Comfort Cooking: Vegan Pierogies

Potato Pierogies w/ Caramelized Onions and Soy Yogurt
In times of crises one tends to reach for fatty, salty or sugary foods that will numb the palate and provide a few minutes of distraction in shoveling and chewing. Often these foods come in a box. Not even I (haha) am immune to the appeal of sugary cereal, ice cream, frozen pizza...

But when eating vegan its not always easy to find your favorite comfort food in the frozen aisle. (Well, at least not in Europe.) Leaving the options open to either gorging on instant spaghetti, ramen, and cereal, or getting up, dammit, and making something yourself. 

I suggest the latter. Make something needlessly complicated and take a luxuriously long time making it right. Not only will it cheer you up and distract you, but it will probably make it easier for you to make it faster another time. (Practice makes perfect!) Not to mention you might bring some happiness to those around you (not your responsibility when you're bummed out, but a nice perk.)

Take pierogies. You can be in a rush to make these and stress yourself out for a dinner party, or you can start a little Scandal marathon on a bad day and slowly and carefully construct these little pockets of salty, fatty, vegan goodness. Try Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe or my version outlined below, and then experiment yourself with fillings and sides... sauerkraut, applesauce, soy sour cream, fried mushrooms, ect.

Far, far superior to Captain Crunch.

Vegan Pierogies (makes about 30)
*This recipe is roughly what I make for my two-person household. You'll definitely want to double everything if you are making for a crowd, but I recommend giving them a shot first in a smaller batch to get the hang of it.

Mashed Potato Filling (or use leftovers, if you have some)
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
Soy Milk
Salt and Pepper

Caramelized Onions
One gigantic sweet onion, or 3-4 smaller onions
Canola oil

1 C. Warm Water
1.5 Tbsp. Oil
2- 2.5 C. Flour, plus extra for sprinkling

1. Make mashed potatoes. My way is thusly: boil some cut up potatoes, drain when you can pierce them with a fork, and mash to hell with some plain soymilk, salt and pepper, and margarine to taste. There's no reason you can't use any way you like to make them, though, as you'll probably have leftovers. Once potatoes are mashed, remove from pot and store in a bowl in the fridge to cool.

2. While potatoes are cooking, you can get started on the caramelized onions. Cut up a giant sweet onion or use a few- either way you want about 3 cups of onion slices, because they are going to shrink big time. In a medium pan (preferably cast iron), heat a few glugs (like 1/3 a cup, at least) of canola oil over medium heat. Add your onions and a pinch of salt, coat with the oil, and lower to lowest heat setting. They will cook down slowly over about 45 minutes, during which time you must simply stir them and eat ones that get too burnt.

3. The dough is the part that takes the most getting the hang of. The first step is to add the warm water and oil in a bowl and swish together with a fork. Slowly add about two cups of flour and a pinch of salt and try to gather into a loose dough, adding more flour if necessary. Once the dough is just non-sticky enough to handle and knead, remove from bowl and knead for about 5-10 minutes. The consistency you are going for is smooth and elastic, or as a Polish acquaintance once told me, "ear-lobe consistency." Once its there, you can put the dough in the fridge to chill until your other ingredients are done. 

4. Once everything is ready, put a large pot on to boil, filled 2/3 of the way with salted water. While this is reaching a rolling boil, spread out 1/2 of the dough on a floured surface and roll out (flipping occasionally) until very thin but not transparent. Using a large glass, cut out circles of the dough (use a knife to get them off the surface if they are sticking.) Repeat with leftover dough until you are through.

For each dumpling, cup the circle in your hand, add in a small amount (2 tsp. or so) of mashed potatoes, and gently fold and pinch the circle together to seal into half moons. You want enough filling to make it bulge but not break. As you complete each one you can toss it into the boiling water- when they bob up to the surface, they are done. 

Keep finished pierogies in a bowl or plate and drizzle occasionally with oil so they don't stick together too much. You can also fry them for a few minutes in oil or margarine for a crunchier version.

Serve with plenty of onions and a schmear of soy yogurt, sour cream, or apple sauce.

Song of the Day: Neko Case- Bracing for Sunday