Shake your pierogi, baby. Then bake it, bake it, bake it like a… cake. Yeah.
Okay, so I’m not going to be a pop lyricist.
Since my Christmas shopping was done, the cards were out and the tree was still sitting on the back porch (Mom likes to wait until Christmas Eve to decorate) I decided to take Mike up on an offer made in the fall and head out to Luray for a little cooking party.
My friend Jen and I headed out around 10, stopping at The Apple House in Linden for fresh apple cider donuts and a few bottles of Alpenglow- including a bottle of mulled cider flavor. We toddled around, clutching our grease-stained bag o’ donuts ($1 for 3), taking a look at the selection of Vera Bradley bags and other rustic, country-store offerings. Jen bought a bottle of instant chocolate mint martini mix (just add booze) and then we hit the road again.
Luckily we’d only bought 3 donuts. Mike had been expecting a small army and put out enough appetizers to feed said small army. It was very like the time he came over for Easter dinner, carrying a whole pineapple and a plate of cheese easily 6 inches high accompanied by 3 boxes of crackers. Due to last minute holiday preparations, his guest list had been whittled down to, well, us. This was a good thing, because Jen and I were really hungry after not having breakfast, or lunch, and we weren’t in a sharing mood.
(Mike’s sister had lent him her camera so we took some shots. I miss my camera. I feel like I’m cheating on it!)
We made 3 batches of dough, which turned out to be a fairly educational experience as the second was a rousing failure and needed to sit in Mike’s fridge overnight before it could be used. Mike’s technique is to start with 1 lb of butter or shortening, about 2 lbs of flour, 2-3 eggs for color, and a cup of water. And a little more water. And a little more flour. And some squishing about until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and your hands are clean. No measurements, just “A little more. A leeeetle more. And- STOP!”
Frankly, I have nothing but admiration for accomplished cooks who can make something off the top of their heads like that, with the absolute certainty that it will all come out eventually. I wish I could be that way, but a ruined batch of dough (while actually costing Mike less than $2) made me cringe at the amount of waste involved. (Though, as I said, it was salvaged later.)
Mike has a smoker and sent me home with a chopped smoked apple which to be honest, I’m not really sure how to use outside of pierogi filling. We made apple and cheddar “dessert” pierogis that were quite tasty.
We chowed down on beef rolls (with a tasty stuffing), out of season asparagus, fresh rosemary bread and pierogis. Since Mike was quite adamant that the point of the get-together was that we take everything with us, we did- at least 60 pierogis each with potato, cheese and onion, and apple. I also borrowed a stack of DVD’s and scored a nice bbq spatula and 2 faux-Silpats- Mike loves giving away gadgets that he finds. Not only do I know how to make pierogis, but after countless viewings I firmly believe that “Napoleon Dynamite” is, indeed, a very good movie. “Pedro offers you his protection.” Henh.
Later Mike talked me through the ins-and-outs of preparing a similar meal- pierogis with kielbasa and blanched veggies- for twelve! I won’t be doing that until the end of next month, and hopefully I’ll have my own camera back so I can document the result. Not because I think it will improve my postings all that much, but because taking silly pictures of my friends with their arms flour-y to the elbows making monster Polish empanadas would be, well, fun.
I highly recommend The New Polish Cuisine, which pretty much traces the route of any food you can name back to Poland. What it doesn’t do is tell you exactly how to assemble and cook pierogis- thank d*g for Google. And Mike.