Homemade Pittsburgh Pierogies with Sour Cream

My dad grew up in working class neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Last month, he was talking about how much he missed having chipped ham sandwiches. I went home and discovered that you can order chipped ham and Pierogies – Pittsburgh’s Halftime Gift Box from the from the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. I decided that this would be his Christmas gift. It arrived the week before Christmas. We went over and I made them and they were delicious! I decided to make them myself the next time.

Pierogies are Polish dumplings of unleavened dough – first boiled, then they are baked or fried usually in butter with onions – traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit.

Pierogies are a delicious treat and a Pittsburgh tradition that reflects the city’s multicultural heritage, especially that of the European immigrants of the early 20th century.  In Pittsburgh, they eat 11 times the pierogies of any other city in the nation. The Pittsburgh Pirates even hold a pierogi race during the bottom of the 5th inning at every Pirates home game.

Sour cream in the dough is a favorite secret of many Pittsburgh pierogi makers. You can serve it with sautéed mushrooms.

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Homemade Pittsburgh Pierogies with Sour Cream

2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream, plus extra to serve with the pierogi
1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
butter and onions for sautéing
ingredients for filling of your choice (potato & cheese filling recipe below)

Pierogi Dough
To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Add the 1/2 cup sour cream and the softened butter pieces and work until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). You can use a food processor with a dough hook for this, but be careful not to over beat. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Each batch of dough makes about 12-15 pierogies, depending on size.

Prepare the Pierogies
Roll the pierogi dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8″ thick. Cut circles of dough (2″ for small pierogies and 3-3 1/2″ for large pierogies) with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.

Boil the perogies a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes). Rinse in cool water and let dry.

Sauté chopped onions in butter in a large pan until onions are soft. Then add pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy. Serve with a side of sour cream for a true Pittsburgh pierogi meal.

Pierogi Tips

If you are having a hard time getting the edges to stick together, you may have too much flour in the dough. Add a little water to help get a good seal.

If you don’t want to cook all of the pierogies right away, you can refrigerate them (uncooked) for several days or freeze them for up to several months.

You can fill pierogies with pretty much anything you want, though potato and cheese is the most common (recipe below).
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Potato, Cheese & Onion Filling

5 large red potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbs butter
4-8oz of grated cheddar cheese

Peel and boil potatoes until soft. While the potatoes are boiling, sauté onion in butter until soft and translucent. Mash the potatoes with the sautéed onions and add grated cheddar cheese (depending on how cheesy you want your pierogies), adding salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some fresh parsley, bacon bits, chives, or other enhancements if you desire. Let the potato mixture cool and then form into 1″ balls.

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Gege’s “Jiffy Rolls” Basic Dough

This very old fashioned recipe comes from my husband’s grandmother. My brother-in-law, Russell, made them. The recipe includes 3 extra variations.

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Gege’s “Jiffy Rolls” Basic Dough

¼ cup sugar
1 tsp salt​
¼ cup soft shortening or butter
¾ cup lukewarm milk
1 large egg
1 cake compressed yeast (0.6 oz) or one packet dry yeast
2¼ cup sifted flour
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp mace or cinnamon

Mix together sugar, salt, shortening or butter, milk and egg.

Crumble yeast into mixture and stir until dissolved. Add the flour and spices. Beat for one minute (at least 100 strokes).

Scrape dough from sides of bowl, cover with damp cloth and let rise @ 85 degrees F until double in bulk (about 1¾ hours).

Beat well (20-30 strokes).

Make into any shaped rolls desired (makes 12 good-sized rolls).

Sugar & Spice Puffs
Drop by spoonfuls into 12 medium-sized greased muffin pans. Let rise 30-45 minutes.

Bake about 15 minutes at 400 degrees, dip tops and sides immediately in 6 Tbs melted butter, then roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture (1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbs cinnamon).

Merry Morning Ring
Place dough in ring and let rise 30-45 minutes. Bake 30-35 minutes @ 350 degrees. While still warm, frost with a mixture of ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar and about 1 Tbs milk. Decorate with nuts and maraschino cherries if desired.

Yankee Clipper Coffee Cake
Place dough in square pan. Sprinkle with mixture of ¼ cup sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 Tbs flour and 2 Tbs butter. Let rise 45 minutes. Bake 30-35 minutes @ 350 degrees.

Fresh Tomato Rolls

Months ago, when my brother-in-law Russell was in town, we decided to make these tomato rolls from a magazine called Cucina Italiana. Russell worked hard making the dough. We waited eagerly by the oven to try these unusual rolls. They were a complete flop. The dough was rock hard like a hockey puck! I have been looking at this recipe forever and given that it’s prime tomato season, I decided it’s time to make it work. I cut the dough out completely to make it super easy and use frozen bread rolls. Here are the photos to help guide you through our Italian fiasco!

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Fresh Tomato Rolls
Panini Ripieni Arrotolati

Makes 6 rolls

Fine sea salt
6 medium tomatoes
6 frozen dinner rolls, thawed to room temperature (use raw dough, not all ready cooked rolls!)
Olive oil for brushing
cooking oil spray

Heat oven to 250º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Drop tomatoes into water and boil 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to a colander to drain. Quarter tomatoes lengthwise, then seed.

Place tomatoes on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt. Bake until tomatoes are partially dried but still moist, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare dough.

Combine dough, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. Cut dough into 6 equal pieces, then roll out each piece into a rectangular sheet, about 8 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches.

When tomatoes are ready, transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Cut dough into 6 equal pieces, then roll out each piece into a rectangular sheet, about 8 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches.

Brush dough with oil, leaving a 1/4-inch border, then divide tomatoes among dough.

Roll dough, from short ends in toward center, leaving a slight gap at center, and pinch ends to seal. Arrange on prepared baking sheet, cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature, for about an hour.

Heat oven to 350º with rack in middle.

Brush tops of rolls with oil and bake, rotating pan once halfway through, until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Sweet Potato, Kielbasa, and Red Onion Pizza

Last week, my daughter Zoe and her friend Nick, made this absolutely amazing pizza. It sounds weird, but it’s definitely worth making. The Dijon mustard makes it, even though I hate mustard!

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Sweet Potato, Kielbasa, and Red Onion Pizza

Serves 4

Cornmeal, for the baking sheet
1 lb pizza dough, thawed, if frozen
1 medium sweet potato (or about 8 oz of another potato), peeled and cut into thin half-moons
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper
6 oz kielbasa or chicken sausage
6 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) sharp Cheddar or other cheese, grated
2 Tbs Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Dust a baking sheet with cornmeal (or coat with oil if you do not have cornmeal). Shape the dough into a 16-inch circle, oval, or rectangle and place on the prepared baking sheet.

In a large bowl, toss the potato, onion, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the kielbasa and cheese and toss to combine.

Spread the mustard on the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all the way around. Scatter the vegetable-kielbasa mixture over the dough and bake until the potatoes are tender and the crust is golden brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with a salad, if desired.

Olive Oil Pistachio Biscotti

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Guest blogger Jessica, Denver, CO. from Beauty Marks again.

As I think I’ve said before, I love any recipe where I have every ingredient in my kitchen. This one not only met that qualification but also was one of the best cookie recipes I’ve ever made. My children remarked that dipping these in chocolate sauce might enhance their appeal, and I can’t dispute that. So that’s for next time.

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Olive Oil Pistachio Biscotti
Adapted from Serious Eats

2 cups (10 oz) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
2 eggs
1 cup shelled pistachios (I used salted and omitted the teaspoon of salt above)

Mix together flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk olive oil and sugar until combined, then whisk in eggs. Add dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms. Stir in pistachios. Divide dough in two and wrap each half in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

Place oven rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Form each half of dough into an approximately 3 1/2-inch by 8-inch log and place on the cookie sheet. Bake until golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Take cookies out of oven and decrease oven temperature to 300°F.

When cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to cut logs on the bias to form 1-inch wide cookies. Place cookies, cut side down, on baking sheet. Place back in oven and bake until dry and toasted, about 10 minutes more.

Pizza on the Grill

Last night we made pizza on the grill. Everyone gets to make their own pizza and choose their own toppings. I made my basic dough recipe earlier in the day, but I used Caputo 00 flour from Italy. It makes a huge difference in the dough. You can also use regular unbleached flour, which I have done for years. You could have a Pizza party and ask you guests to bring the toppings.

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Pizza Dough

1 package or 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2/3 cups warm water (110 to 120 degrees)
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Topping Ideas:
Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce
Grilled sliced chicken
Grilled sliced onions
Sliced Kalamata olives
Green bell pepper pieces
Sliced portobello mushrooms
Shredded fresh mozzarella cheese

Arugula

Stir yeast and sugar into warm water and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.  Put flour and salt into a food processor fitted with a metal blade and turn on machine.  Pour yeast mixture through the feed tube and process about 45 seconds, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl.  Add oil through feed tube and process 60 seconds longer.

Place in an oiled bowl, turning once to coat the surface. Let rise, covered, in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down.

Cover with a towel and let stand for 10 minutes. Divide into 2 equal portions. Stretch gently by hand or roll each portion into a 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick round.

Place the dough rounds on the grill rack. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Slide rounds onto a floured baking sheet or a cool part of the grill. Turn over the crusts cooked side up.

Arrange the toppings of choice over the crusts. Place back on the grill rack. Grill, covered, for 5 minutes, being careful not to overcook.

Swedish Limpa Bread

When my brother-in-law, Russell, was in town he made an entire Swedish meal – Swedish Meatballs (Köttbullar) with Gravy and Swedish Creamed Potatoes.  He also made this wonderful bread.  Swedish limpa, is moist rye bread is flavored with citrus peel. The result is a very flavorful, fragrant loaf of bread.

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Swedish Limpa Bread 

(The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, 1st Edition, 1984)

[Russell’s comments – RM are in brackets]

One of my favorites—a slightly sweet bread that is flavored with orange and rye and is absolutely delicious.

2 packages dry yeast
2½ cups warm water [105-115 degrees F…any hotter and the yeast will die]
2½ cups rye flour
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour [RM maybe even a bit more, see my note at end]
1 Tbs salt
½ cup finely chopped seeded orange, including rind [RM: one clementine works well]
3 Tbs honey
¼ cup brown sugar
4 Tbs (1/2 stick) butter, softened

Glaze: [RM—I don’t bother with this]
1 egg white mixed with
1 Tbs water

Stir the yeast and warm water together in a large mixing bowl, and let stand for a minute or so to dissolve. Add the rye flour, 2 ½ cups of the all-purpose flour, the salt, chopped orange, honey, brown sugar, and butter, and beat to blend thoroughly. Add enough additional all-purpose flour to make a manageable dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a minute or two, then let rest for 10 minutes. [RM: I always need a pastry scraper with a rye bread dough because it will stick to the wood board at first]

Resume kneading for about 10 minutes, sprinkling on enough all-purpose flour to keep the dough from being too sticky. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until double in bulk [RM I put it in my oven barely heated to 85 degrees, it takes about an hour to rise there].

Punch the dough down and shape into two round loaves. Place several inches apart on a greased baking sheet, and slash a 1/2 –inch-deep cross in the top of each loaf, using a sharp knife or razor blade. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a towel, and let rise until double in bulk. Brush the tops of the risen loaves with the egg-white glaze, and bake in a pre-heated 350-degree F oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a rack.

[RM: I put the loaves on one cookie sheet, sort of in opposite corners, but they can spread out too much and merge and overflow and end up quite flat. More flour might make the dough thicker but also harder to manage, so maybe baking in bread pans would be a solution. But it tastes good even is the loaf isn’t the highest…enjoy!]

Passover Matzo Balls

Guest blogger Jessica (Denver, CO) from Beauty Marks.

I’ve made lots of different types of matzo balls over the years. My family prefers them a bit dense, but bottom line: We’ll eat any matzo balls. So because we’re so undiscriminating, I’ve never identified a single go-to recipe. God forbid I should remember which one I used last year, right? This year, I’m trying the one from the can of Yehuda matzo meal, but with some twists.

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Passover Matzo Balls
(Kneidlach)

3 eggs
2 Tbs oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup matzo meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the eggs, oil and water together. Add the matzo meal, baking powder, salt and pepper and mix well. Let the mixture stand of 10 minutes. In the meantime, fill a large pot with water and a dash of salt and bring to a boil. With wet hands, form small balls and drop into boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook for 30 minutes.

Mozza Scuola di Pizza

For my 50th birthday (almost 2 years ago!), my husband bought me a gift certificate for cooking classes at the Mozza Scuola di Pizza. It’s a very long story of why it has taken me this long to use it.

Mozza Menu

Last night, I went with my friend, Chris, to the last pizza class at the school. They are closing it down and opening a new restaurant in February. Nothing like squeaking in at the last possible moment!

As most of my friends know, I am a huge pizza fan. I have eaten pizza all over the world and all over Italy, which is transcendent. I have been complaining since the early 90s that there were no real pizza places anywhere. Now, they are opening everywhere.

Nancy Silverton is an American chef and baker who is the author of several cookbooks and has been at the forefront of efforts to revitalize sourdough and artisan breads in the United States.  After attending Sonoma State University, Silverton trained at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in London, England and at the Ecole Le Notre in Plaiser, France. She is the co-founder and head baker at La Brea Bakery as well as the head pastry chef at Campanile Restaurant, both in Los Angeles.

Silverton also owns two restaurants on the corner of Highland and Melrose in Los Angeles, Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza. Originally opened as a side venture, Pizzeria Mozza has garnered accolades for its artisan-style pizzas.

She knows more about bread and dough than anyone else in the world. Really.

I learned many things, my mind is still reeling.  The chef made 2 versions, one in the professional wood fired oven (they use almond) and the other in a home oven.  Surprisingly, the one in the home oven turned out really well.  Very close to the wood fired pizza, minus the char.

Another thing I learned was that their tomato sauce is only tomatoes, salt and pepper.  That’s it.  No garlic.  The over use of garlic in Italian restaurants is an American thing, not Italian.  While they do use garlic, they don’t over do it.  Also, they added the oregano / herbs after the pizza came out of the oven, which made it more flavorful.
Chef Chad Colby

Mozza Chad

Mozza Kitchen

Mozza Oven

Mozza Chad with Pot

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Pizza dough is a breathing, living thing and very delicate. You can’t over work it!

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Mozza Chad 2
Mozza Sauce, which is just tomatoes, salt and pepper….

Mozza Sauce

Mushrooms – Chef Chad completely bathed the mushrooms in olive oil and put them in a 500 degree oven for 6 minutes. I am not an addict! I can’t tell you how good these were. Just mushrooms, olive oil, salt and pepper….

Mozza Mushrooms

Mozza Pizzeria Mis en Place

Mozza Mis En Place

Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton — the Italian dream team that unleashed some of the best Italian cuisine in Los Angeles via Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and Mozza 2Go — are opening chi SPACCA on February 4 in place of their Scuola di Pizza. Right now details are scarce but it seems likely that chi SPACCA, or “cleaver” in Italian, relates to chef Chad Colby’s wildly successful Salumi Bar nights which take place inside the Scuola. Back in May, Colby launched the first certified salumi program in Los Angeles.

My friend Chris and I are going to attempt to recreate the evening. I will go into a lot more detail then.

Here is the dough recipe. Nancy Silverton weighs all her ingredients, even the LA tap water!

Pizzeria Mozza Pizza Dough

22 oz warm tap water
1/2 oz compressed yeast
26 oz bread flour
1/2 oz dark rye flour (may substitute medium rye flour)
1/4 oz wheat germ
1/4 oz honey
1/2 oz kosher salt

Put the water in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the yeast and let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve. Add the bread flour, rye flour, wheat germ, and honey and mix on low speed with a dough hook for 2 minutes. Add the salt, increase the speed to high, and mix the dough for 6 to 7 minutes, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

While the dough is mixing, lightly grease a large bowl with olive oil. Turn the dough out of the bowl and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Tightly wrap the perimeter of the bowl with kitchen twine or with another piece of plastic wrap to further seal the bowl. Set the dough aside at moderate room temperature (68-70 degrees) for 45 minutes.

Dust your work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Turn the edges of the dough toward the center, acting as if the round has four sides. Turn the dough over and place it, folded side down, back in the bowl. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and set it aside for 45 minutes.

Dust your work surface again lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Divide the dough into six equal segments, each weighing approximately 7 ounces. Gently tuck the edges of each round of the dough under itself. Shape each segment into a round. Cover the dough rounds with a clean dish towel and let them rest for 5 minutes.

Lightly flour your hands and use both hands pulling toward you to gather each round of dough into a taught ball. Dust a baking sheet generously with flour and place the dough rounds on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with a dishcloth and set them again at moderate room temperature (68-70 degrees) for 1 hour. Leave the dough rounds at room temperature as you shape each round. Use the dough immediately.

Maple Bacon Biscuits

It seems bacon is sneaking into a lot more recipes these days – Jack in the Box Bacon Milkshake, Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies, Maple Bacon Ice Cream, etc….  This recipe actually makes sense.  Surprise your mother on Sunday with a plate of these!

 

Maple Bacon Biscuits

Makes 2 dozen biscuits

1 lb bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3½ cups flour
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
½ lb (2 sticks) butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
¾ cup plus 2 Tbs maple syrup, divided
¾ cup plus 2 Tbs buttermilk
1 egg yolk
1 egg
1 Tbs heavy cream
Fleur de sel

In a medium frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until cooked but not crispy, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate or pan, to remove excess fat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the diced butter, until it resembles small peas. Stir in the bacon, then one-fourth cup plus 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and the buttermilk until the dough just comes together (it will still be clumpy). Be careful not to overwork the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, gently press or roll the dough to 1-inch thickness. Cut the biscuits using a 2-inch round cutter; you should have 24 biscuits. Place 12 biscuits on each of two parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Freeze the trays just until the biscuits are chilled, about 10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. While the biscuits are chilling, prepare the egg wash: In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, egg and cream. Brush the chilled biscuits with egg wash and top each with a pinch of fleur de sel.

Bake the biscuits until they just begin to brown, about 25 minutes (you should easily be able to pick the biscuits up off the tray). Remove the tray from the oven. Quickly drizzle 1 teaspoon of the remaining maple syrup over each biscuit, then place the tray back in the oven for 3 minutes more. Serve while still warm.