This recipe is in memory of my grandmother, who would make this for most of our big family gatherings. I think she knew they were my favorite. I was pretty transparent about it as I would run into her house straight for the kitchen, barely a hello, looking for scallion egg piroshki (meaning “dough with filling” in Russian also known as a galette, in French) fresh out of the oven. It was my most favorite thing she would make. That and her crescent walnut cookies coated with tons of powdered sugar. Hers tasted a hundred times better than mine. Though she made it with gluten, that’s not what made it different. There was something she did with the scallions. They were always so incredibly soft and coated with egg. Nobody in the family has the recipe, unfortunately, so I had to settle for guessing.
With her death anniversary being today I wanted to honor her with a rendition of her incredible scallion egg piroshki (I could eat it all day long) and share a little bit about my Babula (meaning dear, sweet grandmother in Russian).
Hope you don’t mind …
When I look back and remember my grandmother, whom I have always called Babula, the first thing that comes to mind is her in the kitchen. She was always in the kitchen. I’m not sure if it was because she loved cooking, or out of necessity to feed my grandfather, my mother, and three uncles; in addition to the whole extended family at every holiday (we are a big family!).
She passed two years ago today from stomach cancer. Last year was just too hard to write anything. This year I felt compelled to do so as she has been coming into my dreams lately. Maybe a sign?Most recently, taking my hand to dance with me. I miss her, and think about her often.
We didn’t have that grandmother-granddaughter relationship where we would go to the beauty parlor together, get our nails done, or chat away about boys or clothing. It was more of a practical relationship that I valued dearly. She would care for me in my adolescent days when my mother worked, give me words of wisdom when I became too rebellious, and used holistic treatments when I was sick (there was never any medicine in our medicine cabinets). She also taught me to sew, and shared her passion for gardening. She would also braid my hair, and tell me to always have my hair pulled back, and groomed with my head held high.
These are the things I remember most.
When I had my first child and needed to go back to work, she picked him up from preschool and took him to the park every day. But before that, she would prepare dumplings (what we call pierogies in Russian) from scratch because it was my son’s favorite. She was a hard working woman who worked in the leather business in Russia. Then immigrated to Israel, Italy, then America along with my grandfather, uncles, and my parents in 1973. Back then you couldn’t leave Russia and come straight to America, there was a 2 year process due to Russia being a communist country.
In all her years in America she still didn’t speak much English. We spoke Russian to her the best we could. One Passover my husband (who isn’t Russian) made a toast, in English, complimenting her – she smiled and blushed. All was revealed. She did understand everything we were saying in English. Years later I understood she wouldn’t speak English so that my brothers, cousins, and I would speak Russian to her to retain the language.
Ah, many memories that I will cherish.
When she went into the hospital due to severe pain, they discovered she had stage 4 stomach cancer. My mother called me with the unimaginable news. Barely holding onto the phone, I felt a pang in my chest. I was stunned. Living in Los Angeles I couldn’t just come to NY to see her. Not with three children at home, two with special needs that need constant care.
I did get to see her two months before, while visiting my oldest son at NYU, and she looked fine. I couldn’t believe a couple of months could lead to this. Just goes to show that every day is a gift. It broke my heart that I could not get into my car and just go to see her. I scheduled a flight for New York as fast as I could, after a scheduled IEP (goals made for a special needs student), and the completion of my teenage son’s 6th grade history project that I was working on with him. I figured a few weeks is not that long away.
I asked my mother to call me during her next visit to my grandmother so that I can talk to her. At this point she was heavily drugged up with morphine, wasn’t talking, and barely moved. My mother called and I spoke to my grandmother. I told her how grateful I am for all her prayers, and for all that she has done for me and my family, and how much I love her. I selfishly needed confirmation so I asked her to move her fingers if she heard everything I said, and my mother told me she did.
I then cried the rest of the night. I felt that was it.
She passed away two days later before I arrived in NY. She was 81, a week before her 82 birthday. It was days before Chanukah, I remember frying latkes the day I got the call from my mother.
Though I wasn’t there in her last days, I do feel blessed to have prepared food in her kitchen for shiva (a seven-day mourning in the deceased home where all the mirrors are covered, and the spouse and children of the deceased sit low to the ground in mourning), she loved feeding us.
It is only after her passing that I realized how much family meant to her. How much wisdom she imparted. How much she prayed (including the recovery of my twin boys’ from autism), cared for my oldest when I was a single Mom and worked two jobs, loved her grand, and great grandchildren. And how she brought so many people into her home and welcomed them with an abundance of food and drink with a smile. I didn’t realize this in the midst of it all, but do now, now that she has passed. She was a force of nature.
So, my dear friends, this pieroshki (odd for me to call it a galette) brings back warm memories of my grandmother. A recipe I hold dear to my heart that I wanted to share with all of you.
I am working on making this one egg free, that’s still in the tweaking phase for my oldest son (her first great grand child) since we recently realized all his allergies symptoms are due to eggs. Knowing my grandmother she would have made one egg free especially for him.
Though it’s not exactly like hers, it happens to be delicious with the soft, flaky dough I remember. I think she would be proud. Enjoy.
Makes one 10 inch round galette
Serves 6-8 slices
For the crust:
245 grams (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cane sugar
6 ounces Earth Balance Soy Free Spread, chilled, diced
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
6 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
3 bunches scallions, trimmed on both ends, finely sliced (about 2 cups)
3 whole eggs
5 egg yolks
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon coconut oil
Preheat oven temperature to 375 degrees F
Combine flour, kosher salt, sugar in a large bowl. Add diced earth balance and mix into the flour blend with a pastry cutter until earth balance looks like large cereal flakes. Then continue to work the dough using your hands, kneading the dough. Shape the dough into a thick round disk, wrap in plastic wrap.
Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine scallions, eggs, yolks, kosher salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, using a fork to break up the eggs, and mix well. In a skillet set over medium heat, add coconut oil. When melted, add scallion mixture and sauté until some of the liquid from the egg begins to scramble, removing about half the liquid. About 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
Place parchment paper onto a large surface and dust with white rice flour. Place dough on floured paper then dust dough with a sprinkling of white rice flour, cover with parchment paper. Begin rolling out the dough in a vertical motion a few times, then horizontal a few times until you get approximately a 14 inch round crust. I roll it out to the edge of my precut parchment paper sheets.
Note: Do not force the dough to spread, rather roll repeatedly alternating vertically and horizontally using gentle, but firm pressure to prevent the dough from getting tough or dense.
Lift your parchment paper, with your rolled out crust, and transfer onto a baking sheet. Spoon some of the liquid in the scallion mixture onto the crust and spread out using your fingers. Then put all of the scallion egg mixture into the center of the crust and fold over the edges of the crust. Pinch and seal any broken pieces of dough.
Note: There will be liquid (egg white) from the scallion mixture that will spread out when you add it all to the middle of the crust. That will evaporate in the oven and leave a hard, dark film on the edge that can easily be removed when cooled.
Take the other piece of parchment you used, fold it in half then cover the galette. Then cover that with aluminum foil. Seal tightly. Bake for 15 minutes. Continue to bake uncovered 35-40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Note: I cover with parchment paper then aluminum to keep moisture in with steam and to make sure the galette doesn’t become dry, and the egg doesn’t burn before the crust is done.
Let it cool 5 minutes before slicing. Serve hot.
The four of us had some right out of the oven last night (hence the poor lighting), and then had some for breakfast, so I am not sure how long it can remain fresh after a day.
Have to show the light, flaky crust and sweet scallions in here … I think babula would enjoy this gluten free, dairy free one.
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