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In Manhattan it’s hard to find great pierogi. I often find them too thick and heavy. Well M:s mother happens to be a great pierogi maker. She makes them so thin and light and fills them with sauerkraut and mushrooms, meat, or cheese and potatoes. I easily end up licking the plate. After all she is from Poland and as lovely as she is, she makes tons of them when we are around.
This summer I asked her for her dough secret. I was hoping to get the whole recipe written down, but her answer and recommendation was very short, “make them with warm water”!

dough (approximate 75 pierogi which serves about 6 people)
700 ml (3 cups) regular flour
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk (I used the egg white in the potatoes and cheese filling later)
1 tea spoon salt
175 ml (¾ cup) warm water (heated up, not directly from the tap)

Mix the flour and the salt together with the eggs. Heat up some water and mix small parts at a time into the flour mixture. I did it by hand but I think it works perfectly well to use a food processor. On a flat surface knead the dough until it’s firm and soft. Cover with a damp tablecloth and let it rest on the counter top while you are making the fillings.

mushroom filling
Here I made M:s Spicy Portobello Mushrooms. I used less water, as I didn’t want the filling to be too loose. Instead I used some cream to make it thicker.

cheese and potatoe filling
4 – 5 boiled potatoes
4 table spoons butter or olive oil
50 ml (0.2 cup) milk
1 egg white
about 120 ml (½ cup) farmers’ cheese
salt and pepper

melted butter
fine chopped and fried bacon
fine chopped and fried onions

Mash the potatoes with the egg white, some melted butter and milk. Add the farmers cheese as noted or to your own taste. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Lastly add chopped cilantro. Note that cilantro is not really a traditional ingredient for a pierogi filling but I don’t think there are any strong rules on how to make fillings. You take what you have at home. I used a very mild type of cilantro. However many recipes seem to use fine chopped onions or chives. I will try garlic next time.

filling the pierogi
Uncover the dough and if necessary knead it some more. Divide into 4 pieces. Use lots and lots of flour while rolling one piece at the time to a 1/16” (1 mm) thickness. Make 3” circles and divide the fillings on top. Cover the filling and pinch the edges firmly to seal. Pat some more flower on every pirogi so they don’t stick together. If necessary add some more warm water to the dough as the flour makes it dryer in the process. Repeat until you have about 75 lovely pierogi.

Heat up salted water. When the water is boiling drop some of the pierogi in the water. When they are floating up to the surface let them boil approximate 1 minute more. Fish them out with a strainer. Top with melted butter and fried bacon and onions (chopped finely). Serve with a salad and some sour cream.

Well it is a long process… but luckily it was worth every minute. The pierogi ended up super thin and didn’t last very long.

There are many different versions on how to make pierogi. Some use sour cream and some use the egg yolk in their dough. My dough was inspired by several recipes but are quite similar to Kate Hopkins version.

Maria’s Shrimp Stew

waterpipe in the garden

My friend Maria and I used to spend long evenings out in her garden, playing backgammon and smoking water pipe. At that time, we often start the evening by cooking something together, while listening to Middle East pop music and drinking some exotic tea. Well Maria spent over a year in the Middle East working at a rehabilitation center. In her free time she learnt scuba diving or went for long overnight walks in the desert all by her self. She must be one of the bravest persons I know.

This shrimp stew has nothing to do with Maria’s adventure in the Middle East. This stew is inspired by one of her original recipes. However I have changed it a bit. She made it as a creamy soup and it was perfectly suitable for our long early summer backgammon session in the garden.

half kg raw shrimps
two or three cloves of garlic
chili flakes
mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
three fresh tomatoes
one yellow onion
150-200 ml (0.6-0.85 cups) cream or heavy milk
paprika powder
fresh dill
one red pepper
salt and pepper
fresh cilantro

Heat up some olive oil and sauté one clove of chopped garlic together with some chili seeds. When the garlic starts to get a little yellow add the shrimps. Sauté on high temperature until they are done. Put the shrimps on the side and pour 150ml (0.6 cups) water in the sauté pan and let it boil for a minute. The liquid is going to be used later. Peel the shrimps when they become cooler.

Heat up new olive oil and add a teaspoon of mustard seeds. When the seeds starts to pop add cumin, coriander, turmeric and chili flakes. Sauté for ½ a minute before adding the chopped onion and one or two cloves of chopped garlic. Slice the fresh tomatoes and add them to the onions as they are getting soft. Sauté for a short moment before adding the shrimp water. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the cream and bring it to the boil. Lower the heat and season with paprika powder, thyme, salt and pepper. The stew should have a nice balance of sweet and spiciness. Just before serving add the shrimps, chopped cilantro, dill and the red pepper. The red pepper should be crispy.

Serve with rice and a simple salad (I often do arugula with apples and walnuts).

See also recipe for Grilled Spicy Shrimps