The Daring Cooks #11 The world of pierogi...

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.

OK, first of all - THANK YOU ALL FELLOW DC MEMBERS FOR PARTICIPATING IN THIS MONTH'S CHALLENGE! Hope you enjoyed the world of pierogi and you'll be making them more often (from scratch of course) at home. You all did a GREAT job this month! You came up with such an amazing fillings for the humble pierogi, I wouldn't ever thought of! YOU ROCK :)
I'll try to visit as many blogs as I can (as I really enjoy discovering all those different fillings you made all around the world) and leave a personal note. I know that probably I won't be able to visit all the blogs (for which I'm really sorry)- but I'll do my best (when Baby Julia will go to sleep I'll stick behind with my laptop)! :)

Sweet version of Warenki (cheese and strawberry filling).
It was such an honour to host a Daring Cooks challenge - thank you once again! :)

How to make it...

Cottage Cheese Wareneki (pierogi)
- 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
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).
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).

- 1 lb (455 g) dry cottage cheese (this is usually found beside the “wet” cottage cheese in the supermarket’s dairy aisle. If you can’t find it, please see below for how to proceed with the “wet” cottage cheese.)
- 3 large egg yolks
- Salt to taste
Mix well all the ingredients for the filling.
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
Cook in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes.

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)

- 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

- 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

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.

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.

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 (personally I used 4-inch/10 cm cutter as it makes nice size pierogi - this way I got around 30 of them and 1 full, heaped teaspoon of filling is perfect for that size). 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.

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.

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

Notes about pierogi:
- 99% of your dumplings will freeze well so don’t be worried and make more if you want, you can freeze them either before or after boiling (if freezing after boiling, boil them ‘al dente’ not like for immediate consumption)
- when boiling pierogi from freezer put them straight into boiling, salted water - do not thaw them before or you’ll be left with one big ball of mixed dough and filling!
- most of your boiled but already cold pierogi may be fried (in some cases it will actually make them taste better then only boiling)
- it’s a good idea to make double batch of pierogi dough and a few kinds of fillings at the same time (saves a lot of work and you can serve dinner and dessert at the same time)
- when boiling your pierogi try to boil each type of filling separately, sometimes your dumplings can fall apart and you really don’t want a mix of strawberries with bacon...
- when sealing pierogi don’t allow any filling to go between the edges as it won’t seal properly and your pierogi will fall apart when boiling, you don’t have to seal the edges using water, egg whites etc. it should seal by itself very tight
- if your dumplings stick to each other during boiling add a tablespoon of oil into the water

You have a great info about pierofi from around the world here on