Sauce: Pierogies, nature's perfect food


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Sound familiar? Work. Kids. Work. Kids. Work.

Take the dog out.

Work.

And, oh yeah, dinner.

Thus are born millions of convenience foods, some of which, even though you can make them better than a factory, become pantry staples because you know everyone will eat them and they offer at least a modicum of nutrition. Or nutrition can be added to them.

Pierogies are one of those foods. When I got married 20 years ago to a man of Slovak background, pierogies were foreign to me. Of German stock, I was raised a meat-and-potatoes girl, and the potatoes were mashed and not wrapped in dough.

But as children came along, so did the need for quick dinners with broad appeal, so pierogies were a natural. I've bought freezers-ful of them, mass-marketed and locally made.

My favorite pierogies, though, are the ones in the races during Pirates games. With Monday's home opener at PNC Park, the pierogi races begin in earnest, 81 games' worth.

I'm rooting for Jalapeno Hanna. Someone tripped her one year. Her purse went flying.

It was a dirty trick and I haven't gotten over it.

Pierogi maker Mrs. T's sent us some recipes to use with the frozen variety (see below). We're sure you could use any variety of pierogi.

There's also an interesting-sounding recipe for making them from scratch.

Can you put syrup on pierogies?

Beaver County will host the annual Maple Syrup Festival from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Brady's Run Park in Fallston.

Cost for the pancake breakfast is $5 for adults, $4 for children; parking is free. This year the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program are pointing out you can milk the breakfast: reduced-fat white milk and low-fat chocolate milk will be sold in plastic, single-serve bottles. The bottles can then be recycled in "Drink It Then Sink It" bins. The project also includes Schneider's Dairy of Whitehall.

Sponsored by the Beaver County Conservation District, the festival features dozens of crafters, children's activities, Civil War re-enactments and much more. For more information, call the conservation district at 724-378-1701.

Rich in spirit

The seventh annual Hearts and Hands Gala benefiting Change a Heart: Franciscan Volunteer Program will be held at 6 p.m. April 12 at Scotus Hall, 146 Hawthorne Road, Millvale.

Change of Heart, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis, allows young adults to spend a year in service to the poor with nonprofit agencies in Pittsburgh and Waynesburg, www.changeaheartvolunteers.org.

The gala's theme will be fine wines and a taste of Pittsburgh, featuring food from nine city restaurants, bakeries and a candy shop. There will be a silent auction, 50/50 drawing and other prizes.

Tickets are $35 per person or $60 for couples. Call 412-821-0861 or send an e-mail to volunteer@millvalefranciscans.org.

Cheese, wine

Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. will hold an Italian Cheese and Wine Tasting at 6 p.m. Monday with Elizabeth Bland, the "cheese mistress," who appears at the restaurant trade show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center this weekend. The tasting will be held at Penn Mac, 2010-2012 Penn Ave., Strip District; tickets are $10 at the door.

Pierogi Jambalaya

PG TESTED

Tasty, these are. If you don't like okra, skip it.

  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce
  • 8 ounces okra, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 12-ounce box potato-and-cheddar mini pierogies or 1 16.9-ounce box potato and cheddar pierogies
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned on all sides, stirring occasionally. With a slotted spoon, remove to bowl.

Add oil to drippings in skillet. Add celery, green bell pepper, onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until just tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in tomatoes with liquid, salt and Tabasco sauce. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in okra. Simmer 5 minutes longer or until okra is tender, stirring occasionally.

Bake pierogies as box directs, 16 to 18 minutes. Stir pierogies into sausage mixture. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serves 4.

-- Mrs. T's Pierogies

Pierogies Au Gratin

  • 16.9-ounce box potato and cheddar pierogies
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried, seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Boil pierogies per box directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add flour. Whisk over low heat until well-blended. Gradually add milk, paprika, salt and pepper. Cool over medium heat until mixture thickens and just boils. Remove from heat. Whisk in cheddar cheese until smooth.

Grease 4 2-cup ramekins or one 12-by-8-inch baking dish. Toss pierogies with cheese mixture. Spoon into prepared ramekins or baking dish. Bake ramekins 15 minutes or baking dish 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Increase heat to broil. Sprinkle top of ramekins or baking dish with bread crumbs. Broil 3 to 5 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown. Sprinkle with chives.

Serves 4.

??? Mrs. T's Pierogies

Homemade Pierogi

We get a nicely done email newsletter, Make It Erie, from goerie.com, the Web site of the Erie (Pa.) Times-News. This recipe from Food Editor Marnie Meade Oberle is credited to a co-worker. Sounds tempting.

Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until you have a dough. Do not overprocess. Remove from processor and allow to rest for about 15 minutes. Roll out until thin. Cut pierogies using a large biscuit cutter.

Add filling about the size of a quarter. Fold over and press firmly. Boil in salted water for about 5 minutes.

Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds farmer cheese
  • 1 large potato, cooked until soft and mashed with milk and butter
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine and add to pierogi dough as directed above.

-- Marge Krasinski


Send Sauce items to Margi Shrum, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222, or via e-mail to mshrum@post-gazette.com . Phone 412-263-3027. First Published April 3, 2008 4:00 AM


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