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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.