Saturday, August 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: The World of Pierogi (August 2010)

The August 2010 Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n' Bites and Anula of Anula's Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

So at first glance this challenge seemed a bit repetitive to me....much like when we made dumplings or potstickers. I wasn't overly excited about the filling choices either and didn't really have time to be overly creative. BUT, in the spirit of being a Daring Cook and wanting to participate, onward with the challenge!

Starting with the filing...I chose to make the Russian Style Pierogi. Sure it has cottage cheese in it which I'm not a huge fan of, but's cheese, it'll melt and be yummy right?! has bacon!

The dough was pretty straight forward. Very stretchy when rolled though (again, very similar to the potsticker dough). I used the pierogi form (I found mine at Sur La Table) as a template to cut my circles. Easy onto filling. As I learned, more isn't always better in these situations and this held true. The pierogi forms are fairly unforgiving. The filling portion squeezes out the "bottom" and it difficult to get out of the form if you over fill, not to mention it doesn't squeeze together very well and "seal" the dough.

But, after a few tries I got the hang of it and realized that the recipe was going to make enough to feed an entire army....and their enemies! (Note: feel free to cut the thing in half, or even a quarter, unless you want to freeze them for later!)

The next step is to boil them. Also pretty straight forward, just remember to time them and flip them so that they cook evenly. This is also the step that you'll find out if you sealed them well enough or not. They explode pretty fast if you didn't. Makes for messy water, but not a big deal otherwise.

Verdict...they were ok like this. I wasn't a huge fan...and no, cottage cheese doesn't exactly melt and become the cheesy goodness I'd hoped for. So, the next step in trying to make them a bit better was to fry them. Also, hoping to speed up the process a bit, a large pierogi was formed and sealed using a fork. The result:

This method increased the flavor content...much better, but then again, what isn't usually better fried! :-)

To see other Daring Cooks' creations, visit: The Daring Kitchen.

Special thanks to Neil for helping me out with this challenge!

 The Recipes:
Cottage Cheese Wareneki (Pierogi)
Adapted from The Mennonite Cookbook

Dough Ingredients:
½ cup (125 ml) milk (can be whole milk, 2% or skim milk)
½ cup (125 ml) whipping cream
3 large egg whites
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
3 cups (450 gm) all-purpose flour

1. Mix flour and salt, add other ingredients, and knead dough until you have a smooth dough. (I kneaded this dough quite a bit, and it yielded a nice, pliable dough).

2. On a floured surface roll out fairly thin (1/8” or about 3 millimeters), cut into 2” (5 cm) squares, and fill with 1 tsp (5ml) cottage cheese filling (see below).

Cottage Cheese Wareneki Filling Ingredients:
1 lb (455 g) dry cottage cheese
3 large egg yolks
Salt to taste

1. Mix well all the ingredients for the filling.

2. Put 1 rounded teaspoon (5 ml) of the filling in each square, fold corners to form a triangle, seal edges well using your fingers or a fork

3. Cook in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes.

Note: Boiled pierogi can also be fried after boiling for a nice crunchy dumpling.

Note: If you can't find dry cottage cheese, simply drain normal cottage cheese by nesting the cottage in a few layers of cheese cloth or a fine sieve over a bowl.

Note: You can very easy make a sweet version of Warenki - just add some fruits and sugar to the cheese filling and mix well together (strawberries or blueberries are great idea!) 

Russian Style Pierogi
Makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings Traditional Polish recipe, although each family will have their own version, this is Anula's family recipe

Dough Ingredients:
2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water

Filling Ingredients:
3 big potatoes, cooked & mashed (1 1/2 cup instant or leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
1 cup (225 g) cottage cheese, drained
1 onion, diced & sauteed in butter until clear
3 slices of streaky bacon, diced and fried till crispy (you can add more bacon if you like or omit that part completely if you're vegetarian)
1 egg yolk (from medium egg)
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, melted
1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon salt pinch of pepper to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients for the filling (it's best to use one's hands to do that) put into the bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge until you have to use it.

2. Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You‟re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.

3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass. Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

4. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.

5. Serve immediately preferably with crème fraiche or fry. Cold pierogi can be fried. Boiled Russian pierogi can be easily frozen and boiled taken out straight from the freezer.

Other types of fillings:

Potato and Cheese Filling
Ingredients: 4 – 5 (600g – 750g) boiled potatoes 4 table spoons butter (60 g) or olive oil (60 ml) 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (50 ml) milk 1 egg white (from medium egg) ½ cup (about 120 ml) farmers‟ cheese ( or any unripened cheese like Indian Paneer) salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine ingredients thoroughly.
2. Fill pierogi as instructed above.
Meat and Cabbage Filling

Ingredients: 200 g (7 oz) cooked meat (minced or cut very finely) 500 g (18 oz) white cabbage (chopped and simmered in a little bit of water, until soft) 1 onion (diced and fried) 1 whole medium egg 1 tablespoon (15g) butter dry breadcrumbs (add as much to hold the filling together, about 2 tablespoons) salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine ingredients thoroughly.
2. Fill pierogi as instructed above.
Soy bean Filling

Ingredients: 350 g (12 oz.) soy beans (canned, drained and minced) 2 medium eggs 1 onion (diced and fried) 100 g (2/3 cup) dry breadcrumbs salt and pepper

1. Combine ingredients thoroughly.
2. Fill pierogi as instructed above.

Sauerkraut Filling
Ingredients: 2 cups (500 g) sauerkraut 1 big carrot, grated 1 shallot, chopped and fried with a tablespoon of butter few (about 3) wild mushrooms (I used dry ones, you can use fresh but chop them and fry on some butter before adding to the sauerkraut cabbage) salt, pepper and cumin to taste.

1. Sauté all the ingredients together until soft, cool before filling pierogi.
2. Fill pierogi as instructed above.

Seasonal Fruits
You can also fill pierogi with whole seasonal fruits for example- strawberries, blueberries, morels, grated apples etc. To prevent the fruits from „sogging‟ just add a little bit of potato flour inside with the fruit and sweeten them after the boiling on the plate rather than putting sugar inside.

Enjoy With Love,

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