Turnovers take a turn toward savory


POSTED: Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Russian grandma would have been handy last week - or a Greek or Jewish or Polish grandma- when it became necessary to investigate piroshki, or pirozhki or other variously spelled alternatives involving characters my keyboard doesn't make.

Ruth Watanabe wrote in search of a recipe, and lacking an appropriate grandma, I spent a lot of time with the written word.

Piroshkis are little turnovers, usually filled with meat, although potato and mushroom versions are possible, and cheese-stuffed and fruit-stuffed also show up on occasion.

As for the pastry, I went through about 20 recipes and found doughs made with shortening, butter, cream cheese and sour cream, a few made with yeast, and some shortcuts that used frozen puff pastry or refrigerated biscuit dough. I used butter because that's what I had.

The usual filling is ground beef with onions and chopped hard-boiled egg. Dill was the most common seasoning, although some called for rosemary or parsley. I used rosemary, because that's what I had.

Since the ingredients are so simple, I suggest heavily seasoning the filling or the end result will be bland. Taste it before you wrap it up. A few dashes of hot sauce, chili pepper flakes or mustard powder would add depth if you like a bit of heat.



» Filling
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1 hard-boiled egg, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill or 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary (if using dried herbs, use half as much)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 raw egg, beaten

» Pastry:
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup ice water

To make pastry: Sift together flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in butter until crumbly. Mix in eggs. Add ice water a little at a time while lightly kneading dough; use just enough water so mixture is soft and even. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.

To make filling: Heat butter in skillet. Saute onion until soft. Add beef and brown. Let cool slightly, then add hard-boiled egg and dill. Season generously with salt and pepper. Mix in raw egg.

Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick on floured surface. Cut into 3-inch circles. Place a spoonful of filling into center of each circle. Fold in half and pinch edges closed to make a half-moon.

Place on ungreased baking sheet and brush tops with beaten egg. Bake 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Makes about 30 piroshki.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per piece (not including salt to taste): 120 calories, 8 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, no fiber or sugar, 4 g protein.

  Alternate potato filling: Combine 2 cups mashed potatoes withcup grated cheddar cheese andcup sauteed chopped onions. Season generously with salt and pepper. Mix in 1 raw egg.