Our friends, chefs Evan and Sarah Rich of San Francisco’s Michelin-starred Rich Table, just released their first cookbook! Drawing inspiration from the natural bounty of the Bay Area, one of their signature ingredients on the menu is Douglas Fir powder, made from the needles of the evergreen that grows all over California and the Pacific Northwest. They love its earthy, piney citrusy note, and use Douglas Fir in everything from gnocchi to olive oil cookie dough, and caramel chocolates to their house-baked Douglas Fir levain bread and even cocktails. It’s featured in a number of the recipes in their cookbook, but one of our favorite recipes highlights the ingredient beautifully: Douglas Fir Pierogi with Goat Cheese and Chicory. The dish perfectly introduces the flavor to people who may be wary of eating tree needles, and pierogi are very approachable so they’re a great vessel to try something new and different.
Evan and Sarah forage for the needles in the hills of Mount Tam just north of San Francisco, but for anyone who isn’t able to search for them in nature, they recommend substituting Douglas Fir powder with our Douglas Fir tea, by popping open the tea bag and pouring out the powder inside for the recipe. They’ve shared the recipe with us so that you can make it yourselves at home, and they’ll also be giving away a signed copy of their cookbook (along with a couple boxes of our Douglas Fir tea!) to one lucky winner via a contest on their Instagram page. Follow the instructions there to enter, and happy cooking!
DOUGLAS FIR PIEROGI WITH GOUDA AND CHICORY
Douglas Fir Sour Cream
1 cup [240 g] sour cream
3/4 tsp Douglas fir powder (see page 12), ground fennel, or ground dried thyme (see Note)
2 cups [280 g] all-purpose flour
1/2 cup [120 g] sour cream
1/4 cup [55 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
23/4 tsp salt, plus more as needed
12 oz  russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1-in [2.5-cm] pieces
3/4 cup [60 g] grated aged Gouda
1 Tbsp [6 g] grated raw horseradish
1/2 tsp Douglas fir powder (see page 12), ground fennel, or ground dried thyme, plus more as needed
1/4 tsp Umami Seasoning (page 33), plus more as needed (optional)
3/4 cup [165 g] unsalted butter
2 Tbsp [30 g] capers, drained and thoroughly dried
1 cup [140 g] diced shallots
3 oz [85 g] mixed chicory lettuces, such as frisée and radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
1 lemon, halved
Chopped fresh chives, for serving
SARAH: I think this is one of the best applications of Douglas fir that we have. It perfectly introduces the flavor to people who might be wary of eating tree needles. Pierogi are very approachable, so they’re a great vessel for something new and different.
CHEF’S NOTE: To make the pierogi ahead of time, stuff and place them on a sheet of lightly floured parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place in the freezer until completely frozen, and then transfer to a zipper-lock bag. They’ll keep in the freezer for about 3 months. When ready to cook, add to the boiling water directly from the freezer. Add an additional 2 to 3 minutes to the boiling time.
The umami seasoning is the same powder we use in our Porcini Doughnuts (page 33). It’s a great flavor booster for many recipes, so consider making it in large batches. With that said, if you’re not up for it, you can skip it in this recipe.
To make the Douglas fir sour cream: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream and Douglas fir powder until smooth. Season with salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve, or for up to 3 days.
To make the pierogi: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sour cream, butter, egg, and 3/4 tsp of the salt. Mix on medium-low speed until the dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough is no longer sticky, about 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest while preparing the filing.
(Alternatively, combine the dough ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough just begins to form a ball. Transfer to a lightly floured counter and knead until the dough is no longer sticky. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let rest while preparing the filling.)
In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water by about 1 in [2.5 cm]. Add the remaining 2 tsp salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and continue to boil until the potatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well.
Press the drained potatoes through a potato ricer back into the saucepan. (Alternatively, return the drained potatoes to the saucepan and, using a potato masher, mash until very smooth.) Stir in the cheese, horseradish, Douglas fir powder, and umami seasoning. Season with salt and additional Douglas fir powder. Let cool to room temperature.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and dust lightly with flour.
Divide the pierogi dough into four equal portions. Working with one portion at a time on a lightly floured work surface and keeping the remaining portions covered with plastic wrap, roll the dough into a round about 1/8 in [3 mm] thick. Using a round cookie cutter, 3 in [7.5 cm] in diameter, cut the dough into three to four rounds. Transfer the rounds to one of the prepared baking sheets. Reroll and cut the scraps to make two or three more rounds of dough. Discard the remaining dough scraps. (The dough will become tough if it is rerolled additional times.)
Repeat with the remaining dough portions. When the tray is full, cover the rounds with a second piece of flour-dusted parchment and place additional rounds on top. You should have about 24 rounds of dough.
Working with one round of dough at a time, brush off excess flour and then place about 1 Tbsp [15 g] of the potato mixture in the center of the round. Stretch and pull the dough around the filling and fold in half to form a half-moon. Pinch the pierogi closed and then, using the tines of a fork, seal the edge. Place on the second prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds.
To make the butter sauce: In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp [30 g] of the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is foamy, add the capers and cook, stirring frequently, until they shrink and turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the capers to a paper towel–lined plate.
Add an additional 2 Tbsp [30 g] butter to the skillet and lower the heat to medium. When the butter is foamy, add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the entire contents of the skillet to the bowl with the capers and mix well. Don’t wash the skillet; it’ll be used to cook the pierogi.
When ready to serve: Preheat the oven to 180°F [83°C]. Place a baking sheet in the oven. Remove the Douglas fir sour cream from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while cooking the pierogi.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add half of the pierogi to the water and boil until they all float to the top, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup [55 g] of the butter in the large skillet over medium-low heat. Add half of the shallot-caper mixture.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the boiled pierogi to the skillet with the hot butter, shaking off excess water. Increase the heat to medium and fry the pierogi until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Pour the entire contents of the skillet onto the baking sheet in the oven.
Repeat with the remaining 1/4 cup [55 g] butter, remaining shallot-caper mixture, and remaining pierogi.
In a medium bowl, toss the chicories with the zest and juice of half of the lemon.
Remove the pierogi from the oven and squeeze the remaining lemon juice over them.
To serve, divide the sour cream among six shallow serving bowls or deep plates. Spread it to coat the bottom of each bowl. Place four pierogi in each bowl, topping them with the shallot-caper mixture. Drizzle the remaining shallot-caper butter over the pierogi. Top with the chicories and chives. Serve immediately.
Excerpted with permission from Rich Table by Evan and Sarah Rich (Chronicle Books, 2018) Copyright © by Sarah and Evan Rich. Photographs copyright © by Alanna Hale