Category Archives: recipes

Pierogies… because mashed potato and cheese in a wrapper

pierogie cooked 2

I come from some good sturdy Polish stock and my grandmother, who a was notoriously terrible cook, would make pierogies when we came to visit. It was one of two dishes she made that was edible so I always requested them when we visited and she would always make extra and freeze them so we could take them home, even though it was a 14 hour drive. All of us get sentimental about the dishes of our childhood and the turn of season, the dark mornings and the grey skies were making a little pit in my belly that only a starch filled dumpling could fill.

When I was cooking the pierogies last night my daughter walked past and swiped one off the counter on her way to set the table.

“How are they?” I asked.

“Good.” she replied. “I mean they’re not bad good like the frozen ones. They’re good.”

“Bad good?”

“You know like you know the frozen ones are not really made with real ingredients but they still taste good.”…

So Mrs.T’s might still be an option if you’re craving bad good pierogies but I’m gonna stick with the good good ones because I’m also a sucker for the “traditional” pierogies of my childhood, filled with farmers cheese or sauerkraut and pork. I made the potato and cheese to feed the finicky small people.

To make the dough:

Combine on your counter:

  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Combine in a bowl:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, combine wet ingredients and pour mixture into well.

peirogi dough start

Work the ingredients together to form a ball and knead until combined. If the dough is sticking to your hands add more flour, if it is to dry add more sour cream.

pierogie dough

Place dough on counter and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes or up to an hour. You can make the fillings while it rests.

For fillings I made:

pierogie filling

Mashed Potato and Cheddar

Make a stiff version of mashed potatoes and add some grated cheddar to taste… I prefer Yukon Gold potatoes for this recipe.

Farmers Cheese and Scallion

These are my childhood favorites, slightly sweeter than ricotta filling with just the right squish when you bite into them. Combine package of Farmers Cheese with two chopped scallions, salt and pepper and 1 egg.

Sauerkraut and Salt Pork

Another fav that my kids wouldn’t even try… and they think I’m boring! In a pan heat up diced salt pork or diced bacon until brown, add sauerkraut and pepper.

Now for the fun… Put a medium pot of water on to boil and then lets get to it…

If you have a pasta machine cut the dough in 4 sections, roll the first until it’s on the last setting. If rolling by hand cut dough into 4 sections and roll out on a lightly floured surface until dough is as thin as you can make it without it sticking. Lay out the first section of dough on your counter and using a round cookie/biscuit cutter cut circles out.

pierogie filled

Take a spoonful of filling and place in the center, fold dough over and pinch together. you can use a fork to uber seal it if you want. If dough is not sealing use a little water to seal the edges.

pierogie filled finish

Working in batches (I usually fill all the pierogies I’ve cut then boil them and then I start on the next batch). Drop the pierogies into the boiling water and boil for 4 minutes. Take out with a slotted spoon and place boiled pierogies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Repeat process until all dough is used.

You can store the boiled pierogies in the fridge for a couple days. To serve for dinner heat up a saute pan on medium heat, add butter and a little oil. Pan fry pierogies in batches heating until browned on both sides. Serve with sour cream. If you want to get fancy you can caramelize some onions in the pan before you reheat the pierogies and serve them with some fancy side like chutney. If you want to freeze some for later (my family of four took down the whole lot of them last night) skip the boiling step and freeze pierogies on a cookie sheet until stiff and transfer to a freezer bag. To reheat frozen pierogies, boil in water for 6 minutes and then pan fry.

Now picture yourself in a one story ranch house outside of Detroit decorated in the 50’s, sitting around a formica table with the radio playing “hits of the golden age” and your grandfather telling racist jokes and you’re right there with me. Enjoy!

pierogie cooked

 

 

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Potstickers… everyone loves meat in a pocket

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My youngest daughter is a lover of all meat in a pocket dishes, samosas, pierogis, dumplings but her forever and ever true love is a potsticker. She tallies how many she can eat from each vendor or restaurant and can give you a college length dissertation on her opinion of fillings, dough and dipping sauces for all she has ever tasted… so making them for her is kind of akin to self inflicted torture, a basic set up for failure. To really drive home the point of my incompetence you cannot make 10 dumplings to try out if they please the potsticker princess so I have thrown out dozens of potstickers attempts that didn’t meet her requirements. I attempted one last ditch effort to make them but in one of my smartest parenting moments I had her help make them, get them invested and they are more likely to be satisfied with the results (that kid will never admit defeat)… and even better she wanted to fold them all. In full disclosure hers were a bit of a hot mess so when I made them solo I took pics of mine not the 11 yo’s.

I freeze all the dumplings that will not be consumed that night and they will keep for months in your freezer. The more traditional cooking method is to fry the dumpling to crust up the bottom and then add broth or water and cover to steam the dumpling but I find this makes a TOTAL mess of your stove and it’s not worth the clean up to me so I steam them in a basket first then transfer to a skillet to brown the bottom… but you can reverse the process if you really enjoy cleaning your stove top because you don’t have to catch up on Scandal like me.

Potsticker dough:

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 – 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tsp salt

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl, add boiling water (starting with 1 3/4 and adding if needed). Stir with a chopsticks or a fork until slightly combined… it should look something like this (although not as blurry and not like the person who took the picture never cleans her lens):

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empty the bowl to the counter and knead until elastic and smooth… it will be hot but shouldn’t be burning you.

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place dough in a greased bowl and cover for 30 minutes while you make your filling

 

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Potsticker filling:

  • 3/4 pound chicken (can be boneless thighs or tenders)
  • 3/4 pound pork (nothing too lean like tenderloin, you need some fat)
  • 1 small knob ginger peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon minced)
  • 4-6 scallions roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup light soy (available in most asian markets) or a little less if using regular soy
  1. Throw all ingredients in a cuisinart and pulse until ground and combined… not like cat food but not with huge chunks either. If you don’t have a cuisinart you can buy ground pork and chicken but the texture is little better with the home ground.
  2. Now you’ve got your dough and your filling… worst case it’s going to look like a hot mess (like my daughters) but taste good so don’t fret the fold of these dumplings.
  3. Unwrap the dough, cut in into pieces about the size of ping pong balls and roll the into balls on your counter and keep them covered with a damp cloth to keep them from getting crusty.

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press dough flat in your hand and then roll it flat until it’s around 5″ round  (you can make these any size you want )

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place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center then with a finger dipped in water wet 1/2 of the dough around the rim (so the dough will stick when folded, no one likes a leaky dumpling)

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start by holding the dumpling in your hand and folding in it half (don’t push hard and seal yet)

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push just the center to seal and then fold over to one side, pinching each crimp, and then fold the other side

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set dumpling on its butt and turn your top fold to make a slight “u” shapeImage

repeat 8,000 more times and you’re done! Feel proud of yourself? You should because you just made a freaking potsticker!

I put mine on a cookie sheet with silpat lining while I finish up the rest

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Serve with whatever sauce you like, plain soy, hoisin, peanut…. my kids like one like this:

Ginger soy sauce:

  • 1 cup light soy
  • 1/4 cup black vinegar
  • 1 knob ginger peeled and julienned
  • 1 scallion sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

combine all ingredients in a small pan and heat until warm

I steam dumplings for 10 minutes if fresh and then pan fry. If frozen steam dumplings for 15 minutes before pan searing. Last time my kid made it through 5, her record is 7 (when she was 9 years old she powered through 7 goddamn potstickers, she’s a monster)

 

 

 

 

homemade bagels… because my kids beg

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I am not a baker, even though there are lots of baked goods recipes here. I am most certainly not a great bread baker, it’s too fussy and takes too much technique to master and my attention span for details sucks…. but I can make bagels. I can make them because I have a Kitchen Aid mixer with a bread hook and an oven. It’s easy, really easy.

Bagel dough

makes 16-20 depending on size

  • 7 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package yeast
  • 2 1/2-3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup malt syrup or sugar

any seeds or toppings you like… one kid likes plain, one likes salt and garlic and I’m fond of sesame

In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer, with the dough hook, mix together flour, yeast and salt
In a measuring cup combine warm water, honey and oil
Slowly add water mixture to flour with mixer on low speed, use just enough liquid to form a ball (you want the dough on the dryer hard side)
Mix on medium speed for 6-10 minutes… as much as your mixer can stand as it’s a tight dough and watch because your mixer will travel across your counter.
Pull dough out and knead for a couple seconds, let rest in an oiled bowl covered with Saran Wrap for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
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after rising punch down dough and turn out onto counter
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cut bagel dough into lemon sized sections
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pinch sections into balls by pulling dough down into bottoms and holding the dough ball in your hand push hole through the center
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pull slightly to open hole and place bagels on the counter, covered, to rise for 30 minutes
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while they are rising heat your oven to 550 and set a large pot of boiling water on high with 1/4 cup malt (if you can find it) or sugar if you can’t
one or two at a time, boil bagels turning them once for a minutes, remove with slotted spoon and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat, or cookie sheet with some corn meal on the bottom or on a preheated pizza stone in the oven. Sprinkle with seeds or what not.

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bake for 10 -12 minutes or until golden brown, place warm bagels on a rack to cool or try and slice them while they are burning hot because your kids can’t wait and smother them with butter and be amazed that your daughter can eat 2 of them without breathing before she leaves the kitchen… or maybe that’s just me.

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fresh tortellini… because God intended it that way

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Nothing makes me happier than eating and making fresh pasta. It could be the call back to all the time spent in the Clay Studio where I spend my days rolling slabs of clay and then manipulating them into shapes, so really rolling out pasta and shaping it is really kinda the same thing except the part where you scarf down the pasta without breathing (that’s different). Sadly my kids HATE most pasta. They’ll eat mac n cheese, one will tolerate spaghetti and the other likes ramen but if I put out a plate of fresh tortellini or ravioli they will whine and complain like I just served them prairie oysters. So when I was making dinner for an old friend and her mother, I knew I needed to get my jones out.

Fresh Pasta:

  • 31/2 to 4 cups unbleached flour
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt

like all things once you’ve done this once you can do it over and over with no recipe. I just pour a load of flour onto my counter , mix in the salt, make a well in the flour and drop the eggs in. Take a fork and scramble the eggs inside the well and slowly start to incorporate the flour from the well until it starts to hold a shape and become like a loose dough. If it’s seems like it’s getting stiff and there’s still lots of flour, move some of the flour to the side and get dough to a place you can knead it without sticking to your hands… if too little flour and the dough is sticky add more flour. Knead dough until its pliable but smooth, lightly flour it and put aside covered in plastic to rest 30 minutes… now make your filling.

Cheese filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (strained if wet)
  • 3/4 cup fresh grated hard italian cheeses (parm, romano, asiago, etc) you can use one or combo
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper

other fillings ideas:

  • add fresh minced mint or slivers of blanched asparagus to your cheese filling for a nice spring taste
  • puree of butternut squash with ground nutmeg and fresh breadcrumbs
  • fine ground veal and basil
  • sausage and porcini mushroom
  • crispy pancetta and asparagus

roll out your pasta… leaving the whole covered cut off a chunk of dough hand forming it into a flat square. Roll it through the machine one number at a time until it’s at the thinnest setting, flour at first but try not to over flour as it will take more effort to seal the pasta around the filling. You want it dry enough to handle without sticking to the counter but not so dry it won’t seal itself. Lay thin sheet on counter and cut circle, you can use any circle cookie/biscuit cutter of any size, the larger the circle the larger the tortellini. I like a frilly edge cookie cutter because I think it looks fancy. Cut out your circles wasting as little pasta dough as possible, throw away scraps. With a spoon place filling in the center of all the cut outs.

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get a little bowl of water and dab along one side of the circle, pick up pasta and fold over sealing the edge.

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flip tortellini over so the flat part is at the top

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put a dab of water at one corner then twist and seal the corners of the flat top

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see, that wasn’t that hard! I put my finished tortellini or ravioli on a cookie sheet with a silpat liner (you can use parchment) while I work my way through the rest of the dough. This amount of dough is usually around 6 sheets of pasta, giving around 50 tortellini depending on size, definitely enough for 4. When I’ve worked my through the pasta or the filling (if I run out of filling I’ll make bow ties with the remainder) put the cookie sheet in the freezer, unless you’re cooking it immediately. I leave it for up to two hours uncovered and then take it out right before boiling it for dinner or put in an airtight container for up to a week and keep frozen.

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Cooking:

In a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water, put frozen tortellini in and stir, cooking for 6 minutes (or not frozen for 4 minutes). Drain and then toss in the sauce of your choice and cook in sauce for 2 minutes. Cooking or heating your sauce while the pasta is cooking is another simple key to great pasta, all pasta should be cooked with it’s sauce for a couple minutes to allow the flavors to mingle, so when planning out the cooking of your sauce be mindful to cook it in a pan that can accommodate the pasta as well as the sauce… plate and watch everyone (except my children) exalt in your awesomeness!

corn chowder… fall = soup time

So when you have the ability to get ingredients as yummy as these why not put them together right?

I’m a lover of soups, they make a great lunch and they are always better the next day as a reheat for my husbands lunch or if you might have the wife of a really good chef drop by your house for lunch and you want to not embarrass yourself… which is how I finished off this batch of soup last week.

A note about broth:

I am an avid chicken broth fan. I admit it, you add a good chicken broth to almost anything and it tastes lovely. I do not used canned or boxed broth, it’s fine in a pinch but nothing compared to making your own… and it really isn’t hard, just one step after making any bone in chicken meal. If you roast a chicken (hell even if you’re scarfing down a $6 rotisserie chicken from Costco) save that carcass (if you can’t cook it down that day bag it and throw it in the freezer). If your making something with chicken breast buy the bone in (it’s cheaper anyway) debone and use those or for a really easy quick way buy a bunch of chicken wings and use those. Then get a large pot and put in your bones, some carrots, celery pieces, onion pieces and some parsley. Fill the pot with water and keep your pot on a low simmer for 3 hours, strain and pour broth into several different sized plastic containers and freeze. You can use the small ones for adding flavor to sauces, making extra gravy for something, and large ones can be used for all kinds of soups. Every time I roast a chicken the kids know when they’re doing the dishes to get out a pot and put the bones in it and not to throw them out. It takes me maybe 2 minutes to add some old crumpled kinda dead veggies from the back of the fridge and water to the pot and turn the heat to low, my reward for those 2 minutes spent is homemade broth or in other words, time well spent.

Corn Chowder

  • 2-4 ears of corn shucked and cut and then taking a knife and scraping down the ears to get the “corn milk”.. see below picture

  • 6-8 small red skinned potatoes (small cubed with skin on)
  • one onion diced
  • one rib celery diced
  • one large or 2 medium carrots diced
  • sprig of fresh dill (or fresh thyme, parsley, scallions or chives) chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 3 tbs butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed pot heat butter on a medium flame and add onion and saute for 2 minutes adding dash of salt.

Add celery and carrot continue stirring for 5 minutes.

Add flour and stir for 2 minutes (until combined and pasty)

Add broth and stir until mixture begins to boil and thicken.

Turn heat down and add potatoes and corn.

Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

Adjust for salt, check on potatoes to see that they are firm but cooked.

Add cream and fresh herbs.

If chowder is too thick adjust with broth or cream.

Serve with chowder crackers or some fresh bread.

Lobster Spaghetti… because lobster + cream + bacon = happy

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At my heart I am an ocean girl, I grew up on it, spent all my summers in it and my Dad is a Fishmonger. I’ve lived in Vermont for over 20 years now and although I am very thankful daily to have fresh produce and local meats available to me year round… I really miss fresh seafood. I love using lobster because you can tell immediately if it’s fresh, pick it up, is it flipping it’s tail or limp… pretty simple. As much as I freaking love a simple steamed lobster and drawn butter there are times, like say a fancy dinner party or an anniversary dinner that the prospect of cracking claws and being all sticky with lobster goo and salt water doesn’t appeal. I want the taste but with a bit less work and lobster stink… so the stain on my dress is from being being clumsy a dropping a huge piece of creamy lobster down my chest not from the lobster claw that my husband cracked next to me. I used the Spaghetti Homard-Lobster recipe from Liverpool House/ Joe Beef cookbook as a spring board but modified it because even though I grew up in a Fish Market I could never deal with cutting up a live lobster and if I’m not steaming them fresh then I’ll take the cheat and have them steamed at the market and spare my non ventilated kitchen the smell. If you’re ever in Montreal I highly recommend you check Liverpool House out. Image

Lobster Spaghetti… serves 2 gluttonous humans or 4 with a side dish

  • 2-3 pound to pound and a quarter lobsters depending on how much you want to spend and how much lobster meat you want (I go with 3 as I’m a glutton)
  • enough spaghetti for 2, I prefer Barilla Thick Spaghetti and cook up a little more than half the box
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • sprigs of thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and deskinned
  • 4 slices of bacon, diced
  • flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil and heavily salt it, think ocean water… not a couple teaspoons but a hearty handful. Boil spaghetti per directions then drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process… I know it’s against every rule but it works. Set aside in stainer and top with a little olive oil and mix so noodles won’t stick together.
  2. cook up your bacon bits until browned and set aside on a paper towel to dry.
  3. take out you pre cooked lobster and take meat out of tail and claws, saving the bodies and legs and any bits of shell that might have goodies left over.. like tail fins and knuckles. Put aside lobster meat in bowl.
  4. in a large saute pan or soup pot combine cream, butter, water, garlic, thyme, shells, bodies and juicy bits. Cook over medium heat until bubbling then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes until liquid is decreased to about a cup.Image

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Strain liquid out from shells and discard the shells/cooking mixture, keeping the cream. Return cream to the pan, bring to a simmer and add pasta, bacon, lobster meat and parsley. Stir to combine and reheat… no more than a couple minutes (you don’t want to overcook the lobster), season to taste adding fresh ground pepper and salt.

Now sit down with a glass of champagne or a nice crisp white, enjoy the fruits of your labor with the knowledge you should have had sex before the meal because there’s no way in hell you’re doing anything besides digesting for the foreseeable future.Image

Zucchini Parmesan Fritters… because it’s abundant and green and your kids will eat it.

closeup fritter 2

I grew up eating these fritters and I have to say it mostly because they were

1-easy

2-cheap

3-I would eat them without complaining

and that is exactly why I find myself making them… in the winter because the Zucchini still looks edible at the market and in the summer because although I plant only two Zucchini plants (mostly for blossoms) I still end up with a metric ton. My mother still uses a little baking powder so the fitters rise up more like pancakes but I prefer to have them be more like an eggy crepe.

Zucchini Parmesan Fritters

makes about 12 pancakes , enough for my family of four

  • 1 smallish Zucchini, skin on
  • 1 smallish onion, skin peeled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and some fresh ground pepper
  • enough veggie oil to pan fry
  1. with a box grater, grate onion and Zucchini into a bowl
  2. add eggs, parm, flour, salt and pepper and combine
  3. let sit 15 minutes or so to settle and let the batter loosen
  4. heat a medium skillet, add oil and pan fry in batches turning when brown
  5. place cooked fritters on a paper towel to dry
  6. serve immediately (although you can cook up mini fritters and reheat in the oven for a great passed appetizer , just top with sour cream or creme fraiche and a little chive… everyone will be so impressed, or if you go further you can top with caviar and sour cream)

ucchini fritters

See wasn’t that wicked easy and as a disclaimer to my grammar naZi friends out there, my freaking Z is broken on my keyboard… thanks kids! So not only can’t I spell naZi I have to paste in Zucchini and it’s capitalized, I’ve never longed for a working Z before but this shits getting old!