Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Foodie Read

My most recent reading indulgence is Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton. I'll keep you posted. I've heard great things!

The Onion Tell

We're STILL not back in our house. The renovation is dragging on. I am back in the city though, back in the land of wi-fi, well-stocked groceries and within driving distance of my cookbooks! We're staying with my brother-in-law for the next few nights. Sorting through his bachelorific kitchen to see what I have to work with, I remembered my Onion Theory, which has been percolating in the back of my mind for some time.

The lowly onion is a good baseline indicator of foodiness in a household. I find I am shocked by people who don't keep onions on hand at all times. Virtually any dish I make begins with an onion. I panic if I get down to two or fewer in my pantry. If you can't find an onion at someone's house, there's a very good chance they cook from a package most of of the time. 

Unless of course you are my unfortunate cousin who is deathly allergic to onions. They cook from fresh, but have had to adapt all of their recipes to be onion-free. I can't imagine that, any more than I can imagine the plight of the woman I once met who developed a deathly allergy to garlic during her pregnancy. The horror!

I'm curious, readers—are there indicators, like the onion, that you have noticed? What can you not live without that other non-foodies can?

P.S. What is complete in our kitchen looks absolutely amazing. Can't wait to get in and get to work!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ultimate Dumpling Dough

My goodness, it's been exactly one month since I last made a post. That's terrible. I just haven't had much to write about, since we have spent the last month being displaced, and I have been living in limbo and making do when it comes to cooking. Until yesterday.

Yesterday was the day that I was officially told that, despite what we were originally promised, we would not be able to move back home at the end of this week. I know, I know, renovations always take longer than expected, blah blah blah. While I have been able to cope fairly well with being displaced up until now, I was really counting on going home this weekend. To console myself, I opted for some cooking therapy.

I'm staying on my parents' farm with my boys, and so don't have access to my usual cookbook collection. I also don't have access to high-speed internet; out here, we're one step above dial-up. So my usual approach to recipe searching, i.e., Google the recipe I want to make or the ingredients I want to use, was not going to work.

I surveyed my resources. We had some leftover mashed potatoes, and I was thinking about making potato bread. I started going through my mom's cookbook collection, and got hung up on a recipe for Periski, a sort of baked perogy, from the St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Parish 50th Anniversary Cookbook. I wouldn't put the potatoes in the dough; I'd stuff the dough with potatoes instead!

The dough was fairly quick to pull together, but needed to sit overnight. I started thinking about what else I could stuff it with. I had just sampled several pastries at the Lebanese Kitchen in Saskatoon, and was thinking that some kind of meat filling would be good, too.

In time for lunch today, I pulled out the dough, fried some onions and chopped some dill to add to the leftover mashed potatoes, and dug out the leftover "mushroom goulash" (a redneck standard of ground beef, onions, celery and cream of mushroom soup--I never make it at home, but I love to eat it).

My mom and I rolled out the dough (it was lovely to work with) and tucked tablespoonfuls of the filling inside, sealing them up and placing them on baking trays. We had eight squares of dough remaining when we used up all the potatoes and the beef mixture, so we started looking around for a dessert-like filling. We settled on mini-babybel cheese and sliced apple.

Little pastry treats for lunch were just lovely, and the dough baked up like a delicious cross between flaky pie crust and tender bun dough. I am in love with this dough--and I will be looking for more filling ideas. This may become a staple. Forget sandwiches in my kids' lunches. I'll just whip up a batch of these babies, and toss them in their lunch pails!!


Mix together and let stand:
1 T. yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1 t. sugar

1 c. sour cream
3 eggs

In a separate bowl, mix together as you would for a pie crust:
1 c. butter
1/2 t. salt
3 T. sugar
4 c. flour

Add yeast to the sour cream mixture; add that mixture to the flour mixture. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Using a generous amount of flour on your rolling surface, divide the dough in two pieces. Roll the dough to 1/4" thickness. Cut into approximately 2" squares. Place a tablespoon of filling (anything you put in perogies, such as mashed potatoes and cheddar are typical, but a ground beef filling, sauerkraut, or fruit filling would also work) onto a square, pinching the dough together and placing seam side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.

Traditionally, these are served with a cream sauce. My grandmother used to reheat them in the oven in a casserole, with the cream sauce poured over top, sprinkled with dill. We didn't bother with that; we just ate them out of hand. The cheese-filled and meat-filled pastries leaked; next time I would work a little harder at sealing them, or perhaps make them in a different shape (ours looked like little footballs) with the seam facing up, to minimize the damage of any leaks. Even with the leaks, though, they were delicious.

As for the kid-o-meter, I thought D would love them, but he was more interested in the edamame we steamed and the cottage cheese we served with them. Baby G on the other hand has finally got this whole food thing figured out. He ate half a meat dumpling and a whole potato dumpling, as well as several edamame beans. In spite of D's lukewarm response today, I think he'll be all over the dumplings the next time they're offered. Today he was all about breakfast (a piece and a half of toast, plus a small bowl of dried Cheerios and craisins) and dinner (1 1/3 cobs of corn, three servings of cucumber and tomato salad, and almost a whole steak, and ice cream, chocolate sauce and strawberries for dessert). There was just no room for piriskis at lunch. The next time these dumplings connect with his appetite, they'd better watch out.

So the new move-in date for our house reno is NEXT weekend. It looks great so far, and I can't wait to get in and start cooking! I'll keep you posted.