Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Poland: Day One, Monday

(As I sit here it's actually 1:02a.m. on Tuesday, and I've been trying to get photos to upload for the last hour and a half.  I have words for Flickr, and for Al Gore for inventing the darn internet, anyway.)

So we weathered our first day on the Polish diet.  It started out just fine.  Angel made eggs over easy and rye toast, which is apparently a traditional Polish breakfast and not at all just eggs and toast.  Gable and Evie thought it was okay, and little Elouise ate two eggs -- she must've found a hollow leg or something.  I thought it was worlds better than my usual breakfast of, well, nothing.

Cutting the Dough Putting in the Filling

Closing the Pierogi The First Pierogi

When I came home from work this evening, I found Angel hard at work in the kitchen making dinner while being orbited by our girls and a contingent from our neighbor's house.  Angel was working on homemade pirogi; she'd made the pasta dough for the shells -- actually more like dumpling dough, she was quick to say -- from scratch and was rolling it out on the counter, then cutting out circles with a coffee cup, putting a dollop of our homemade Farmer's cheese in the center, then folding and crimping the finished pirogi.  The beer soup was already on the stove, simmering, as was the blueberry compote.

Yes, I said beer soup.  It is essentially beer that's been simmered for a while, and had a bunch of sour cream mixed into it, then it's served over Farmer's Cheese.

Beer Soup and Elmo

We all tried it at the same time, and while the exact reactions were different, I can use mine to illustrate the whole family.  My taste buds felt truly Polish -- like it was 1939 and they were being lined up against a wall and shot.  It was wretchedly bad.  I do wonder if Angel got the wrong kind of beer, though.  The traditional Polish beer is a lightweight, mostly flavorless pilsner-style lager -- Budweiser would be the mass-produced American example.  Angel chose a summer wheat beer, flavored with coriander...so the overbearing flavors of wheat and coriander dominated our palates.  One of the twins tried to dig it out of her tongue.  After dinner, I poured the soup down the drain and I think I heard the pipes faintly screaming.  Even the sink didn't want the stuff.

Pouring It Out Rejected by the Drain

Next we had the homemade pirogi, and thankfully, they were awesome.  The Farmer's cheese was soft and creamy, the shell was chewy and thick, and the overall flavor was very subdued and delicate.  As a direct opposite to the soup, the pirogi were delicious.

Homemade Pierogi

At first I found myself wishing I had some kind of a sauce to pour over them, but as I ate I realized that if these were drenched in a heavy alfredo sauce or a bold marinara -- American-style -- all I'd taste would be the sauce and I would totally miss out on the flavors of the fresh, homemade ingredients.  Angel and I talked a bit about this at dinner, and if I'm not mistaken, that's kind of a big point of European cuisine:  appreciate high-quality, subtle ingredients and don't drench it in sauce to kill the flavor.  Later we found out that they do expand in your stomach like lead balloons.  Everybody liked them, though we were groaning.

Polish Dinner Leftover Pierogi

Finally we had the blueberry compote.  It's a very simple dessert, essentially frozen blueberries simmered in sugar-water.  Gable didn't care for the underlying tartness, but everyone else loved it.  Both twins resorted to licking up the berry juice from the table.  Five and a half thumbs-up.

Blueberry Compote


1 egg
3 cups flour
1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons bread crumbs

1 pound ground farmer cheese
1 egg yolk

1 1/2 Tbs butter, melted.

Mix the egg with the flour, add a dash of salt and as much water as needed to knead a smooth loose dough.  Roll out as thinly as you can.  Cut out into 2 1/2 - 3-inch squares.  Put a little of the stuffing on each square.  Fold to form a triangle, pinch the edges together.  Cook in a large kettle with boiling salted water on high heat for 5 minutes.  Remove with a colander spoon to a warmed serving platter.  Add the bread crumbs to the butter and fry for a few minutes on low heat.  Pour over the pierogi.  Serves six. -- From The Art of Polish Cooking, Alina Zeranska

Beer Soup (Zupa Piwna)
3 pints beer
1 pint sour cream
2 tsp flour
1/2 lb farmer cheese or pot cheese
sugar to taste (optional)

Heat the beer, tightly covered.  Blend flour into sour cream and stir into beer.  Let bubble up once and pour over farmer cheese cut into small pieces or over lumps of pot cheese.  Sweeten to taste.  Serve at once.  Serves 6 to 8. -- From The Art of Polish Cooking, Alina Zeranska

Blueberry Compote Recipe at the Food Network website.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm. . . . That photo makes my fingers really look like sausages!