Friday, December 21, 2012

Made With Love Virtual Dinner Party: Mrs. Kostyra's Potato Pierogi


When I hear the words "Meals on Wheels," I immediately think of Twin Peaks, one of my favorite television shows of all time. It may be a really strange association, but I can't help but picture the scenes where Donna (played by a young Lara Flynn Boyle) takes over Laura Palmer's Meals on Wheels route to help uncover the mystery behind her death. Donna befriends a shut-in named Harold who is the keeper of Laura's secret diary... Okay, I'll stop now. I just can't help myself. I have a serious love for David Lynch and this awesomely twisted 90's television show!


Anyway, when the folks at BenBella Books contacted me and asked me to participate in another virtual dinner party (I've taken part in others in the past), I couldn't turn them down. Even with plans to go out of town shortly before the deadline, I couldn't resist helping to spread the word on this lovely cookbook. Made With Love: The Meals on Wheels Family Cookbook is a "celebrity cookbook" in that it's contents come from a variety of famous folks, whether they are chefs, actors, or even politicians. What makes this book stand out from others in the same camp is that each sale helps the fight to end senior hunger in America.


That's an excellent cause, and I must say the book doesn't disappoint. It's filled with beautiful photographs of every single dish. Each recipe contains a footnote from the contributors, sharing fun little personal stories to accompany their dishes. I'm honestly quite impressed with many of the recipes found in the book and look forward to trying others.


Some standouts include Susan Orlean's Sugar and Spice Baked Shrimp, Marshall Chapman's West African Peanut Soup with Chicken, Kalle Bergman's Ultimate Swedish Meatballs, Helen Mirren's Mironoff Piroshki, Mario Batali's Spinach and Goat Cheese Gnocchi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pine Nuts and Lemon, Derek Lee's Fried Rice with Egg and more.


For this virtual dinner party, I decided to create the recipe that Martha Stewart contributed: her mother's potato pierogi recipe. I had actually been craving pierogi for a while now, and especially with the winter cold setting in and the holidays just around the corner, comfort food was definitely fitting. Although the recipe was supposed to make about 5 dozen, I comfortably got 4 dozen, but no more, out of my dough. I also had a few cups of leftover filling, but it was so delicious it can easily stand in as a side dish for another meal, so no worries there.


Martha suggests making a brown butter sauce and just spooning over the boiled pierogi, but I'm obsessed with the marriage of chewy and crispy for the pierogi skin, and thus the only way to go (in my humble opinion) is to boil and then pan-fry in butter. I also suggest serving the finished product with additional sour cream and/or caramelized onions. In this case I didn't include the onions because I was running out of time, but next time I'd definitely make that accompaniment as well.


The dough was super easy to work with and easily stretched to accommodate a generous amount of filling. I love that these little packages were full and plump with creamy potato inside. The fluffy filling was a great contrast to the chewy, crispy, and buttery wrappers. Next time I may add a bit of minced chives to the filling for color and a mild onion flavor. Overall, we definitely fell in love with Mrs. Kostyra's Potato Pierogi. They are a perfect vegetarian entree for this virtual dinner party.

Please check out the other participants as well! You can also tweet @MadeWithLoveMOW with #MWLDinnerParty.


Mrs. Kostyra's Potato Pierogi (Contributed by Martha Stewart)
Makes about 5 dozen
(Adapted from Made With Love: The Meals on Wheels Family Cookbook)

1 large egg, lightly whisked
2 T. sour cream, plus more for serving, if desired
1 cup whole milk
1 cup water
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
4 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature (I used Neufchatel cheese)
3 T. melted unsalted butter, plus more butter as needed for frying
Caramelized onions, for serving, if desired

In a large bowl, whisk together egg and sour cream. Add in milk and water, whisking to combine. Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time.

Knead the dough until elastic and no longer sticky, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will come together as you knead it. Add a bit of flour as needed, but be careful not to add too much since it will toughen the dough. Cover the dough and let it rest for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Season with salt. Bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain potatoes and then pass through a ricer or food mill. Stir in cream cheese and melted butter, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Generously dust a couple half sheet pans with flour (the pierogi will stick if you skimp too much). Roll out 1 piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 1/8-inch-thick round. Keep other portions of dough covered to prevent drying out.

Cut circles very close together using a 3-inch cutter or glass. Repeat with the remaining dough, rolling out the scraps again to create as many circles as possible.

Form filling into 1 1/2-inch ovals (about 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons each). Place filling in the center of each dough circle and fold the dough over the filling, pinching the edges together to create a well-sealed crescent. Repeat with the remaining circles. You may have leftover filling (I did).

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, transfer pierogi to boiling water and give them a good stir so they don't stick. They will sink to the bottom and then rise. Once they have risen, cook through, about 2 minutes more. Remove from water and reserve (spreading them out on lightly greased half sheet pans is a good method). Repeat with remaining batches.

When all the pierogi have been boiled, it's time to fry them up. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pierogi in batches to the hot butter and fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown, adding additional butter as needed. Repeat with the remaining pierogi and serve with sour cream and/or caramelized onions, if desired.

*Disclaimer* I received no compensation to write this review other than a free copy of the book. My opinions are always my own.

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