Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Day of Thanksgiving

On this day of reflection, I find my thoughts turning to my family. I am thankful to have a wonderful husband and loving children, and I am especially thankful for my step-father's family. They took me in as a shy five year old, lost and uncertain and taught me how to love matter of fact-ly and unconditionally. They gave me many holiday traditions that I am now passing on to my children. One of my favorite traditions is serving Vareniki at holiday meals.

Vareniki are Ukrainian dumplings, a food staple in many homes. They are usually stuffed with potatoes, much like perogi, but Dad's mother's were always stuffed with cheese curds and baked in cream. Her recipe, written in her careful copperplate hand, simply listed the ingredients. The details were shared with her daughters, who in turn taught me.

I have made this dish every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I've shared it with friends, neighbors, and coworkers, and now I share it with you.

Christine's Vareniki
Ingredients for dough
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for stuffing
12 ounces large curd cottage cheese
1 egg

12 ounces heavy cream (unsweetened)

Press the whey (liquid) from the curds (solid) with a cheesecloth.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the egg to the cheese curds and mix gently. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly mix in water to make a smooth, elastic dough.

Roll out dough to 1/8 inch and cut into 3 inch circles. Fill the center of each circle with cheese filling, fold over and press the edges together.
Gently place the dumplings in boiling water for three to five minutes, until they float.
Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the water and layer in a large baking dish. Pour heavy cream over the dumplings and bake covered in a 350* oven for one hour.
Sprinkle with brown sugar and enjoy.
Mmmmm yummy. I'm also thankful I made enough for leftovers!