Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fun Things To Do With Gravy; Pierogies

During this "Month of Gravy" I'm posting a few favorite recipes that I like to put gravy on top of (it's still part of a theme, work with me here), and one of those favorites is PIEROGIES!

Earlier this week I posted the question "What family favorite would you like to see 'veganized'?" and about half of the responses were from those of you looking for the German-Ukrainian-Polish-Russian foods of their childhood.
I'm in the same club!

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 at the memory 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 to the younger generation. No "dumpling-eating-contests" allowed!

But I digress.
A vegan version of 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, (someone asked if there was a "quick and easy" recipe, but I seriously doubt one exists) but like any time-honored classic, they're so very worth it.
And like all things white and starchy, these are DELICIOUS with the addition of some basic Brown Gravy (though traditionally they're served with browned onions or sour cream).

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 and mashed (3/4 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 and sauteed in margarine until clear and starting to brown
  • 2 Tb. vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon melted margarine
  • 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. It shouldn't be too "wet" but should hold together loosely.

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, make Brown Gravy.
(more traditional) 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.

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.
Brown some fresh breadcrumbs in margarine and toss pierogies with breadcrumbs.

(Some people skip frying the pierogy and just toss with sauteed onions after boiling - this is good too, not as much flavor but more tender and probably slightly healthier)

However you choose to enjoy them, hopefully this will fill that "comfort food" niche in your recipe collection, especially for those of you who grew up enjoying these with family and at special celebrations and events.


Bianca said...

Love that story about your grandma's cheese buttons!!! There's nothing better than grandma's cooking and learning her recipes at her side. Plus, the buttons' pierogy cousins sounds delicious!

Dawn said...

I've never had a pierogy ever (not even pre-veganism), but I honestly have always wanted to try one. This recipe and the pierogies themselves look great, and I'm bookmarking them to make in the future.

Love that you're sharing your heritage with us! I need to get going on a veganized version of my grandma's tamales, but like your Grandma's Kase Kenpfla, they'll take a while!

Anonymous said...

Bookmarking this one! Husband is learning Russian so this will be great for when celebrating Russian style! The pic makes them looks so yummy! Can I have one now?