Do you know what this is?  It’s another Ukrainian baba’s recipe.  Yup, I just called my Mom a baba. Oh my, is she gonna be mad!  But, really, she does have grandkids, but maybe we should wait to call her a baba until she has great-grandchildren…  Anyways, back to the topic.  Perogies are basically a little potato dumpling.  That is what everyone says they are, but why are all these people more in-the-know of dumplings than actual perogies.  I guess I would call Chinese dumplings, meet filled perogies, but that is just the small-town Sask girl in me.

This is one of those dishes that I had every single religious holiday meal, every single time I went to my Granny’s and every single time I wanted something to remind me of home.  My Granny, my Aunts and my Mom all make them a tiny bit different, so you can always tell who they belong to.  I knew I had eaten a few perogies in my day when I could grab a bag out of my tiny-university freezer and with the first bite know if they were a gift from Granny or sent lovingly from my Mom.  I have an Aunt who lived close to me while I was in Calgary and she would always serve me some when she knew I needed a touch of home.  One time she asked me if I would like some and then when she heard my exclamation of “Yes, of course!” she proceeded to make them from scratch right then and there.  This is just to really make you understand that perogies are part of my core.

The best memory of my Mom cooking when I was young was of makin’ petaheh (that is my attempt to spell out what my Granny calls them).  Mom would announce sometime during the week that she was having “the girls” over to make perogies.  I would instantly tingle with excitement.  Who was coming?  How many women?  What would they talk about?  At this point, I was not so excited about making the perogies, I was excited to be part of a hen party.  Yipee!  Why at the age of 10 I wanted to sit and watch grown women make perogies while gossipping and sipping on flour marked rye and cokes, I have no idea.  But, I really wanted to.

When the weekend came and the ladies were pinchin’ away, I would sit there and listen in.  Mom would be pinching tens of perogies per minute, while the other ladies just might have been there for the same reasons as me.  They would talk and pinch, talk and pinch, ice clinking in their glasses.  A few hours later there would be trays and trays of perogies and I would be the one making the runs down to the basement to put them in the freezer.  I maybe made 5 perogies the whole time, but I knew the technique by heart just by watching the skillful hands of my mom (check them out making cabbage rolls).

Finally, now that I am older, I have began making them for myself.  They are no where near the beautifully identical packages of my older family members, but I try.  I have to carry on the tradition, right?  Now all I need is a bunch of women to pinch with me.  Oh yeah, and a rye and coke.

Perogies – Mother Foodlova’s recipe

Serve these along side some good ukrainian sausage to make the meal complete.  Dolop some sour cream on top for the final touch.

Makes 120-140 perogies.  To half the recipe, beat the egg in a bowl and pour in half of it.  Half the rest of the ingredients also.  The recipe is also easily increased if anyone is that gutsy!

Dough

1 egg

2 7/8 cups luke warm water (from the tap)

4 tbsp oil

1 tbsp salt

6-5 cups flour

Filling

1-2 cups cheddar cheese

a dutch oven full of peeled and chopped white potatoes (who cares if you have left-overs, they are delicious!)

Salt and pepper

+ Butter and Onions “sauce” – melted butter (1/3 cup) with 1 chopped onion in it. Simmer on stove while you are boiling the perogies.  It is ready when the onions are soft and translucent.

Ok, start by boiling the potatoes until they are easily mashed by a fork.  Drain, keep them in the same dutch oven and begin to mash.  Keeping them in the pot they were boiled in evaporates any left over liquid.  Nice tip for making mashed potatoes!  Halfway through the mashing, add the cheese and salt and pepper.  Continue mashing until they are a thick and sticky substance.

While the mashed potatoes and cheese are cooling, start making the dough.  Start with the egg and whisk in the water, then add the dry ingredients.  Bring it all together with a wooden spoon and continue to add flour until they are not sticky.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it is a homogeneous ball of dough.  Take a quarter of the dough and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cover the rest of the dough, back in the bowl, with a t-towel.  Find a water-glass with an opening of about 3 inches.  Dip the open side in some flour and start pressing out the dough rounds.  You can use a regular round cookie cutter, but that is not the real traditional way, hehehe!

Take one round into your left hand*.  With your other hand wielding a spoon, scoop just under 1 tbsp worth of potato onto the round.  shape into a rough ball.  With your right hand, fold the dough, pinching it together, around the potato.  Make sure not to pinch any potato between the dough as this will cause them to open up while boiling.  When done pinching, it should look like a half a circle.  This is not super easy right away.  Do not get discouraged!  You will find a good technique for yourself and in no time be churning these out.

Prepare a cookie sheet with a t-towel.  Begin to line the perogies along the cookie sheet while making them.  If the t-towel is big enough, fold it over and begin another layer and so on.  You can put them in the freezer to freeze and then bag them up or you can boil them right away.  This recipe makes about 120-140 perogies, so I’m sure you are going to want to freeze and bag most of them.   When cooking – I always estimate 5-10 per person.  

To cook, bring a large pot of water up to a boil.  Drop in around 15-20 perogies at a time.  Stir gently and never let the water come to a wild rolling boil.  When the perogies float, let them boil for 5 more minute and then take them out with a slotted spoon.  Cover with butter and onions “sauce”.  This prevents sticking and adds a je-ne-sais-quoi to the wholesome dish.  Now you are in on the secret recipe of perogies!

*this is for right handers, but if you are left like me, you know the drill about changing the wording.

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