Sunday, June 08, 2008

potato cheese varenike

otherwise known as pierogi, these are the jewish variation which go by the yiddish name of varenike(h). part of the difference is that ours are fried after being cooked while the former are served (unfried) after being poached in salted water — both ways are equally delicious. in my family, we only fry them on one side, giving them both texture and colour — one side crispy and golden, the other white and soft.

this is the dairy version [recipe] i always use, especially for the holiday of shavuot. you can save yourself a bit of headache and make the filling the night before and then continue with making the dough the day you'll cook them. just bring the filling to room temperature first as potatoes tend to solidify when cold (take it out of the fridge when you're making the dough).

the dough is amazing to work with — it is very soft and willing to roll out with little coaxing or prodding. it will surely become one of your favourites, too. the dough uses sour cream (recommended) but if you want you can use yogurt. just drain it for a bit before until it has the consistency of sour cream (thick but still 'stir-able').

making these alone is a bit of a "potchkeh" .... ok, let's not lie, it is a lot of work, especially if you decide to make the full recipe all on the same day (i'm a glutton for punishment). having an extra set of hands speeds up the process but it can be done on your own if you have the patience. just make sure those extra hands are willing to carry through the arduous varenike making task. it's at least 2 to 3 hours of work just rolling, stuffing & cooking (not including {pre-made} filling, if you've done it). (and someone reading this — you know who you are — knows EXACTLY what i am talking about! LOL)

the reward will be your own vareneke which can be frozen after cooking*. both the dough and filling can be doubled to yield approximately 110 varenike for big batch cooking.

serve with golden brown fried onions and lots of sour cream! :))

potato cheese varenike

makes approximately 55 varenike


varenike (pierogi) dough:

1 large egg
1 c sour cream
1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp oil
2 1/4 c AP flour

(dough recipe from j. smith)

potato cheese filling:

4 - 5 medium sized potatoes (more towards the smaller size than larger)
1/2 of a 500 gram (1lb) container/pkg creamy cottage cheese
1 medium-large onion
~1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder & garlic powder, optional


make the filling (first):

peel and cut potatoes in cubes. cook in salted water until they can be easily broken apart.

drain and place in a bowl. mash them well and set aside loosely covered to cool.

add the salt (about 3/4 tsp) and pepper. add more salt, if needed, only at the end of mixing everything .

meanwhile, FINELY mince the onion and fry it in about 2 to 3 tbsp oil or butter. once browned, add it to the mashed potatoes.

take the cottage cheese and mash it well so it is broken down finely. you can also push it through a fine wire strainer provided the holes are large enough — too small and it won't work.

add this to the potato-onion mixture and blend everything.

taste and adjust. remember, it should be a bit on the salty side as the dough is bland. don't however "go mental" adding tons of salt!

for the dough:

couldn't be simpler — mix all the ingredients together. knead it for about two minutes until it is well blended and you have a nice dough.

let it rest for about 20 minutes.

making the varenike:

first, fill a large soup pot/dutch oven with water and place on the stove on medium heat. bring it to a boil while making the varenike, then turn the heat down to keep it hot until you're ready to cook them.

divide dough in half.

take one piece and cover the other. roll out the 1/2 portion of dough to about 1/8" thick on a floured board.

using a cutter or a drinking glass, cut out approximately 3 inch circles.

a time saver is to cut out many of them all at once and then place filling on each.

place only about 2 tsp, maximum, in the center of the circle.

form the varenike as follows:

wet the edges of one half of the circle (like making the mouth of a "smiley face") and bring the top half down.

press well to seal the edges.

continue until all are made.

place them on a tea towel covered cookie sheet and keep covered with another tea towel or with plastic wrap. what i do is place them in rows of five on a plate and then cover with plastic wrap. i repeat these rows until i am finished, each row separated by plastic wrap. you can only do this if you are going to use them right away — be forewarned — if you let them sit longer than 20 minutes, any of them touching each other, will fuse together as the dough gets stickier the longer it sits (especially if your kitchen is hot).

*at this point, you can freeze them flat on a tray and then put them in a ziploc for later use; to cook them, don't defrost ..... just cook them as shown below. the potato filling is perfectly fine once cooked from its frozen state (usually potato does not freeze well).

be frugal:

reroll your scraps until it is ALL used up! after removing the lacy bits of dough in between the circles, put it back in a bowl and use it up later.

remember, the more you roll the used dough, the more elastic it becomes and the more resistant it is to not wanting to retract after the rounds are cut. therefore, DO NOT knead it. just gather it and roll it out. the dough is soft enough to come together nicely. it may be a good idea to let it sit for a few minutes after you've rolled it out so the gluten relaxes again.

cooking the varenike:

just before they are all made, unless you have help and are doing it production-line-style, raise the heat of the water to bring it to a boil. it should be salted water.

drop in the varenike in batches.

they will fall to the bottom of the pot.

let them cook until they float and then simmer for 10 minutes, the pot partially covered. remove them with a slotted spoon and let them drain.

i usually drain them and add a few tablespoons of oil so they do not stick to the bottom of the pot or to each other (they will if you don't). this is to hold them over until i am ready to fry them.

you can eat them as is with sour cream (i.e. like pierogi) or fry them on one side in butter and oil until browned.

to fry, place them in a frying pan with some oil or oil/butter mixture and let them cook until they are browned on a single side. you can do both but they are better one side only (i feel).

serve them with fried golden brown onions and sour cream!



Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I made that speciality once and very much liked it! Pierogis are delicious. Yours looks wonderful, as usual!



sara said...

years reading about these and now i can make them! i can't wait to taste the difference with ravioli.
the only but...such hard work!!
you're a genious, did you know?

Callipygia said...

I can practically taste these! While they do look like they take awhile to make, each part is quite simple. And once the freezer is well stocked...the hunger can be satisfied anytime.

shelly said...

Walla, eizeh fadikha! I just posted a recipe for cheese kreplach for shavuoth! Ooops.... but I didn't see your post until now.

This sounds yummy though. It's a slightly different dough, I think, from the kreplach. Reminds me of a dough that's popular in Israel for making pashtida (quiche) crust.

Hag sameah!

TBTAM said...

Oh my goodness, I am salivating... My dad used to make these for use years ago, and I love pierogi!

titus said...

Pierogi! I have been looking for a good recipe for these for ages!

I have a quick question: You write:
"let them cook until they float and then simmer for 10 minutes. once they are floating, remove them with a slotted spoon" -- this confused me: so do let them cook just until they start floating; or once they start to float, time them for 10 minutes and then remove them?

burekaboy — said...

rosa - as always, un grand merci fiele ;) they are work but fun to make when you're in the right mood and have the time.

sari - genious, huh? lol. it's not AS bad as i make it sound... debes decir a manu que tiene que ayudarte en la cocina el dia que vas a prepararlas!

calli - i usually make them 1 or 2x a year and freeze the lot so i don't have to repeat the process! too bad it takes a fraction of a second to eat a single pierogi / varenike considering how much time goes into making one. anyway, the sum of its parts is the reward ;) thanks for commenting.

shelli - ahalan v'chag saméach gam lach. walla! hechant otam gam ken!! nu, zot lo hafta'ah sh'b'chag hashavuot chashavnu al oto hadvar, nachon? ;p ani batuach sh'hakreplach b'milui gvinah shelach mashehu! lo makir et habatzek (l'pashtida) hazot :( tzricha lichtov aley'ha b'karov.

tbtam - glad to read that the post brought back fond memories for you of your dad's pierogi making. i'm sure they were great from how you write ;)

titus! - hi! hope you're well. sorry for the misunderstanding -- 'my bad'; i sort of was cut and pasting when writing the posting and mixed things up. thanks for letting me know; it has been corrected. what i meant to say is let cook until they float and then simmer 10 minutes. glad someone was reading it all through! thanks again ;)

Lannae said...

Oh these are like pieroghi's that I adore so much! I have not made them myself, but there is one place about 160 miles (closest that I know of) from here that makes them from scratch. Happily for work, I must drive by there in 2 weeks, so I will stop in there for lunch.

burekaboy — said...

hey lannae - hope you enjoy your lunch. maybe you can even buy some from them to keep in the freezer :)) i know they sell them frozen in the grocery stores .... 'homemade' are always better though!