Have you ever had a piece of kitchen equipment, whether it be a gadget, something electric, just sitting around gathering dust because you never use them? You hold on to them anyway because who knows, you might need it one day, right?
Well, I had a box of plastic pierogi sealer/crimpers taking up room for years. I never used them, and frankly, never thought I’d ever be making pierogi from scratch, so after letting this box take up room for way too long, and since I couldn’t even give them away, I trashed them a few weeks ago. Whaddya know, this month the Daring Cooks are challenging us to make pierogi! #$%^!!!
I had no idea how much I’d need those pierogi sealer/crimper doodads since I truly thought I could easily make a pretty crimp, not unlike some of my pie crusts, but no dice. I thought I could easily fold and crimp these pierogi without tearing, but no dice. OH, how much time I would have saved with those plastic pierogi sealer/crimpers and how much dough wouldn’t have been wasted! I’m a really bad pierogi sealer. Once again, #$%^!
Alright, enough bitching because they’re gone, and I need to make pierogi, and well, I do a pretty good job with Asian dumplings, so this shouldn’t be difficult. HA! OK, I’m starting to bitch again, so it’s time for my amazingly delicious pierogi. Aesthetics aside, they really ARE that good. However, please excuse the sloppy plating and over-browned pierogi. I’m not loving this entry at all. You can’t even make out the beautiful corn puree around the plate underneath my sad, artificial lighting (it looks like a yellow ring of who the eff knows?). UGH.
The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.
I knew I wanted to do some kind of seafood pierogi from the moment I saw what the challenge was, and instantly recalled a recipe for lobster pierogi by Micheal Symon that I’d bookmarked. Once I looked at his recipe, it all came together instantly. I could take his lobster pierogi filling and give it a ‘clambake’ theme, minus the clams (lobster>clams, at least for me). If you’ve ever been to a clambake, whether it be on the beach, at the pool, or in someone’s kitchen, a huge steam pot is partially filled with sea water and seaweed, then topped with potatoes, corn, clams, and sometimes lobsters and other seafood. This amazing pot ‘o gold is steamed over a fire, then dumped on a paper covered table for all to gorge on with fingers and loads of napkins.
If you’re ‘clam baking’ on the beach, never mind the seagulls trying to pilfer a claw or clam from your hand, the sand in your bathing suit, and the wind blowing even more sand into your scalp and eyes, because it adds to the ambiance.
Clambakes on the beach are the best!
So, sometimes it’s just a lobsterbake, and that’s what it is when it comes to my pierogi; a froo froo lobsterbake, but with a down-home, old country feel and taste. I know lobstah is usually associated with New England, particularly Maine, but we have clam and lobster bakes here in the NY-NJ area too, so I’m standing put and making these pierogi rep-re-sent!
You can enjoy them just boiled, like above, but a good sear in melted butter, after boiling, with caramelized onions (or sauteed shallots, for these), is the way to go.
Before I go on, I want to inject some of that ‘old country’ into this entry. Being of Russian descent (along with several other international bits and pieces; I’m a mutt), I grew up being able to sample some of the best pierogi and varenyky from scratch. I never considered making them myself because I felt there was no way I could duplicate them, and I was spoiled with the best. For years, I’ve stuck with frozen pierogi doctored up with fried onions and sour cream, and that was good enough to satiate my pierogi cravings.
I had a glimmer of hope when I thought of a lovely lady from Poland (you can see her in my DB pizza entry ; the blonde lady tossing the pizza dough), who is a recreational director/kitchen goddess at the rehab facility I stayed at for my knee. When I was there, she told me she would teach me the magic of “pierogi” whenever I wanted. Unfortunately, I was released before that happened, and wasn’t thinking about pierogi upon my return home since I had to basically focus on getting my knee in working order. I thought about calling her when this challenge was announced, but then decided to try and teach myself, which I’ve pretty much done my whole life when it comes to cooking and baking, anyway.
SO, here’s my take on this pierogi challenge. Using a filling recipe from Michael Symon via Food & Wine (I used the Russian dough from the challenge, although Symon’s dough is awesome), and taking a few of my own liberties, I cut up 8 ounces fresh, steamed lobster (the recipe called for only 4), and used a purple potato along with a yukon gold for the filling. Bad idea, but in retrospect, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I had no clue that in lieu of a beautiful lavender, buttery, creamy potato-lobster filling, I would end up with a gray buttery, creamy lobster filling. I suppose the yellow of the yukon gold with the purple doesn’t quite make for lavender. However, after boiling the pierogi, as you can see in the photo above, the grayish hue disappeared, and the potato filling was almost white upon cutting.
Any scientists out there care to explain?
Having said all that, instead of adding corn to the potato-lobster filling, I was inspired by a recipe in Art Culinaire by Charlie Trotter, and decided to make a corn puree/sauce for my lobsterbake pierogi, and serve it alongside and on the plate, topping it all off with some shallots sauteed in clarified butter and butter poached pieces of lobster. I must say, I LOVED it. Rich, fattening, comfort food in Loboutin heels!
FINALLY, time to announce the winner of the Hamilton Beach 1.5 QT ice cream maker. I REALLY wish I could give everyone who commented an ice cream maker – but keep ehecking back as there will be more giveaways to come! For this one, Random Integer.org decided that Charlene gets the ice cream maker! Congratulations, Charlene – the peaches and gingersnap ice cream sounds awesome! I’ll ship it out to you as soon as I get your address. Just reply to my email with your info. 🙂 NOTE: A few people entered after I already generated and posted the winner, so it was 89 people at the time. For those who missed it by a nano second or more, keep checking back as there will be more giveaways to come!
Corn Puree recipe adapted from Charlie Trotter via Art Culinaire
- ½ cup sour cream
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 4 oz Yukon gold potato
- 1 4 oz purple potato
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half or heavy cream
- 6-8 ounces cooked lobster meat, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 3 stripped cobs of corn, kernels reserved
- 1 quart of cold water
- 1 tablespoon clarified butter or olive oil
- ¾ cup fresh corn kernels
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 tabelspoos white wine
- 1½ cups corn stock (ingredients and directions above and below)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional - I didn't use it)
- 2 more tablespoons clarified butter (you can use unsalted melted butter if you'd like)
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream with 4 tablespoons of the butter, the egg, the chives and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Using your hands, work in the flour. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into two 6-inch disks, wrap in plastic and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, boil the potato in water to cover until tender, about 20 minutes; drain. Peel and press through a ricer or sieve into a medium bowl. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the half-and-half, then add the lobster meat. Season with salt and pepper and let cool completely.
- In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the cobs and water to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat and cover with a round of parchment paper. Maintain a simmer for one hour.
- Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve, then return the strained stock to the saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and simmer stock until reduced to about 1½ cups. Remove the corn stock from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Reserve until ready to use.
- In a small saute pan, heat clarified butter or olive over medium heat. Add the corn kernels, garlic and shallots and saute until soft, about 45 seconds. Deglaze the pan with white wine and simmer until dry.
- Transfer mixture to blender and add ½ cup of the reserved corn stock. Puree until smooth, then strain through a fine mesh sieve and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Season corn puree well, then add in ¾ cup of corn stock and cumin, if using. Using a hand held immersion blender or just a regular blender, puree the corn mixture, drizzling in 2 tablespoons of clarified butter, until light, foamy and slightly creamy. Add some or all of the remaining ¼ cup corn stock for desired consistency. I poured the puree into a squeeze bottle for easier plating, but you can spoon it around the plate or just serve alongside to dip the pierogi, or let your guests spoon it out and plate it the way they want it. This corn puree also pairs well as an accoutrement to so many other dishes, savory AND sweet!
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of the dough to a 15-inch ( I prefer the dough a just a tad thicker, so I rolled it to a 12 inch round) round about ⅛ inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or a glass, cut out 12 to 15 rounds. Brush each round lightly with water and spoon 1 scant tablespoon of the lobster potato filling in the center. Fold the dough over the filling to form half moons, pressing out the air; then press and crimp the edges to seal. Arrange the finished pierogi so they don''t touch on a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
- Drop the pierogi in boiling, salted water and cook until they float to the top. If frozen, let cook a little more after rising to top. If desired, fry in some seasoned, melted butter for an even richer treat!
- The pierogi can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 month; do not thaw before cooking.