Originally published on January 11, 2013; canada.com
Printed with permission from Borsch, Vodka and Tears: Food to Drink With (Hardie Grant Books) by Benny Roff
¼ lime, cut into 2 wedges
approximately 120 ml (4 fl oz) cloudy apple juice
2. Add the vodka, squeeze in the lime juice and drop the wedges into the glass. Top with cloudy apple juice and serve immediately.
½ onion, coarsely chopped
45 g (1½ oz/¼ cup) potato flour
1 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil, for frying
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a cast-iron frying pan or flat griddle plate over a medium–low heat. You really do need cast iron, as no other surface seems to work — if you don’t have a pan, try using the grill plate of your barbecue, just make sure it’s clean first.
3. Spoon ¼ cup of the batter into the pan at a time, spreading it out to form a little round pancake. Cook for 5 minutes, or until they are set on the top, then turn over and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with more oil and the remaining batter to make about 12 blintzes.
4. Once you have cooked the blintzes the first time, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan over medium–high heat. Return the blintzes to the pan, working in batches, and cook until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Serve immediately with your chosen accompaniments.
325 g (11½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 egg, lightly beaten, plus extra, for brushing
185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) milk
1. Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre (alternatively you can do the whole thing in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment). Add the egg and mix until it is well combined. Put the milk into a saucepan and scald it (that is, heat it until it starts bubbling and threatening to rise up). Immediately add it to the flour mixture and mix through. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave it for 15 minutes to rest.
2. Divide the dough into six portions — cover any that you aren’t working with to prevent them from drying out. Roll out a piece of dough on a lightly floured work surface until it is thin enough to see your hands through. You can use a pasta machine to do this if you prefer. When the dough is thin enough, use a pastry cutter to cut out circles with an 8 cm (3¼ inch) diameter. Repeat until all the dough is used up — you should have about 45 circles. Arrange the circles on sheets of baking paper in layers.
3. To make the pierogi, place 1 teaspoon of your chosen filling (make sure the filling is cool) into the centre of each circle. Brush one half of the rim with lightly beaten egg, then fold the circle carefully in half, trying to leave as little excess air in the pierogi as possible, and press the edge to seal. The pierogi can be stored at this stage on layers of baking paper. You can freeze them successfully for up to 3 months.
4. To cook the pierogi, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pierogi, in batches if necessary (add roughly the number of pierogi that would cover the surface of the pot in a single layer), and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.
5. It is perfectly acceptable to brush the pierogi with a little melted butter and serve them as is, but at the vodka bar we like to take it a step further and sauté them until they are a little bit crisp. Sauté them in a little vegetable oil and butter with their individual garnish until they start to brown, then serve them with a dollop of sour cream.
6. Pierogi is one of the things we serve as a late-night bar snack at Borsch, but it is not convenient to have many boiling pots and pans running all night waiting for a few orders so we opt to deep-fry them. All you do is fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan with enough oil to come one-third of the way up the pan and heat until it is 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds. Drop the pierogi into the hot oil and remove them when they’re golden brown, about 5 minutes. I must confess that this is one of my favourite ways to eat them, served with a side of sour cream with some capsicum salsa mixed into it and some chopped fresh dill. I’d recommend trying it late at night!
makes 45 pierogi
250 g (9 oz) starchy (mealy) potatoes such as desiree, sebago or russet, washed
200 g (7 oz/¾ cup) quark cheese (farmer’s cheese), or ricotta (see note)
80 g (2¾ oz) butter
1 onion, finely chopped, plus 1 extra, sliced, to garnish
5 mint sprigs, leaves finely chopped (optional)
2. Drain and peel the skins while they’re still hot, you can let them cool a little and you can use a tea towel to protect your hands, but potatoes don’t mash as well when cool, and they don’t taste as good and are not as good for you when you peel them before boiling. Mash the potatoes using a mouli, ricer or potato masher. Alternatively, you can place it in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the quark cheese and mix thoroughly.
3. Heat 20 g (¾ oz) of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it is lightly browned. Remove from the heat and add to the potato and cheese mixture. Agnieszka’s Babcia (Granny) uses fresh mint in her mixture, if you want to give it a try, add it at the end. Season with salt and a little black pepper, to taste. Use the filling to make the pierogi and cook it following the instructions for Polish Dumplings / Pierogi above.
4. The traditional garnish for this type of pierogi is fried onion strips. Cook the onion slices in the remaining butter in a frying pan over medium heat until they turn golden brown. If you can’t be bothered or it’s all too hard, I’ve seen this type of garnish (which is also used in German cookery for spätzle) substituted with the crispy fried shallots that you find in Southeast Asian grocery stores. It’s not the same, but it’s tasty and easy.