Tvorog Vareniki from Kachka
These creamy cheese and chive dumplings are like soft pillows that ooze with gooey goodness. They are from the cookbook Kachka, written by the owners of the local restaurant by the same name, here in Portland. We visited Kachka (the restaurant; I wish you could physically visit places in books…) the other week. Their menu is comprised of a myriad of delicious food from the former Soviet Union. Because of covid, only outdoor seating was available. It was a cold and windy day (it’s Oregon, duh) but it was so fun to sit outside and enjoy the Russian music blasting on the radio. I wanted to order something (a) warm, (b) traditional, and (c) unique to the restaurant. Their dumplings, called tvorgo vareniki, hit the spot. They are filled with farmer’s cheese and chives and are tossed with melted butter and a splash of vinegar. I ordered them with the garlic broth and OH MY GOSH. These were the best dumplings I have ever eaten, hands down. As the wind whipped at our hair and our faces, I felt the hot salty broth and the creamy tangy cheese dumplings warm me from the inside out.
it. was. perfect.
Cheesy Dumplings at Home
When I got home after visiting the restaurant Kachka, I savagely searched through my Kachka cookbook and voila! I found the recipe for tvorgo vareniki! *rapid fist pumping in the air!* Overall, these creamy cheese and chive dumplings were pretty simple to make.
– Blend together the cheese filling.
– Make the basic dumpling dough and knead it until you sweat.
– Rest the dough for an hour, then divide it into eight balls and roll them out to fit your dumpling maker.
– Fill the dumplings, seal them and boil them.
Before you know it, you’ll have more dumplings than you know what to do with! Well, when you taste these bad boys, you’ll know exactly what to do with them. 🙂
I was honestly surprised at how well these dumplings turned out when I made them! The wonderful tangy, creamy, luscious, salty, doughy goodness came through in each bite. But making dumplings is sort of like when I made homemade sourdough bread – it is enough time and effort that if I’m ever hankering for these, I might just buy them from the store instead. PLUS Kachka sells their dumplings sooooo… Christmas gift idea? 😉
Dumplings However You Like!
I chose to eat my dumplings with sliced vegan chorizo sausage. The sausages add color, a little spicy flavor and extra protein. These dumplings are delicious with Kachka’s garlic broth (especially if you’re eating them outside on a cold windy day!) And they are scrumptious with any type of sliced sausage.
Just before serving, mix each serving of the hot dumplings in Kachka’s “secret sauce” which is one tablespoon of butter, one teaspoon white vinegar, and a pinch of salt. The melted butter makes the dumplings saturated in goodness and prevents them from tasting dry. The splash of vinegar brightens the whole dish. Add some extra chopped chives and a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, and you might just find yourself in dumpling bliss, my friend.
Tvorog Vareniki (Farmer’s Cheese and Chives Dumplings)
- 1 pound farmer's cheese (I couldn't find this in my grocery store, so I substituted ricotta cheese)
- 1 egg
- ½ cup kefir (Or mix a scant ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt with 3 Tbsp of milk)
- ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup minced chives
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp cold water
Dumpling Sauce & Toppings
- 6 Tbsp butter, melted
- 6 tsp white vinegar
- 6 pinches kosher salt
- minced chives, for garnish
Make the Dumpling Filling
- Blend the farmer's cheese (or ricotta), egg, kefir (or Greek yogurt thinned with milk), parmesan, flour and salt in a food processor until it is smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a container with a lid and stir in the chives. Refrigerate the cheese mixture overnight.
Make the Dumpling Dough
- In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour and salt.
- Mix in the egg.Slowly add the water while mixing the dough.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes on a stand mixer, or 20 minutes by hand, until it becomes a smooth and elastic ball.
- Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for at least one hour.
Assemble the Dumplings
- Flour a baking sheet, on which you'll place the finished dumplings.
- Divide the dough into eight even balls. Keep the dough balls that aren't being used covered until plastic wrap so they don't dry out.
- Dust flour on a clean work surface and roll out the first dough ball slightly larger than the size of your dumpling-maker. Drape the dough over the dumpling maker and use your hands or a dumpling press to make a little wiggle room for the filling.Re-flour your work surface as needed, and roll out the second ball of dough, to prepare the top layer.
- Fill the dumplings with about one heaping teaspoon of the cheese filling.
- Drape the second sheet of dough on top, and use a rolling pin or the blunt end of a wood spoon to press the two dough layers together to seal the dumplings. Carefully take the dumplings out of the dumpling maker and put them on a floured baking sheet, spread out so none overlap and stick together.
- If you don't have a dumpling maker, simply divide the dough into four even balls and roll it out to the same thickness as fresh pasta. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter or a drinking glass to cut rounds of dough. Fill the rounds with one heaping teaspoon of the cheese filling.Brush the edges of the dough with water and fold them into half-circles. Press the edges to seal the dumplings.
- Repeat the steps to roll out the dough, fill them with the cheese filling and seal the dumplings closed.
Cook & Eat the Dumplings
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add about 10 dumplings at a time, so you don't crowd the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any dumplings that get stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Boil the dumplings for about 5 minutes, until the noodles are al dente and the cheese filling is gooey and hot.
- For each serving, mix hot dumplings with 1 Tbsp butter, 1 tsp white vinegar and a pinch of kosher salt. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and minced chives.