Sunday, January 3, 2010

Potato Pirozhki

Well, winter has really come to Central New York. Bands of lake effect snow have covered the area in unending drifts of snow. I woke this morning at 5, looked out the window and saw unplowed roads, and new mounds of snow piled on all the shrubs and thought to myself: "It's a good day to be inside drinking coffee."

It's also a good day for comfort food, specifically Eastern European dishes. Yesterday I got to thinking of haluski (or noodles with cabbage), which naturally led me to golubtsi or gołąbki (golumpki) those divine stuffed cabbage rolls; Russian Black Bread; and pirozhki: a bun or dumpling of yeast dough, stuffed with a variety of fillings, from meat, to mushroom, to my favorite, potato and cheese.

I have an insane weakness for street vendor food (I should blog about the bout of food poisoning that I got from street vendor food when I was in Korea...) and my favorite spots when I was studying in the USSR were the Armenian and Georgian vendors selling huge rounds of fresh lavash, and the ubiquitous pirozhki stands where you could get a paper cone of freshly deep-fried meat-filled pirozhki for mere kopeks.

Back to reality: I have everything I need to make the Black Bread and a batch of potato pirozhki today, but as for the golubtsi, I only have a head of red cabbage. Now I've wracked my brain and can not think of a valid reason not to use the leaves of red cabbage instead of the green. I searched out red cabbage recipes and for the most part only found the usual German side dishes of sweet and sour braised cabbage, stewed red cabbage with apples and chestnuts, cole slaw, and a few soups. If only I had beets I could use some of the cabbage to make a killer borschch!

I may end up making the stuffed cabbage rolls with the red cabbage over the next few days, if only to see if it makes a difference of you use green or red cabbage; in the meantime, we have potato pirozhki (the Russian Black bread is still on its second rise):

Potato Pirozhki


For the Dough:
  • 2 ½ teaspoons yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm milk (105 - 115 F)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ¼- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

For the Filling:
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about ¾ cup)
  • ¾ cup of sour cream
  • 2 T horseradish
  • 1 T dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the wash:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon milk

  1. Make the filling:

    1. Boil the potatoes, skins on, until a knife slides in easily and the potato falls off the knife back into the water. Let them cool a bit

    2. While the potatoes are cooling, saute the onions in olive oil until translucent, soft and shiny, not browned.

    3. Peel potatoes, and cut into chunks into a large bowl.

    4. Mash. Add the sauteed onions, mixing thoroughly.

    5. Add sour cream, mix well.

    6. Season to taste with salt, pepper, horseradish and dill. - I like enough horseradish to get my sinuses open, but not so much that my eyes water.

  2. Make the dough:

    1. Combine the yeast, sugar and lukewarm milk in a large bowl and let sit until the yeast gets foamy, about 5 minutes. It should smell nice and yeasty and look brown and puffy.

    2. Add the melted butter, salt and beaten egg to the yeast mixture, stirring very well to incorporate all that butter.

    3. Add 3 ¼ cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring very well after each addition. You should have a pretty rough dough by now.

    4. Turn out the doughy into a well-floured board and knead for 5 minutes or so, adding more flour as necessary to keep it from sticking.

    5. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Use it now or refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.

  3. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat baking mat.

  5. With a pastry scraper, divide the dough into thirds. With a rolling pin, roll out one third of the dough about 1/8 inch thick.

  6. Using a round biscuit or cookie cutter (or the top of a drinking glass), cut out rounds of dough.

  7. Place a fairly heaping spoonful of filling in the center of the circle, then fold the dough over, so it makes a plump semi-circle.

  8. Press the edges together firmly and crimp closed with the tines of a fork.

  9. Place on the baking sheet.

  10. Mix together the egg yolk and milk, and brush the pirozhki with the egg wash.

  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and delicious.


  1. You had an ambitious day! Satisfying, isn't it. I am making a loaf of whole wheat bread right now.

  2. I love the smell of the house when there's fresh brad baking.



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