[From Sara in Brooklyn...]
Vareniki are small, light dumplings similar to the more common pierogi. They are considered a national dish of the Ukraine, however many culinary traditions embrace a version of these dumplings. Vareniki are incredibly versatile and can be eaten as an hors d'oeuvre with dipping sauce, as a side dish, main course, in soup, or even as dessert.
Given the enormous range of vareniki fillings available, there is something for everybody. They can be filled with a variety of vegetables, meat, fruit or cheese. They are often boiled and sometimes fried, and are typically eaten in the morning or evening. They are served hot, warm or cold. With all of these options, you're bound to find a combination that works for you.
I recently made an informal sampling of several dumplings from M&S Dumplings located in Brooklyn, NY. M&S beef dumplings were nicely seasoned and well suited for a main course or appetizer. Uncharacteristically following the directions on the package, I followed the serving suggestion of butter, vinegar and pepper for the boiled dumplings and found it to be a perfect combination. Similarly, with the potato vareniki, the suggested butter sauce and pepper was a great compliment to the creamy and lightly-seasoned potato filling. Fried onions would also make a fantastic accompaniment.
Typically, fruit-filled vareniki are sprinkled with sugar and served with sour cream. I tried the cherry vareniki this way. Unlike the potato, the cherry vareniki were larger, and contain whole somewhat dry cherries, rather than a smooth puree, making them a bit more unwieldy than their meat and potato cousins. The cherry flavor was sour, earthy and almost savory, and while I wouldn't turn down cherry vareniki for dessert, I think they would also work well as an accompaniment to duck or other meats. Other recipes for fruit vareniki call for mashing the fruit and combining it with cheese, which I hope to try very soon.
M&S Dumpling flavors include Veal, Beef, Beef and Chicken, Potato and Cherry and can be found in the freezer section of Brooklyn markets.