Monday, August 16, 2010

Uszka (Polish Dumplings)

Uszka [photo]

I remember my first encounter with these mushroom filled dumplings vividly. The year was 2006 and I had innocently borrowed a book on Eastern European food from the library. I had no idea what to expect from the book, a fact which contributed greatly to my curiosity of course. The more I turned the pages, the more pleasantly I was surprised by the variety of dishes and I admit, I fell a little bit in love.

Of course, at that stage I was still firmly entrenched in my fiery love affair with all things Asian. The stodgy Eastern European food was a far cry from the light and flavourful stirfries that graced our table most nights. But there was something about that book, that kept me coming back for more. There was himmel und erde (lit: heaven & earth), a lovely German dish of apples (the heaven part) and potatoes (the earth bit), served with crispy fried onion and blutwurst. Of course I was too chicken to serve it with blutwurst, but I was all over the rest of that combo. Vibrantly coloured borscht leaped out at me, begging me to shine a spotlight on the humble beetroot and TheHusband was overjoyed when I announced my desire to make Black Forest cake.

Uszka [photo]

And then there was uszka. Without a doubt, my favourite of all the recipes I tried in those few weeks (yeah I returned that sucker late to the library. The fine was worth it). A delicate mix of mushrooms and onions, flavoured with garlic and herbs and encased in whimsical dough parcels. Drenched in melted butter. What's not to love? 

Well there's the fact that they are - mmm how to put this delicately? - super labour intensive! I'm warning you, this is not the recipe to haul out when you're short of time or impatient. But if you want to shift down a gear or two or need some time to mull over important issues, these are your friends. Folding the individual uszkas is strangely calming, so pull up a comfortable chair and a glass of wine and settle in. Of course you could rope in some friends or family to help out and set up a sort of production line. Roll, cut, fill and fold. You'll be done in a fraction of the time. But personally I enjoyed sitting down by myself and folding folding folding. Sometimes it's the simple things in life, isn't it?

Uszka [photo]

Oh and before I forget, the blog checking lines:

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

Uszka (Polish Dumplings)
Adapted from
Serves 4

For dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
7 - 8 tbsp water

For filling:
1 tbsp butter 
1/2 tsp minced garlic
250g mushrooms, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely diced 
2 tbsp breadcrumbs 
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley (plus extra for garnish) 
salt and pepper, to taste

melted butter, for serving

1. Make the dough by combing flour, salt egg and 6 tablespoons of the water. Mix until the dough comes together, adding more water if necessary. Knead briefly to form a smooth dough, then cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a medium sized frying pan. Add garlic, mushrooms and onion and cook until softened. Stir breadcrumbs and parsley through, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from stove and allow to cool.
3. Roll dough out very thinly, then cut into 2.5 x 2.5 inch squares. Place a teaspoonful of the filling in the centre of each square, then moisten 2 of the edges and fold the other edge over towards that edge to form a triangle. Press to seal the dough, then moisten the two bottom corners and fold towards the middle, overlapping each other. Refer to photo to see what the finished uszka should look like. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
4. Cook the uszka in batches in a large pot of boiling salted water. They will only take a few minutes to cook and are ready when they rise to the top of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, keeping warm until all the dumplings are cooked. 
These are traditionally served floating in barszcz (Poland's version of borscht), but I like them drizzled with hot melted butter and garnished with chopped parsley.
Note that the dough needs to be rolled out very thinly, otherwise you will have trouble forming neat dumplings. If you struggle to form the dumplings, you can leave them as triangles, omitting the last fold. 


Anonymous said...

I LOVE dumplings! I think they might be the reason I picked up about 10kg while working in Taiwan for a year, cause I really stuffed my face. I am no cook but I might just try my hand at these.

Claudz on August 16, 2010 10:05 am said...

Well done!
Looks yummy and I really like your photos!

Marisa on August 16, 2010 10:55 am said...

Love & Stuff - These really aren't difficult to make, they just take some time. Hope you enjoy them!

Claudz - Thank you! Always difficult to photograph lumps of dough.

Anna on August 16, 2010 12:01 pm said...

Beautiful uszka - can't beat them ;)
Thank you for taking part this month!

Cheers. Anula.

nina on August 16, 2010 12:15 pm said...

Oh my gosh, love dumplings......if you know how many mushrooms I have in my home, you will come right over so we can make some!! Well done!!

Mika on August 16, 2010 12:33 pm said...

They seems super delicious!! I will try the version with and without the barszcz.
Thanks for posting!

Marisa on August 16, 2010 12:49 pm said...

Anula - Thanks for a super challenge this month. And sorry I veered off a little bit, I just couldn't resist these!

Nina - I still have a whole punnet left myself, I overestimated the amount I would need for these. :-) Mushroom cook-off?

Anonymous said...

if you drink too much wine does the folding get easier? lovely photo :)

Marisa on August 16, 2010 2:22 pm said...

Mika - Let me know how they taste when served with the soup, am very curious!

Tandy - It just makes you not care that it's taking so long... ;-)

julie on August 16, 2010 4:05 pm said...

These are simply elegant! And you're right, don't do them when you're rushed or stressed. Exactly the mistake I made this go around and it showed. You, my friend, did an amazing job on the challenge. Nice work!

Jo on August 16, 2010 4:23 pm said...

Great job and your dumplings look absolutely gorgeous. The wrapping is so neat and reminds me of little wontons.

MaryMoh on August 16, 2010 6:57 pm said...

My family love dumplings. These look like Chinese dumplings except with different filling. Looks like dumplings are very international :D

Joanne on August 16, 2010 7:51 pm said...

Oh these are pretty. These are really really pretty.

Well now I know what I'll be making the night before my next test...stress relief and procrastination in one fell swoop.

chef_d on August 16, 2010 8:17 pm said...

Wow, this looks great! I love the way your dumplings turned out. Great job!

tariqata on August 17, 2010 5:54 pm said...

These look lovely! (And the shape is *so* cute!)

And the mushroom filling sounds incredibly delicious.

Lori on August 18, 2010 3:00 pm said...

This is great! So glad to have this recipe. My husband is from a Polish family and I'm always looking for more recipes that speak to our cultural heritage. I definitely have to try these!

Sweet Artichoke on August 18, 2010 3:31 pm said...

These look delicious! I love the mushroom filling! for me, mushrooms + garlic + parsley is the best combo!

cuppy on August 19, 2010 1:21 am said...

Wow, those look gorgeous! Very rich and earthy; I really like the idea of serving them with borscht, too. And I totally agree, what's not to love about something slathered in butter? ;)

Juanita on August 19, 2010 11:01 am said...

Love the photos - those look delicious!

Eliana on August 19, 2010 4:45 pm said...

These look outstanding Marisa :)

Marisa on August 19, 2010 5:33 pm said...

Julie - Thanks, you're right, it really helps to take things slow sometimes.

Jo - Yeah, they do look like wontons, don't they? Real wontons still on my to-do list though.

MaryMoh - They really are international, aren't they? Almost all the world cuisines have some form of dumpling.

Joanne - win-win then? :-)

Chef_d - Appreciate you stopping by!

Tariquata - I have to admit, the filling is really good. I even ate some just like that.

Lori - Awesome! Glad to have assisted you in your quest to honour your husband's heritage.

Sweet Artichoke - Agree 100%

Cuppy - Butter for the win. :-) Have to try them with borscht, sounds so unusual.

Juanita - Thanks, that means a lot as I really struggled with these photos.

Eliana - Thank you!

Yum Yucky on August 20, 2010 6:38 pm said...

oh my goodness, I MUST have it!

Sara said...

Oh I love uszka with a good portion of barszcz. yum yum yum!

Mika on August 26, 2010 1:31 pm said...

They look amazing! Yesterday I made pierogi with a sauerkaraut filling, sour cream and mushrooms...I liked them but I didn't felt in love...I'll try soon yours! I still have mushrooms at home and I don't have fear of long recipes like this. ^_^
Beautiful pictures as usual.

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