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.
“This is what the Daring cook’s challenge is all about!” I exclaimed on 17th July when I logged in from the alternative Pig Palace office (my Google phone, on the bed) and saw what the August challenge was. Sadly I didn’t even know pierogi existed, but the lovely hosts changed that in a flash! I obsessed for days on what fillings I was going to make, and went out to buy the pierogi press straight away. (I tried making ravioli without a guide and they looked weird to say the least.) Initially I thought I would make non-traditional fillings, but my gorgeous Polish friend Mrs Currin is coming to stay with us in December, so I wanted to practice the traditional ones to make for her. In the end I decided to try four different fillings and give the challenge a proper go!
True to form, this challenge was really fun, and Frank enjoyed scoffing the results. (To quote Frank after eating my second batch: “these meat ones are blo*dy amazing!”) I’ve already put this one in the recipe file, and will be adding it to my repertoire of dishes. I love dumplings of any sort, and I’m rather chuffed that I can now make some delicious ones at home!
For the additional challenge the hosts suggested we create unique fillings to represent our own country. As many traditional South African dishes are too liquid to put in a dumpling, I decided to do something Australian. An ode to my new home! And since my brother (and most non-Australians) assume that we always eat “shrimps on the barbie” here, I thought a prawn and chilli stuffing for my boiled Aussie dumplings would be best. Not wanting to serve a dinner with no vegetables I stir-fried some veg and served the dumplings on top with stir-fry sauce. Definitely different!
The hosts suggested making dessert dumplings, so I thought I’d make some to follow after the prawns. I filled them with chocolate chunks, and fried them after boiling them. They were served with ice-cream, and were perfect after a light meal!
Finally I thought I’d try my hand at making some of the traditional fillings suggested by the hosts. I made a third batch and filled them alternately with beef and potato, and fried all the dumplings. The potato dumplings were rather bland despite the cheese (and sneaky chilli), but the beef ones were delicious!
The pierogi dough was easy to make, especially if you’ve made pasta before, but rather hard to roll out. I recommend lots and lots of flour on your rolling surface! All in all the challenge was fantastic and I can’t wait to make pierogi again. And Frank can’t wait to eat them…
Pierogi (makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings) – from the hosts
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
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.
Potato and cheese filling:
4 – 5 boiled potatoes
4 table spoons butter (60 g) or olive oil (60 ml)
50 ml (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) milk
1 egg white (from medium egg)
about 120 ml (½ cup) farmers’ cheese (any unripened cheese like Indian Paneer)
salt and pepper
Meat and cabbage filling:
200 g (7 oz) cooked meat (minced or cut very finely)
500 g 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
10 prawns, raw
1 clove garlic
small knob ginger
1/2 an onion
1/2 cup coriander
Combine all in a food processor and process until mince-like in texture. Fry until cooked and leave to cool. Add back into the food processor with a whole egg and combine.
50g chocolate, cut into small chunks
6 tbsp cream cheese
1 egg white
Mix ingredients together and fill