Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recipe for Homemade Potato Cheddar Perogies

Hello friends!

Last week, I made my very own perogies (Polish potato dumplings) from scratch!  I felt quite proud of myself because they turned out so well, considering it was my first attempt.  Our family loves perogies. In the past, we've bought frozen perogies from the grocery store, purchased homemade ones (frozen and cooked) from Polish farmer's market vendors, and even ordered them at restaurants.  I had been wanting to make them myself for quite some time and I finally got around to it...and I'm so glad I did! It took quite some time to prepare the perogies from start to finish, but the end result was worth the extra time and effort.

The recipe I used was one I had clipped out from last year's April edition of Chatelaine magazine.  Several people asked me for the recipe when I posted a picture of the perogies on my Instagram account, so I am going to share the recipe here exactly as found in the magazine.

* The red text are my additions/revisions *

Loaded Polish Potato Perogies 

Makes 65 perogies ( I made the entire batch, boiled half and froze the uncooked half for another time)

Preparation time - 1 hour 30 minutes  (It probably took me double that time to prepare the entire batch)


Ingredients


Dough
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (only 4 cups for the dough)
1 tsp salt 
2 eggs 
1 1/2 cups sour cream (only 1 cup for the dough)
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, cubed


Filling
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered (750 g) (I used the potatoes I had on hand)
3 strips of bacon, chopped 
4 green onions, chopped ( I omitted the bacon and onions in the filling and topped the perogies with those ingredients instead) 
1 1/2 cups grated old cheddar (I used 2 cups for a stronger cheddar taste)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper 

Directions

Stir 4 cups flour with salt in a large bowl.  Whisk eggs with 1 cup of sour cream in a medium bowl, then stir into flour mixture along with butter until dough comes together.  Knead dough on a lightly floured counter, dusting with more flour, until it is smooth and not sticky.

Divide dough into 2 portions, pat into 2 discs and wrap each with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days)

Boil potatoes in a large pot of water until soft, about 20 min.

Omit this next step if you are not including bacon in the filling
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add bacon and cook until crisp, 3 to 5 min.  Drain on paper-towel-lined plate.  Do not clean pan.  Reserve 1/4 cup green onions for garnish.  Add remaining green onions to bacon fat.  Cook until soft.  1 to 2 min.  Transfer to plate with bacon.  

Drain cooked potatoes, then return to the pot.  Mash potatoes with bacon, cooked onions, cheese, salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  

Dust counter with remaining cup flour.  Roll out 1 disc of dough until 1/8 in. thick.  Cut out 2 1/2 inch wide circles with a cookie cutter (or drinking glass).  Keep dough covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.  Scoop a heaping teaspoon of filling onto each round and fold the dough over, forming a half moon.  Pinch edges tightly to seal.  If dough won't seal, dab edges with water. (I dabbed the edges of all the perogies with water just to be safe). Gather scraps of dough, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Repeat with remaining disc of dough.  Gather up scraps, combine with dough from refrigerator, re-roll and cut out more circles.  





Fill same large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Slip about 12 perogies into boiling water and cook 5 to 6 minutes. Once perogies float to the top, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a platter. Repeat with remaining perogies.  




Pat dry and serve topped with remaining 1/2 cup sour cream and reserved green onions.  Or melt butter in a frying pan and fry perogies in batches, adding more butter if needed, until crispy, 2 min per side.  Top with sour cream and green onions. 

Make ahead tip: Freeze uncooked perogies in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Store in freezer bags up to 2 weeks.  Cook from frozen as per directions above, adding 2 minutes to cooking time.  



To garnish the perogies, I sauteed sliced onions and bacon; added a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled them with chopped green onion.  Mmm!  They were so delicious!  




Friday, May 23, 2014

Remembering the happy things this May...

Oh my goodness!  It feels like forever since I have written a blog post, well maybe that's because it has been forever!!  Life has been very busy with so much going on (ups and downs).  I hope you haven't given up on me and my blog!  This morning, I needed to take a moment to stop and smell the roses and count my blessings.  I want to share with you some of the happy things that have happened during this beautiful month of May.

Lots to Celebrate...


My oldest daughter Anita, turned thirteen on the 4th of May.  I am officially the mother of a teenage daughter!  Scary?  Scary! 



On the same day, my youngest daughter, Annabel, celebrated her first Holy Communion.



I am so thankful for this moment right here. Annabel hugging her grandpa on her communion day.  She was so looking forward to visiting with him before attending mass that day (probably as much as he was looking forward to it, too)!



Mother's Day



On the week leading up to Mother's day, my mom came to stay with us...



We visited English and Miller tea house and enjoyed a pot of tea with warm scones, strawberry jam and Devon cream!  It was soooo yummy and such a treat for both of us.



My mom and I went thrift shopping together and found a couple of vintage teacups and saucers which we turned into bird feeders!  Here is one of them hanging on my crabapple tree. Isn't it adorable?



Here is a robin fresh out of the bath.  I never tire of watching the robins splash around in the water.  They always bring a smile to my face.



 Mother's day morning at High Park with my darling girls.  I love them with all my heart and I am so proud of them.  They truly are my greatest blessings.    



This is a picture of a lunch I made last week.  I like how pretty and colorful it looks served on my heart-shaped plate.  


This past weekend, we visited High Park in Toronto and spotted the cherry blossoms on the Sakura trees in full bloom.  It was unintentional, but how lucky for us! 



In and around our garden...



We celebrated the Victoria day holiday (Queen Victoria's birthday) on Monday with a BBQ lunch alfresco!  I do so enjoy setting a pretty table outdoors.  It's always fun to eat outside when the weather is pleasant.


We also planted our herbs this weekend.  We have thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, cilantro, chives, and more!  Cherry tomatoes and kale were planted too.  I am looking forward to watching it all grow! 


The red and yellow tulips in our side garden blossomed several days ago and are looking lovely!


The teacup magnolia tree Nuno planted on our front lawn several years ago is boasting its first spring blooms this week, too! Magnolias are one of my favorites! 

This is how my crabapple tree looks today...overflowing with pink buds ready to burst into fragrant white blooms at any given moment!  


"The world's favorite season is the spring. 
All things seem possible in May."
Edwin Way Teale



These are some of the things that have made my heart most happy this month.  I hope you are all enjoying this hopeful season of spring.  Don't forget to stop and count your blessings.  Sometimes we need reminding!  I know I do!  





  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Recipe for No-Bake Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

In my previous post, I told you that I would be making a Nutella cheesecake for our Valentine's day dessert.  I received several requests for the recipe since then, and because the cheesecake turned out so lovely, I thought I'd share the recipe with you today.  

I was compelled to make this recipe while flipping through the pages of Nigella Lawson's latest cookbook,  Nigellissima.  I borrowed the cookbook from our local library a few weeks ago, and have since ordered a copy for myself.  The recipe is very easy to make, requires few ingredients and doesn't need to be baked.  Preparing the raw hazelnuts (boiling, peeling and toasting) was actually the most time-consuming element.  If you can find ready-peeled and toasted hazelnuts, that will really save you some time.



Below is the recipe, exactly as found on page 175 of Nigellissima...

Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Ingredients 

10 oz graham crackers (about 16 sheets or 2 1/2 cups crumbs)
5 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1 13 oz jar Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread, at room temperature 
3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature 
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted 

* one 9-inch springform cake pan


Directions

Break the crackers into the bowl of a food processor, then add the butter and 1 tablespoon of Nutella and blitz until the mixture starts to clump.  Add 3 tablespoons of the toasted hazelnuts, and continue to pulse until you have a damp, sandy mixture.

Tip this into your springform pan and press it into the base, using either your hands or the back of a spoon.  Place in the refrigerator to chill while you get on with the filling.

Beat together the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth and soft, then patiently scrape the rest of the Nutella out of its jar and into the cream cheese mixture and continue beating until combined.  

Take the springform pan out of the refrigerator.  Carefully scrape and smooth the Nutella mixture over the cracker crumb base and scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top to cover.  Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.  I recommend refrigerating the cheesecake overnight before serving. 

Serve straight from the refrigerator for best results, unspringing the cake from the pan, still on its base, just before you eat.  To cut it, dip a sharp knife in cold water, wiping it and dipping again between each cut. I didn't find this step necessary.  And don't worry; it may look disappointingly flat when whole, but when sliced, its dark depths are revealed.  I certainly wasn't disappointed! 


The cheesecake turned out absolutely perfect.  The crust was delicious, the filling rich (but not too sweet), and the roasted hazelnut topping complemented it so well!  It even sliced like a dream!  The flavor reminds me of  Ferrero Rocher chocolates.  


I want to share a little tip with you in case you aren't able to find ready-peeled hazelnuts or maybe you would rather peel and roast the hazelnuts yourself.  After doing some online research, I found that boiling the hazelnuts in a water/baking soda solution is the best and easiest method to remove the stubborn peel from raw hazelnuts.  Here is the link to the website I used for step-by-step directions...  How to Peel Hazelnuts


My boiled, peeled, and roasted hazelnuts shaped into a heart



That is all for today, my friends.  I hope that your Valentine's day was special and that you are enjoying the last of winter's days.  It is presently snowing here.  I see snowflakes lightly falling outside my kitchen window.  The too-tall snowbanks keep getting higher and higher. It seems there is no end in sight to this long, cold winter.  I yearn for warmer weather, the return of the robins, tulips and daffodils, as I count down only 30 more days till spring!  xoxo



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine Greetings!

Especially for You!


"Oh, I know something I won't tell
Someone loves you awfully well,
If you will be my Valentine,
All my secrets shall be thine.
I'll share my pennies all with you,
Give you half my ice cream, too, 
Give all the world if it were mine, 
If you would be my Valentine." 
author unknown



Quickly popping in to wish you all a Happy St.Valentine's day!  Whether you are young, old, single, married, in a relationship or not, this day is for you!  It's a day to celebrate love, all kinds of love; between mothers and daughters, sisters, lovers, friends, etc.  I hope you are able to share this Valentine's day with someone you love!  

I will be celebrating with my three Valentines, my husband and my girls. I'll be cooking up something special for dinner - a creamy lobster pasta and a Nutella cheesecake for dessert.  Do you have any special plans for the weekend?  I would love to hear about it! 



Hugs and Kisses! xoxo





Monday, January 20, 2014

My Recipe for Homemade Lemon Curd



Two years ago, I made my first ever batch of lemon curd.  I instantly fell in love with its lemony tart, yet sweet taste, and its creamy texture.  My husband and my eldest daughter are big fans and once in a while request that I make it.   Lemon curd is delicious served as a spread on crumpets and scones, or used as a filling between the layers of a simple sponge cake.  

Last Friday, I made a double batch of lemon curd and took pictures along the way, so I could show you step-by-step how to make it.

The recipe is for one batch, which will yield approximately 1 1/2 cups of lemon curd.  I doubled the recipe when I made it on Friday.  You can, too, if you plan on sharing!

Ingredients

1 tbsp lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted


Directions

Before you begin, allow lemons and eggs to come to room temperature.


First, grate the rind of one lemon to yield one tablespoon of lemon zest.  Set aside.


Squeeze 2-3 lemons until you have 1/3 cup of lemon juice.  Using a small strainer, strain the juice to remove any pulp or seeds.  Set aside. 


In a small pot, whisk eggs (3) and sugar (3/4 cup) till blended.  


Place small pot inside a larger pot containing one inch of simmering water and continue to whisk over medium low heat.  Add the lemon juice, zest and melted butter, whisking all the while, for 10-15 minutes until the mixture thickens.


Remove thickened lemon curd from heat and pour into mason jar(s).  Allow to cool completely, seal and refrigerate for up to seven days (if it lasts that long!).


I doubled the recipe and was able to fill three mason jars (1 cup each).  I decorated the jars with baker's twine and a homemade label to make them look pretty.  I brought one for my parents to try.  It was their first time eating lemon curd and they really enjoyed it.  If you're a fan of lemon, I am sure you will love this too!  
It's so easy to make and just delicious!