The Olde Polish Deli – Pierogies

Last night was something like night 3 without my dear husbear Albany John. I ended up staying in and cooking, and thought that it would be a good time to try out the 6 pierogies I got from the Olde Polish Deli in Watervliet, NY (600 3rd Ave, Watervliet, NY).

Also, here’s a scan of the menu (above). It is a little crumpled and covered in stains, as anything that spends some time in my kitchen will end up. But hey, at least you have a copy.
Hours:
Wed: 12-6, Thurs: 10-6, Fri: 10-6, Sat: 9-5, Sun: 12-5 and they are also closed on the 1st Wednesday of the month.

I got six of the mushroom and sauerkraut pierogies. Six pirogies sounded like the best thing to eat when “single” since I’m a carb whore and having to share only six pierogies with someone else who also likes pierogies is bound to end up in fork stabbings over the last one.

They were all individually frozen and came out of the freezer bag with no problem. None were stuck together or anything.

I tossed them in some boiling water until they floated, then topped them with some butter.

The skins weren’t the chewy variety, but fairly delicate as far a pierogie dough goes. However, I say this having only had my own and mass-produced pirogies as comparison. And my pierogies tend to be freakin’ huge doorstops of dumplings, not these lovely normal-sized ones. I have never known the joy of a pierogie made by someone’s Polish grandmother with a family recipe passed down from generation to generation. But if anyone wants to hook a chicky up… well, I’d be much obliged.

Here’s a dumpling cut in half. A good ratio of filling:dough.

The two primary flavors I noticed were 1) sour (from the sauerkraut) and 2)black pepper. Albany John loves all things sour and peppery, so I suspect I’ll have to make a return trip to buy a few dozen of these for him.

I thought they were okay as-is, but they tasted vegetarian to me and would have benefitted from some meat for a little back bone.

Luckily, I had some bacon fat in the fridge and put just a schmear of it over the dumplings. Oh, heaven. So good – just that little bit of smoky meat really punched up the flavors. I’d say these pierogies would go really well with a kielbasa or other meaty dish.


Meanwhile, since I was kicking it single, here’s what I ate. I’d like to think of it as the United Nations of dinners, and not much different from the variety I normally eat at dinner. Pierogies, some kind of hominy tex-mex stirfry, and crispy fish patties.

The fish patties were just something kicking in the freezer along with the pierogies, so I baked them up, and they are way better than the fish patties I ate as a kid. These weren’t too greasy and crisped up well. I think I got ’em from Hannaford.

The hominy thing was just chopped onions, canned hominy, a few canned tomatoes, a dash of chipotle tabasco, and ton of adobo. But I figured it counted as a vegetable. I had, like, 2 more bowls of it after that first go. To me, hominy tastes like corn tortillas, but has the texture of puffed out but hard corn, if that makes any sense. Either way, way better than corn.

Mashed Plantains

I tried my hands at mashed plantains last week. I made them vegetarian since Ellsbells came over, but I am thinking they might be better made with animal broth. These soak up a LOT of liquid.



Browned 5 green plantains over low heat in a pan with enough olive oil to keep them from sticking. I let them cook a good 20 minutes until they were soft. I think they could cook longer, though.



Milk, cream, salt, adobo! Add those on top and start mashing. I added more milk and cream periodically when it looked dry. Ellsbells and I mashed for a while. Like, 5-10 minutes. And even then, I think they could have mashed more, as it was still quite lumpy.

I ate my mashed plantains with some of the bread I made, leftover coleslaw, and topped it wth a runny egg.


Ellsbells and Albany John got theirs with pierogies.

Overall, I would cook these plantains more, maybe even boiling them until tender since they were very starchy and dry and would need lots of liquid. Still creamy and tasty, but I think they could be better.

Making Pasta

Hello Carb lovers! I found a Russian cook book. I am enamored with cooking ’round the globe, but one of the most fascinating types for me has always been Eastern European peasant food. I love the rugged textures of the noodles and dumplings, and how simple dishes with minimal seasonings can taste so good.


I made the basic noodle dough for pasta, as you can see in the first picture above. It came out very well, but note: it is a VERY dry dough to work with. I doughn’t (hee hee) mind a strong kneading, but OMG guys – if you have a pasta roller, I really recommend breaking it out for this recipe.


I don’t have a pasta roller, so I did it by hand. It was possible, but rather tiring. I only made half of the recipe (below) and my forearms were sore for days afterwards. I could barely type the next day (OH, THE HORROR!!!). I think I’ll need to find a roller, because this pasta is freaking good, and I want to eat it every day. Either that, or I will be easy to identify by my bulging forearm muscles. (New blog name: AlbanyHulkSMASH!)


Once the dough was as thin as I could roll it, I sliced it haphazardly into strips with a pizza cutter. I boiled the noodles in water for about 12 minutes, but times certainly will vary given the thickness. I just kept testing the noodles every 2-3 minutes after 8 minutes. The plumped up a bit, too.


The cooked noodles themselves were fabulous! It had a wonderfully chewy, thick texture and were tasty just covered in a bit of butter and sour cream. They retained their heat for a while without overcooking or going mushy. I can’t wait to sauce these with other toppings.

Half of the recipe fed 3 people (as a side) very well. Plenty of food for 3rds. I also attempted to roast a whole chicken, but that didn’t go over so well (let’s just say bits and pieces had to go back in the oven and I am leaving whole chicken to Albany John’s domain).


AAannnddd – pierogies! My favorite. I had to try the dough out as pierogie dough.

The tweaked the dough a little so it would be a hair more tender, but still have springiness and chew. I made 2/3 of the recipe below (modified for dumpling dough) and this fed 3 people as a meal.

The filling was:
Diced Onions sauteed in bacon fat (mmmmm)
salt
1 gigantic (or 2 large) Potato, cooked and peeled
3-4 T cottage cheese
(You could also toss some butter in there too. Wouldn’t hurt)

I added them all to a bowl and mixed until the potato was smooth and everything was well incorporated.

Pinch off pieces of dough, then roll it out into a circle and fill the center. Fold one side over the other and seal closed. Once you’ve made them all, plop them into boiling water (I had to do them in a few batches – there were a lot) and once they rise to the surface, they should be done. Give one a test if you’re not so sure. I was kind of surprised at how quickly these cooked – I made them thicker than the noodles and they were done in a fraction of the time, it seemed.

These were… a lot of dumplings. Thankfully my brother was also over when I made these montrously sized pierogies, so he helped us polish them off. We ate them with saurkraut, sour cream, and copious amounts of salt (wait, that was just me).

How’d they taste? A deliciously chewy dough and a pleasantly mushy-soft interior. As they got colder, they got tougher. I enjoyed that extreme chewiness as well (marketers: make pasta flavored bubble gum). Just eating pierogies makes me feel warm and fuzzy – I still haven’t really tried other non-potato based variations because the potato filling is always a winner with me.

My only regret? That we were out of bacon/sausage, and that I completely forgot about the Bacon Salt sitting in the cabinet.

Noodle Dough

3 C flour
3 egg yolks
2/3 C cold water
Salt

Add egg whites and 3 T sour cream for dumpling dough, or springier/chewier noodles

Mix all together and knead for several minutes until dough feels springy.

Cover and rest 30 minutes. Roll out and use.

(This is a pretty easy recipe to increase or decrease since everything is kind of in a 1 unit: 1 unit ratio)

Pierogies


Sorry, I lost the recipe, but I made home made pierogies at some point and… I lost the recipe. I’m glad I did since these pierogie turned out ok, but the dough became tough as nails after sitting out for about 20 minutes. All other pierogie recipes I looked at since then have contained an egg in the batter, and I’m pretty sure mine didn’t which is why they turned out so tough. However, when they were fresh out of the boiling water they were delicious, if a bit sweet from the type of potato I used. I’d say pierogies are fun to make for a large group type thing, but they’re pretty affordable to begin with, and if you’re strapped for time, you may just want to grab a box of the frozen kind. They were just time consuming to stuff and fold, but were easier to close than won tons since the dough with still pliable enough to pinch.

Update: I re-made peirogies using a different recipe and they came out fantastically! In place of an egg I used about 1/2 c of sour cream in the dough and let it sit for about half an hour. I kept the dough pretty pliable so that when rolling it out I could add more flour. I also used mashed potatoes and buttered, pan-fried cabbage as the filling. I accidentally left them out overnight, but they didn’t even get hard! Play around – I had a blast making these. I also set a bunch on a cookie sheet in the freezer and then bagged them so I could enjoy some later.