If I had a Polish grandmother, she would be rolling over in her grave right now, or wondering why I would mess with someone’s time-honoured recipe.  I was bored?  Not at all; I have too much schoolwork, applications, and reading material to be bored. 

Nay, I was looking for a savoury challenge as you, dear readers, well know that I tend to veganise and de-glutenise mostly sweets.  Not that I don’t eat savoury things; I’d be diabetic now if I didn’t, but there’s nothing spectacular about GF falafel or another veggie burger recipe.  I can post those if you’d like, of course, but since it’s more of a challenge to replace eggs, dairy, and other critical ingredients in dessert, I enjoy changing up dessert recipes and posting those.  Since people tend to try dairy-free, gluten-free gingerbread more readily than, say, oh, polenta spinach torte with eggplant caponata, or millet with arugula and fresh herbs (you know who you are!), I tend to have my fun with desserts in order to share them with others.  Furthermore, once a person has figured out that ze’s lactose-intolerant and needs to avoid dairy, finding a decent dessert (back in ’09, at any rate), presents a challenge.  Hence, my drive to demystify desserts.

Today, however, I dealt in savouries, and a good deal it was.  Thanks are in order to a friend of mine for the inspiration to make pierogi (you know who you are, too).

I adapted the recipe from these folks.

And my fillings and materials are in no way, shape, or form authentic or traditional.  Just tryin’ to make a lot of something to freeze since I mentioned in the last post that my freezer is near empty.  My carbon footprint for this recipe was huge since I bought the squash and tempeh in Alexandria, drove to school in New Jersey, and then drove further north in New Jersey to home.  All on one tank of gas, too.  If you bake the squash ahead of time, then this recipe took about two and a half hours, all told.  Squash takes 35 minutes to bake plus cooling time.

As I was making the dough, I realised my mom does not stock Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF baking flour.  My usual half-and-half strategy would not work, and I groaned like a zombie before consulting Allergy-Free Desserts for the proportions for a workable GF flour blend.  We had just enough chickpea flour to make it.

Makes 42 two-inch half-circles

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water

1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 tablespoons vegan sour cream
~3/4 cup lukewarm water

In a small measuring cup, mix the flaxseed and water and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.  Dollop in the sour cream, pour in the flax mixture, and re-use the little measuring cup to add the water.  First add about half a cup of water, stir that around, and keep adding water until the dough comes together.  It will be a little sticky and that is OK.  Set the dough aside while you make the filling.

Fusion Filling (This makes way more filling than you will need; probably half this amount would be sufficient and then some.)
2 small onions, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, pressed

8 ounces soy tempeh (check your tempeh for barley or other glutinous grains!)
2 carnival or acorn squash, roasted, flesh removed and cut into chunks

If you’re roasting the squash right as you’re beginning this recipe, directions are here, same as the acorn squash.

Cut the tempeh into four big triangles (or whatever shape fits in the pot) and bring to a boil in about 2 cups of water.  Boil the tempeh for 10 minutes then remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  When it is hot, add the onions and sautee for about three minutes until they’re just barely turning translucent.  Add the vinegar and continue cooking until the onions are completely translucent and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the spices and stir around to toast for a minute.  Press in the garlic and stir around and cook for another minute. 

The tempeh should be done by this point; dice the tempeh (careful, it’s hot!) and add to the onions.  Stir around to coat in the spices.  Cut the squash into large square chunks and add the squash.  Cook until the tempeh has browned a little and the squash is not so soft it is completely formless but it is soft enough to mush.  

Turn off the heat and mash the filling together with a potato masher.  The texture should not be uniform; some chunks are desirable.

Bring a large pot of water (2/3 full) to boil on the stove.  While you’re waiting for the water to boil, clean a space on the countertop and set a small bowl of brown rice flour and a small cup of water nearby.  Cover a cookie sheet with foil and place it on a cooling rack.  Have a colander or sieve and a bowl to place underneath it near the stove. 

Dust the work surface and rolling pin with brown rice flour.  Dust well since the dough is slightly sticky.  Take about 1/3 of the dough and roll it out to 1/8”-1/16” thickness (too thin and the dough will have critical failure, so it won’t go to the true super-thin thickness of traditional pierogi).  

Cut two-inch diameter circles with a biscuit cutter or other round cookie cutter.  Place a teaspoon of dough in the centre of each circle.  Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of each circle.  Fold the dough over and crimp with a fork.

Once the water is boiling—we’re talking rolling boil—gently drop the pierogi into the water.  I put about ten or so in at a time.  Set a timer and cook at a boil for ten minutes.  The dough will turn slightly translucent when they’re done.  Some will break and that’s just life.  With a slotted spoon, retrieve the pierogi and place in the colander or sieve.  Run under cold water for a moment and then place on the cookie sheet to fully cool.  Repeat the process of rolling out and cooking for about three or four more times.  Cool all the pierogi completely on the sheet before storing in the refrigerator or freezer, wrapped in foil.  I made about forty-two pierogi.

The answer is 42.


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