Food Column: These holiday cards are worth 10 bucks off $30 local meals

Either you love it or you hate it, but it's that time of the year again, friends: Christmas shopping time.

In the interest of lightening my fellow shoppers' loads, I offer here two gift suggestions for the Pittsburgh foodie:

City Dining Cards Pittsburgh: It looks like a deck of cards, but each card is a $10 discount card for a local restaurant (good on checks of $30 or more). Restaurants include Root 174 in Regent Square; E2 in Highland Park; Nine on Nine, Downtown; and Round Corner Cantina and Industry Public House in Lawrenceville. Two wild cards hidden in the deck offer freebies at Church Brew Works and Espresso a Mano, both in Lawrenceville.

The cards are good through Dec. 31, 2013.

The best parts: The deals are only for locally owned businesses, and buying a deck benefits charity. Decks are $20 each; 5 percent goes to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

For a list of participating restaurants or to buy a deck:

"Food Lovers' Guide to Pittsburgh": The four women who write the popular food blog titled -- Sarah Sudar, Julia Gongaware, Amanda McFadden and Laura Zorch -- have released a print product, too. (See the PG's earlier story about this book by searching it at

Their "Food Lovers' Guide to Pittsburgh" gives readers the scoop on local restaurants, food festivals, Lenten fish fries, farmers markets, breweries and wineries, traditional foods of the region and other tidbits.

The authors have included 12 recipes from chefs at local restaurants (see recipe below for Short Rib Pierogies). And yes, they even toss in a little Pittsburghese.

You can link to -- and a post about their book -- from the Post-Gazette's new site,

Priced at $14.95, the book is available from local bookstores or online retailers such as Or you could get a signed copy at the following book signing events:

• Barnes & Noble, Greensburg, 2 p.m. Saturday.

• VisitPittsburgh Welcome Center, Fifth Avenue Place, Downtown, noon Dec. 12. (First 25 people in line receive a free book. Doors open at 10 a.m.)

• Art on Tap, Westmoreland Museum of American Art, 6 to 7 p.m. Dec. 14.

Meanwhile, here are a few additional gift possibilities from local groups and shops:

Holiday gifts

Shop Local Month: To showcase gift options sold by its 35-plus vendors, Pittsburgh Public Market celebrates "Shop Local Month" now through Dec. 23 with giveaways each Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Gift of the Day could be anything from a pair of homemade earrings to a box of produce. To find out what the day's gift is and how to win it, go to

Pecan sale: Pittsburgh South Hills Delta Gamma alumnae are selling pecans to raise money for the visually impaired. One-pound bags of mammoth pecans are $10; 12-ounce bags of milk chocolate-covered pecans are $8. Pecans are usually gone by early December. Call 412-278-2950 to order.

And another pecan sale: The Smith College Club of Pittsburgh is selling mammoth pecan halves for $10.50 per pound; 12-ounce bags of chocolate-covered pecans are $9. Shipping is extra. For information: Ann Ostergaard, 412-488-8836.

All-Clad seconds sale: Crate in Scott Township holds a seconds sale on this popular cookware from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 9:30 to 5 Saturday and 11 to 3 on Sunday. 412-341-5700.

Holiday events

Holiday Tea: English-style formal tea with scones, finger sandwiches, trifles and tarts. 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. today and Friday at Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park. $27. Registration is required: 412-651-5281.

Eat, Drink & Be Merry: Women for WineSense holiday party with fine wines and food. 6 p.m. Monday at James Street Gastropub, North Side. $35 for members; $50 for nonmembers. RSVP by today. (click the events calendar to locate this event).

Short Rib Pierogies

For the short ribs
  • 5 pounds bone-in short ribs, cut to approximately 4 inches
  • Salt and pepper as needed
  • 3 quarts beef stock
  • 2 cups tomato paste

Liberally season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a medium-size roasting pan and place ribs in the pan. Quickly sear the short ribs on all sides; remove from the heat. Add the stock and tomato paste; the stock should cover the ribs. Place parchment paper on top; this will keep the ribs submerged. Cover with foil or lid and place in oven at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until ribs are tender. Remove from oven and cool to less than 41 degrees. After ribs are thoroughly cooled, remove fat from top of the cooking liquid remove the ribs. Reserve liquid. Pull all meat from bones and place in a mixer. Mix the meat on a low speed until it is pureed.

For the pierogi dough
  • 3/4 pound cream cheese
  • 12 eggs
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour

Combine all ingredients, adding water if moisture is needed. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. You can use a rolling pin or pasta machine. Using a 3-inch ring mold, cut pierogi rounds.

To assemble a pierogi, place approximately 1/2 to 1 ounce rib meat in center and fold over. Pinch edges closed with the tines of a fork and parboil for 2 minutes, then cool.

For the creamed leeks
  • 1 bunch leeks
  • Canola oil as needed
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper

Remove green parts from leeks and cut in half lengthwise. Thoroughly clean leeks under cold running water. Cut into thin cross-wise strips. Place in a saute pan over medium heat with a small amount of canola oil. Sweat the leeks for 3 to 5 minutes. Add heavy cream and simmer 5 to 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the pan jus
  • 1 cup Burgundy or red wine
  • 3 cups braising liquid from ribs
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh herbs, if desired

Place wine and braising liquid in a small saucepan and reduce by half over medium heat. Thicken slightly if needed, using a cornstarch and water mixture.

Heat butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the pierogies and brown slightly on both sides. Add the pan jus and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes. Place a small amount of leeks on the plate and arrange the pierogies around them. Finish with a drizzle of pan jus and chopped fresh herbs.

-- Executive Chef Dean Gress, Braddock's American Brasserie

Rebecca Sodergren: Follow me on Twitter: @pgfoodevents. First Published November 29, 2012 5:00 AM


Hot Topic