Perhaps some people thought I disappeared as a blogger. Perhaps not. Either way, I’ve still been cooking daily because, firstly, I gotta eat, and secondly, it’s a passion, even if sometimes sharing it isn’t always easy.
I’ve had my moments of doubt when it comes to sharing my recipes. Are they any good? I like them, but when I cook in a vacuum, so to speak, it tends to weigh heavier when I don’t really know. I have moments of confidence, but I have also spent my share of time filled with anxiety. I excuse it as a side effect of all creative people. Van Gogh cut off an ear. Da Vinci worked at night or sporadic hours. Nietzsche spent the last decade of his life in a catatonic stupor. Creativity is its own kind of madness.
During one of my moments of over-thinking, I wanted to occupy my hands in the kitchen in a way that would make me focus on that task and that task only. I decided to make perogies with three different fillings. The repetitive act of roll, cut, stuff, pinch kept my mind occupied for days as it turned out. I made wayyyyyy too much mashed potato base so I was making perogies for three days after it was all said and done.
Sometimes, thinking is good for you to formulate concrete ideas. Sometimes, you just gotta let that inner Baba out and make perogies. Nothing more.
Perogies – With 3 Filling Varieties
For the Perogy Dough:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
4 to 4-1/4 cups Park wheat flour (unsifted volume) – (or whole wheat flour)
In a large bowl, whisk together with a fork, the egg, sour cream, milk and water until smoothly combined. Sift the flour, one cup at a time, into the wet ingredients. Reserve the sifted bran for later. Once 3 cups of flour has been stirred in, it should be firm enough to turn out of the bowl on to a floured counter to knead in the rest of the flour. Once the dough is smooth and only slightly sticky after kneading for about 10 minutes, cover with an inverted bowl on the counter and allow to rest for one hour. This makes enough dough for one of the following filling recipes. If you want to make all three (like I did), either triple this recipe or make three small batches.
For the Turos (Hungarian dry cottage cheese) Filling:
1 Perogy Dough Recipe
2-1/2 to 3 cups prepared Turos cheese (or well drained ricotta if you don’t want to make your own turos)
Reserved sifted wheat bran
Divide the prepared dough into 4 portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion to a thickness of about 1 cm (just shy of 1/2″). Cut out with 5cm/2″ biscuit cutters (or a small drinking glass if you’re an old school Eastern European Baba).
Add a little over 1 Tbsp of Turos along one half of each circle of dough.
Using your finger, brush a bit of water along the edge of half of the circle. Fold the dough over the filling, creating a semi-circle shape. Pinch the enclosed seam closed. Sprinkle some of the reserved wheat bran on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the enclosed perogy on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Freeze like this and place in freezer bags once frozen. You can also boil them right away until they float or deep fry for 2 minutes on each side in 180C/350F oil and drain on paper towels. Makes about 36 perogies.
For the Cheddar Potato Filling:
750g (1-1/2 lb) potatoes (a soft, starchy potato like Russet or Yukon Gold work great), peeled and roughly chopped
3 Tbsp softened butter
1/2 cup milk
5 cups finely grated cheddar cheese (about 225g or 1/2 lb by weight)
1-2 tsp salt (depending on the saltiness of your cheese, I use an aged/sharp cheddar so I use less salt)
Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water by 2cm/1″ and add a couple of good pinches of salt. Cover, bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to medium low and cook the potatoes for 12-15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain the water and mash with a potato masher. Add the butter and milk and mash more until a smooth texture is achieved (I like a smooth potato filling, but I’ve had it a little rustic and chunky as well. It’s up to you). Add the grated cheddar and mash to combine completely.
To fill to perogies, repeat the steps as outlined in the Turos Filling recipe above.
For the Caramelized Onion Potato Filling:
2 medium or 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
750g or 1-1/2 lb potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold), peeled and roughly chopped
3 Tbsp softened butter
1/2 cup milk
In a medium pot over medium high heat, add the oil, onions and salt. Stir and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until softened and starting to brown. Reduce heat to medium and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan as the onions dry. Add a few tablespoons of water to aid this process if necessary. Continue this act of sautéeing, scraping, and browning over the course of the next 15-20 minutes until a deep, golden, caramelized onion is achieved. Set aside.
Prepare the mashed potatoes as outlined in the Cheddar Potato Filling, but instead of adding the cheddar, add the caramelized onions.
To fill, prepare as outlined in the Turos Filling recipe.