Sunday mornings were fun when I was a kid. My sister and I woke up at 9:30 am, unceremoniously crawled into our parents’ bed, waking them up, and got ourselves ready for the weekly TV program called “The Alarm Clock”… It was a Sunday variety show for kids, filled with songs, dance, cartoons, riddles, clowns and such… It was only 30 minutes long, but to us it was a special treat that we were looking forward to. By the time “The Alarm Clock” was over, another special treat waited for us in the kitchen — our mom would make Lazy Dumplings for breakfast.
What are the Lazy Dumplings, and, more importantly, why are they so lazy, you may inquire. Well, I have the answers for you. The “real” Russian, Polish or Ukrainian dumplings, or the things called vareniki in Russian and Ukraining or pierogi in Polish, are very much like ravioli — pasta stuffed with variety of fillings — from meat, to potatoes, to mushrooms, to sour cherries. When dumplings are “lazy”, it’s like you are making pasta and stuffing in one, and rather than painstakingly rolling out the dough, portioning out the filling, sealing and cutting out the dumplings, you instead mix the “filling” into the dough, and chop it all up into gnocchi-like dumplings and cooking them up.
As I just said, between the time we woke up our parents, and the time “The Alarm Clock” was over, the dumplings were prepared, how nice is that? And if you add a cup of hot cocoa into the mix (no, not the premixed watery over-sweetened mockery of a drink, but the real deal prepared by mom), your Sunday starts just right.
Best part? Four ingredients! Cheese, egg, salt, flour. Well, five, if you consider butter added in the end as part of the whole lazy dumplings experience. I whip them up (when The Kid is not helping me) in under 15 minutes, which includes the cooking. No kitchen slavery, you feed your family full of proteins and yumminess, and none of it is fried or sugared!
Hardest part is to find the right kind of cheese. My foremost preference is home made farmer cheese (I make it this way), or the “curds” from the “curds and whey”. The closest second to this cheese is Friendship Farmer Cheese. Somewhat remote third is full fat Ricotta cheese, but it’s not tart, so you’ll have to compensate with a bit of lemon juice.
Lazy Dumplings connoisseurs swear by finishing off dumplings by frying them in butter with a few tablespoons of dry bread crumbs. I say definitely try this option, but start with plain dumplings first to see if my childhood memories are worth revisiting…
Makes about 6 servings
- 1 lbs home made farmer cheese, Friendship Farmer Cheese, or full fat Ricotta cheese
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (only if using ricotta)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- about 1 cup or slightly more of all-purpose unbleached flour
- butter for finishing
Bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan with about 1 tsp of salt.
Meanwhile, prepare the dough and filling in one. In a bowl, combine cheese, salt and egg, stir nicely until egg is well distributed and the mixture is smooth and uniform in color and texture.
Star adding flour gradually, fully incorporating it before the next batch, until soft and sticky dough forms. Try not to overdo the flour.
Fold out the dough onto a liberally floured surface. Knead it a bit to be sure it’s pliable. It should resemble the consistency of very soft play-dough.
Using a knife, separate bits of dough, about tangerine size, one at a time. Using your hands, roll the piece into a hot dog like stick. Cut the stick into dumplings, about 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick.
Prepare the bowl where the ready dumplings will go. Pour a few tablespoons of melted butter into the bowl.
Drop the dumplings into the boiling water, about 25 pieces at a time. They will sink to the bottom at first. As soon as they surface, remove them from the pan using a slotted spoon and drop them into the bowl with butter. Repeat with the remaining dough until all the dumplings are done.
Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.
Alternatively, when all dumplings are done, heat the butter in a large skillet and brown the dumplings a bit, adding a few tablespoons of bread crumbs for added textural interest.