Good cooking runs in Amy Poremba’s family.
The Clarks Summit resident remembers the days spent in the kitchen with family, including her mother, Lucille Naro, and her grandmother, Genevieve Kowalchik. A favorite recipe that stands out in Poremba’s mind is the family’s recipe for pierogis. They would spend the whole day making dough, rolling it up, filling each circle with potato and cheese, and pinching several dozen pierogis.
“Those were some of my favorite times,” Poremba said recently. “I have such fond memories from those days, sharing those moments with my family.”
While Poremba was planning her wedding to her husband, Michael, about 16 years ago, she asked her mom and grandma to show her how to make the family’s beloved pierogis. Today, she passes on that recipe to her own children, daughter Mallory, 11, and son Declan, 6.
“It was important to me to have (the recipe) and to be able to share something so special with them,” she said.
Here at Local Flavor, we love nothing more than a storied family recipe, and that’s why Poremba’s earned her a $50 gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore.
Poremba called the pierogi recipe “the easiest recipe in the world, but it is time-consuming.” While Poremba fills hers with traditional potato and cheese, cooks can use whatever filling they’d like.
It’s worth it to make several batches since the pierogis freeze well. Poremba typically makes them around Christmas for holiday meals, but she saves a few dozen to freeze and then enjoy throughout the year.
“They’re a great, quick weeknight dinner,” she said. “We just take them out and fry them up with some butter and onions and that’s it.”
In addition to honoring her Slovak heritage from her mom’s side, her father is Italian, and so she makes things like homemade sauce and has weekly pasta nights. That menu consists of grilled chicken, salads, macaroni and cheese, and, during the summer, anything they can throw on the grill. Poremba also is a skilled baker and makes nut rolls at Easter plus lots of kinds of cookies (some from her mother’s recipes), such as Italian ricotta, pepper, chocolate chip, peanut butter and lemon.
Poremba feels grateful to be able to pass down these traditions and recipes to her children. It also warms her heart that her kids have the chance to not only make these memories with her and her mother but also with 96-year-old Kowalchik. Many families don’t get the opportunity to have four generations in the kitchen together.
“We are so blessed to have this,” she said, “and I’m so happy I get to share this with my kids.”
Amy Poremba’s Pierogis
- 4 cups flour
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Few tablespoons oil (no more than ¼ cup)
- 5 to 6 potatoes
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
Add cheese, salt and pepper, and mash or blend with a hand mixer. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt, then make a well in the middle of the bowl. Add eggs and water to well and start to fold in dry ingredients from the sides. Once all ingredients are well incorporated, pour a little oil on your hands and knead the dough. If dough is too sticky, you may need a little more flour. If too dry, you may need a little more oil or water.
Once dough is ready, cut away a portion and roll it out on a floured surface until about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick.
Use a circular cookie cutter (or a glass) to cut circles in dough. Work excess dough back into the reserved dough. Place about ½ teaspoon of potato and cheese mixture in center of each circle, then fold in half and pinch edges. Be sure that no filling pops out.
Repeat the process until all dough is used.
If not immediately cooking, lay formed pierogis in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in freezer. Once solid, pierogis can be transferred to freezer bags and stored for up to one year.
When ready to cook, melt butter in a skillet and sauté onions until tender. Boil pierogis for about 5 minutes until they start to float to surface. Transfer pierogis to skillet and toss with butter and onions, then serve immediately.
Alternatively, pierogis can be cooked in an air fryer (or deep fryer).
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT