Friday, August 13, 2010

August - Daring Cooks Challenge - Pierogis

The August 2010 Daring Cooks‟ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n‟ Bites and Anula of Anula‟s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

Daring Cooks August Challenge - Pierogis Trini Style

My first thoughts when I read what this month's Daring Cooks challenge was that, this would be a perfect dish for winter but for summer ? Determined  to turn this into a summer compatible meal I decided to lighten up the filling and pair this with a salad for dinner. The hosts for this month added an optional challenge to this dish - adapt the filling to complement our location. For me this would have been France and the thought of a cheese laden dish did not scream summer to me.

But that's where my joker comes in :) I live in France but I'm originally from Trinidad & Tobago and of East Indian descent. This was going to be the domain that I would work on for the filling. Aloo Pies are traditional Trinidadian Indian street food fare, it's essentially a fried bread like dough stuffed with potatoes. The potatoes are mashed with onions, roasted cumin and scotch bonnet peppers this what gives the "pie" its taste. The pie is most often served with Tamarind (tambran in Trini speak) sauce on the side (as seen in the photo above).

For those not familiar with the fruit Tamarind its indigenous to Africa but via human transportation it made its way to South America and the Caribbean. The pulp which by itself is quite tangy is what is most often used to make condiments. In Trinidad the two most popular uses are either as a sauce or as a sweet called a Tambran ball.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

The Verdict: This was the first time that I had ever attempted a dish like this and have to say I was quite pleased with my efforts. I think that I prefer it served as an appetizer or with a salad as a main dish. However the different fillings for this is endless and I already have a few playing around for a potential dinner party.

Russian Style Pierogi taken from the Daring Cook's August Challenge

Makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings Traditional Polish recipe, although each family will have their own version, this is Anula's family recipe

Dough Ingredients:
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt 
  • About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water
Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You‟re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.

Potato Filling adapted from The Naparima Girls Cookbook

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1/2 small onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground geera (cumin)
  • 1/2 tsp scotch bonnet peppers (We like this spicy but reduce if you need less heat)
  • Salt & Pepper
Peel and boil potatoes in salt water until tender
Mash potatoes with either a fork or potato masher
Season filling with salt, black pepper, hot pepper, onions and ground geera (cumin)

Reserve ensure that filling is at room temperature before filling pierogis

Assembling Pierogis

On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass. Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cooking Pierogis
Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.

For this dish, I lightly browned the piergois in butter, not only for presentation but it did "crisp" the dough a little which gave it a nice texture.

The Tamarind sauce pictured is a commercially prepared sauce that I bought in Trinidad.

Bon Appétit

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer salad

Summer Steak Salad with Peach Salsa

This dish takes what is sometimes referred to as the "Man Salad' and turns it into a refreshing summer salad. At the market one Saturday morning  the three things that caught my eyes, were a beef steak tomato, avocados and lovely white peaches hmmm I was determined to make this into a dish.

On the menu that night I had marked down Steak salad. In this house it means that its made with using entrecôte or Prime Rib. Once its grilled its thinly sliced and served  in a salad with varying toppings - tomatoes, haricots verts (string beans) avocados basically whatever got our attention that morning at the market. Steak usually shows up on a Saturday as I don't like to keep beef in the refrigerator longer than one or two days as freezing steak takes away some of the flavor- but I digress.

I also love guacamole and salsa :) Do you see what's starting happen to here ? Yep, I decided to combine the white peaches, avocados and white onions with cilantro, lime juice and hot scotch bonnet pepper (I am after all an Island girl). The beef steak tomatoes just needed to be thickly sliced and sprinkled with fleur de sel and fresh pepper - perfection ! The steak was splashed with Worcestershire sauce, salt & fresh pepper and then grilled to medium rare. The salad was as always washed with care and then spin dried by the hubby, he made his vinaigrette and carefully tossed the salad until every leaf was coated. A general reminder that steak needs to rest for approx 10mins after cooking so that juices can be redistributed and remain tender. Presentation ? The gently tossed salad was topped with slices of steak followed by the tomatoes and then the salsa.

The hubby's verdict ? Delicious, needs to be made again, refreshing in short he liked it :) We served the salad with a  chilled rosé from Corsica.

Bon Appétit

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tian de légumes

Tian - Before

Tian de légumes is perhaps one of the most typical dishes from Provence. Traditionally its made in a clay dish called a tian hence the name. Like many dishes of this type the list of ingredients that comprise "THE" tian can easily be discussed way into the night. There is quite a debate on if potatoes should be included in this dish the purist will frown at this idea, however I have seen some add slices of cheese in between the veggies during the last 10mins or even adding parboiled rice at the bottom of the dish.

From what I've read and discussed with those in the know the original list is made up of Aubergines, Tomatoes , Onions and Courgettes (Zucchinis), not surprisingly the vegetables that are most common to this region. Of course, there is always a healthy addition of Herbes de Provence and garlic.

Ha ! Another mythic ingredient - Herbes de Provence, the standard mixture can typically include, savory, fennel, basil, thyme (dominant herb), thyme flowers and Majoram only to name a few. Like all blended spices, everyone has their own mixture. Interestingly enough Lavender is only added in American mixtures but is not used in the French 'base'.

In all honesty we don't make this dish very often as my son is not the veggie lover poster child. He loves, peas, carrots, haricot verts (string beans) and corn anything else will warrant a scream from him. However the rule in the house is that you eat what is served for dinner or at least try it. That said I try to make dishes that he will eat and avoid throwing several "new" veggies at him in the same week. Before you ask, no he did not enjoy this but he tasted it :)

There is no hard set recipe for this dish, it all depends on what kind of dish you make this in. For what its worth I don't have a "tian" but I do plan on getting one , one of these days :) The list of ingredients are up to you, the idea is to use the freshest ingredients that you have. It's a very simple dish so the flavors really come and can make or break this dish.

List of Ingredients:
  • Aubergines - try to get small ones about the same circumference as the tomatoes, it will help enable everything to cook at the same time. The quantity is again up to you and the size of the dish you are using. I love aubergines so I tend to use 2 for a 1 1/2 quart oval dish which will serve approx 4-6.
  • Tomatoes- for this dish I used about 5
  • Onions -  2 or 3 small onions
  • Courgettes (Zucchini) - about 2
  • Garlic -2 cloves 
  • Olive Oil - 3 tablespoons
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de provence
Peheat oven to 300°F or 180°C
Cut garlic in half and rub the bowl with the cut garlic, after grease dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Slice the tomatoes, onions, aubergines and courgettes approx the same size
Alternate the veggies by placing one of each to slightly overlap and then starting again
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbes
Drizzle with remaining olive oil
Bake until the vegetables are carmalised approximately 50 mins.

Tian de legumes

Can be served either hot or warm. We like to eat it accompanied with a green salad tossed with my hubby's vinaigrette.

Bon Appétit