ANNA MATKOWSKY'S recipe for pierogi - or varenyky in her native Ukrainian - starts with five pounds of flour, and she measures everything else by touch. Her church group has made as many as 175 dozen pierogi in a day, but this recipe is scaled down for beginners.
Although farmer cheese or cottage cheese would be authentic here, mild cheddar has become common in the U.S.
POTATO AND CHEESE PIEROGI
For the dough:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
For the filling:
2 cups fresh mashed potatoes
1 ounce cream cheese
2 ounces mild cheddar
1/2 ounce sharp cheddar, if desired
For the dough: Blend together salt and flour in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and set aside.
Beat egg, water, oil and milk together. Pour into flour well and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula. When it begins to come together, knead lightly with your hands and make a ball. Dough should be slightly soft, with some give.
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until filling is made or overnight.
For the filling: Mix all ingredients together; taste and add more salt if necessary. Form into one-inch balls using a tablespoon or a No. 60 scoop, and place on a tray.
Cover tray with plastic and refrigerate until dough is rolled and cut or overnight.
To make pierogi: Working with about a third to half the dough at a time, roll dough about an eighth-inch thick on a floured surface and cut into desired size rounds (3-inch circles work well).
Place a potato ball on a round. Pick up round and, using the index finger of one hand, lightly press the ball into an oval, encircling the filling. Fold the bottom of the circle to the top and, using your thumb and forefinger, crimp the edges together to form a tight seal. Place on a tray lined with a linen towel and dust with flour.
While forming the pierogi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and reduce to a slow boil/quick simmer.
Using a slotted spoon, place pierogi in the water about six or so at a time, depending on the size of your pot. Gently stir to keep them from sticking to the bottom.
Allow them to cook slowly until they come to the surface, about two minutes. Remove from water and drain well. Place on a tray or plate to cool completely.
At this point, pierogi can be bagged and refrigerated or frozen for future use. To serve, reheat or saute in butter and onions.
Makes about 30 pierogi.