Monday, May 2, 2011

Cooking Classes 3: Baked Ukranian Dumplings (Cabbage Filling)

I asked my neighbor and cooking instructor if we could make perogies, she looked at me and smiled. The smile that says,"What are you trying to say?" or "What a funny accent you have." She told me that the word perogi means pie. So she came over one morning and we made "pies". She started with the dough. She first added 1 tablespoon of yeast to a cup of warm water. She told me that using hot water would ruin the yeast. Warm water. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so.

  • 3 tablespoons of oil

  • 2 1/2 tbsp. sugar

  • 1tbsp of salt

  • 500 ml of warm water

Meanwhile she mixed the above ingredients until dissolved. Then she added the yeasty water. After, she added flour. Don't ask me how much. She just added it until it made a nice dough. She kneaded it and then put it in a bowl, covered it, and let it rise. My yeast was refrigerated and also old. Over a year. Apparently that matters. I'm not an experienced cook so that must be old news to all of you out there. She buys her yeast fresh and keeps it in the freezer. It works faster. My dough took over an hour to rise sufficiently.

Hector was a good little boy during our cooking session. He likes having other people in the house. I can tell because he doesn't whine as much.
Next, you make the filling. You can fill these "pies" with anything. Apples, potatoes, cottage cheese, bottled cherries, meat, and cabbage. Of course I chose cabbage because I am very interested in any recipe that uses a vegetable. Especially a vegetable that I'm not used to cooking with. So, here are the ingredients for the filling:

  • 2 grated carrots

  • 1 green cabbage shredded

  • 1 yellow onion chopped

  • handful of chopped dill

  • 1/3 tbsp. salt

  • 1 tbsp. of tomato paste

First, fry your onions in a large frying pan that has a lid. Then, mix grated carrot and shredded cabbage in a large bowl and put salt on it. Mix it all together with your hands. Crunch it up as you mix it. While onions are still frying cut up the dill and mix it with the carrots and cabbage. Finally, once onions are browned add the cabbage mixture to the pan and fry all together. Add the tomato paste and fry until everything is soft. Once done, transfer to a wide bowl or tray to let cool.

Once the dough is risen, roll into balls a bit bigger than golf balls. Let them sit for 10 minutes. Then roll them slightly flat like in the above photo.
Once the cabbage is cool enough take two spoonfuls of it and put them on one of the dough circles in your hand. I hope that makes sense. It all must be done in your hand. Then you carefully try to seal up the sides. The dough is very stretchy and sticky enough. The key is to not let your fingers touch the oily cabbage mixture. If your fingers are oily it makes it hard to seal the dough over the top of the cabbage. Have a bag of flour close by to flour your fingers in so you can seal the "pie".
You make the little ridge on the top. Then you flip it over and smooth it out so it is a perfect oval like in the photo below.

You prepare a cooking tray with tons of oil on the bottom. She is used to using very heavy and thick trays and pots and pans. So she heavily oiled my cookie sheet because everything I have to bake with is light and thin. Arrange the "pies" in rows close together. Once the tray is full let them sit for 10 to 15 mintues. Then put them in a cold oven and turn the temperature to 330F. Bake for 30 minutes. Actually, these really took a lot longer than that. I had to keep checking them to make sure they weren't burning on the bottom. I think if you upped the temperature it would be fine and they would turn out great.
Mine eventually came out of the oven looking beautiful! My kids all went crazy when they came home from school. They each wanted to grab one and stuff it in their mouths.

The Verdict:

All my kids hated them. My husband liked them and I liked them. They were fresh and delicious for about one day. So if you are going to make a lot, make sure you have guests that day. The filling is delicious! I think the idea of putting things inside a perfectly oval bread is a wonderful idea. Next time I'm going to try a meat or a fruit filling so my kids will eat them.

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