here and there

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

third annual Christmas baking day


After a few delays due to sickness, we finally got together on All Saint’s Day.  Peroghies were the plan for our third annual Christmas prep day! Each of us was to make our own dough recipe and bring a filling.

Year’s ago, I had collected family recipes for a cousin’s shower and to my surprise, each Aunt had her own recipe, which varied from adding sour cream, egg, milk, baking powder and using various temperature of water.  The recipe I used was the closest to my Mom’s and the simplest.  I remember her using flour, water and Mazola oil.  The recipe I used is from my Mom’s friend, Emily who is in her nineties.  6 cups of flour, salt, 1/3 cup of oil, 2 ¾ cup of lukewarm water.  Mix together and let stand for a few hours to help the dough relax.

The dough recipe used by my sister and her sister in law was Arlene’s and used ½ cup of sour cream. My sister felt her dough with the sour cream was easier to roll out, the second dough from the same recipe was not.  I had made my dough at 8:30 am as had Sam, where as Pat’s was made at noon and the first to be rolled out.  Yes, most cooks say that the longer the dough rests the better. However, time could have been a factor but also the amount of flour added when the dough was rolled out.  I also used 3 cups of water as I do like my dough a little wetter than my sister does.

The three of us were making peroghies for the traditional meatless Christmas Eve supper.  For me, I make these Ukrainian delicacies, once a year as store bought ones are crap and I get nothing but complaints if I do not make them from scratch.  Where as my Mom made these dumplings it seemed effortlessly especially during lent when Wednesday and Friday were meatless.  Fresh peroghies were made weekly and usually not frozen as they are now for Christmas Eve.

With each of our annual baking days, we are learning from our mistakes.

For the prune filling, Pat and I both use the prunes uncooked, where as Sam and my mother cooked the prunes first and flavoured the filing with lemon juice and sugar.  It is always good to double-check your package to see that you actually picked up the prune that have been pitted! They become messy to work with, cooked or uncooked if with pits!

The potato filling, which had been cooked and mashed, had been seasoned with salt, pepper, fired onions and butter. We did try to make peroghies with this but the filling was just too wet to work with and we could not fill or seal the dumplings.  The filling was just too wet and we needed to add cooked yellow baking potatoes.  Sam had used red potatoes, which do contain more water, although I do find the red potatoes tastier.

A discussion resulted on potatoes for peroghi filling as to undercooking potatoes, using older yellow potatoes and not as much butter.  My Mom and I always add dried cottage cheese to the potatoes and lately I have found adding ricotta to my mixture results in a taste closer to the home-made cottage cheese my mom used to make on the farm from her cows’ milk.

The sauerkraut for the filling had been boiled to soften the leaves and remove the salt and then wrung dry!  Pat had seasoned her filling with fired onions.  She had used two of those large jars of sauerkraut from Costco.  I usually rinse my purchased sauerkraut and dry sauté the filling to further remove the excess moisture.   My Mom also just washed the sauerkraut and did not add any fried onions to the filling as my Dad could not tolerate fried foods, especially fired onions. I do the same!




Even the very young want to help
 
Certainly this pinching bee did not result in uniforn peroghies!  Many of them would have been rejected by my Mom or the ladies from my town.  I remember in a spontaneous gathering of ladies at my home town to teach my daughter how to make these delicacy, how uniformed the peroghies were and how they were laid out in a pattern, then reversed in order in the next row. The results were perfectly laid out on a clean tablecloth.

Three hours later, I left with 6 dozen of plain potato, almost 6 dozen of sauerkraut and 2 dozen of prune peroghies.  Each peroghy was laid out on a cookie sheet that had been covered in plastic and frozen until solid and then put into a ziplock bag.  Although I never cooked my perghies but like Mom froze them on a tray, Pat had always boiled the peroghies first before freezing them but to my surprise her thoughts were now similar to mine.  Why add all that butter/oil before freezing cooked peroghies only to have to add more again when reheated and served.  This change in thought may have resulted from the last Christmas Eve meal when they had their meal in two stages due to the children’s Christmas mass, they returned to a solid mass of peroghies.  This has always been a challenge for me as Christmas Eve meal with 12 dishes is a time management thing to get everything out on the table hot.  Cooking the peroghies early meant that you had to be paying attention to them all the time and adding more fat to them to keep each dumpling separate.  Yes, at country weddings, I have seen large roaster full of peroghies being kept hot in an oven until needed and being tossed regularly to avoid clumping!  My solution to this was to have hot boiling water ready to go and boiling the peroghies just before serving. This certainly reduced the amount of fat need!

I left the third annual baking bee more confidant that the secrets of this simple yet complex dish were being slowly mastered.  To my amusement, in talking to my brother, a couple of days later, I learned that my sister had saved the peroghi making session!
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