Edmonton may have started as a fortified fur trading post, but the surrounding fertile farmland soon lured adventurous European settlers, most notably the largest influx of Ukrainians in the country's history.
So it's not surprising that I find some kind of perogy or sausage on nearly every menu. This bodes well for my husband, because although he’s not of Ukrainian descent, he would happily eat his own weight in potato and cheese filled dumplings.
Hand-Pinched By Baba
We’re longstanding guests at our friend’s annual Ukrainian Thanksgiving dinner. Dishes include cabbage rolls, borscht, cheese crepes and of course Baba’s hand pinched perogies. It’s hard to resist these made from scratch savouries. Traditional fillings include mushrooms and sauerkraut as well as potato with onion and farmer’s cheese – a fresh low-lactose white curd cheese. A healthy dollop of sour cream or dill sauce is always served on the side.
Perogy making is an event in itself. Picture a kitchen filled with apron-clad women, bags of potatoes and flour, and a whole lot of laughter. But there’s no need to fret if you haven’t the time or inclination to create the labour intensive dumplings. Simply order from Baba's Own – where six Ukrainian babas (grandmas) pinch upwards of 450 dozen perogies a day. All-natural ingredients and no fillers is the golden rule and there’s no doubt that you’ll taste the quality – and love – that went into them.
Tradition with a Twist
Creative cooks are shaking up the traditional and filling their perogies with wild mushrooms, spinach and feta cheese, sweet potato, brie and basil and even Mexican-style refried beans. An inventive chicken masala perogy, topped with sautéed bacon, onion and tamarind yogurt, was featured at the annual Taste of Edmonton. Even my husband – the self-professed traditionalist – was impressed by this new interpretation. Dessert variations are equally creative. Spiced apple pie, Callebaut chocolate ganache and lemon blueberry with spiced sour cream, to name a few.
Market Fresh Perogies
Farmers’ markets are great place to pick up homemade hand-pinched perogies. There are a dozen city markets to explore, from the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market – the famed year-round market with 130 vendors – to the more than century-old downtown City Market that sprawls along 104 Street in spring and summer and moves indoors to City Hall for winter. Or try the trendy Grand Market on 124 Street. But if you’re looking for the one with the largest variety of Ukrainian food, then head to the St. Albert Farmers Market – it’s the biggest outdoor market in Western Canada and one of our favourites.