Friday, October 9, 2015

Polish Pierogis!

Although Poland has had a sad past of Nazi and communist takeovers, today it is one of the safest and most peaceful countries on Earth. Poles have a lot to be proud about. Nicolas Copernicus, the astronomer who first suggested that the sun was in the middle of the solar system rather than the earth, was a Pole. Poland's school system is the 10th best in the world. Poland is and has been (except during Nazi takeover) extremely tolerant to all people no matter their race, gender, or religion. To further prove how peaceful the Poles really are, they were the first country to outlaw corporal punishment, way back in the 1700s when American teachers were still beating their pupils with sticks. (My mom's teacher actually hit her with a ruler and that was in the 80s!) Slavery was never allowed in Poland. The Poles also work the second most amount of hours per week out of any other people in the world. Man, I think we should all become Polish. The world would be a better place.


Poland: Polish Pierogi:



Polish cuisine is pretty well known here in the US due to the fact that there were a lot of Polish immigrants who came over at the turn of the 19th century. (Approximately 19-20 Americans are of Polish descent.) Bigos, kielbasa, cabbage rolls, soups, and pierogi are some of the most popular Polish dishes. There were so many that I had trouble choosing the right one. I settled on pierogi and a carrot-apple slaw because they were different from things I had cooked from this region before, and pierogi have always been on my things-to-try list. Noodles, eggs, pork, rye bread, and soups are the foundations to Polish food. They love hearty fare and will go all out for Christmas and Easter. For Christmas they have their traditional Wigilia, a meal with 12 courses that is centered around fish. The meal is so popular that they actually call the whole day of Christmas Eve Wigilia. The main meal is served around 2 in Poland and generally is followed by a nice dessert of yeasted cakes or poppy seed pastries.

Pierogi Ruskie: Potato, Cheese, and Fried Onion Stuffed Pierogi:

Pierogi are popular Eastern European dumplings stuffed with a variety of sweet and savory fillings. Cheese, fried onions, and mashed potatoes are the most common fillings, so that's what I chose to go with tonight. Way back when, pierogi were considered to be peasant food, but once nobles caught on, they became widespread. They are so widespread today that you can even find them on the frozen food aisle here in America. It's crazy how things can catch on so quickly and spread all over the world. You can choose to either boil or sauté them, but I would definitely go with sautéing!

Pierogi Ruskie
serves 4-5 (4-5 pierogis each)
For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ cup hot water
1 egg

For the filling:
1 potato, peeled and cubed
¾ cup cottage cheese
1 egg
½ onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
salt and pepper, to taste
butter, optional if sautéing the pierogi
sour cream and sautéed onions, to serve

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook the potato cubes until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set them aside to cool. Meanwhile, mix together all of the dough ingredients until a soft ball has formed. Continue to knead it for 5 minutes, adding a tablespoon or two of extra water if needed. Cover the dough with a moist towel and set it aside for 30-40 minutes.

Preheat a pan over medium heat with the oil. Add the onion and cook for about 6 minutes, or until golden. Mash the potato up with the onion, cheese, and remaining egg. Season to taste.

To make the pierogi, roll out the dough to be about 1/8” thick (or even thinner if possible), and use a biscuit cutter to cut it into 4” rounds. Keep the dough covered with a moist towel as you work to prevent it from drying out.  Place a couple of teaspoons of the filling in the middle of each round, fold it in half, and pinch the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining pierogi.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook 4-5 pierogi at a time for about 5 minutes, or until they float to the surface. Remove them with a slotted spoon and either serve immediately topped with caramelized onions and/or sour cream, or proceed to the next step.

Heat a tablespoon of butter or so over medium heat in a large pan. Sauté the peirogi on each side until golden. Serve with the fried onions and/or sour cream.

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Literally meaning "salad with carrots" Surowka z Marchewki is a colorful and delicious addition to any Polish meal. The Poles love their shredded veggie salad mixes and this particular on is a winner!

Surówka z Marchewki
4 carrots, peeled and grated
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup raisins

Toss the carrots, apples, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until chilled. Top with the raisins and serve.


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I actually enjoyed the SSSSSSSS a lot more than I thought I was going to. (That always seems to be the case.) The combination of carrots, apples, lemon juice, and raisins just seemed a little strange to me, mostly due to the carrots. I ended up really liking it. The citrusy lemon flavor did wonders to the carrots and apples. The flavors all came together nicely. My only complaint is that it takes a bit of effort to grate the apples and carrots, and it can make quite a mess. The pierogis, on the other hand, were not my favorite. It is very funny how things never turn out as planned. I thought that I would love the pierogis. I had never had one before but have wanted to try them for a long time now. It might have been because I don’t like potatoes, or possibly because they took stinking forever and made a bunch of dirty dishes, or even because after the photoshoot and cleaning everything up they had grown cold and our microwave was currently out of commission, but there was something about them that I just did not care for. Oh well, the fried onions on top were delicious.

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