Monday, September 1, 2003

Some desserts are so good that it seems a shame to wait until the end of the meal to eat them. At least, that's how it is with plum dumplings. It's a traditional Hungarian dessert but it's so tasty my family always has it as the main course.

Plum dumplings follow my favorite rule of food: you can't tell what's in the middle of it until you open it up.

This is pretty difficult as recipes go, but it gets easier with practice. On the plus side, everyone will have a hard time turning down second (and third) helpings of plum dumplings.


The night before ...
1. Boil about four Yukon Gold potatoes in a pressure cooker with the skin on for 40 minutes or so.
2. Run them under cold water, peel them and put them in a bowl. Mash them up with your hands or a ricer.
3. Stick them in the fridge until the next day. (I like to do an extra-big batch of potatoes in advance, using the extra to make gnocchi the same week.)

The day of ...
4. The next day (or once cooled), smash the potatoes to loosen them up. Add an egg and enough flour to give it a sticky but heavy consistency. (For gnocchi, you add as little flour as possible but here you add much, much more.)
5. Flour a big cutting board, make balls of dough, flour them and roll them out. Cut out squares, approximately 3 x 3".

Meanwhile ...
6. Start boiling a large pot of water.
7. Cut prune/Italian plums (the small ones) in half, remove the pits, and cover them in melted butter and a cinnamon sugar mixture.
8. In a skillet, toast a lot of bread crumbs in 2 T of butter on low. This is best with electric skillet, if you have one.

Putting it together ...
9. Put half a plum in the middle of the dough square. Fold the dough up, roll it in your hand so the plum is in the middle, and use hot water & a finger seal any holes in the dough.
10. Drop the dumpling into boiling water until it floats for around 5 minutes.
11. Take out the dumpling and roll it around in the bread crumbs until coated. Keep it there until you've finished them all.

Serve ...
with (generous amounts of) melted butter, cinnamon sugar, and cottage cheese, like my mother does. My grandmother serves them with olive oil & sour cream, but I like my mother's way best.

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