The pierogi at 20th Century Cafe are so good that one of our reader's specifically requested the recipe.
The secret? Chef/owner Michelle Polzine makes the dough from scratch, before frying it with poppy seeds in a bit of butter until the pierogi are golden brown and delicious. Serve them immediately with tangy sour cream and sweet plum jam—they're great for dinner or a late-night case of the munchies.
20th Century's Pierogi
Serves 4-6 (makes two dozen dumplings)
For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned into cup and leveled with the back of a knife)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium-large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients and make a well in the center
2. Put the sour cream in the well and crack the eggs on top. Using your fingers like a claw, stir the sour cream and eggs together, then gradually pull the dry ingredients into the center until you have a nice dough.
3. Scrape everything out onto a lightly floured counter, and knead a few times until everything is homogenous and smooth. Cover the dough so it doesn't dry out (an inverted bowl, tea towel, or plastic wrap should do the job nicely) and let it rest for 10 minutes.
4. When you return to the dough, you will notice how remarkably smooth and stretchy it has become! Give it a few more kneads, adding a little flour if necessary, and repeat the resting process. Knead, rest, repeat. Give it a final rest of at least a half an hour; you can chill the dough until ready to use, or freeze it until the future. That's a total of four kneading-resting cycles for anybody counting.
For the filling:
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground yellow mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon caraway seed
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 tiny clove garlic, those stupid little ones in the middle that you usually hate
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, halved if small, or quartered
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons sauerkraut, squeezed before measuring (3 ounces)
6 ounces farmers cheese or old fashioned cream cheese (no stabilizer)
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1. Cook the onion in 3 tablespoons of fat (butter and olive oil in equal measure works great) and add the spices and a few heavy pinches of salt as you go, cooking low and slow until they are soft, and starting to caramelize.
2. Grate the garlic into the onions and cook for another couple of minutes.
3. Remove from heat, add the sauerkraut, then put everything on the cutting board and chop pretty small, but don't lose your mind here.
4. Put your potatoes in a saucepan with just enough water to cover them. Salt the water so it tastes like the sea, turn on the heat, and cook the potatoes until they are just tender. Mash the potatoes with a fork or other thing you like to mash with, and combine with the onion-kraut mixture. Add the cheese and allow to cool completely.
5. When cool, use two teaspoons (not the measuring kind, but the kind from your silverware drawer) to form 24 little quenelles.
1. Roll the dough out very thin; you should be able to see the pastry board beneath, but not so thin like you would for strudel–around 1/8 of an inch. Cover the dough with plastic and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
2. Using a round cutter, cut circles in your dough, and pull away the scraps.
3. Use your finger to dab water around the edge of each round. Place the filling in the center of each circle, and lift one side of the dough off of the table and over the filling, pressing the dough to the opposite edge of the circle to seal completely. Rest the dumpling seam side up, and repeat with remaining circles. Chill the pierogi for at least an hour. Note: You can knead and roll the dough scraps to make more circles for the filling.
4. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and have an ice bath ready. Remove the pierogi from the fridge, and using your index finger and thumb, pinch the edges very well, thinning out the dough while creating a pretty ruffled edge and sealing in the filling forever.
5. Drop the dumplings in the boiling water. When they float to the surface, cook for another minute, then drain and plunge into an ice bath. Drain again and let them dry out on a paper towel before serving.
6. Just before serving, pan fry the pierogi in butter and grape seed oil (or another high heat oil), until golden brown and puffy all over, especially on that ruffle! Serve immediately with sour cream and plum or sour cherry preserves.
// 20th Century Cafe, 198 Gough St. (Hayes Valley), 20thcenturycafe.com