For years now I usually write about travel on my Wednesday articles. Lately due to the worldwide Pandemic travel has become difficult and many times ill advised.
Many of us have chosen to stay home this summer perhaps planning our next trip whenever we feel safe enough to venture further away from home. In our case I’m not really sure when that will be, specially since cruising is one of our favorite vacation travel. Sadly the cruising industry has canceled cruises thru September and will likely cancel cruises thru fall and possibly the rest of the year.
Yes we’re sad and even restless. We haven’t been able to visit our daughter and her family in Italy since last fall. And yes we miss traveling. That’s why I’ve been trying to bring a little bit of our travels in to our home. What better way to “re-live” some of our favorite vacation spots than thru food. I’ve decided to share some of our favorite cuisine which we discovered during our travels. Because isn’t food a big part of traveling anyway?
So for the next little while on my Wednesday post I’ll share a recipe for a favorite food we discovered during our travels. I hope it will inspire you to try something different and maybe make plans to visit one of the countries!
Today I’ll share this Piroshki recipe. Piroshkis are very similar to American meat pies, British Pasties, Middle Eastern Fatayer, and even Empanadas from Mexico, Spain, and other Latin countries.
Piroshkis are a popular street or comfort food in Russia and the Ukraine. They’re fried or baked oblong buns (I prefer the fried) filled with a variety of fillings including beef, chicken, pork, mushrooms, and cheese. In Russia they’re considered a main course when eaten with a soup or salad. It’s often served with sour cream.
Today I’ll share a recipe for Beef or Chicken filled Piroshkis. They’re not too difficult to make and if you’re not used to working with yeast breads this is a fine recipe to start with as it’s fairly simple.
Meat Filled Piroshkis
Ingredients for the dough:
4 cups flour
1 Tsp. Active dry yeast
1/4 Cup warm water
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Sugar
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Lb. Ground Beef, Turkey, or Chicken
1 Large Onion very finely chopped
1/2 Cup Mushrooms very finely chopped
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Pepper
2 Tbs. Fresh Dill
1 Tsp. Dried Dill
1 Tbs. Fresh Garlic – minced
Oil for frying
First prepare dough as follows:
Dissolve yeast in the warm water and place in a warm place until it’s frothy – about 10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan on low heat pour in milk and let warm up.
Whisk in the eggs, oil, sugar, and salt. This mixture will be warm and lumpy.
Remove from heat.
Place 1/2 of flour in bowl of stand mixer (or large bowl if mixing by hand). Using the dough hook gradually stir in the milk mixture until fully combined.
Alternately add yeast mixture and rest of the flour, be sure you mix well between additions.
Knead until the dough forms a ball and does not stick to sides of bowl. You may have to add some more flour (1 Tbs. spoon at a time) to get the dough to the proper consistency.
Cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size. About 1-2 hours.
Meanwhile mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
When dough has doubled in size place the ball into a lightly floured surface.
Pinch of pieces of dough to form a ball about 2″.
Flatten dough and using a rolling pin roll each ball into disks about 4″ in diameter.
Place a heaping Tbs. of filling in the center of dough. Form filling into a line across the diameter. Fold dough over meat and pinch both ends to seal.
Place filled piroshki on to a sheet with the seam side down and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
Heat enough oil in a pan deep enough so that the piroshkis will be at least halfway immersed in oil.
Place piroshki in hot oil seam side down. Fry until golden brown.
Gently flip over and fry other side.
Drain cooked piroshki on paper towels before serving.
Are you mostly at home this summer with a bunch of kids who always seem to be hungry? Are you looking for something different to make for lunch or dinner? Something filling, tasty, and easy to make? Maybe even something you can make ahead and heat up when ready to serve? I think this Italian Beef Drip Sandwich may be just the thing to keep everyone full and happy!
Italian Beef Drip Sandwiches are pretty much like French Dip Sandwiches. Mainly they’re beef sandwiches that you dip in beef broth. Now I love a Roast Beef French Dip Sandwich, specially one with onions and cheese, but sometimes you need a bit of spice and these Italian Beef Drip Sandwiches do just that! They add a bit of spice or more than a bit if you like it hotter, to your meal.
They’re easy to make and can even be made a head of time and stored in the fridge until you need them. I usually keep some on hand in the freezer during the summer, you never know when you need to make yummy sandwiches. You can make the beef in your Crockpot, on your stove, or in your Instant Pot (if making in an instant pot adjust the liquids so you will have dipping broth); the idea is to cook the meat until it’s falling apart and easily shredded.
Once you have the meat filling, and the broth which is from slow cooking the meat, all you need is some nice crusty bread (I prefer hoagie rolls) and provolone cheese. You slap them together, toast until the cheese melts, and serve with hot broth for dipping. I love to serve them with my homemade potato chips! It’s hearty enough to make a filling dinner for the whole family!
1 Chuck Roast about 3 lbs. or more if you want to freeze some for later
1 Tbl. Salt
1/2 Tbl. Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbl. Italian Seasoning
2 Tbl. Minced Garlic
1/2 Jar of Whole Peperoncini
1/2 Jar of Roasted Red Peppers
1/2 Jar of Pimiento Peppers
2 Tbs. Sliced Jalapeno Peppers – adjust this to taste
1 Box Beef Broth – use more if making in an instant pot
Provolone Cheese Slices
Crusty Bread Rolls
Place all ingredients except bread and cheese into your Crockpot, stock pot, or Instant Pot.
If using Crockpot cook on low heat for 8 hours. If using Instant Pot cook on stew setting. If cooking on the stove top simmer it in a covered pot until the meat is falling apart, this should take at least 4-5 hours.
Remove cooked beef from pot and shred using two forks. If using right away then following steps to make sandwich. If storing for later use place in sealed container with peppers and liquid from the pot and refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze.
To make sandwiches cut bread in half and lightly toast in the oven.
Fill with bread with shredded meat and peppers, top with cheese.
Bake in 350 degree oven until cheese melts and the edges of the bread are toasted a bit more.
Serve with a small bowl of the hot broth.
To make later just reheat the meat, peppers, and broth in the microwave oven before putting sandwich together.
Instant Pot Italian Drip Sandwhiches
If I’ve learned anything from the recent recent lock downs due to the deadly virus it’s to make family meals using whatever is on hand.
For many of us lock downs are soon to be a thing of the past if your state hasn’t reopened already. But the treat of more lock downs may still loom in our future. Such is our new normal, at least until a vaccine or a cure can be found. In my opinion that’s a big reason to not forget the lessons we learned thus far.
I’m fortunate enough to live in Hawaii, a state which hasn’t seen the devastation COVID-19 has wielded across the other 48 states that we refer to as the mainland. I’m not sure if it was our politicians’ prompt stay at home order which began on March 23, our health department’s mandatory 14 day quarantine of incoming travelers, our small population with less high density areas, or our isolated location which kept us from the widespread suffering experienced by the other states. I’m prone to think it was a combination of all these factors. But whatever the case maybe the virus was no more real or frightening for us on the islands as it was for our fellow citizens on the mainland.
Our fears heightened by 24/7 news reports and social media posts spurred many citizens to stand in long lines in search of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants just like our mainland counter parts. Fortunately for our family we didn’t wait in long lines searching for basic necessities. My daughter whose family lives in Northern Italy had been in lock down since February, she had urged us to stock up on food and other necessities weeks before US cases and deaths piled up. She had warned that it was only a matter of time before we faced the same issues they faced in Europe. Luckily we listened. We had shopped in early March, doubling and sometimes tripling what we normally purchased. Another plus was having an extra freezer and pantry.
Before the lock down began and we were stocking up our homes and kitchens we had decided that the plan was to have enough of everything so that during the lock down we just had to replenish a few things such as fresh fruits and veggies. During the lock down we’d have lists of what we ran out of which made our grocery trips faster and more efficient; we’d also wait until the list was pretty long before heading to the store.
Because we shopped less frequently and when we did shop not everything on the list was always available, we did run short of a few things. Which is why some of our favorite dishes had to be altered to make use of what we had on hand.
One of the easiest dishes to adapt to ingredients you have on hand is stew. I never really had to plan on making stew, I’ve pretty much use ingredients I found in my fridge and pantry. And in a pandemic stews are one of the best comfort foods to serve.
So during the lock down I made Hunters’ Stew. I call it that because I basically “hunt” for ingredients in my kitchen and toss them together to make my stew. So here’s my hunters’ stew “recipe”, feel free to substitute ingredients based on your tastes and what’s on hand.
Meat – beef, chicken, lamb, or no meat at all – cut meat into large chunks
Veggies – any combination of veggies such as potatoes, carrots, celery, okra, etc.
Flour for dredging
Salt & Pepper
2 Tbs. Oil
Garlic – fresh or powder
Oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaf, or Italian seasoning
Stock or broth – use the same broth as your meat – if you’re making beef stew then use beef broth, etc.
2 Cans tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (you can even use tomato paste if that’s all you have – if you use paste you may have to use more liquid)
Heat oil in a large pot.
Mix salt, pepper, flour together.
Coat meat in flour mixture, shake off excess flour and place in pot.
Cook until all sides of meat are browned.
Add garlic and other spices.
Add broth and veggies and stir well.
Lower heat to simmer.
Cook covered until potatoes are cooked.
Add tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes.
Cover and simmer until meat is tender.
Store leftovers in the fridge.
Reheated left over stew is usually tastier than fresh stew!
As many of you know I absolutely love Mexican food and am always on the lookout for restaurants that serve authentic Mexican cuisine. That’s not easy to find where I live in Hawaii. Although a few places have popped up that meet our family’s expectations most of the time I end up making our favorite Mexican dishes at home.
A family favorite is Carne Asada, typical for a family of carnivores I guess. In restaurants it’s sometimes used as the filling for burritos and enchiladas, or a topping for nachos; and it mostly appears on the mean as steak.
Since it’s a favorite of ours I always make it and use it to fill tacos, burritos, and my all time favorites Chimichangas and Flautas which are really just fried versions of burritos and taquitos.
I use flank or skirt steak to make my Carne Asada, and in a pinch flap meat works well too. Those cuts of meat aren’t the most tender but marinating it overnight makes it not only tender but tasty as well. I usually make a big batch of Carne Asada and freeze some to use later. I pan fry the meat and freeze half. It heats up really well.
You can also grill the Flank Steak instead of pan frying it, but to grill it don’t cut up the meat before marination. Marinate the whole slab, grill it, then cut it up to fill your tacos, burritos, or whatever.
So here’s the recipe!
2 Tbs. Soy Sauce
3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Minced Garlic
1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro roughly chopped
2 Tsp. Chili Powder
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tsp. Ground Oregano
2 Lbs. Flank or Skirt Steak – cut into 1/2″ strips or if you are grilling don’t cut it up marinate the whole slab
Mix all the ingredients except the meat in a bowl.
Place meat in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade over it.
Close bag and knead the meat to distribute the marinade evenly.
When you’re ready to cook it heat 1 Tbs. Olive Oil in skillet.
Place the meat into hot oil and pan fry to desired doneness.
Discard the marinade.
When meat is cooked use it to make nachos or fill your tortillas, taco shells or bowls, depending on what you are making.
Serve with garnishes such as pico de gallo, sour cream, shredded cheese, guacamole, fresh diced tomatos, lettuce, salsa, etc.