Pierogi for people who cheat

I’m not a big cheater. I’m one of the most honest people you’ll ever meet – I can not stand telling lies – and I really do believe that you only cheat yourself when you cheat others. And you know me: I make my own tofu, miso, pasta, pickles, bread…everything. Today, though, I was trying to figure out what to make with a fresh batch of homemade sauerkraut, and simultaneously wondering what to do with leftover mashed potatoes, when it all became so clear to me: pierogi. But then a minute later I thought, “ugh, I REALLY do NOT feel like rolling out pierogi dough”. But I still thought pierogi were a brilliant idea. So I cheated. I used gyoza wrappers. Sue me. But it was easy and, as far as pierogi go, fast. And still tasted great. So here you go: pierogi for people who cheat, or can’t be bothered with making pierogi dough.

Unfortunately for people who require strict measurements in their recipes, I cheated that way too. I didn’t measure anything. I just smooshed everything together. I’ll try to estimate what I used, but this is really more an idea than a recipe.

Pierogi for people who cheat

pre-made gyoza wrappers (check that they are vegan)
1 small or medium onion, diced
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes – mine were made with (vegan) sour cream and Dragonfly’s Bulk, Dry Uncheese Mix, a happy accident as they are my standard – and delicious – mashed potatoes and they turned out to be absolutely perfect for pierogi
1 cup sauerkraut
another small onion, diced (optional)

In a heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet, heat some oil, then add the diced onion and saute until beginning to brown. Remove from heat and cool at least slightly. Meanwhile, use kitchen shears to cut the sauerkraut into smaller pieces in a small bowl, then mix in the mashed potatoes and sauted onion.

Next, assemble the pierogi. I found it easiest to use my fingers to place about a teaspoon of the potato/sauerkraut mixture into the middle of each gyoza wrapper, and since that made for messy fingers, I set several pierogi up at a time before closing and sealing them. Keep the remaining gyoza wrappers covered with a damp towel while working in batches.

I used a simple Asian dumpling contraption to make my pierogi. I lifted each one onto the dumpling maker …

… then squeezed shut to seal. If they aren’t sealing well, dab some water on the edges first.

Alternatively, close and seal with your fingers. Continue until all the filling is used up. I made about 32 pierogi.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop about 8 pierogi in at a time – you don’t want to crowd them.

Boil until the pierogi float, then remove with a slotted spoon. Continue boiling the rest of the pierogi this way, or you can freeze half of them, which is what I did.

You can eat the pierogi boiled, with (vegan) sour cream if you like, or you can take the extra step of pan frying them. If you pan fry them, you can first brown a diced onion in some oil in your heavy skillet, then add the pierogi and brown on each side.

Pierogi are really, really, really, really good. I served them with additional sauerkraut and some leftover cucumber salad.

In other news, I know I keep talking about how huge Gomez is, but this weekend I noticed Torticia is getting bigger too. I think she’s going through a growth spurt because she is eating a ton of food and she looks noticeably larger to me. (She is also currently sitting on my lap “helping” me type because she’s the sweetest cat on the entire planet.) She’s still much smaller than Gomez, though she’s also still the dominant one. Gomez would hardly ever get into trouble if his sister didn’t lead him there, but she does, and she does it often. You can see “trouble” written all over her, can’t you? That’s Torticia with a capital “trouble”.

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Tempeh in Horseradish Gravy

I saw this in the grocery store and knew Mark would find it amusing. (He did.)

It is, of course, fresh horseradish. I’m a fan of horseradish, fresh or prepared. I like the sinus-clearing bite it gives to food. I did a little googling and decided to make this recipe, using tempeh instead of the unspecified meat. If you use vegan stock, it’s vegan as written. I made it pretty much exactly as directed, although some of the measurements are a bit vague, so I’ll clarify what I did.

1 package tempeh (no time to make my own recently, alas)
1/2 small onion, minced
1/2 small to medium horseradish root, or about 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar (I used 3)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar (a bit less if you use prepared horseradish)
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1 to 1/2 cups vegan “beef” stock
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Chop the tempeh into 3/4″ cubes. Fry lightly in a skillet and set aside.

Peel the horseradish.

Grate the horseradish. I highly recommend using a food processor if you have one because freshly-grated horseradish fumes are quite noxious.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive or other oil in a skillet, then add the onions and brown.

Add 2 tablespoons of the grated horseradish and the flour, and fry for a minute or two.

Add the broth, cloves, bay leaves, brown sugar, and vinegar and bring to a boil.

Allow the gravy to thicken up a bit, then add the tempeh and the rest of the horseradish (you may want to taste it before dumping all the horseradish in), seasoning with salt and pepper as well.

Leave the burner on low until thickened to your likeness. Adjust seasonings if necessary. (I added an extra tablespoon of brown sugar.)

I also made some roasted mustardy potatoes.

I whisked together equal parts olive oil, German mustard, and white wine vinegar.

I tossed this with some teeny tiny potatoes, then spread them on a toaster oven-sized baking sheet. Whenever possible, I like using my toaster oven for small roasting and baking jobs. Then I roasted at about 400 degrees until everything else was done, about half an hour. Larger potatoes will take longer.

For the green counterpart of the meal, I made Elise’s Sautéed Kale with Smoked Paprika. I blanched the kale for 5 minutes …

… then drained, remembering (for once) to save the kale nutrient-filled water (I used it in the gravy above).

I gathered the spices:

Sauteed the onions, then added the spices.

And finally added the kale and sauteed a few more minutes.

And here it is all together:

Any Nabokov fans out there? I got The Original of Laura!

I was so excited about it I actually had to buy the December Playboy to get a preview, but the real thing makes for a bit classier of a read:

Each page is printed on heavy card stock with a scan of the actual index cards on which VN wrote the incomplete novel. The pages are perforated so you can re-order them. That’s how VN wrote all his novels: on index cards that he would rearrange until the story formed itself in the correct order. Because he died before the book was finished, we don’t know for sure in what order the cards would have ended up.

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