Author Archives: clthumm@sbcglobal.net

Pierogi Ruskie

28th February 2017

Pierogi Ruskie + ThummprintsLove is a bowl of pierogi on a cold night. Or any night, really. But especially on a cold night. Anyone who has any ties to any number of Eastern European communities has probably run up against these delightful clouds of yum.

Pierogi were, once upon a time, considered peasant food (which a lot of the most delicious stick to your ribs and make you happy foods had peasant food origins), because of their simple ingredients and low price point per unit. And ugh, sorry to let historical economics leak into this post – but sometimes history is gonna economic. We’re all going to pretend I didn’t say that.

Moving on. Pierogi Ruskie does not translate into Russian Pierogi. I know, you probably feel like it should given that in almost any other context it does (and how’s about we stop using that word, mmmkay?). Are your ready for some more history, campers? Good. Here it comes:

Ruskie referes to Ruthenia which was a loose federation of Slavic (and possibly Baltic) tribes from the late 9th to 13th centuries under the reign of the Rurik Dynasty, which encompasses modern day Belarus, Ukraine, and Russian (and possibly some of Poland … mehbeh?). Early Eastern European history is not my strong point.

Like I said: pierogi are Eastern European fare and trying to pinpoint and exact country isn’t going to happen (not to mention pierogi go by other names in Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania, and Germany).

Pierogi Ruskie are probably one of the more popular kinds of pierogi in North America (they are the creamy, dreamy potato and cheese filled dumplings of your dreams), but pierogi can be filled with almost anything both savory and sweet (meat, sauerkraut, mushrooms, sour cherries … I could go on). In this case after the pierogi are boiled they can be sautéed up in butter and served with browned onions. Or, if you come back in a few days I’ll show you another way to serve up a bowl of pierogi yum.

Note: if you, like me, live in the middle of a city you might be scratching you head about what “farmer cheese” is … because: what? It is a soft cheese, also sometimes referred to a “fresh curd” cheese. If all else fails and you can’t find farmer cheese at your grocer you can use ricotta, cottage cheese, or – if you’re feeling brave – you can make your own. Both Lifeway Kefir and Friendship Dairies produce and distribute farmer cheese on a wide scale. If you have a good European grocer wander the cheese isle and look for krajanka (it’s Polish farmers cheese).

Pierogi Ruskie

Ingredients:

For the dough:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 TBSP sour cream

For the filling:
2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, quartered and boiled without skins
1/2 onion minced and sautéed in butter (should be about 2 TBSP when fully cooked)
8 ounces farmer cheese
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Directions:

To make the dough whisk the eggs, sour cream, and milk together until you get a nice smooth and even texture. Slowly add in flour and salt, mixing until fully combined. Set aside.

To make the filling take your potatoes and give them a rough mash with a fork. You want clumps of potatoes NOT a smooth mixture. Using your hands mash/fold/squish in 2 TBSP sautéed onion, farmer cheese, and salt/pepper to taste. Keep mashing until you have a well mixed filling (don’t be afraid to taste it to see if you like the level of seasonings).

Next roll out the dough – you will have to add some extra flour because pierogi dough is rather sticky by nature – to your desired thickness. Keep in mind to not make the dough to thin as it will break and not too think or it will not want to fold over itself well.

Using a glass (or a cookie / biscuit cutter) cut out circles and set aside (I worked in shifts making a dozen or so at at time) on a floured surface.

Fill the dough with filling (I used to scoops from a #70 cookie scoop … which equals an ounce of filling), turn the dough over itself and pinch together using your preferred method. #teamfork

Set completed pierogi aside on a floured cookie sheet. From here you can freeze the pierogi flat on the cookie sheet (later bagging in a Ziploc bag) or you can boil them up for dinner.

If cooking immediately: bring a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove. Add pierogi one by one and give the pot a good stir to keep the pierogi from sticking to the bottom or the sides of the pot. When the pierogi are done they will rise to the top and be delightfully puffed. Remove from water and store in a covered dish to keep them warm.

In another skillet sautée the other half of the onion (or some bacon, bacon would be good) in butter to toss with the pierogi when they are finished cooking.

Serve tossed with onion (bacon) and a dollop of sour cream if wanted.

In Which I’ve Been Away And There Will Be Changes

6th February 2017

Hello, campers. You might have noticed this space has been quiet since November. I, unintentionally, gave myself a break. December simply got away from me and January was  … difficult. But I am here and I ready to dive into foodie goodness.

I would like to mix things up here for 2017; nothing too drastic, but changes none the less. I will be stepping away from publishing so many biscotti recipes this year. Not an easy decision, but one that centers around the fact that I am working on a side project involving biscotti and well … I’m hoarding the recipes at this point, and I hope to – one day in the near to far future – share them all with you. Never fear, though, if that’s why you come here, there will be one or two recipes will slip past my defenses and into your loving arms.

As for the rest of the changes you’ll see around here I have made the decision for the 2017 focus of the blog to be traditional dishes from around the world, because good food is for everyone.

I, as a person and a cook, celebrate and do my best to honor other cultures. I was raised in middle America, but have traveled widely and – outside of time spent in the country with my grandparents – never ate what one could consider a typical “all American” diet. I was lucky enough to have parents and other members of my extended family who did their level best to make me a citizen of the world, whether we left our sprawling metropolis or not (I urge all of you, if you have the ability to do so, to attend celebrations and dinners at local churches and halls celebrating different cultures: you get amazing food and some fun cultural experiences while never leaving your backyard … but if you have the opportunity to travel to distant lands, DO EET).

I hope you all will enjoy this foodie adventure I am taking you on. I want to do my best to share different ethnic culinary delights with you. After all, we are citizens of the world and we should celebrate each other as much as we can.

First up: Eastern Europe for some pierogi love (coming your way soon).