Monday, January 21, 2013

Lazy dumplings

It's a truth universally acknowledged that your outlook on things is determined by your position.  It's all relative.  Your point of view depends on the point from where you are viewing.  

The anecdote about the Jew and the goat comes to mind.  A poor Jew had to live in a tiny, shabby house with his large family.  He was very uncomfortable and unhappy, and went to the rabbi to get some advice.  The smart rabbi thought about the problem for a while, and then told the man to buy a goat, and keep it at his house.  The Jew was a bit surprised to hear this advice, but obeyed the rabbi.  After weeks of major struggling and enduring the difficulties that came with fitting the smelly goat in the tiny house, the man came back to the rabbi as agreed.  "Please explain to me, rabbi, how has any of this been of help to my situation?" he asked.  "If anything, I'm even more uncomfortable, I cannot stand the bad smell, there is absolutely no space for us."  The rabbi replied: "Sell the goat and you will see."  The Jew did as advised, and from then on lived happily ever after, now very satisfied with his (objectively unchanged) house.

You're probably thinking: thanks for telling this funny story, but what the heck does this have to do with these dumplings?  Don't worry, I did not buy that goat from the Jew and the dumplings are not made with goat's meat :P

The "it's all relative" philosophy relates to the name of this dish.  The dumplings are strictly speaking called "lazy pierogi".  Pierogi are traditional Polish dumplings -- a bit like big ravioli.  It usually takes ages to prepare them -- first the dough, then the filling, then making every -- single -- perfect dumpling and decorating it in a traditional way.  For the lazy dumplings, however, you simply mix the ingredients and cut them in a gnocchi-like fashion.

And now we come to the gist: the term "lazy" is very relative here.  When in the "good old days" 30-40 minutes in the kitchen would seem like nothing -- a pretty lazy afternoon you could say -- nowadays things have changed drastically.  In the era when you can do take-out every day, or "prepare a meal" by throwing some ready-made pizza in the oven (which altogether requires less than a minute spent in the kitchen), 30-40 minutes is hard labor.  So I'm not so sure if nowadays we shouldn't be calling these "hard-work-dumplings" after all...

But I'll cut the philosophical stories: bottom line is these dumplings are insanely delicious, and you should definitely try them!

The recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs -- the legendary Polish blog by Dorotus.

Serves 4

  • 600 g of curd cheese (you can get it at every Polish store -- or replace with quark)
  • 3 egg yolks + 3 egg whites
  • 200 g of flour
  • 2 vanilla sugars
  • Salt
  • Breadcrumbs + butter (optional)
  • Grind the cheese or mash it with a fork (I don't mind if it's not super finely mashed).  Add the egg yolks, flower and sugar, and combine.
  • Beat the egg whites stiff.  Gently fold into the cheese mixture.
  • Form the dough in a long, cylindric shape (I divided it into 3 parts first, and repeated the process 3 times).  You might need to use some more flower on the surface, to prevent the dough from sticking to it -- thought the less the better.  
  • Cut off individual dumplings (across).
  • Boil water in a big pan with a pinch of salt.  Add dumplings to boiling water, and boil until their resurface.
  • Serve with breadcrumbs fried with some butter until golden.
Bon appetit!

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