Pierogi Musings

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I’ve been so busy lately, having little to no time for myself, that I almost forgot how much I loved creating dishes that require a long cooking process. On Thanksgiving day I found myself making Pierogis from scratch, a dish that I always found to be comforting, and something I always wanted to attempt to make. I love the way in which Pierogis are simple, uncomplicated in the way it’s pretty much potato, cheese and dough, but so delicious (especially fried in bacon!).

Even though I’ve been busy, I still make it a point to live slowly, avoid multitasking and to never be in a rush. Three things I never used to do, but found that life rushes past you quicker when you don’t take your time. Besides, don’t the most important things in life require your full attention? These days, I find there is a richness to life when you meet every single moment openly, more fully. So while taking my work breaks, I was boiling potato, kneading and rolling out dough, and assembling little Polish dumplings. And this is the way in which I created the best cheese and potato Pierogis I’ve ever had in my life.

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The long cooking process gave me lots of time to sit in the quiet, to be with my thoughts. I love working with my hands because I find it so easy, instinctively knowing just the right amount of water and flour to add to the dough so that it can be kneaded properly. And as I kneaded for over ten minutes, feeling both the dough becoming pliant underneath my fingertips, and the strain of my arms from the constant pressure, I thought – Isn’t this the same way we’re worn by experience, to be exactly who we are meant to be? We’re pushed, ground, our lives rearranged, but at the end of it all, closer to who we really are?

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And now, for the recipe:

Simple Pierogi Dough

Yield:  2 to 3 Dozen Pierogi

Ingredients

2 to 2 ½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 large egg

1 tsp salt

About 1 cup warm water

Method

  1. Heat the water in the microwave and then set it aside until the water is warm to the touch.
  2. Sift 2 cups of flour into a large bowl.  Make a hole or well in the center of the flour.
  3. Crack the egg into the well and add the salt.  Add a little bit of the warm water.   Mix initially with a fork.  Work the dough with your hands, adding a little more water at a time.  Knead the dough until it’s smooth and soft.
  4. If the dough is sticky add a tablespoon of flour and knead.  If it’s still sticky add a little more flour.   If the dough feels hard and dry add a tablespoon of water and knead.  If the dough is still not soft and smooth add another tablespoon of warm water and knead.
  5. When the dough is done, form it into a round and wrap with plastic wrap.  Put the dough in a bowl and cover with a clean towel.
  6. Allow the dough to rest for 10 to 20 minutes.
  7. Divide the dough in half.
  8. Roll to a thickness of 1/8” on a floured board.  If you like thicker pierogi you can roll it to as much as 3/8” thickness.
  9. Use a large round cookie cutter or a large glass to cut out circles of dough.  The circles should be approximately 3 inches in diameter.
  10. Place a ball of filling on the center. Press the tines of a fork around the edges of the pierogi to seal the dough and give it a fancier look.
  11. Place each completed pierogi on a cookie sheet.  Cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap so that the pierogi don’t dry out.
  12. Combine any scraps of dough, roll them out and cut out more dough circles.
  13. Complete this process for all of the dough in the bowl.
  14. At this point you can follow the directions for cooking the pierogi or you can freeze them.

Potato & Cheese Filling

Yield:  6 cups Pierogi filling

Ingredients

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/2 cup butter

2 medium onions, chopped

9 oz grated cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Cook potatoes until tender.   Drain the pot and transfer the potatoes to a bowl to cool.
  2. Put the butter and onions in a large skillet.  Sauté the onion slowly at low temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.  The onions will turn golden brown and will caramelize.  Stir frequently.
  3. Press the potatoes through a potato press or ricer into a large bowl.  As an alternative you can mash the potatoes.
  4. If using pressed cottage cheese put the cottage cheese through a potato press or ricer.  If using farmer cheese don’t use a potato press or ricer.
  5. Add the cottage cheese or farmer cheese to the potatoes.
  6. Add the grated cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.
  7. Add the caramelized onions to the potatoes.  Mix well until the potatoes, cheese, salt and pepper are all well-blended.
  8. Cool completely.  Wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to prepare the pierogi.

 

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Vegan adventure at Mythology Toronto!

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I’ve been incorporating a lot of plant based meals into my diet lately, from tempeh, tofu, beans, and even Beyond Meat. I love that there are so many options now, and it seems like more people are willing to try these yummy plant proteins! Personally, I love that I get my protein fix, and also don’t feel too heavy after eating a meal. Which is why I was so excited when I got invited to Mythology (formerly Mythology Diner) on Queen West, a Vegan spot from the team behind Vegandale.

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First impressions of the renovated space is that it’s modern, but also really cozy and intimate. I liked the little accents of gold all around the place, to the cool looking menu that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland! My sister and I both started with the Acai cocktail, which was so delish! I love any sour drink, and this was really well made, with Cachaca, lime, cane sugar and acai juice. I would definitely order this again!

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To start we had my favourite dish of the evening: Calamari with king oyster mushroom, garlic cornmeal crust, tartar sauce and lemon. This was surprisingly really amazing! They really got the juicy texture down, and there was a nice crunch to it too. I also wondered how they were able to create circular calamari-like shapes from the mushroom. WOW! So good and I would highly recommend this.

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We also tried the Charcuterie Board, featuring pickled local vegetables, carrot gravlax, mushroom pate, crostini, berry compote, Dijon, lemon ash cashew goat cheese, cornichon and candied pecan. This dish had very interesting flavours. I really enjoyed trying out everything on the board, and combining each of the pate/cheeses onto the crostini. To me the standout was the cashew goat cheese!

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I had the Mushroom Ravioli, which had handmade ravioli, mushroom duxelle, porcini cream sauce, wild mushroom, green pea, hazelnut crumb, baby greens, garlic chips, truffle lemon vinaigrette and porcini dust. I really enjoyed the strong mushroom flavours and the incorporation of the greens into the dish – I like that it’s a really light option compared to usual heavy ravioli dishes I have had in the past.

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My sister had the Coq Au Vin, with braised seitan chicken, garlic confit mash, pastrami carrots, rapini, and prune demi glace. Although she wasn’t too big of a fan of the texture, she liked the flavours of the dish!

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For sides, we had Panisse, a fried chickpea flour cake, topped with cultured parmesan and aioli. This was really yummy and had a great texture that reminded me of yucca fries. We also had their super fresh House Salad, with a light tahini dressing.

Unfortunately I was too full to try any dessert, but we thoroughly enjoyed the meal! Everything tasted so fresh, and all dishes were so beautifully presented! Mythology is now open for dinner, so make sure you drop by for their delish Vegan dishes!

Mythology
1265 Queen St W,
Toronto, ON M6K 1L5

Celebrating National Chicken Wing Weekend with 7-Eleven Canada!

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Ah wings, one of my all-time favourite things to eat during the summer! There’s just something about enjoying some delicious, tasty wings with a cold drink while you sit out in the scorching sun. Thankfully, I’ve got a 7-Eleven near me, which is really convenient because I really love their super juicy and flavourful wings! 7-Eleven will be celebrating #NationalWingWeekend from Saturday, July 27 to Monday, July 29, and ahead of this deliciously mouthwatering weekend, they are asking fans to decide: What type of chicken wings are superior? Naked Pub Style Wings or Dressed Wings?

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Cast your vote at https://7-eleven.ca/nationalwingweekend/ from now to Monday, July 29 because:

    • Voters will be automatically entered for a chance to win free wing delivery to the value of $25, delivered to you! Winners who don’t fall in a delivery area will receive a $25 7-Eleven gift card.
    • If you’re having trouble deciding, you can get 10 Naked Pub Style or Dressed Wings for $9 at your neighbourhood 7-Eleven or get them delivered straight to your door. Find out more about delivery at https://7-eleven.ca/delivery/
    • Those of you who are 7Rewards members can get 1000 7Rewards Bonus Points when you purchase 10 wings for $9 from Saturday, July 27 to Monday, July 29

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I had a chance to try a bunch of the wing flavours, from the Honey Garlic to the Buffalo Hot Wings – wow, they were all so delicious, and I especially enjoyed the crunchiness of the dressed wings.

Fun fact: Did you know that 7-Eleven Canada’s chickens are raised by Canadian Farmers without any added steroids or hormones?! They are fried fresh in select stores and hot from the oven in minutes in others.

One of the things that I also love is that you can get their wings day and night 24/7! They have so many delicious flavours to choose from, like Naked Pub Style wings, Honey Garlic, Hot Sauce or Spicy Thai.

What are you waiting for? Make sure to cast your vote and visit your neighbourhood 7-Eleven during #NationalWingWeekend for some amazing wings! Voting closes Monday, July 29th #Ad

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A day on the Asparabus!

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Every day I am constantly so amazed at the beauty of this wonderful, strange and magnificent world that we live in. I always make it a point to look out from my 19th floor condo balcony, where I can gaze for a long time at the vast sky, with clouds that seem to endlessly stretch across it, and to the buildings and houses below me and beyond. It makes me feel so small… such a tiny part of this massive world! And it also reminds me of how everything – how life – has it’s rhythm: the cycle of seasons, of change, arriving, departing, coming to life and fading away. And still, the world keeps turning.

It’s spring, which means it’s asparagus season – the first crop of the spring harvest! I’ve always loved asparagus, which is slightly bitter, sweet and very earthy compared to broccoli. Such a unique and delicious flavour! I was lucky enough to be invited by The Foodies Group and Asparagus Farmers of Ontario to join a full day tour on the Asparabus, an initiative that aims to help raise awareness on supporting local farmers. I try to buy local as much as possible, and as a home cook, I love how you really can taste the freshness of the product, not to mention feel good about supporting Canada!

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First stop was the Welsh Brothers Farm, where I got to see first-hand how asparagus is harvested on their field, which was around 6 years old. I found out that the spears grew directly up from the ground (they thrive in sandy soil), and they are harvested by hand with a chef’s knife. This labour intensive process is the reason why asparagus is a bit more expensive than other vegetables. I even got to break off a spear and try it right on the field, so delicious and fresh!

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Inside the production facility, each asparagus spear is sorted by the workers, with the help of a camera that determines the color, thickness, and is then divided into different spear sizes. I was told that the thickest size is great for the BBQ, so definitely pick those up instead of the thinner ones (which are better for salads)!

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We visited the Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery next, a beautiful and lush property full of trees and a huge vineyard. This is where we had an outstanding, delicious farm to table lunch featuring local asparagus, prepared by Chef Tracy Winkworth from the Liaison College Southcoast Chef School.

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The feast was all a blur (I was in heaven) – and I was so impressed at how Chef Tracy integrated asparagus into dishes in really unique ways from risotto, to chimichurri, pesto and even guacamole. She also made some BBQ ribs, with strawberry as an ingredient in the BBQ sauce… WOW!

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I am so grateful to have met such passionate farmers – how lucky they must feel to be eating such a fresh vegetable right from the field! I was able to try some asparagus from their farm which I cooked at home, and it was so flavourful, tender and extremely juicy! You should definitely buy local and support Ontario asparagus farmers any chance you can get!

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My new favourite: STK Toronto

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Ahh…! Spring has finally arrived here in Toronto, and we’ve thankfully gotten over the cold, harsh winter. The blinding sun’s out most days, the grass a vibrant green, beautifully dotted with yellow flowers (weeds?), and the sky a light blue, making me feel so alive! It’s in these quiet moments that I always remember to be grateful, to hold on to these moments of happiness, and to make sure that I spread only good, positive vibes to everyone around me.

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It was a beautiful partly cloudy day last Wednesday too, despite getting caught in a torrential downpour of rain in Yorkville. I was very lucky to be invited to dine at STK with my sister, and we both had such a wonderful dinner – one that I kept thinking about a few days later. I loved so many things about my experience, from the trendy and warm ambiance, to the excellent dishes and the amazing service. If you’ve been following my blog, I am first and foremost a steak person, and I was blown away by the 18 oz Dry Aged Striploin (!!), which was the highlight of the meal – but we’ll get to that later.

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Our dinner started off with a few drinks, and I got the Paloma Escobar (sour drinks are my ultimate favourite), which was a lovely, refreshing tart cocktail mix of white tequila, lime and grapefuit that would be a perfect drink to have this summer! We were also served a mini loaf of bread freshly baked in house, delicious pieces of soft, buttery goodness!

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We had a few starters – all of them were tasty, and you could definitely notice that all the ingredients they used were fresh and very high quality. The Tuna Tartare featured hass avocado, soy honey emulsion and topped with taro chips. Loved the presentation! The taro chips had a nice crunch that provided really good texture to the sauce and tuna.

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The Crispy Calamari & Shrimp featured blistered shishito peppers and was served on a chili remoulade sauce. Lightly breaded and fried, this was a nice light dish that didn’t leave me feeling heavy compared to the usual deep fried dishes I’ve had in the past. I liked that the seafood was fresh, and that the sauce was creamy with a slight kick to it.

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I also really enjoyed the Local Heirloom Tomatoes, featuring burrata cheese, Panzanella sauce and tomatoes that were sweet and very juicy. This was a very rich dish because of the creaminess of the burrata and the sauce. Yum!

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And now my favourite, the 18 oz Dry Aged Striploin! At this point I was in heaven – the steak was juicy and a perfectly cooked rare, with the dry aging of it giving it a nice umami flavour (salty, savoury richness). What a beautiful, tender cut of meat, which went perfectly with our sides, Mac & Cheese and Parmesan Truffle Fries. Both sides were very flavorful and delicious, I would definitely order them again.

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Finally, dessert! I wasn’t sure how they were going to top the entire meal, but wow. Dessert was SO amazing. It was hard to choose what I liked the most between the Orange Dream Cheesecake and the Sticky Toffee Pudding, since they were both great, but I liked the Sticky Toffee Pudding more. There’s just something about a nice warm dessert with lots of caramel sauce that makes me feel warm inside. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it because it was too dark – you’ll just have to order it!!

STK is definitely now on my top list of must eat places in Toronto, and I 100% recommend it as a perfect spot for a date.

STK Toronto
153 Yorkville Ave,
Toronto, ON M5R 1C4