Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I'm on a quest to "veganize" a recipe from my childhood; specifically my Grandma's German-Russian Kase Kenpfla, also known fondly as "Cheese Buttons".
They're similar to the Ukrainian pierogy, but the Cheese Buttons of my childhood were much lighter, the dough more tender and they were filled with an altogether different, crumbly, onion-cheese mixture. I'm drooling right now.

My grandma would labor long hours over these savory cheese pillows, proudly serving heaping platters at family dinners. My sisters and I would then proceed to gobble these precious little dumplings as fast as we could, sometimes having contests to see who could finish off the most.
While I learned the recipe at my Grandma's side, it was years after she was gone before I appreciated how labor-intensive these precious little tidbits are, and I'm just slightly appalled at the sheer number that my siblings and I consumed.

Nowadays when one of the Miller girls decides to reverently make a "batch" of Grandma's Cheese Buttons, we do so on a comparatively small scale (yet somehow, with three times the mess in our kitchens!), and we ration the finished results quite sternly. No "dumpling-eating-contests" allowed!

But I digress.
Grandma's "Cheese-free Cheese Buttons" I have not managed to perfect, yet, but a close cousin, the pierogy, is now a vegan-ized success in my kitchen! And since few people, (other than me, my sisters, my family, my relatives and the residents of South Dakota), will stress over the difference, I'll share my vegan pierogy recipe with you (because it's VERY good!) and I'll continue to try and perfect a vegan version of Grandma's Kase Knepfla.
These take a while, but like any time-honored classic, they're so very worth it.

Vegan Pierogies


1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or use all white flour for lighter dough)
6 oz silken soft tofu
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt


2 potatoes, cooked & mashed (1/2 cup instant or leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
1 cup firm tofu, drained crumbled with fingers or fork until small like cottage cheese
1 onion, minced & sauteed in margarine until clear and starting to brown
1 Tb. vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon margarine, melted
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
pepper, to taste

Mix all dough ingredients together to form a smooth, slightly moist dough. Add more flour if it is too wet, more tofu or some water if it is too dry. Set aside to rest.

While potatoes are warm, mash well and add remainder of filling ingredients. Mix well.

Put a large pot of water on to boil.

Cut dough into 24 equal size pieces and roll into balls. Roll each ball out with a rolling pin fairly thin into an oval shape. Place a rounded tablespoon of potato mixture on each piece of dough and pull one side of the dough to the other, forming a half moon with the potato mixture enclosed.

Brush edge with soymilk, press with fingers to seal.

Place several pierogi in boiling water at a time stirring gently. Wait until they float and cook about one minute more.

Remove with slotted spoon.

Toss with oil to prevent sticking, and set aside to use later.
Or transfer immediately to a lightly oiled non-stick skillet. Pan fry until starting to brown, turn and brown other side.

While pierogi are cooking, saute 1 sliced white onion with as much margarine as you're comfortable using until onions are buttery and browned (these are comfort food - no one claimed they were healthy).
Add buttery onions to fried perogies and serve.

(Some people skip the frying part and just toss with sauteed onions after boiling - not as much flavor but more tender and probably slightly healthier)

**Optional: Some prefer to serve with sour cream (not my favorite but traditional for some, I guess) If you like Sour Cream, toss hot perogies and some sauteed onions in several Tbsp of Tofutti's Sour Supreme, add onion powder to taste and serve.
Or: brown breadcrumbs in margarine and toss pierogies with crumbs.


T said...

I looooove pierogies! I serve them boiled, with caramelized onions, diced apples, and a ton of salt and pepper.

This version looks super... Now you've got me drooling too!

Andrew said...

I'm currently living in Sioux Falls, but my family is from the Aberdeen/Eureka area. I know all about cheese buttons! I miss them so much. They are all confused about my veganism, but they try their hardest to accomodate me :)

BJ in TX said...

I grew up in North Dakota - and had these often....LOVE them!!! And do you remember dumpling soup? With potatoes and of course dumplings? Seems like that would be easy to veganize also, if you had a "cream" product in your local store. I'll have to try that sometime. Thanks for jogging my memory about these!

Tiffany said...

Whoa, those pierogies look SO good!