If you want to make pierogies you could follow the recipe below, although you would probably fare better if you went to one of Julia Babij’s hands-on classes.
Babij taught a sold-out Pierogi Clinic recently in Solebury as an instructor for The Community School of New Hope-Solebury, where 13 adult students gathered to learn to make a dish that many have loved since childhood.
Babij, who is a recovery support services manager for her day job, has taught Polish cooking for the past 10 years at area night schools. She estimates, “I have taught more than a thousand people how to make pierogies.”
Anyone can learn to make fillings for the little dough pockets, which can include potato with cheese, sauerkraut, mushroom-leek, apple pie and nut. The real challenge, she said, is learning how to make the dough.
“It’s all about how the dough feels,” she said, explaining that with practice her students come to know when it has the perfect stickiness to hold together.
For the class she made prepared the fillings ahead of time, then gave each student the ingredients for dough: flour, milk, egg and oil. After that it was all about learning technique as they mixed, kneaded, cut out dough, filled it and sealed the edges.
Babij will offer the class again this winter or early spring. The Community School (ssreg.com/csnhs/) also offers classes in Hungarian cooking, Persian cooking, Japanese-style spring rolls, Thai cooking, cake decorating, chocolate making, pies, and soups for every season as well as a variety of other subjects.
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (1%, 2% or whole; no skim)
1 tablespoon oil (vegetable or olive) or 1 tablespoon melted butter
2 sticks salted butter
1 large sweet or Vidalia onion, diced (used with savory fillings only)
In a large bowl combine 2½ cups flour, milk, egg and oil or butter.
Mix by hand until well combined and you have a ball of sticky dough.
Add additional flour by palmfuls and knead into dough if still too wet. Consistency should be mildly sticky and you should be able to take dough ball out of bowl and knead it easily.
Place small amount of flour in bowl; place dough ball on top of flour and “punch” dough ball into flour until it makes a thick disc. Flip dough over and repeat on other side. Shake excess flour off dough. Sprinkle flour on work surface and spread on rolling pin; place dough disc on work surface and roll out to about ¾ inch thickness.
Take any large drinking glass or a biscuit cutter and cut circles in dough. Excess dough will be kneaded and rolled out again to make additional pierogies.
Take each dough circle, roll twice each way (top to bottom and side to side), and using a teaspoon, spoon filling onto dough. Filling should be placed just below the center of the circle of dough. Push in filling with thumbs; flip top of dough circle over bottom of dough using your index fingers. Press ends together and give each middle a little “pat” in the middle to even out filling.
Place pierogies in a pot of boiling water. Pierogies are done when they float to the surface or when the consistency is al dente. Fry in butter and onions if desired, or serve immediately with butter-onion mixture and/or sour cream.
1 pound potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed with any type of cheese; bacon, sauerkraut or sautéed onions can be added. For dessert pierogies use 1 large can fruit pie filling.
Contact Babij at firstname.lastname@example.org