Category Archives: recipe

Fun Food Friday — Piroshki (Russian: Pirozhki)

Piroshki with creamy garlic mushroom gravy

It’s time for my version of Russian piroshki, which I introduced to you on Wednesday’s visit to the Aragosta restaurant in St. Petersburg. While the Aragosta version of piroshki may be truer to the traditional, both Ursula and I think this recipe gives a superior tasting dish.

This is based on a recipe I’ve been making since my mid-teens. I picked it up from one of my mother’s cookbooks, and to this day I still recall how to make it from memory, with some personalization over the years and along the way. But today I’m writing it all down just for you. And best of all, this one is actually easier than the traditional, single-serving piroshkis, as it makes one large meat pie that’s easily cut into individual servings. So, here goes:

Piroshki dough ingredients

Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter (4 oz.), room temperature
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 pound sour cream (I use light), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 5 to 5½ cups flour

Piroshki filling indredients

Meat filling Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1½ tsp. granulated garlic (or several cloves of minced fresh garlic)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • Olive oil (for browning onion and meat)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Piroshki “gravy” ingredients

“Gravy” Ingredients:

  • Condensed cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic
  • Milk


  • In a large mixing bowl, mash with a fork the softened butter. Mix in the room temperature egg, sour cream, and salt and stir together until the butter is in small, curd-like pieces.

Mix together sour cream, eggs, butter, and salt

  • Stir in flour one cup at a time, fully incorporating the flour into the mixture with each addition.

Work in the flour

  • Don’t fear overworking this dough, as piroshki should not be your typical ‘flaky’ crust. It should have a smooth, almost clay-like consistency that, after baking, has a chewiness to it. If after the fifth cup of flour the dough still seems moist and slack, work in another half cup of so.

Piroshki ready to roll


  • In a large Dutch oven or skillet, heat up some olive oil and sauté the finely chopped yellow onion until starting to brown.

Onion and olive oil

Slightly caramelized onion

  • Add the ground beef and cook thoroughly. Season with granulated (or fresh) garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the ground beef to the onion and season away

Assembly Step 1:

  • Preheat oven to 357° F/190° C.
  • Roll out the dough. You want a relatively thick crust, so don’t overdo it.

Roll out the dough

  • You want the final dough to extend far beyond the edges of your baking sheet, but using the measurements above you’ll have plenty with which to work. You’ll need this overlap later to fold over the filling.

Assembly Step 2:

  • Place the rolled out in a large baking sheet.

Ready for the filling

  • Pour it the meat filling.

Meat filling

  • Fold the dough over the filling, first by folding in the ends

Fold in the ends

  • And then overlapping with the sides.

Overlap the ends with the sides

  • Make several large vent holes in the top of the crust. Place the piroshki in the oven, and start making the gravy (see next).

Make vent holes

Gravy: In a sauce pan combine the condensed cream of mushroom soup with milk, using a ratio of ½ can of milk for each can of soup (two cans will make a lot of gravy, so you may want to start with one first, then make more later for the leftovers). Heat to a simmer while stirring, switch off, cover, and plan to reheat just before the piroshki comes out of the oven.

Creamy, earthy, garlicky mushroom gravy

Assembly Step 3:

  • When the crust nicely browned, around 40 minutes or so, your piroshki is done. Remove it from the oven and let it sit for about five minutes while you reheat the gravy.

Baked piroshki

  • Plate serving-sized portions and cover with a generous amount of gravy. Enjoy.

Mmmm, mmmm!

Now for a wine pairing: Piroshki is a hearty, meaty dish with a robust, earthy mushroom gravy. A creamy mushroom soup is usually paired with an oaky chardonnay, but here the mushroom is served as a condiment. Then there’s that wonderful, chewy crust made with sour cream, which seems to me to be a tough pairing, but I’m leaning once again toward chardonnay. However, it’s the seasoned beef filling that drives today’s choice. So, while a good compromise between these three flavors might normally be a pinot noir and would probably work very well, I’m going to bit bolder. With that in mind, I’m going to recommend in order of preference:

  1. A California Zinfandel
  2. Cabernet Franc
  3. An Argentine Malbec

A word about next week: This past Sunday I reran my Memorial Day article, but next Thursday is worthy of yet another commemoration. As such, I’ll be temporarily postponing a continuation of this series on the Baltic region. Instead, all next week starting Sunday I’ll be rerunning my six-part series on the D-Day Invasion of Normandy in recognition of the fact that next Thursday, the 6th of June, marks the 75th anniversary of this epic event.


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Super Bowl Repeat — Cheese Crisp: Quick, Fun, and Tasty

Now this is a fun Super Bowl snack, or even a late night snack or a quick lunch.  It’s tasty, spicy, and you can even add other ingredients such as leftover chicken, pepperoni, or even bacon bits.

What you’ll need:

  • Flour tortillas—good, fresh, preferably large
  • Pickled jalapeño slices—finely chopped
  • Cheese—your choice, but for the pictures taken below I used Tillamook mild cheddar, Mission Jack, and aged mozzerela
  • The Kitchen Sinkget creative with the toppings

Preheat your oven to 400°.  While the oven heats, assemble your crisps.  Lay out the flour tortillas.

Don’t They Call These “Wraps” Back East?

Chop your jalapeños.

Eat the Heat, They Can’t be Beat

Spread the jalapeños over the tortillas.

Looks Green, but They’re Red Hot!

Add the cheese (or cheese blend in this case).

Cheesy Pleasy

Place directly on the wire rack in your oven.

As if the Jalapeños Weren’t Hot Enough Already

Bake until nicely browned around the edges and underneath and remove from the oven.

A Mexican Pizza?

Cut and serve.

Crispy, Crunchy, Cheesy Goodness with Heat to Spare

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Super Bowl Repeat — Carolina-style Mustard Barbecue Hash

Why am I repeating this recipe?  Simple.  I lied on Tuesday about brisket sandwiches being the best way to graze while watching the Super Bowl.  There’s an even better way to graze through all those Super Bowl food commercials.  It’s Carolina-style mustard barbecue hash piled high inside a toasted hamburger bun.

Well, I must say that looking at my blog hit counter, it appears barbecue in general and smoked pork shoulder in particular are very popular indeed.  Last Wednesday I shared with you the secret to perfectly smoked barbecue Boston butt (pork shoulder).  I also told you that I would give a recipe for that second shoulder that we still have left over after serving up the first.  This recipe is super simple, irresistibly delicious, and incredibly addictive.  I’ve had people who attended one of my barbecues almost a decade back remark how much they miss the taste of this dish.

Smoked Boston Butt (pork shoulder)

Smoked Boston Butt (pork shoulder)

What we’re going to make today is Carolina-style mustard barbecue hash — a cousin to the pulled pork that’s slathered in tomato-based barbecue sauce but instead using a tasty sauce that enhances the delicate smoked flavor of a perfectly smoked shoulder rather than disguising it beyond all recognition.  Let’s face it:  if you’re going to take your perfectly smoked shoulder and drown it in traditional barbecue sauce, then you might just have well slow-cooked that pork shoulder in the oven.

What you’ll need for the sauce:

Sauce ingredients:  Apple Cider or Distilled White Vinegar and Yellow Mustard

Sauce ingredients: Apple Cider or Distilled White Vinegar and Yellow Mustard

First, take your leftover butt and slice it into ¼ to ½ thick slabs

Half-inch-thick slices

Half-inch-thick slices

Cut those slabs lengthwise into thick strips, then into cubes.

Slices cut into strips, then cubed

Slices cut into strips, then cubed

Sautée the pork cubes until you’ve rendered out much of the fat (about thirty to forty-five minutes).

Render out most of the fat

Render out most of the fat

Once the fat pools nicely in the bottom of the pan, drain it off.

When the fat pools in the bottom, drain it

When the fat pools in the bottom, drain it

While the pork drains, mix together equal amounts of yellow mustard and either distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.  Go easy here.  You can always add more.  You cannot, however, remove too much vinegar and mustard from the pork once it’s in there.  If you get it too tart, you’ve blown the dish (and destroyed your delicious smoked pork).

Mix together equal parts vinegar and mustard (but don't overdo it)

Mix together equal parts vinegar and mustard (but don’t overdo it)

Mustard/Vinegar Blend

Mustard/Vinegar Blend

Pour your mustard/vinegar blend into the now fat-drained pork cubes.  Add water and simmer covered for at least thirty minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scortching and adding more water as necessary if it starts to dry out.

Mustard/Vinegar Blend goes into Pork Cubes; add water as well

Mustard/Vinegar Blend goes into Pork Cubes; add water as well

The cubes will begin to break apart into a hash-like consistency.  Don’t overdo it, however.  You still want some cube-like texture for interest and as little bursts of smokey flavor.

Simmer, adding water as necessary.

Simmer, adding water as necessary

The completed dish should be only slightly tangy, with neither mustard nor vinegar overpowering the pork and its delicate smokey flavor.  Traditionally, this is served over buttered long-grain rice, but it also works very well on toasted hamburger buns in a unique take on the ubiquitous (but vastly inferior) pulled pork sandwich.

Serve over buttered long-grain rice or on toasted hamburger buns

Serve over buttered long-grain rice or on toasted hamburger buns


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