Oh, how time flies. It's already the sixth installment of Waiter, there is something in my ... foodblogging event, this time hosted by Johanna who, very appropriately for an Austrian, has chosen dumplings as a theme. Not any dumplings, but dumplings with filling that have been steamed, boiled or baked (but NOT fried). So dim sum, ravioli and tortellini were ok, but doughnuts, gnocchi or spätzle weren't. My instincts said that my favourite dumplings, pontšikud, wouldn't be ok, as a) they're boiled in oil, which Johanna might interpret as frying, and b) they've got no filling. To be on the safe side, I made a batch of vareniki - a popular boiled dumpling from Ukraine (read more here), stuffed with curd cheese cream and served with home-made apricot jam and pistachios. The name, vareniki, comes from the Russian verb 'to boil', so they're boiled dumplings. To me, they're big Ukrainian cousins of pelmeni, the small meat-filled Russian dumplings that I love. Although vareniki can be savoury, these particular ones are sweet - a lovely combination of vanilla-infused curd cheese filling and just a bit sharp apricot jam and ever-so-slightly crunchy pistachio nuts.
Now, the recipe below will be vague and incomplete - apologies for that. K. made the apricot jam from the Provencal apricots available at the market these days, and he wouldn't share his secret recipe (though I suspect it's something like a scant 250 grams of sugar to 1 kg of pitted apricots, boiled gently for 20 minutes until thickened). I wasn't too happy with the dough recipe, so I'll be working on improving that (it was a bit too tough to my liking, so I'll replace milk with water next time to start with). But you'll get the recipe for the filling, which was great.
Vareniki dumplings with curd cheese filling, served with home-made apricot jam & pistachios
Dough (work in progress):
400 ml plain flour
1 tsp sugar
0.5 tsp salt
100 ml milk
250 grams quark or curd cheese (press through a sieve, if not smooth)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
home made apricot jam and pistachio nuts
any fruit puree of your choice (strawberry puree would work well)
For the dough, I mixed milk with egg, seasoned with salt & sugar and added the flour, mixing until combined. Then I placed it in the fridge, covered, for about an hour.
For the filling, I simply combined all the ingredients (you could also add raisins or candied ginger or grated lemon zest, if you're so inclined).
To make the vareniki, roll the relaxed dough onto a thin disk (about 3 mm thick), then cut into 8-10 cm circles. Place a tablespoonful of filling into the centre, moisten the edges with water and fold in half, so you'll have half-moon shaped dumplings. Pinch the edge together with a fork.
Place into a freezer for 20-30 minutes (vareniki can be cooked from frozen, so you can leave them in the freezer for longer, if you wish).
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil, add a generous pinch of salt.
Slip the dumplings into the boiling water, 3-5 at the time, depending on the size of your pot.
Boil for about 5 minutes or until the dumplings float (they'll definitely sink in the beginning).
Take out of the water with a slotted spoon, drain on a clean kitchen towel for a moment.
To serve, place on a small plate, spoon the apricot jam on the plate, sprinkle with pistachio nuts and dust with icing sugar.
Here are links to my previous Waiter there is something in my ... entries:
May 2007 (STUFFED VEGETABLES): Stuffed tomatoes with two types of salad - cod liver salad & cucumber and wild garlic salad
April 2007 (BREAD): a traditional Estonian quick mushroom bread, Seenekarask
March 2007 (EASTER BASKET): a selection of various Easter delights.
February 2007 (PIE): a great Russian puff pastry and fish pie, Salmon Kulebyaka.
January 2007 (STEW): my version (in collaboration with Anthony Bourdain:) of the French classic Boeuf Bourguignon.
you can read Johanna's round-up of all the different takes - sweet & savoury, familiar & exotic - on dumplings here.
BLAST FROM THE PAST:
A year ago I wrote about the English classic, Bakewell Pudding for Andrew's Blog Save Our Tart event.