Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Very Happy Accident

You know how sometimes something occurs to you and you decide to try it, and then the end result is something like "why didn't anyone ever think of that before?" Last night, I had just such an experience, and I daresay, the finished product bordered on nirvana. It was that good!

My adventure began with some leftover mashed potatoes. Dinner was simple, I was going to heat up some smoked sausage and leftover mashed potatoes for the kids, but I thought I would get adventurous and make some homemade pierogi with some of the leftover potatoes. I mixed my dough together, compliments of my handy-dandy stand mixer and then began rolling the dough out with my pasta roller. I began having problems. I must have put a little too much water in the dough, because it was sticking like you wouldn't believe, and I found myself cursing the dough several times. It took a lot of patience before I had about a dozen little dumplings for Andy and I. I decided to knead some flour into the remaining dough, and set it aside for another day.

Fast forward a little bit. I was boiling water, getting ready to drop my mis-shapen sticky dumplings in the water when my mind began wandering, thinking about other fillings to use with my remaining dough. For sure I would be making a butternut squash filling. But I was actually thinking on a blueberry and cheese filling I'd seen once. Since I don't have blueberries or cheese, it's not really an option, but then I thought about the cranberry sauce I'd made the other day. It was a light bulb moment. It made perfect sense to me! I couldn't wait to try it. Literally. So I grabbed a knob of dough, and Zander to roll it out for me, and I made four little cranberry pierogi.
I boiled them up, and while they were boiling, I tossed a tablespoon of butter in a saucepan to let it brown- oh yeah, browned butter today my friends. The pierogi came out of the boiling water and went into the frying pan. They got golden brown and crispy on both sides, and I poured the pierogi and brown butter into a small serving bowl where they got their final treatment- a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.Seriously, these pierogi were like little bites of heaven. Obviously they were more dessert-like than meal-like, but they were incredible. The cranberry sauce worked perfectly as a filling. As we sampled them, we realized that in the spirit of traditional pierogi making, these were spot on. We were using what we already had on hand- cranberry sauce is plentiful this time of year for us. And the idea of pierogi in Polish tradition is that they were little hearty dumplings that could be made with whatever is on hand, and can help stretch a meager budget. This was just such a thing. These cranberry pierogi were delicious enough, that with a small dollop of creme fraiche or sweetened sour cream, I could see them being served in an upscale restaurant. So to serve them at our dinner table, it was like a treat for royalty- only we know the real secret, that it was made with leftovers.

One of these days, I'll share the pierogi recipe I use, in the meantime though, the wheels are turning, and since I have a huge lump of dough that needs to be used up in the next day or so, I'm trying to think of things I have in my pantry that I can use to stuff these treasures with. My first thought is that it's too bad I don't have any frozen spinach. I could see a creamed spinach type of filling too. Oh, and if you're curious about the cranberry sauce I used, you're in luck! I wrote about the recipe for today's article at Kids Cuisine, and for those of you locals checking in here, it's also going to be featured in the paper in the next week or two. Cranberry-Pineapple Sauce is a really, really good thing. (Especially when it's wrapped in dough and sauteed in brown butter!)


JEP said...

This is brilliant! Both articles were fun to read, too!

swirlingnotions said...

I am SO holding out for your pierogi recipe! And now you've got my mind wandering about what to stuff them with too ;-). The cranberry filling sounded divine. Maybe mashed sweet potato and feta with currants and pine nuts . . . or chopped olives and goat cheese with a touch of honey . . . or . . . or . . . what fun!

Erika W. said...

Thanks Jep!

Lia, I'll probably post the recipe tomorrow. Sweet potato sounds really good to me!

Deborah said...

My best friend is Polish and she'll make pierogis from time to time. But she mixes sauerkraut in her filling(it makes me a bad German, but I can't stand the stuff). I can't wait to see what other fillings you come up with.

Erika W. said...

Deborah, that's the one filling I haven't had success with. And I like sauerkraut normally...just not as a pierogi filling.