Thursday, December 29, 2011

Silver White Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

So it's been awhile.  Life gets busy, you know.  School, the holidays, traveling.  Constant housework.  Oh, so much housework.

But I thought I'd share a cake I made a few months ago, just because.  It's a silver white cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting.  It came out soooo good.  Luckily, we had company to help eat it, otherwise I could have eaten the whole thing myself.

The recipes  both come from one of my favorite cookbooks: The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. It's an OLD cookbook.  I think my mom gave it to me.  But I love it because it has a picture for EVERY. SINGLE. RECIPE.  You can get a new copy on Amazon:

Silver White Cake
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans (I used my heart shaped ones, for no particular reason.) Line the pans with wax paper.

2. In a medium bowl, at high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in 1/2 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp at a time.  Beat until sugar is dissolved and whites stand in stiff peaks and then set aside.                                                                                3.  In another bowl, beat one cup sugar and remaining ingredients, starting at low speed until combined.  Beat for 3 more minutes at medium speed.  At low speed, beat in the whites.                                   4.  Pour into pans and bake 25 minutes.  Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 lb confectionary sugar                                          
8 Tbsp butter or margarine, softened
3-4 Tbsp milk or half and half
3 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted then cooled
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

 1. At medium speed in a large bowl, beat all ingredients until very smooth.  You may need to add a little more milk to get the consistency that you want.

Now to frost that cake!

I added some mini chocolate chips in the middle for a surprise :)

And then I added some to the outside, too :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pumpkin Bread-A Fall Favorite

Fall is finally here, and it has brought cooler temperatures and a bit of a breeze back the area.  Very refreshing after a week of 90+ temperatures!  I know it's only temporary, as the forecast calls for a return to the 90s next week, but I'll take it while I can.  And to welcome the cooler air and the Autumn season, I baked up a batch of my mom's pumpkin bread.  This recipe comes together quickly and is a cinch to make.  It makes two full size loafs, so I had one to enjoy and one to share!

First, I gathered up all my ingredients.  I always to to get everything out beforehand, but I don't always remember.  It makes it so much easier when I have everything at my fingertips.  

Pumpkin Bread
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 16oz can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 2 loaf pans.  
In a large bowl, mix the first eight ingredients.  In another bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin, oil and applesauce until well blended.  Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture until just blended.  Add in the raisins and walnuts if desired and divide evenly between loaf pans.
Bake 1 hour 15 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove to remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grandma Hazel's Jewish Coffee Cake

I'm finally back from my extended vacation that took me to the far corners of the US (Maine and Southern California) and ready to share my latest exploits in the kitchen!


My Grandma Hazel was Catholic, not Jewish, so I have no idea why she would have had a recipe for a Jewish coffee cake.  But she did, and I found it by chance while going through my mom's recipe book on our visit home.  And of course, I had to make it!

I really loved how this came out.  It was full of fruits and nuts and made a great snack.  It didn't last long, either.  My stepdad ate about half of the cake by himself.  Plus, I got warm fuzzies when I was making it, as I do any time I make one of my Grandma's recipes.

Jewish Coffee Cake
(recipe courtesy of my Grandma Hazel)

1 cup sugar
Baking in my mom's kitchen :)
2 eggs
½ cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped dates
1 small bottle maraschino cherries
½ cup walnuts
 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream together the sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla.  Sift dry ingredients together and add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  

Pour ½ of the batter into a greased angel food pan.  Cover batter with the fruit mixture- raisins, chopped dates, cherries and ½ of the walnuts. Sprinkle ½ of the sugar and cinnamon over the fruit.  Pour the rest of the batter over the fruit and sprinkle the remainder of the sugar, cinnamon and nuts over the top.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until done.

The angel food pan makes it easy to remove from the pan.  It tastes great served warm, with a cup of tea. I don't know how Jewish this coffee cake it, but it is definitely yummy!

I'm glad that Fall is on the way, I just wish we had the cool Fall temperatures that I am used to.  The forecast here in the Bay Area is in the 90's for the rest of the week.  But even with the HOT temperatures, I am looking forward to cooking with apples and pumpkins!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Vacation!

I'm currently on vacation in Maine, so I'm not spending a whole lot of time in the kitchen.  I have made a few things at my Mom's house, though.  I'll be sure to share once I am back home!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summertime Dessert Series: Lemon Chess Pie

Remember the movie Fried Green Tomatoes?  I loved that movie and all that southern food always looked so good.  I'm a northern girl, so I don't have much experience with southern cooking.  But somehow, I ended up with a copy of the Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook in my possession.  And while looking for something summery for dessert the other night, I cracked it open and stumbled on a recipe for Lemon Chess Pie.

I'd heard of Chess Pie before, but had no real idea of what it is.  Apparently, it's a southern thing.  Something about the the cornmeal in the filling.  It sounded good, so I gave it a try.

I started with basic pie dough from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book, made in my food processor.  This recipe is for a 9 inch, one crust pie.

 Basic Pie Dough
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3-4 Tbsp cold water

Combine flour, salt and shortening in food processor.  Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add water, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition.  The dough should hold together, but not be sticky.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, to about 1/8 inch thickness.  I've found that flouring the rolling pin, instead of the dough, works best.

Transfer the dough to the pie pan and crimp the edges as desired.  For this pie, I trimmed the excess and then tucked and used my thumb for a fluted edge.

I'll admit, I have a hard time with pie crusts.  Very often, they crack on me and I end up with a pieced together pie crust in my pie plate.  That didn't happen with this pie, to my great delight, and surprise.  It transferred easily and had no rips or tears.

 Lemon Chess Pie
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/4 cups whipping cream
1 Tbsp cornmeal
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest

 Preheat oven to 350F.  With an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar at high speed until thick an lemon colored.  Add melted butter and dream gradually, beating for about 1 minute.  Add in cornmeal, flour, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Pour filling into prepared pie shell and bake 40-45 minutes, until filling is set.  Cool before cutting and serve with fresh whipped cream.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho

For my birthday this year, I treated myself to a subscription to Cooking Light magazine.  I'm always on the lookout for healthy, tasty recipes and I love the idea of a magazine full of them, cover to cover!  Well, after two months of waiting, I FINALLY got my first issue.  In fact, I got my first TWO issues within a matter of days.   I'm still winding my way through them, and have lots I want to try but the one that jumped out at me right away was for a grilled vegetable gazpacho.  The weather here in Northern California hasn't been particularly hot, but a cold soup still sounded great.  So this recipe is inspired by one from the July 2011 issue of Cooking Light.

Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho
Makes 5-6 servings

3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced in half
1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1/4 cup olive oil
2 slices French bread
1 bell pepper (red, orange or yellow)
1 jalapeño pepper
juice of 1 lemon
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 cups thinly sliced pickling cucumbers
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 2 stalks)
3 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro

Preheat grill to medium high.  Brush cut sides of tomato, slices of onion and French bread with olive oil. Grill bread until toasted on both sides.  Place peppers on grill and grill until blistered, turning as needed.  Place onions on grill and grill for 10 minutes each side.  Add the tomatoes to the grill, cut side down, after flipping the onions.  Remove seeds from peppers (leave the jalapeño seeds if you want extra kick.)

In a blender, combine bread, grilled vegetables, two tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, half of the lemon juice and garlic.  Puree until smooth.  Add a little water if the soup is too thick.

Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, remaining lemon juice, 1/4 tsp salt, sliced cucumbers, scallions and cilantro.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with a scoop of cucumber mixture.

Although traditionally a cold soup, this gazpacho is great served either hot OR cold.  It can be made a day or two in advance and chilled until ready to serve.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spiced Blackberry Jam

I just love blackberries. I remember when I was growing up in Maine, they grew abundandtly (and still do) and you could pick them just about anywhere.  We had a campground that we always stayed at in the summer and the campsites were lined with raspberry, blackberry and black raspberry bushes.

One of the things I really wanted to make this summer was blackberry jam.  My grandmother did a lot of canning and made blackberry jam and it's always been one of my favorites.  It's just a little bit more tart than other berries and just so, so good.

Other than knowing that my grandma's jam was amazing, I just don't have the recipe for it.  So I searched a bit until I found a jam recipe than sounded good.  I finally found one at

Spiced Blackberry Jam
(adapted from

8 cups blackberries
4 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
freshly grated nutmeg
Juice of 1 lemon
1 packet liquid pectin

First off, prepare your jars.  This recipe made nearly 7 half pints for me.

Mash the blackberries.  If you want a seedless jam, you'll need to mash them up and put them through a fine strainer to remove the seeds.  I like the seeds in my jam, so I left them in.

In a large stock pot, add the berries and the sugar and bring to a simmer.  Add in the spices and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Stir frequently to prevent burning and sticking.  Once the jam starts to thicken, add the pectin and return to a boil for 5 minutes.  I used my candy thermometer to monitor the temperature.  When it reached 220, I did the cold plate test (take a plate or bowl that's been in the freezer and put a dollop of jam on it.  When it gels, it is ready) and it was perfect.

Ladle jam into prepared jars, wipe rims, cover and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

I love the flavor of this jam.  The cinnamon and nutmeg give it just a nice little kick.  I don't think I'll be sharing this particular batch with anyone.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summertime Dessert Series: Triple Berry Clafouti

Aren't these just gorgeous?  They are perfect and slightly tart.  My mouth is watering just writing this

My little munchkin and I spent an hour in the blazing California sun, in order to gather what amounted to about six pounds of beautiful, tart blackberries.  These berries are destined for all sorts of delectable treats.  Since we also had some beautiful raspberries to use up and I picked up another big tub of blueberries at Costco, I decided to try a dessert I have wanted to make for awhile, but hadn't gotten a chance to do: a clafouti.

Fresh from the oven!

According to Wikipedia, a clafouti is "a baked French dessert of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. The clafoutis is dusted with powdered sugar and served lukewarm."  This is obviously a deviation from that, but the idea is still the same.  This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and calls for a mixture of 3 cups of berries.  I did a cup each of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

Triple Berry Clafouti
2/3 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup soured milk
3 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup each blackberries, blueberries and raspberries

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 9 inch pie plate with cooking or baking spray.

Mix berries together in the pie plate.  Combine all ingredients except the berries in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.  Add in a dash of salt.  The batter will be very thin.  Pour the batter over the berries in the pie plate.

Bake for 50-55 minutes (I baked mine for 50 minutes and it was perfect) or until the top is puffy and lightly browned.

Serve warm with either a light dusting of powdered sugar or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This is nice for a summer dessert or brunch.  It tastes best when it is fresh from the oven!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Key Lime Curd

I recently lucked in to finding a two pound bag of tiny key limes for a mere $1.50.  That is a great deal, but a LOT of little limes to find a use for.  Right away, I decided to make a batch of lime curd, especially considering that I had a lot of left over egg yolks after the egg white intensive sponge cake I posted about the other day.  I've got a few ideas up my sleeve on what to do with the lime curd, but I haven't gotten there, yet.  For now, here is the lime curd recipe:

Going back a few months, I made some very nice lemon curd.  That recipe worked so well for me that I used it again here, substituting the lime for lemon in the recipe.

Key Lime Curd
6 large egg yolks 
3/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp grated lime zest
1/2 cup Splenda sugar blend (1 cup sugar if using regular sugar)
1 stick of butter, cut up
a few drops green food coloring (optional)

Combine the egg yolks, juice, zest and sugar in a medium saucepan and whisk together until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thicken and coats the back of a spoon (about 8-9 minutes.)  Remove from heat and start stirring in the butter, one piece at a time, ensuring that each piece melts completely before the addition of the next one.  At this point, you can add a few drops of green food coloring.  I added it because I wanted to be able to distinguish the lime curd from the lemon curd in my refrigerator.

Pour the completed curd into clean containers.  You can process canning jars to make it shelf stable, but I have heard that it doesn't keep for too long.  I chose to just refrigerate it.  I hope to use it up soon enough, anyway! (hint: I plan to pair it with some cherries very soon...)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summertime Dessert Series: Lemon-Lime Sponge Cake with Lime Seven Minute Frosting

Ah, summer.  I just love summertime desserts.  They are cool and refreshing and a great way to forget about the heat.  At least for a little while.  And here in the California Bay Area, have we ever got some summer heat!  After a cold and rainy Spring, Summer has come on and brought us temperatures in the 90s and 100s. Perfect weather for a nice, cool dessert.  I'm going to try to post a cool summertime dessert every week and this week I'm starting with this Lemon-Lime Sponge cake with cool lime Seven Minute Frosting.

I started with a recipe for a daffodil cake from the now out of print Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. It's a hand me down from my mom, and one of my favorites.  There is a color picture index with a picture for EVERY recipe.  Some of the recipes are a little outdated (Eggs En Gelee or Fish Mousse, anyone?)  But there are some great classic recipes and it's one of the first places I usually look.

So, the Daffodil cake recipe is an orange lemon flavored cake, topped with an orange lemon icing.  I decided to go a different way with the cake and made a lemon lime sponge cake and topped it with seven minute frosting, one of my favorites, a fluffy cooked frosting.

Lemon-Lime Sponge Cake
1 1/4 cup egg whites
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract (instead of extract here, I scraped one vanilla bean)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cake flour
4 egg yolks
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lime zest

If you look REALLY closely here, you can see the vanilla bean flecks

Preheat oven to 375F.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla and salt on high speed until soft peaks form.   Sprinkle in sugar, two tablespoons at a time, while continuing to beat at high speed, until sugar dissolves and stiff glossy peaks form.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add flour gradually, beating until just blended.  

In a separate bowl, beat yolks at high speed until thick and lemon colored.  Fold in half of the egg white mixture, along with the lemon and lime zest.  Drop alternating spoonfuls into a 10 inch tube pan.  Bake 35-40 minutes.

After removing fro the oven, invert cake and cool in pan for 1 hour. Placing it upside down on a wine or beer bottle works well for this.  While the cake cools, it's time to move on to the frosting.

I've seen several recipes for seven minute frosting, but this is the one that I used for this cake.  It is from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, another of my favorite cookbooks.  "Seven Minute" is a misnomer, though, as it takes a bit longer to make.

Lime Seven Minute Frosting
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
2 egg whites
1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest and juice of 1 small lime

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in either a large, heat resistant mixing bowl, or the top of a large double boiler.  Set over simmering, but not boiling, water on low heat, making sure that  the bowl does not touch the water.

Beat with an electric beater until the frosting stands in peaks. This should take 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and continue to beat for a few more minutes, until frosting stiffens and stands in smooth, fluffy peaks.  Beat in vanilla, along with lime juice.  After frosting cake, sprinkle zest on top of cake.

I took this to a dinner at a friend's house and it got great reviews.  The hint of lemon and lime was perfect.

This post is linked at Sweets for a Saturday

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence Day Cake

Happy Fourth of July!

This is one of my favorite holidays.  I'm wildly patriotic and love to celebrate.  I love the cookouts, the fireworks, spending time with friends and family.  And I greatly enjoy coming up with creative desserts to share with a red, white and blue theme!

Someone recently pointed me in the direction of a blue velvet cake.  The blue hue was striking and I thought, "that would be awesome for a July 4th cake!"  And so this is what I came up with.  The blue didn't come out exactly as bright as I had hoped, but it is still a pretty blue.  I didn't have the royal blue food coloring, so I used Cars Blue, left over from someone's birthday cake last year.  But like I said, it was still pretty blue, and the taste was great.  Like red velvet, only blue.  I paired it with a classic white cake, white buttercream frosting and strawberries.

I found the original recipe for the blue velvet cake here.

Blue Velvet Cake
2 cups sugar (I used 1 cup Splenda for baking)
1 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp royal blue food coloring
1 small dab violet food coloring
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 2 round 8" or 9" cake pans, cut parchment paper to fit, and then grease parchment (I always use Baker's Joy and get great results.)
Using a mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each.  Mix cocoa powder and food coloring in a small bowl and add to the sugar mixture.
In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt together.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk to the sugar mixture, alternately.  Mix in vanilla.  In another small bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar. Add to cake batter.
Divide batter between the prepared pans and bake for 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven when a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans 15 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Classic White Cake (recipe from Better Homes and Gardens)
4 egg whites
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
Crumb coating
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar (I used 1 cup of Splenda for baking)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups buttermilk (or soured milk-add vinegar to sour the milk)

It's worth noting here, and I only just realized this, that I only used ONE cup of sour milk because I was reading the WRONG recipe.  *smacking head on the keyboard*

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 2 round 8" or 9" cake pans, cut parchment paper to fit, and then grease parchment.  Sift together dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.  Beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for about 30 seconds.  Add in sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy.  Add egg whites, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.  
Add four and milk to butter mixture, alternately, beating on low speed until just combined after each addition.  Divide batter into prepared pans.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Freshly frosted
Buttercream Frosting (recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
I needed 1 1/2 of this recipe to frost this cake, this is a single recipe

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 lb powdered sugar (about 4 cups-although, I actually weighed it this time)
4-5 Tbsp milk

WIth an electric mixer on medium speed, beat shortening and vanilla for 30 seconds.  Add about half of the powdered sugar and beat well.  Beat in 2 tablespoons of milk.  Add in remaining powdered sugar and beat well.  Add in as much of the remaining milk to reach the desired consistency (I ended up using 5)

Assembling the Cake

Wash and pat dry 1 pint of similar sized strawberries, along with one large strawberry.  Berries should be ripe and firm, not mushy at all.  Set aside.

Place two wide strips of wax paper on your cake stand or cake taker. Removing these later will give the bottom of the cake a very clean finish.  I chose to layer the cakes white, blue, white blue.  On each layer,
spread a generous amount of frosting and place next layer.  When all layers are in place, frost entire cake with a thin crumb coating.  Allow cake to set for about ten minutes and then continue frosting the cake with the rest of the frosting.  There should be enough for a nice thick layer.

Once the cake is frosted, gently remove the wax paper strips from beneath the cake.  You should have a nice clean finish.  Now it's time to add the strawberries.  Hull and slice the similar sized berries in half and arrange all along the bottom edge of the cake.  Take the large strawberry and using either a knife or an egg slicer, slice it almost down to the hull, fan out the slices and place it on top of the cake.  And you're done!

I hope you all have a fabulous July 4th weekend, wherever you are.  And take a moment to appreciate that, despite not being perfect, America is still a pretty great place to be!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ukrainian Vareniki

I mentioned a few months ago that I lived in Ukraine until pretty recently.  I loved everything (well, almost everything) about it there.  One of the things I truly loved and enjoyed was the FOOD.  My husband is Ukrainian and I have studied Russian and Russian/Ukrainian history for years, so I was no stranger to Ukrainian cuisine, but I loved living there and getting to have it whenever I wanted and trying so many new and exciting things.  In addition, there are so many restaurants (on nearly every corner) for cuisine types that we just don't see here in America, at least not often.  Things like Georgian, Armenian, Turkish and Crimean.  Right now, I am practically salivating thinking of the foods I miss!

One of those foods is vareniki: little dumplings with different fillings like meat, cabbage, potatoes, sometimes berries or cherries.  One of the important things is that the fillings are pre-cooked in vareniki.  There are another kind of dumpling, called pelmeni, that are smaller and typically have only meat fillings, where the filling is NOT cooked ahead of time.  My favorite kind of vareniki is potato and sauteed onions, served with just a little bit of butter.  I've been wanting to try making these for some time now, and finally got a recipe from my cousin-in-law in Ukraine.

So here's my first attempt and my favorite of Ukrainian delicacies!

 Vareniki Dough

(I made half this recipe for dough and the recipe yielded 22 vareniki.  A serving is maybe 4-5 as a side dish and 8-9 as a meal)

3 cups flour
3/4 cups cool water
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients to form a dough ball.  Dough should be neither too dry or too sticky.  If it is either, add a little flour or water and work it is until you get a dough ball that is smooth.  Cover with a tea towel and let sit for an hour.  In the meantime, make the filling.

1 large russet potato
1 onion (a sweet Vidalia is great)

Cut potato into cubes and boil until soft.  Saute onion until tender and browned.  With a ricer or masher, mash potato and onion together, adding butter and milk as needed.  Potato mixture should not be too dry and should hold together well.  Add salt to taste.

3 medium boneless, skinless chicken breast
1-2 onions

Boil chicken in salted water.  Shred or dice the chicken.  Saute onions until tender and browned.  Combine chicken and onion, adding a little broth if it is too dry.  Add salt to taste.

Preparing the vareniki-

Dust the counter with flour and roll out a chunk of dough (about half or a third if you have done a full recipe.)  Dough should be about 3 millimeters thick. Using a glass or biscuit cutter, cut circles from the dough.  They should be around 3-4 inches across.  You'll want to squeeze as many as you can from the rolled dough.  I noticed that the dough became a little tougher the more I worked with it, so the less re-rolling you need to do, the better.

Take each circle and place a small amount of filling on one half.  You don't want too much or the dough will stretch and won't hold the filling.  Fold the dough circle over and pinch them shut.  If they won't seal, dab a little water on the dough and that should help make the seal.

At this point, the vareniki are ready to be either boiled or frozen.  If you plan to eat some or all of them right away, boil for 8-9 minutes.  If you plan to freeze them, freeze in a single layer and then transfer to a freezer bag.  Preparation from frozen is the same, boil 8-9 minutes.  They will float when they are done.

Serve with butter, fried onions and/or sour cream.  My favorite is with butter and onions, although I skipped the onions this time (I actually forgot to save some out from my onions I sauteed for the filling.)  And I like to eat them with a cup of fresh mint leaf tea with honey and lemon.  I close my eyes and imagine I am back in Ukraine.

I was pretty happy with my results.  I thought they were very authentic, and I've had vareniki as authentic as you can get, both in Ukrainian restaurants and prepared by my Ukrainian aunt-in-law.

As I prepared each one, I put them on a plate.  I ended up cooking basically the top layer for myself and put the rest in the freezer.  What I SHOULD have done was put down a layer of parchment or wax paper.  When I took them out of the freezer to transfer to a freezer bag, a couple were frozen to the plate and I broke them as I tried to pry them off.  Unfortunately, this ruined them because once they are open, the filling will fall straight out when in the boiling water.  So, lesson learned and noted for next time, use wax paper to avoid the vareniki sticking to the plate and getting ruined.

This is my favorite Ukrainian restaurant in Kyiv, Ukraine.  It's called Harbuz and Co.  Harbuz is the Ukrainian word for Pumpkin, so the name of the restaurant is essentially Pumpkin and Co.  I miss this place SO much.  I went there for lunch almost weekly when I lived there.  It's very cozy.