Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eastern European Night

So, after eating at a Ukrainian restaurant in New York City several months ago I have had a goal of making plum dumplings. They were soooo delicious, hearty, wholesome, a little sweet, fruity. Perfection. So, when my vegan friend came over one night and we were hungry and feeling a little creative, we ran to the store to grab some canned plums. Then we realized we probably should eat something more dinner-like also. So, the idea of vegan pierogies was created! (Because, what better to go with plum dumplings?)

So, below, find my recipes for vegan sauerkraut and potato pierogies and then vegan plum dumplings for dessert!

Vegan Sauerkraut and Potato Pierogies

For the dough:
1/4 cup of oil
8 oz of vegan sour cream
3 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder

For the filling:
1 can of sauerkraut
2 cups of mashed potatoes (I boiled about 4 medium sized potatoes and mashed them with garlic)
5 tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan butter
1 cup of diced onions
salt and pepper to taste

1. Make the fillings: boil and mash your potatoes, stir in 1/2 cup of onions and 3 tablespoons of butter with the potatoes, add salt and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan (on med-low), add the sauerkraut, stir in the onions, add salt and pepper, cook for a few minutes (until everything is heated through). Now, you can combine the potatoes and sauerkraut into one filling (which is delicious!) or you can use the sauerkraut and potatoes each as separate fillings. I did all three (I had one bowl of sauerkraut and potato filling, one bowl of sauerkraut filling, and one bowl of potato filling). 

2. Make the dough: beat the oil and sour cream together, set aside. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together, stir this into the sour cream mixture. Knead until you have a relatively firm, but soft, dough.  I let my dough sit, covered, for about 10 minutes.

3. I have these handy dough cutters and folders, where all I have to do is cut a circle out of my rolled out dough, place the circle in the center of the dough folder, add the filling, sprinkle some water on the edges of dough, and fold. However, if you do not have these handy dough folders, you can easily fold your pierogies by hand (I just am really bad at this). So, what you need to do is roll out your dough to about 1/4" consistency, and then cut circles of about 2" in diameter out. You will then hold a dough circle between your thumb and forefinger, place about 1/2 tablespoon of filling in the middle of the dough circle. Now, line the outer edges of the dough with a little water, and fold together. Use your fingers to pinch the outer edge of the dough, to ensure that it is well stuck together. Do this until you run out of dough.

The first picture is of a dough circle in one of my handy dough folders. The second picture is of pierogies that have already been folded, and me adding filling to another.

4. Fill up a large pot about 1/2 full with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the pierogies, 4-5 at a time, and boil until they float to the top (3-5 minutes). We then melted some vegan butter with minced garlic in a bowl to serve as a dipping sauce for them.

A cooked pierogi!

 Now, for dessert!

Vegan Plum Dumplings:

(for the pastry)
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of oil
2 tablespoons of vegetable shortening or vegan butter
1 cup of mashed potatoes

(for the filling)
1 can of pitted, whole plums

(for the sauce)
1/2 cup of vegan butter
1 1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of flour

1. Drain the can of plums, saving some of the plum syrup to add to your sauce later. Set aside and make the dough. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add potatoes (mix in with a fork or dough cutter), and then add the oil and shortening/butter (also mix in with a fork or dough cutter, until well incorporated). Knead until you have a firm, soft dough. Let sit for about 10 minutes, covered.

2. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/4" thick, and cut circles out of it like you did with the pierogies. Take one whole circle, put the plum in the middle of it, then add another circle on top. Wet the edges of the two circles where they will meet, and pinch them together tightly all the way around. Do this until you run out of plums.

Putting plums in dough circles!

3. Fill a pot about 1/2 full with salted water and boil. Boil the dumplings for 5-7 minutes. Remove from boiling water, strain. Now, heat oil in a frying pan (I used my cast-iron wok), and fry the dumplings until they are golden brown.

Frying the dumplings, after they have been boiled
4. Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a frying pan, stir in the sugar and the plum syrup you saved earlier. Stir frequently for about 3-5 minutes, until the sugar is incorporated. Now, add the flour, and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened. Pour the sauce over the dumplings in a large bowl, make sure the dumplings have been well coated.

Serve and enjoy!

Our meal!

Mediterranean One-Crust Pie to Keep You Warm (and Full)

First of all I need to give you some excuses as to why I've been slacking on my job of helping you find delicious vegan/vegetarian meals. I started graduate school. And I think that sums it up. So, in the 30 minutes extra I have per week, I have been taking naps, or showering, or something like that. However, I think it is important to continue my mission here, and, thanks to an arthritic-induced day at home, I am here to give you some new recipes. I know you will love them.

So, for starters, I received this pretty amazing book for Christmas from one of my friends, it is simply called "Vegetarian" (subtitle: "Over 300 Healthy and Wholesome Recipes Chosen from Around the World") consultant editor is: Nicola Graimes. The book is pretty amazing. It is not, however, entirely vegan friendly. So, I have been working through it and "veganizing" many of the recipes I have made.

In the midst of a cold, snowy January day, in order to enliven our souls and eat some vegetables, I decided to veganize a recipe entitled "Mediterranean One-Crust Pie." Let me tell you! This is one of the best meals you will eat in your life (if you're all about some veggies). We loved it!

So, without further adieu, my vegan version of the Mediterranean One-Crust Pie:

1 1/4 pounds of eggplant (cubed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4-5 asparagus, cut into 3-4 pieces each
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
1 1/2 cup canned red kidney beans, or chili bean mix (drained)
1 cup of pitted black Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons of cornstarch, dissolved in 2-2 1/2 tablespoons of water
salt and black pepper

(note: You can use any vegetables you think would go with this; the original recipe called for red peppers--which I hate--but did not use asparagus, mushrooms or tomatoes. I found that they added a delicious taste, though. So, really, play around with this.)

(for the pastry shell)
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter

1. Preheat the oven to 425; now, to make the pastry: sift the two flours together, using a fork or dough cutter mix in the vegan butter until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Mix in cold water (by the tablespoon, maybe about 8 tablespoons total) until you can form a firm dough with the flour mixture. Knead the dough for about a minute on a floured surface, wrap it up and let it refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Make the filling: cube the eggplant, place it in a strainer, salt it and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse it and dry it. While the eggplant is sitting go ahead and mince your garlic, and wash and cut your asparagus. Now, heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan. Fry the onions for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the eggplant and cook for about 5 minutes, add the asparagus, garlic, and oregano, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring consistently now. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms, let cook for a couple more minutes. Add the beans and olives, let cook until everything is fully heated through, stirring frequently, and then set aside to cool.

3. Now, roll out your dough to about a 12" round. Place your dough in a lightly greased pie pan, or on a lightly greased baking sheet (if your dough is pretty firm and can hold its own). Brush some of the cornstarch mixture onto the dough. Now, add the filling and gather up the dough to mostly cover the filling. It should be like a little basket or bowl, holding the filling in but open on top. Brush the outside of the dough with the remaining cornstarch mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden. Add oregano and salt and pepper to the pie when it comes out of the oven.