I’ve realized one thing that I’m just going to have to accept when it comes to taking food pictures this winter: flash photography. I know that’s pretty high on the list of things that you’re not supposed to do with food blogging, but it’s not to be helped! At least, unless I were to do all my cooking in the morning and take pictures within the good natural light window of 11:30-1:30, which sounds a bit limiting. So, sigh. Resignation.
As winter sinks deeper in up here in Fairbanks, the days are rapidly shortening. On the upside, in just over a month, the days will be lengthening again! I can’t wait for that. We’ve had a spell of warm weather, 0-15 degrees with light snow, for the last week or so, but this morning I woke up to a lovely -15 degrees. Brrrrr, a little colder, and time to plug the little car in before heading out!
Here I am now, at the library, and ready to finally share a recipe that I’ve been waiting months to make and write about: pierogi. Back in June when I guided a backcountry trip out to Skolai, my two Polish clients and I spent a good bit of time sitting in our cook-tent, avoiding the rain, and talking about food. After the trip, we exchanged emails, and Silvia promised to email me her pierogi recipe. She did, and I kept waiting all summer for the right time to make them. Obviously, it didn’t happen during the summer, but finally did last week! Joe and I have finally been able to settle into a good life rhythm here in Fairbanks, which means we’ve had more time to cook and try new things (also recent experiments: falafal and samosas – yum!!).
We made the pierogi with whole-wheat dough, which worked pretty well, but I may try them with 2/3 wheat and 1/3 white next time, just to have something to compare against. The process took us a bit over 2 hours, but we also ended up with two meals worth of frozen pierogi, so it was well-worth the time! I made three different fillings: the Polish one of sauerkraut and mushrooms, the Russian one of potatoes and cheese (no cheese for Joe, of course), and a pumpkin one, which, since I’d just roasted and frozen 24 cups worth of pumpkin, sounded like a good idea (it was!). All of them turned out delicious and are highly recommended. I followed Silvia’s initial recipe with a couple of minor changes in the fillings (and the pumpkin filling is something I came up with). Thanks again, Silvia!!
makes about 30 pierogi
3 cups flour (I used all whole wheat)
1/2 cup, plus about 2 Tbsp, lukewarm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
salted boiling water
Combine all ingredients in a bowl (except the salted water!) and knead until smooth. Divide the dough into three pieces. Leave two of them in the bowl and cover with a damp towel. Roll out the remaining section of dough until about 2 millimeters thick. Use a glass to cut circles out of the dough (I used a mug for this to get them a little bigger!).
Put the stuffing, a teaspoonful or tablespoonful depending on how big your circles are, on one of the circles. Fold the top part of the circle over (as shown in the picture above), and pinch the sides together until sealed closed. When all pierogi are ready, place them in the pot of boiling water. Boil for 5-6 minutes after the pierogi float to the top of the water. If you don’t want to cook them all immediately, you can also freeze the pierogi to cook later.
1 cup sauerkraut (preferably homemade!)
small handful dried wild mushrooms
salt and pepper
Soak the mushrooms in warm water until soft. Fry the onion until golden, add the sauerkraut and cook a couple more minutes, then add the mushrooms and heat through. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Mix all ingredients until smooth! That’s easy. 🙂
about 1 cup potatoes, chopped
5 cloves garlic, sliced
salt and pepper
white cheese, if wanted (they’re great either way!)
Boil the potatoes with the garlic until soft. While they are cooking, fry the onion until golden. When potatoes are done, mash slightly and combine with with the onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When filling the pierogi, put a little bit of cheese in with the filling.