Friday, August 13, 2010

Daring Cooks for August, 2010 - Perogi's!

Wow, I was so excited when I saw this month's daring cooks challenge - pierogi's! I've been wanting to make them for a very long time, and my family has been waiting for me to make them too!

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.

I made 3 different kinds of pierogi's this time - potato and onion, potato, onion, and ground beef, and strawberry. While I was less than impressed with the strawberry ones (technical issues on my part), the savory ones were just fantastic.

This was also my inaugural use of my perogi makers, which I bought somewhere about 3 months ago, meaning to use them. They are great, by the way. And, I didn't know until I opened the container that you use them to cut the dough as well for the perfect circle of dough.

There are so many dumplings I want to make, so I was a little disappointed in myself that I only tried these few. I didn't make them at first since I was knee deep in jams and berry butters, and then I got distracted. I really wanted to fulfill the optional part of the challenge by making a local flavor, but all I could think of was seafood I can't eat and little wild blackberries that are amazingly scarce this year. The only other things I could think of weren't really in season. But, I was able to complete the challenge, and now I feel a bit more at ease for some future dumpling related projects I have coming up!

I learned a lot about sweet pierogi's, and I need to remember the most important thing I learned about fruit tarts and pierogi's - they work 100 times better if you cook the filling (and cool) before you fill the dumplings. Controlling moisture content is very important. That was my error when making the strawberry and cream ones. I realized after I had finished they would have been so much better if I had used strawberry jam or cooked the strawberries before I put them in the pierogi's, rather than use fresh ones.

I followed the recipes I was given for the most part for these. I added already cooked ground beef to the potato filling, and it was a great addition. If you haven't made pierogi's before, I encourage you to make these. The recipe was easy to follow, and the results are really tasty. The dough was very easy to roll out, and nice to work with. The scraps were a little tougher than the original dough, but still produced a very nice end result.

I fried most of mine after boiling in a non stick pan with a little bit of butter until browned. I just served them fried, and they were great. I can't wait to try them again very soon. Thanks again so much for sharing this recipe, and for such a great challenge!

I'm sharing one of the recipes given to us, although I take no credit for it. It's a great recipe, and you should give it a try!

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

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 (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.

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


  1. Wow, 3 different fillings for pioregis? Really great job. Congrats.

  2. Looks yummy! It's too bad the strawberry ones didn't work out that well. I love strawberries! Great job on the challenge!!

  3. 3 filling - nice choice :) You did a great job.
    Thank you for taking part this month.

    Cheers. Anula.