Friday, September 2, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Pork and Pierogi Challenge

I'd say I won that one.

 So a couple things about this. A) September to me, means fall, regardless of whether it's still over 90 degrees out on a day to day basis. B) Fall, in turn, means apple cinnamon, whether there are even more scorpions sneaking into your kitchen or not. There are, by the way.

 And C) Jim loves pierogi. I had never heard of them until I met him, and I'm still not sure I'm spelling it right. He insists that one is a pierog, and multiple are pierogi. Spell check disagrees, but offers no better suggestions.

 Anyway, Jim especially requested home made pierogi as part of a series I'll be continuing throughout the blog called "Jim's Obscure World Tour Challenge". Here is the first installment.

 According to wikipedia, pierogi are boiled, baked or fried dumplings of unleavened dough traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit. What they really are is inarguably tasty. Although I do have a soft, warm, gooey spot in my heart reserved for all things dough-related. But, back to work!

First, let's talk about the insides, because that's what I had to make first. I adapted this recipe to make what I'm calling Roasted Garlic Cheddar Mashed Potatoes. Hungry yet?
The picture is less than cute, I know. Cooking can be a time-sensitive affair.

 Roasted Garlic Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
(makes 8ish servings) 
 2 medium heads garlic 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered 
4 tablespoons butter, softened 
1/2 cup skim evaporated milk 
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar 
1/4 tsp onion powder 
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop off top 1/2 inch of garlic bulbs, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in foil. Place in muffin tin, and roast in oven for about 45 minutes. 

 Meanwhile, wash, peel, and quarter potatoes. Boil in salted water for 15 minutes. Drain and chop, place in large bowl. Add shredded cheese immediately so it begins to melt. Squeeze roasted garlic from bulbs into the potato mixture, add butter, onion powder, evaporated milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.

 Now that we have the filling, let's make our pierogi. I think because this was part of the JOWT Challenge, Jim was very excited to assist in the photography process, which made me realize a few things about myself.
A couple of those things dealt with cooking attire. Let's talk about the ridiculous spectacle you would see if you waltzed into my kitchen any given day.

 I like to cook in basketball shorts. Yeah, I know most people save those for things such But yeah, not me. So T Shirt, basketball shorts, and then my super fancy wedding shoes which I'm trying to break in.

 Top it off with goofy-but-cute 50's apron (previously discussed elsewhere) and there you have it. Absolutely ridiculous. Thank God you can't see it all in the pictures.
What you can see is my floury hands. There are times when I relish making a mess. Like for instance, eating crab legs or cooking. Awesome.
Oh tiny little dough circles, you warm my heart.
Sealing them with a fork.
Here's the recipe for the dough, adapted from allrecipes.

 Pierogi Dough
(makes about 20 pierogi) 
 2 eggs 
1/2 (8 ounce) container sour cream 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
2 teaspoons baking powder 

 Sift together dry ingredients. Beat egg and sour cream together until smooth.

Stir flour mixture into the egg and sour cream mixture until a dough forms. Remove dough to floured surface and knead for about 3-5 minutes until it becomes firm and elastic. 

 Roll dough out to 1/8'' thick and cut with a 3'' biscuit cutter. Fill rounds with mashed potatoes filling and seal with a little bit of water along the edges and a fork, crimping the edges. 

 Boil for 3-5 minutes or until they float to the top OR pan fry for about 3-5 minutes until browned on the outside.

 I'm getting tired. Are you tired yet? Because we still have the main course. I don't know where I get the energy. Good thing this recipe is ridiculously simple.

  Apple Cinnamon Pork Chops 
(adapted from allrecipes again) 
 4 (3/4 inch) thick pork chops 
1 teaspoon vegetable oil 
2 tablespoons brown sugar 
salt and pepper to taste 
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1/2 cup applesauce handful pecans, finely chopped 

 Brush the pork chops with oil and place in a pan on medium high heat. Cook through, about 5 minutes per side. 

 Meanwhile melt butter over medium low heat in a saucepan. Add sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts, and applesauce. 

 Cook over medium low heat until mixture begins to bubble. Turn down to very low and simmer until pork is finished cooking. Spoon apple mixture on top of pork chops and serve.

I won't even get into dessert right now. What am I some sort of machine? Hint. I finally made my own pie crust and boy was it worth it. Jim has officially banned me from making anymore sweets until after the wedding. I knew this day would come, but it doesn't make me any less sad. Anyway, I'll talk about the pie later!

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