Thursday, January 9, 2014

originals: the Ruskies experiment

After a good run of making ruskies, I found myself with a couple of ingredients I didn't know what to do with. I made this amazing moroccan-style vegetable and chickpea stew (from The First Mess) for my fiancé's mother's and sister's birthday (I was looking for something vegan and gluten free to accommodate for everyone's needs) and was left with a couple sweet potatoes I never used before in my kitchen. So the idea came - let's make ruskies with sweet potatoes.

Long story short, I decided to substitute the regular onion for red one and the quark for smooth goat cheese. The red onions are slightly sweeter than regular ones and goat cheese works well with sweetness and balances it awesomely (I didn't want to make a dessert, after all). I think I did just fine, thank you. So the filling is:
  • 200 g sweet potatoes, cooked, pureed
  • 200 g white goat cheese (if given a chance, use one that's a bit harder, more like feta)
  • 100 g red onions, chopped finely
  • butter
The rest goes basically the same as with the ruskies - melt butter, cook onions (but not too much, let them be a bit crunchy, this makes the bite more interesting with different textures and stuff). The dough is the same, only this time it's additional point is that it's almost translucent and the pierogis look preeeettyyyyy (colours!). I make these smaller than regular pierogis, so I use something slightly smaller than a regular glass to cut out the circles.

They are pretty flavourful, they can work as a single dish, but they're also awesome as a side, which I tried out with steak and basil sauce. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

- who asked for the Ruskies? - no-one, they came uninvited

It could seem that unemployment (self-employment, as we're calling it in Poland) would result in an increased frequency of posts on this blog, but, truth be told, the lack of structure to run away from has proven to be just that - lack of structure. But I didn't stay away from the kitchen. I just lacked the concentration to write about it.

This is the first of two posts documenting an experiment I made, and it's about the base. Lack of jobs equals lack of money, so I was trying to come up with something cheap that will last for many days. I thought of the cheapest kind of pierogi - the ruskies. The great thing about pierogi is that once you make a shitload of them, you can freeze them before cooking and eat them for weeks to come.

The recipe is pretty simple and the results are great. The unique thing about this kind of pierogi is the dough. It's a bit like magic, watching how gluten works and stuff:
  • 1 glass of all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbs of vegetable oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup of boiling water
See? Cheap, it doesn't even need egg. Mix the flour with the salt, add the oil, mix a little and then add the boiling water and, watching the amazing transformation, work the dough until it becomes a smooth, even ball, no clumps etc. It can be hard at the beginning (hooooot), but push through it!

The filling is more time consuming (unless you have a batch of cooked potatoes - the ruskies are a great leftover dish), so, actually, it's good to start with that. (The amounts are for a rather small batch).
  • 200 g fat quark (the Polish type - twaróg)
  • 200 g cooked, pureed potatoes
  • 100 g onions, chopped rather finely
  • 3 tbs butter
  • some salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper
In a heavy pan melt the butter and slowly cook the onion until it's translucent and golden. In a large bowl combine the potatoes and the quark, then add the onion (try to get as much of the melted butter from the pan as possible, the filling will be a bit smoother and tastier then).

The rest is simple, turn on a good show on your laptop, roll out the dough (it's good to divide it in four parts, rather than roll it out all at once, and always remember about sprinkling some flour on the table and the rolling pin), cut out circles with a regular glass and make pierogis until you're have no more filling. Cook in salted, boiling water until they all float to the surface. Serve with fried chopped onion (like you used for the filling).

That's it when it comes to the ruskies. The next post will be about my own, new version, that I don't know how to call. Yet.

(The title is the punchline from a Polish communist era joke. It goes something like this: a cook in a bistro calls out "uskie!" - no one answers - after a while she calls again "ruskie!!!" - still no answer - after a couple of times she yells "who asked for the Ruskies?!?" and finally someone answers "no one did, they came uninvited")