Handmade Pierogies

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These happy little dumplings filled with potato originally hail from Pre-war Poland (now the Ukraine).   The types of filling can vary, but potato, onion, and cheese are common.   This versitle dough can be baked, boiled, or fried from its frozen state. Perfect for holidays or make ahead for a quick and impressive side to any meal.

When a member of the University Christian Church Solid Rock Youth Group asked me to submit something for their silent auction, how could I say no? My alma mater just as much as my high school, this is the place where I met my high school sweetheart, now my husband of 7 years. Their leader married us. The trips–the summer camps, CIY conferences, missions trips to Mexico and New Orleans and Alabama–greatly influenced who I am today. It feels like just a summer or two ago, not a decade ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if my R.A.M. letters are still tucked into a box somewhere.

So, really,  how could I say no?

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I had made and donated pierogies before, so that was what I offered.  I mean, who wouldn’t want little smile-shaped pockets of mashed potato?

These little dumplings take a little more effort than my standard recipe, but Pierogies are my love language, so I find that it’s worth it.  And, since you do all the work ahead of time, it only takes a few minutes to enjoy this terrific side dish on a busy evening.

 

They’re just my favorite.  You can tell because in this digital age, I actually took the time to write down the recipe on a card.

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Just ignore the fact that I misspelled vegetable here, please.  *face-palm*

Start with the dough.  A large bowl and a well of flour filled with the liquid ingredients.  Go slowly; the best things in life cannot be rushed.

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I took a chance, and used my dough hook on my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer to handle the kneeding of this dough.  I was nervous because I had never used that feature before, but it worked like a charm!  And watching it go was more than mildly satisfying.

While the dough rests, start peeling and boiling potatoes to make the filling.

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I’ve never met a flavor of pierogi that I didn’t like.  Green onion and cheddar are my favorites, but today I made cheddar and onion.

Roll out the dough to about 1/8 of an inch thick, and cut into circles using a biscuit cutter or an upside down cup.  Stuff with about a tablespoon of potato in each.  Seal the edges with loving attention to detail — nobody wants a watery pierogi.

Most importantly, lay flat individually on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and leave in the freezer for 24-48 hours until frozen.

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I tried to rush this process once.  I bagged a bunch of half-frozen pierogies and proudly walked into Thanksgiving dinner, unaware of the catastrophe that awaited.  Skip to the end of the story: me in tears, all the pierogies stuck together, most of them ripping open while they boiled.

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A few people politely ate raw, watery pierogi dough that year. I am so sorry.

Ok back to today, because I’ve mastered this process now, and I’d rather repress that memory.  After freezing this batch for a day, of course I had to taste test!  Obviously I’ve learned SOMETHING from the Thanksgiving Day fiasco!

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I boiled them first, 5 minutes, but then I fried them up in a skillet with a little olive oil.  Ya know, for my health.  Butter would be even better.

Soft and freshly boiled is fine, but that little bit of brown, crispy crust just puts them over the top.

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So please, if you are attending the UCC Silent Auction tonight, bid some $$$ on my pierogies, because it’s for a good cause.

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 3 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Potato Filling:

  • 1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
  • 6 oz grated cheddar
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt

Instructions:

  1. Put flour in a large, shallow bowl, and make well in the center.  Add water, egg, oil, and salt.  Carefully beat together with a fork, not to disturb the flour.  Continue stirring, gradually incorporating flour until a soft dough forms
  2. Transfer dough to a floured surface and kneed about 8 minutes, or use a dough hook and kneeding setting on a stand mixer.
  3. Dump dough onto clean counter top.  Invert bowl over dough and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  4. While dough stands, peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch pieces.  Boil potatoes about 8 minutes.  Drain, add cheese and garlic salt, and mash (feel free to use a stand mixer here too!).
  5. Let potatoes cool, and scoop with a cookie scoop to make uniform rounded balls.  Refrigerate until dough is ready.
  6. Half the dough, and roll out to 1/8 inch thick.  Cut 24 rounds with a floured cutter.
  7. Place a single round in the palm of your hand, add a potato ball in the center, and use your fingers to close the dough around the ball.  Pinch the edges firmly and seal completely.
  8. Freeze for 24 to 48 hours.  They can remain in the freezer for 3 months (if they last that long).
  9. When ready to eat, boil pierogies for 5 minutes or until they float.

 

Optional: drain and fry in a small amount of olive oil until a crust forms.

Vegan “Kartoffelsalat” (German Potato Salad)

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Kartoffelsalat, or German potato salad, is traditionally served warm.  Fresh dill, sautéed onion, and a hint of vinegar makes this salad delicious while still being light and nutritious. This salad is a great vegan option and dairy and egg free, perfect for any social gathering or potluck. Break free of the gelatinous supermarket potato salad, and enjoy the freshness of the ingredients that brings everyone back wanting more.

Kartoffelsalat, or German potato salad, is traditionally served warm. Fresh dill, sautéed onion, and a hint of vinegar makes this salad delicious while still being light and nutritious. This salad is a great vegan option and dairy and egg free, perfect for any social gathering or potluck. Break free of the gelatinous supermarket potato salad, and enjoy the freshness of the ingredients that brings everyone back wanting more.

One of my favorite local restaurants here in Manhattan, KS is the Little Apple Brewing Company.  They are known for their beef, and I challenge you to find a better burger than theirs.  Even if you can find a better burger (doubt it), I know you will not find a better combo than a big juicy burger and a side of German potato salad.  Ordering a side of German potato salad with a LABCO burger is how I was introduced to this amazing dish in the first place, and it’s one of my all-time favorite dinners out, which is saying a lot.

This recipe is no copycat of the LABCO German potato salad, and it doesn’t try to be.  Traditional German potato salad uses bacon and its grease, and I imagine the restaurant has no qualms including similar high fat and sodium content in their decadent side dish. Instead, this recipe is much lighter and uses no animal by-products; it’s vegan and allergy friendly!

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For some reason, I recently confidently volunteered to bring potato salad to a dinner function even though I knew some people who couldn’t eat dairy and eggs.  It wasn’t until later that I realized that all my potato salad recipes relied on ranch, sour cream, or mayo.  You know the feeling??

Yup. Gob understands.

I studied vegan potato salad recipes without finding anything that struck my fancy, mostly because I struggled to imagine a non-fried potato in any form not being paired with dairy!  (Baked potatoes without sour cream OR butter OR cheese??! Shudder!)

Inspiration came in the form of a gift from an old man at my community garden.  My garden neighbor generously offered some fresh dill that he was thinning out anyway.  Not really familiar with how to even use fresh dill, I initially took it to be polite, but the dill completely inspired this recipe.  It has never even crossed my mind to grow dill, but I really enjoyed finding ways to use it!  Now I can’t wait to get the stuff in the ground to use again!

I confess, when I made this salad, I didn’t realize until JUST before it was time to leave for dinner that I didn’t have any apple cider vinegar in the house. With no time to buy any, I tasted and eventually served the salad without the vinegar because it was SO GOOD.  I later added the vinegar on another attempt, and the result was a completely a different salad, and both versions are absolutely delicious and very enjoyable!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs yukon gold potato, cubed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Cover the potatoes in water in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Cook until completely tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and the onion in a skillet over a medium-high heat, stirring often, until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add vinegar to skillet and remove from heat.
  3. Pour the skillet contents over the potatoes, add the dill, and mix until distributed evenly and potatoes are slightly crushed.  Salt and pepper to taste.  German potato salad is traditionally served warm, but this salad is also yummy cold.

Extra note: Vinegar is the quintessential ingredient when making German potato salad.  However, the vinegar is optional and can be adjusted to taste.  If the hint of vinegar is not a flavor you enjoy, I would recommend only adding a couple of tablespoons or eliminating it altogether.  The salad without the vinegar is still absolutely delicious!  I can’t say it enough!

Best,

Brohgan

Savory Potato Pancakes

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Happy Thanksgiving from the Diekers! I hope your holiday was as wonderful as ours!

So, leftovers.

And after all that feasting, how could you ever even think of food again?

But alas, there are leftovers.

Take a break, and use the leftovers creatively.

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