Tag Archives: pasta

Daring Pierogi Ontariana

Pierogi Ontariana

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge is to make pierogi from scratch, highlighting flavours and ingredients from where you live.

I grew up eating handmade pierogi from the Ukranian church around the corner from our house. They were fairly traditional, cheese and potato, and very good. I don’t think I realized how good they were until I started buying pierogi from the freezer section of my grocery store. Not quite so good, but edible. Years later, we found incredible pierogi from a vendor at St. Lawrence Market and we’ve been buying his ever since – saurkraut & mushroom, and jalapeno & cheddar. Amazing.

I was tempted to try making saurkraut & mushroom pierogi for this challenge, but then I realized I probably couldn’t compete with the market guy and might end up disappointed. Instead, I chose to go with the ‘local flavours’ theme and use things that I could get from my garden or from the farmers at the market.

Today’s pierogi are filled with ingredients that are local to my home province – Ontario, Canada.

Pierogi Ontariana - Filling Ingredients

I came up with a combination of potato, sweet potato, rosemary, crunchy garlic scapes, Canadian old white cheddar and onions caramelized in maple syrup and Ontario beer. This combination of flavours is more like what I would have in the Fall, but all of these things are fresh and local now. I was really happy with how the filling turned out. I could taste the hint of maple syrup and beer, I could feel the slight texture added by the garlic scapes, the woodiness of rosemary and thyme, and the creaminess of the blend of potatoes.

With that taken care of, I had to tackle the dough. I’ve made fresh pasta before, but that dough is drier and I found the pierogi dough to be more difficult to handle.

Pierogi Ontariana -rolling pin

The dough was very sticky, and I had to add a LOT more flour to it. Apparently, this isn’t the way to do it — you’re supposed to slowly add the water to the flour and monitor the texture of the dough in the early stages, so you don’t have to try to ‘correct’ it with more flour later on. I’m learning as I go.

Pierogi Ontariana - pierogi mold

I had a bit of trouble rolling out the dough – the gluten had been worked enough to make it pretty elastic, and it wasn’t easy to roll it out thin. As a result, some of my pierogi were thinner than others. We also had quite  bit of the filling left over when we were done. I could have made another batch of dough, but instead we made croquettes with it the next night.

I always enjoy these kinds of meals. It’s a great project on a rainy day, and I find it almost therapeutic as you get into the process. Roll out the dough, cut the circles, add some filling, fold it over, pinch. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s a great break from the computer.

In the end, the pierogi were declicious, imperfections and all. We topped them with some thick Balkan-style yogurt and green onions. I took half of the batch and froze it, so we would have some to enjoy later. We’ll see how well they freeze — I have a feeling they’ll be just fine, and I’ll be happy to enjoy the results of my hard work for a second time!

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.

Recipe after the jump!

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Daring Nut Butt

Rice Noodle Salad with Thai-style Cashew sauce and Shrimp

This month, we dare to make our own nut butters, and use them in a savoury dish. I’ve done the peanut sauce thing before, and have used ground almonds to thicken curries (almost counts as a nut butter… almost more of a nut flour, but close enough!). I’m totally open to having a nutty dinner.

Being busy as I have been lately, I took the path of least resistance and used cashew butter in a Thai-inspired noodle salad (one of the recommended recipes). I know I should have picked something a little more challenging for myself, but how could I resist a simple meal that was destined to be amazing?

Amazing it was. I am a sucker for this kind of thing.

Daring Cashew Butter and Roasted Cashews

Daring Cashew Butter and Roasted Cashews

First, I had to make the cashew butter. I figured it would taste that much better if I roasted the cashews first, so I quickly pan roasted them. Some of the oils escaped in the roasting, so I had to add some vegetable oil when I made the butter. My trusty food processor was great at grinding up the cashews, but they needed the extra oil to come together properly and form a paste. I probably would have thinned it out a little more but I knew I was making a sauce next, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

I decided to follow the sauce recipe as closely as possible. I was tempted to add some of the things I add to my own sauce, like keffir lime leaf, but I stayed pretty true to the recipe. What’s the point in remaking my own sauce recipes over again? I wanted to try something new. I chickened out about the amount of garlic, though. As much as I love garlic, 8 cloves sounded a little bit steep. I used 4, and it was plenty garlicky enough.

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

Recipe after the jump!

Continue reading Daring Nut Butt

What do I do with this? Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes

This is a new monthly challenge that I’m imposing on myself, where I find an ingredient that I have never used before (or even better – have never even HEARD of before) and make something with it.

My first entry is the Garlic Scape. I first heard of this earlier in the year, but had never seen any in the market before. I actually tried to grow my own, but failed miserably.

I finally found some at the market this month.

Garlic scapes, or green garlic, are the stalks of the garlic plant, growing above ground. They’re sort of like scallions, but garlicky tasting and much more dense. To me, they seem like a cross between a garlic and a green bean. Raw, they are pungent and crunchy. When cooked, they are soft and mild.

My first big dish using garlic scapes was a simple pasta tossed with sauteed vegetables, garlic scapes, garlic scape infused yogurt and Parmesan cheese.

Pasta featuring Garlic Scapes

There are many recipes for garlic scape pesto, which I plan to try making soon. Sounds right up my alley!

Now that I’ve tried them, I’m a little embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of them before. Anyone that knows me should be ashamed of me!! This was a great find, and a really fun thing to put in summer dishes. I know they won’t be in season for much longer, so I’ll be buying them every chance I get.

Next year, I plan to try growing garlic again. I’m not too sure what went wrong this time around, but I think it’s because bulbs don’t overwinter very well here when in pots. I might try planting them early March with my daffodils.