Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2 for 1 Recipe Special: Lekvar and Pierogis

As you may or may not know, I am partly Hungarian in my lineage.  I pay homage to my Hungarian Ancestry with recipes that celebrate the old world.  Usually these are bore of countless hours of searching through old papers to find faded handwritten recipes from my grandparents but sometimes I get an idea from listening to dad.  Now one of the staple items in Hungarian cooking is lekvar or prune butter.  This is used in a number of cookies and baked goods and tastes wonderful spread on warm toast in the morning.  I have always avoided using lekvar though because it is prohibitively expensive to buy in the store, around $5.99 for a small jar.  Enter the Hungarian Cookbook, a tome a recipes gathered by the Hungarian Ladies of New Brunswick, NJ in the 1950's.  In it there's a recipe for lekvar and once I discovered how simple it was to make I'm sold on using it.  Here's the recipe:

Lekvar (Hungarian Prune Butter)

1lb Pitted Prunes (Dried Plums)
1C Sugar
Water to cover.

Place prunes in a heavy bottomed pot and add sugar and just enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins until the prunes are soft.  Grind into a paste with either a  food mill, food processor or hand blender and return to pot.  Simmer on lowest heat until thickened (should coat the back of a spoon).  Let cool completely and then either store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or freeze.

At this point you're going to have a big giant container of lekvar like I did and you're going to wonder what to do with it other than use it on toast or peanut butter sandwiches.  This is when dad mentioned that his grandmother used to make pierogis and fill them with lekvar.  I never thought of that and I'm no stranger to pierogis having grown up in a Polish household, but this lekvar filling seemed to be more Slovak in origin.  Anyhow, here's the recipe I used to make the pierogis:

Pierogi Dough

2C Flour
1/2 C Warm Water
1tsp Salt
2T Oil

Mix all ingredients in a bowl then knead until smooth.  Let rest 30 mins then divide in half.  Roll half of dough out to 1/8" thickness then cut into circles.  Brush each circle lightly with eggwash made of 1 beaten egg then place a dollop of lekvar (or filling of choice: potatoes and onions, sauerkraut, etc.) in the center.  fold in half and pinch to seal being careful to expel all air around the filling.  Boil 5-8 mins until floating and remove to rack to cool.  For the dinner pictured above take 3-4 slices good quality bacon or smoked pork jowl and cut into small pieces.  Fry in pan until fat renders out and bacon is crisp.  Remove bacon and set aside keeping oil in pan.  Fry each pierogi until crisp on both sides then add 1/2 a sweet onion, diced, to pan cooking until onion is transparent.  Add bacon back in, mix and then sprinkle onions/bacon over pierogis in a serving bowl.  Serve with sour cream on the side.


  1. Looks mouth watering good. So thanks for the slober on my keyboard. I am blaming any tupos on that from this point forard. How did you find a delicious retro recipe? All mine look ghastly. Of course I like the booklets meant to sell things like potato chips and bread. Fun blog - am your newest follower, come by and say hello some time.

  2. Thanks for the follow, about the slobber, I'm not going there LOL. To answer your question I guess it's the foundation of having been raised by a Grandfather, 2 Grandmothers and 1 Great Grandmother who all cooked and taught me. No surprise when I went off to become a chef later on. I use that knowledge to evaluate the recipes I try, not all make the cut, some are a disaster. As for sources I draw on the recipes my grandparents handed down to me both written and orally and through my collection of vintage cookbooks and such. These recipes I put here are "kitchen tested" and often slightly modified by me to take into account how ingredients have changed over the years. Needless to say there's alot of work behind each recipe but it's worth it when I get such lovely feedback from my readers.

  3. Lou,

    Keep those Magyar recipes coming! You were so lucky to know your Grandpa Tamasi. My grandfather, Richard Tamasi passed away in 1979, 5 years before I was born.


    1. Yeah grandpa was great and I kinda remember my great-grandmother but I was young the times I met her.

  4. my grandmother Ukrainian, and prune perogies were a regular staple when I was a kid. thanks for posting. :)

  5. A Polish church across the street from my grade school had the Polish women every friday make tons of pierogis filled with cheese, or sauerkraut, potatoe, or LEKVAR! We would be able to get a pot filled with 40 pierogis for about $3.00. Lekvar was the family favorite. Thanks for the recipe, as I'll be making them for Christmas.

  6. My Ruthenian Grandmom was a pierogi lady for decades at Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church in Philadelphia. She always kept a supply of her homemade pierogis in her freezer- they were her "fast food". And every visit to her house meant getting a bag of them to take home. There's a Ukrainian Catholic Church up the road from us that still has pierogi ladies making them weekly. Our family were strictly potato with cheese folk. My Bavarian husband's family were sauerkraut folk.

  7. Will be making peroghi with Lekvar this Christmas. My grandparents are of Polish/Russian/Ukrainian/Austria-Hungarian. I Polish grandmother always made a zillion pirogi at Christmas time, and a smaller amount filled with prunes (Lekvar). It will be the first time I have ever made them, but I have taught my grandchildren to make pirogi and hope they will keep up the tradition.


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