Goat cheese dumplings are heavenly pillows bathed in buttery sauce with a little acidity to counterpunch the taste buds. Vareniki is the Russian name for these dumplings and they are inspired by chef Bonnie Morales of Kachka in Portland, Oregon I was drawn there by the promise of Russian cooking and the russkie zakuskie experience. Among the many dishes on our self-designed tasting menu were Siberian pelmini, a cousin of vareniki.
Filling is the difference between the two. Pelmini are stuffed with meats or fish, and vareniki are filled with cheeses, fruits and vegetables. Vareniki is Russian, but these are called pierogi in other Eastern European nations.
Fresh farmer’s cheese is called tvorog, but unavailable in my locale, so I used goat cheese. My wife and I love it, but beyond that change, I followed Bonnie’s recipe faithfully.
I recommend you buy a $13 pelminitsa, because the recipe is portioned to take advantage of its efficiency. Then use that spray bottle to seal the vareniki because it’s fast and easy. Weigh the flour as suggested to avoid packing your cup and using too much.
Dosing the cheese filling was tricky. A piping bag was very messy and wasteful because it warmed quickly and became runny. Spooning the filling was slow and tedious. Use a large squeeze bottle and refrigerate it between batches, because it’s fast and easy.
My final bit of advice is another about the filling. Resist the temptation to eat too much or you won’t have enough for all the dumplings!