all different flavors. I tried the tandoori (my personal favorite), chili con carne, vegetable curry, and chicken curry.  They came with this amazing tomato and garlic dipping sauce that I just couldn’t get enough of.  They also had a spicy pepper sauce that a friend of mine swears by but after having my mouth catch on fire after one dip, I opted to stick with my tomato and garlic sauce.

The pastizzi were flaky on the outside, and warm and chunky on the inside.  I’d say they are similar to pasties but smaller and better.

While I didn’t get the café’s recipe, I did some digging online and found a fairly simple recipe so you can make these at home!  I’ve also been told that some grocery store freezer sections have ricotta pastizzis, so be on the look out!  The recipe I found that is super easy to make uses puff pastry, which isn’t as authentic as making the pastry yourself, but after watching this video on how pastizzi dough is made, you’ll want to just use puff pastry too.

Pastizzi Recipe: Pastizzi ta’ l-Irkotta (Cheese cakes) adapted from maltabulb.com

Ingredients

  • 300 grams (or 10.58 oz) ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • Parsley (finely chopped)
  • 50 grams (or 1.76 oz) grated cheese
  • Egg wash
  • 750 grams (or 1 lb and 10.45 oz) puff pastry
  • Salt & pepper
  • Chopped spinach (optional)

Preparation

Mix well the ricotta, cheese, eggs, parsley and seasoning (can also add chopped, cooked spinach here).

Roll out the puff pastry thinly and cut out circles about 9 cms in diameter. Egg wash the edges. Put some of the ricotta mixture onto each of the circles on one side. Fold the pastry circle in half and seal the edges together. Egg wash and bake in a medium to hot oven for about half an hour or until the pastry is done.

BOF Frittata

We were all supposed to make a Tortilla for French Fridays with Dorie this week, which is essentially a frittata with potatoes.  My boyfriend’s mom taught me what she likes to call the BOF cooking method this week, which means Bottom Of the Fridge.

It’s perfect for the end of the week when you have little bits of this n’ that left in the fridge and need a way to bring them all together.  Frittatas and tortillas are one of the many perfect ways to bring a bunch of random BOF ingredients together cohesively into a dish because the egg bonds all of them together in one nice savory slice.

We didn’t have any potatoes in the BOF this week so what we made for FFwD is technically just a frittata.   We were also only cooking for 3 so we didn’t bring out my new frittata pan that I got for Christmas, and instead we used a quiche pan.

Since we totally deviated from Dorie’s recipe this week I’ll post how we made our BOF frittata.

Dallas’s BOF Frittata

Ingredients

  • Chopped mix of vegetables from the Bottom of the Fridge (We used pumpkin, zucchini, mushrooms and peas)
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Cheese (we used feta)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Dash of seasoning (we used lemon pepper, but Herbes de Province would be great)
  • Fresh herbs (we used Italian parsley & chives)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).

Coat the vegetables in olive oil and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until browning and tender.

Top off with peas and fresh herbs.

Beat the eggs with the cream.  Add whatever seasoning you like – we used Dallas’s favorite, lemon pepper but some French Herbes de Province would be lovely in this. Stir in the grated cheese.

Pour the egg mixture over the roasted vegetables in the greased frittata dish.

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, or until the eggs have set to the point where the frittata doesn’t jiggle when you shake the pan.

Enjoy!

Other BOF cooking method ideas:

  • Stirfry
  • Fried rice
  • Soups
  • Pasta

Spicy-and-Garlicy Brussels Sprouts

I had never seen brussels sprouts on the stalk before until Trader Joes got a huge delivery of them the other day.  In honor of my mom, who has always been a die-hard brussels sprout fan even though every time she ever served them to us we whined and moaned about how horrible they were. I decided I would give these little pests from my childhood another shot – this time a fair shot because I was going to cook them just how I wanted them, SPICY.

I looked at several recipes and even though the ones that required the sprouts to be fried in bacon fat (which I have!) looked very tempting, I decided to err on the healthy side and use the recipe from November’s Food & Wine.

Spicy-and-Garlicy Brussels Sprouts recipe adapted from Food & Wine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk of Brussels sprouts (about 30 sprouts)
  • 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2.  Cut all the Brussels sprouts in half.

3. Add the brussels sprouts to the boiling water and cook until bright green, 2 minutes. Drain well and pat dry.

4. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the garlic and half of the brussels sprouts and cook over high heat undisturbed for 1 minute. Add half of the crushed red pepper, season with salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the brussels sprouts are browned and tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl. Repeat with the remaining oil, garlic, brussels sprouts and crushed red pepper. Serve warm.

I liked these so much that I’m going to try David Chang’s Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Mint from Momofuku Ssäm Bar next time!  Making my mom proud…one sprout at a time.

FFwD: Sweet & Spicy Cocktail Nuts

I took the easy route this week with the Sweet & Spicy Cocktail Nuts since the recipes for FFwD weren’t posted in time for me to make one of the more challenging dishes over the weekend.

I struggled with how cocktail nuts could be considered French cooking but Dorie says that the reason she included these nuts in her Around My French Table cookbook (p. 18) is because cocktail nuts are always served in France when you go to a party or restaurant even though they are very expensive to buy there.  It’s something that I probably would have never noticed but the nuts remind Dorie of France and I’m sure now that I know about them I’ll take notice of them in French restaurants and bars if I ever get to go there.

I’d never thought about how yummy flavored cocktail nuts were made until I saw this recipe and was surprised how easy it is.  It’s as simple as tossing whatever nuts you want to use in egg whites and then tossing in enough sugar mixed with spices to coat the nuts in a delicious goo.  Then you bake them at 300 F for 30 minutes and they are ready to party!

The sugar & spice mixture is perfect for experimenting, but I started with her mixture of mainly sugar with chili powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper that was in the book since it looked so good!  All it needed was something sour like lime thrown in to cover all of the tastes (sweet, salty, spicy, sour) but I think that might not have been considered a bonne idée (trans: good idea) as Dorie says.  Next time I’ll try my Chinese 5 Spice mix or maybe some curry powder.

One tip that I learned from making them is to take Dorie seriously when she says to shake the excess goo off of the nuts one by one before putting them on the baking sheet.  If you don’t all of your nuts will be stuck together on the baking sheet and you’ll have to break them all apart after they come out of the oven.