In preparation for our moves (AKA the end of retirement), Neil and I have made lists of restaurants in Bellingham we want to try out, shows in town we want to see, etc. Another list includes meals we want to make and enjoy together. Sharing space atop that list with the likes of blueberry coffee cake and mushroom risotto are pierogi, delicious Polish dumplings. This recipe is slightly adapted from my friend Aldona, takes about 1.5 to 2 hours from start to finish and is a perfect comfort food for these cold clear nights.
POTATO CHEESE PIEROGI
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
2Cups white flour (whole wheat pastry flour works too, but won’t be as soft or easy to work with)
1 large egg
3/4 Cup hot water
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
Fried Onion Deliciousness
1/2 stick of butter
1 large onion, chopped pretty fine
3 large potatoes
1 Cup cottage/farmer cheese
salt and pepper to taste
one large scoop of Fried Onion Deliciousness
Fried Onion Deliciousness
curry, chopped herbs, yogurt – you name it! get creative!
THE HOW TO
- Cut potatoes into small chunks and boil until soft and mashable.
- While the potatoes are cooking, pour flour into a large bowl. Make a big well in the flour and crack the egg into it. Add the salt, olive oil, and about half of the hot water.
- Knead the dough together, adding the rest of the water as needed until you have what feels like a soft pie dough – not too dry, but not sticky either. Let the dough rest, covered so it doesn’t dry out, for 20 minutes or so as you prepare the fried onion deliciousness and pierogi filling.
- Put the half stick of butter in a cast iron skillet, and, once it is melting and starting to sizzle, add the chopped onion. Fry until the onions are translucent and smelling irresistibly delicious.
- Drain the boiled potatoes and mash with a fork. Add the cheese (we got Polish farmers cheese from the European import store, but most any cheese – farmers, cottage, cheddar – will do) and a big scoop of the fried onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. *For one batch of pierogi, we added curry powder and peas to this mixture.
- Roll out the dough on a floured cutting board. It should be pretty darn thin – a millimeter? – thick enough that it won’t tear when you add the filling, thin enough that it won’t taste gummy once boiled.
- Using a cup, cut out circles of dough 3 inches in diameter or so.
- Put a Tablespoon or 2 of filling on each circle of dough (it takes much less filling than you might think!) and crimp the edges together to form a pocket, a mini-calzone. Make sure your edges are sealed or the dumplings will spill open when boiling.
- As you’re finishing with filling the pierogi, heat up a large pot of water to boiling. Dunk about 10 – 12 pierogi in at once. They’ve finished cooking about 30 seconds after they float to the top (2 minutes or so altogether).
- Top with the left-over fried onions, soy sauce, sour cream, hot sauce and anything else you’re inclined to try.
- Enjoy hot, with a glass of wine and a winter companion. Marvel at the countless ways cultures have managed to accessorize dough and make it taste delicious.
It combines and balances grace and power – patience and urgency – in the most mesmerizing way.
It maintains a healthy relationship with the moon.
It’s rarely linear, preferring a zig-zaggy meandering to a straight shot.
It cycles through its existence, the product of countless sources and environmental influences – shifting shapes, but omnipresent.
It is a landscape in a minor key. A sketchy panorama where objects, both organic and inorganice, lack well-defined edges and tend to melt together in a silver-green blur. Great islands of craggy rock arch abruptly up out of the flats, and at sunrise and moonrise these outcroppings are frequently tangled in mist. Eagles nest on the island crowns and blue herons flap through the veils from slough to slough. It is a poetic setting, one which suggests inner meanings and invisible connections.
Somewhere in the intersection of pancakes and custards resides the Dutch Baby. With a gallon of frozen blueberries taking up space in our neighbor’s freezer (too daunting for our mini-fridge), I felt like taking on this new breakfast item. Be forewarned: if you bite into a dutch baby pancake expecting a pancake, you’ll be grossed out by the smooth creamy inner texture; if you expect a custard, it won’t taste quite right either. The trick is to appreciate the fusion of the two (the fact that it’s laden with blueberries and smothered in maple syrup won’t hurt either!).
Without further ado, the Dutch Baby Pancake :
BLUEBERRY DUTCH BABY PANCAKE
(recipe from Nourishing Traditions)
1Cup whole wheat flour
1 Cup yogurt, kefir or buttermilk (for those with dairy allergies, 1 Cup of water mixed with 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar is a fine substitution)
1 Cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2-4 Tbsp butter
1/2 Cup blueberries (fresh or frozen – if frozen, thaw a bit beforehand)
nutmeg, powdered sugar (optional toppings)
THE HOW TO
- The night before you’re planning to make the cakes, mix together the flour and yogurt/kefir/buttermilk/water+ This step will ultimately make the pancakes more digestible (and you can start it even earlier if you like), but, honestly, if you’re time-pressed or a very capable digester on all your own, feel free to skip it.
- The next morning….
- Preheat the oven to 400°
- Crack the eggs into a food processor and mix for several minutes. This makes the eggs light and airy and creates that custardy yumminess. Add the flour mixture, the additional water, salt and vanilla and process for another minute.
- Put 1-2 Tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet and put in the heated oven until the butter is melted and starting to sizzle.
- Pour half of the batter (1.5 – 2 Cups) into the hot skillet and throw in a handful (1/4 Cup or so) of blueberries.
- Bake in the oven, turning the heat down to 350° as you put the skillet in, until the pancake is puffed* and browned (15-20 minutes). Dust with nutmeg and powdered sugar. Repeat for the second pancake.
- Enjoy with maple syrup, honey, jam, yogurt, all the usual pancake toppings.
* Tips on getting your pancake to puff up (AKA what I wish I had known beforehand): Try not to peek in on its progress if you can help it. The consistent heat really helps – if 350° isn’t puffing it up enough, try 400°. Or try a smaller skillet and make several smaller cakes.