Sunday 25 April 2010

Lazy dumplings or Pierogi leniwe

I haven't been blogging much recently as I haven't really been eating. I have lost nearly a stone already on the break-up diet, which consists of cigarettes, the odd piece of toast and gallons of wine, and promises to take about five years off your life expectancy. Nevermind, I am now recuperating at the family home in Eastbourne, and I have decided to explore my mum's old Polish cookbook, from the communist era, which has always both fascinated and intimidated me

There are masses of different dumplings in here, but ones which have been "following me", as you'd say in Polish, are Pierogi leniwe...I think the last time I made these I was five years old in my grandma Hala's tiny, dark kitchen in Warsaw, and she'd let me cut the long dough strips. So, to be fair, I have never actually made them myself, but they are nevertheless close to my heart... I may as well show you what they look like now, so you can decide if it's something you fancy or not


500 grams white young cheese, I used ricotta
3 eggs
150 grams flour
30 grams flour for rolling
60 grams butter
20 grams breadcrumbs
Pinch salt
About 2 tablespoons sugar
Single cream to serve

Whenever my mum has made these in the past she has used white cheese which she buys from the Polish shop. However, I wanted to use something easily accessible to everyone, so I tried ricotta today, which worked really well! Firstly, separate the egg yolk from the egg white. Blend the yolks with 30 grams of the butter, soft butter is best, so I stuck normal butter in the microwave for 10 seconds. This takes a little while, if you are to have no lumps. Then, add the ricotta/white cheese. Beat the whites until they form peaks and add these in too, as well as the 150 grams of flour. Mix it all in together, and add a good pinch of salt. It's now time to put a large pan of lightly salted water on heat, and bring it to the boil, while we work the dumplings

Now, clean the surface that you will be using to roll out the dough and cover with the remaining flour. Spread the mixture out on the flour and kneed into a ball, adding more flour to the bits which are too sticky

That's me kneeding it up there - after you have done this for about 5 minutes, separate the mixture into two or three, and it's time to start rolling it out into long strips. And that's my mum showing me how it's done, below

You have to be quite gentle, as this dough is really soft. Once you can't roll anymore, then just form it into this kind of a shape, and make sure it's covered in flour on all sides. It's a balancing act with the flour, you don't want to add too much as the dumplings will end up hard. But the mixture is too sticky to do anything with if there is not enough flour, so just use your instincts on this one, and next time you'll know. I say next time, because once you have tried these, I guarantee you'll make them again. It's quite a simple recipe, and they are delicious - a lovely balance of sweet and salty and totally moreish

Cut the strips into more or less this kind of a shape and size. Once the water is boiling, drop half the dumplings in, and stir gently so that they do not stick together. When the dumplings rise to the top, give them once more minute and drain them spoonful by spoonful, trying to get rid of as much as the water as possible, before placing on a serving dish

While the second lot is cooking, melt the rest of the butter on a frying pan, and brown the breadcrumbs - this should take about 2-3 minutes. Finally, we cover the dumplings in the breadcrumb sauce, sugar, and serve, with cream on the side. This is pure Polish comfort food!

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