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Polish food

Pierogi Recipes from a Polish Village

Pierogies are the quintessential Polish food. I hope you will love these simple recipes.

  • I grew up in as an American with Polish and Ukrainian roots with where homemade pierogies were a staple.
  • My wife grew up in a Polish village where the tradition is 100% authentic Polish from Poland.
  • We live in Poland and America. However, no matter where we are, we eat Pierogies.

My wife Kasia created a video on how she makes pierogies from the Polish countryside. Her parents have a farm in a Polish village. You will not get more authentic than this.

Download 101 Ideas for Pieorgi Filling & the Recipe from the countryside

Polish Pierogi Recipe Video

How I make Pierogies – the Polish countryside way

Hi this is Kasia’s writing now and here we go.

To make amazingly tasty pierogi dough at home all you need is:

Dough Ingredients

  • flour
  • egg yolks
  • butter
  • salt
  • warm water

Homemade pierogi are great for many reasons. One of them, you can make a lot of them at once and either have a pierogi feast that day or a fantastic meal for a few days.

From this recipe you will get about 50 or so, that is why I like to make the different stuffing. Polish Dumplings are delicious. Preparation takes some work, but it is worth it.

Steps to Make Pierogi

  1. Choose a stuffing and saute it in a pan
  2. Make the dough
  3. Flatten the dough and cut into circles using a glass
  4. With a small amount of filling add it to the pierogi dough cuttings
  5. Fold the cuttings and pinch them closed
  6. Boil them for 3 minutes after they float to the top.
  7. Add a topping such as butter, onions or yogurt.

I start from making my stuffing first – it has time to cool down and also the dough will not dry out while I make the stuffing.

You can experiment and fill your pierogi with anything you like – sweet, sour, or a mix of both; there is plenty of ideas here.

The critical thing to a proper stuffing it to make it reasonably sticky but not wet, so it does not leak out of your dough.

If you have dry stuffing – like walnuts and mushrooms add an egg – that will bind the filling together.

Making pierogi is pretty straightforward, but it does require some time. If you have any helpers around- that will speed the process, and it also makes it enjoyable.

Potato and cottage cheese recipe is classic.

To make a good dough, it is essential to have a right balance of flour and water – you want your dough to be soft but not sticky. Hard dough means you did not put enough water – you can soften it by adding water and working it in. After a few minutes of kneading the dough should be ready – soft and fluffy. Adding some butter or oil will prevent dough from drying out.

When your dough is ready, start a pot with water. It takes a few minutes for the water to boil, and it will give you time to assemble your pierogi.

While cooking, put one pierogi at the time, do not crowd them so they can float to the surface quickly and will not stick together.

For the topping – Pierogi taste great with sour cream, yogurt is good too but not as fat. Fried onions on top are amazing and add flavor.

Here you have it – delicious pierogi, which anybody will like. Smacznego!

What to do with your fresh batch of Polish Dumplings

If you make enough, then you can have them throughout the week. We often make it on Sunday’s after Mass and before we go for a Sunday walk. We freeze some and put some in the fridge. You can warm them up with a salad for example for a light supper, pack them for your kids lunch as a snack or incorporate them into a full meal.

The point is do not feel obligated to use them up all at once, they will not go bad if you freeze them.

My Favorite type of Pierogies

  • mushroom
  • sauerkraut
  • spinach
  • blueberry

The standard are:

  • Potatoes and cheese
  • Potatoes

More exotic I like

  • Nuts
  • Tropical fruit

A note on healthy Pierogies

I like anything healthy.

You can make Pierogies as healthy or unhealthy as you want.

In fact, I was thinking of writing a book called “The Pierogi Diet” and prove out that you can lose weight and look great with a pierogi centered diet. Let me know if you think that would be a good idea.

In the above video much of the ingredients are from our garden, for example the potatoes, if you notice are organic we grew, or the eggs from our backyard chickens. Here we do not have a farm but a large 1/4 acre homestead under cultivation.

If you fill them with anti-oxidant rich stuffings, rich in micronutrients or with a superfood, you can transform pierogies into a superfood.

You can use organic ingredients or gluten-free flour for example. There is no need to the dough to rise so you can use any type of flour you want. I use organic white flour, but make sure the filling and the toppings are super healthy.

Also, the oil you use is a consideration. You can fry them in polyunsaturated oils (harmful, as heating these oils creates free radicals) or saturated like butter or monosaturated (better) or Coconut oil (Perhaps best). I like butter.

  • Healthy Dumpling Toppings – Usually, my toppings are organic yogurt and/or sauteed onions
  • Vegan Piegories – You can make it Vegan by simply not adding an egg, the dough will be perfect.

Add dumplings to your soup

You can add these pierogies to a clear broth soup. For example beet soup (Borscht). I make a sound and drain the vegetables and add dumplings as others would add noodles. A variant of traditional pirogi are called lazy pierogi (usually dough and cheese unfilled) which is also added to soup.

History of the Pierogi

The origins of Pierogies are Central and Eastern Europe. The origin of the word comes from word pirъ, which means ‘feast’. It is a dumpling with filling, vegetable, fruit, cheese or meat.

With the advent of agriculture, the Slavic tribes went from a hunter-gatherer diet to recipes that are a mix of the above food groups. Hence the invention of the Pierogi.

People will write about the origins of Pierogis with connections to Marco Polo or Saint Hyacinth of Poland. However, it is elementary. People in the countryside had flour, and they started to experiment. It is not that one person gave people the knowledge from above; rather, usually, the people from a grassroots culinary experimentation perspective started to roll dough and fill it. I do not have documented evidence but I saw how my grandmother, who was born in the 1800s cooked. This is what people did. I think the origin coincided with the milling of grains.

Personal history of Pierogi

The most likely reason you have an interest in Polish dumplings is because of your family. Perhaps your grandmother cooked these. I am sure they were vastly superior to anything you ever encountered in a dinner or a store. After eating homemade pierogies I do not know if I could eat anything other than homemade. Therefore, I created this video and post. I hope you liked it, comment and ask questions, give it a thumbs up and share, to get the word out there about the worlds tastiest entree.

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Poland Polish food

Polish bakery – Sweet Baked Goods

Polish Bakery Goods

Poland has some great sweets. Sometimes I wonder why is it that everyone talks about Polish sausage or wodka and few people appreciate the sweet stuff. It is just as good as Swiss sweets to me. This is what you will find in every bakery in Poland.

Braked and sweets in a Polish bakery

Pączki , which are a Polish version of a donut are a popular snack here. They are actually a lot better than donuts because they have jam inside, usually rose jam, but other kinds also, as well as chocolate or coconut cream. The bad news is, they will kill your silhouette if you have too many of those treats. They are fried and topped with either icing or powdered sugar. This adds up into about 300 calories. Pączek actually has its own celebration day, kind of. It is called Fat Thursday (Polish: Tłusty Czwartek) and falls on the last Thursday before Środa Popielcowa (Popielec), which is the day that the Fast begins. Fat Thursday is meant to be your last chance to indulge yourself before the fast, as you are not supposed to have treats once it begins. That tradition has vanished though and no one obeys it anymore except for the nuns. But Tłusty Czwartek remained there and you will see lines of people in the bakeries all around town. It is almost a crime to come home without a box of something sweet for your family on that day.

Drożdżówki are distant cousins of Pączek, but those are baked and never fried. The name means something made of yeast. So it is a sweet yeast bun with a filling. The most popular ones are sweet cheese, marmalade, poppy seed or pudding, but there is a million other kinds. They are considered breakfast food and make a great addition to coffee. If one works in an office, chances are they eat it every day. There are also French or half-french drożdżówki, which shouldn’t be called that since it’s a completely different thing. Not everybody likes them but I’m a fan. They are messy to eat though and will leave crumbs all over your clothes.

Kremówki. Those are exceptionally sweet for Polish standards, which is why they are usually not very big. Not as sweet as Hiszpan, the most extreme case which I will describe later, but still can give you a sugar rush. The name means something creamy and it is a light colored cream (usually yellowish) between two layers of French pastry. Most of the time it is whipped cream and vanilla pudding, some of them have two layers and those are called Kremówka Wiedeńska (Vienna style kremówka). Kremówki were popularized by the Polish Pope John Paul II as during the visit in his home town of Wadowice he mentioned eating them with his friends after taking high school final exams.

W-Z, also known as Wuzetka. The name comes from an East-West route in Warsaw (Wschód- Zachód). Do not ask me what is has to do with a cake. But what we know is that it is made of two layers of chocolate pastry with whipped cream in the middle and chocolate on top. Sometimes it has a thin layer of jam just under the chocolate coat.

Hiszpan. The word means ‘Spanish Guy’. I’m quite positive it is the sweetest cake you will find in Poland. The base is called Beza (Meringue), which is made of egg whites and sugar. The space between two bezas is stuffed with whipped cream, chocolate or coffee cream. A lot of Polish people stay away from it, as they generally do not like their cakes too sweet. I am one of those people but I actually bought one during my low sugar time. And still could only take two bites.

Ziemniaczek (‘potato’) is a little brown ball covered in coconut, cocoa or walnuts, made of ground pastry or digestive cookies with some chocolate and alcohol added. It often has nuts inside as well. Those are easy to make at home too, and do not require baking.

Napoleon is probably the most funny looking one here. It is a tall Barbie pink cake, or as Polish people would say- panty pink. It basically consists of a sticky egg white with some strawberry syrup and is covered with a thin layer of French pastry, decorated with some more of that sticky pink stuff. Do not order it if you are on a date, it is definitely not a masculine cake. When it comes to sweetness level, it is just after Hiszpan.

There are many more of course, those are just the most significant ones. My advice is when you are in Poland, try a different thing every time you go have coffee, as there is a lot to explore.

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Poland Polish food

Polish cooking- Sałatka Jarzynowa

Polish Vegetable Salad

Sounds simple and and it might seem like it’s not hard to guess what is in it, but chances are you will be surprised by this Polish salad, especially by how time consuming it is and the fact that it is probably the most fattening salad ever invented. It is a vegetarian entrée, but definitely not vegan.

Polish food is a lot more than sausage and Pierogi - salad is an important part of the diet and I use an array of dairy products as dressing. There are kefir and yogurt, I mix it will dill,lemon and salt and it is better than any dressing you can buy in a store.

In an average Polish home it is made a couple of times a year and is a must have on the holidays, usually made in large amounts. Some people avoid it because of its figure ruining effects but I have never heard of anyone who would dislike it.

It usually consists of 8 main ingredients, including cooked, raw, canned, and brined ones. Potatoes, carrots, parsley root, and celery should be cooked all together in as little amount of water as possible, without salt or any other spice and with skin on. My advice is throw an extra potato in as you will probably eat in the process. I don’t know if it’s the slow cooking or the other veggies that it is cooked with, but it tastes great with just a little bit of salt. Anyway, you peel the veggies after they are done, then chop them up. My salad is well chopped as my family thinks it is better that way, but it can be bigger dice as well. I recommend making the pieces tiny though, it really tastes better that way even though it is more work. The next ingredients are boiled eggs and brined pickles. The proportions should be about even for all these, but you can use more pickles if you like as this is what gives you texture and the specific taste of this Polish salad. If you want it to have mild taste, use more potatoes. The last group are onions and canned peas. Be careful with those, especially the peas, it can ruin the salad if you put too much in. I personally think there is no need to add peas but I guess it’s tradition. My aunt replaces it with corn for instance, not sure if this is the best solution though.

The dressing is very simple, it can be just lots of mayonnaise with salt and pepper. Make sure you use good traditional one without a sweet taste to it. I think Kielecki is the best one when it comes to Polish stuff. Oh, and save fat free or light things for a different occasion too if you want the salad to taste real. You can also mix it with some sour cream and mustard, it is great that way. Remember, it needs lots of seasoning.

Do not serve it right after you stir the dressing in, just try it to see if it needs anything, cover it up with plastic wrap and let it stand in the refrigerator for a few hours. Serve with ham, country sausage or any kind of cold kiełbasa and wheat or wheat-rye bread.

 

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Polish food

Polish Restaurants

Polish Restaurants and dinning out

The truth is most Poles do not eat out that much. I am married and my wife cooks gourmet meals everyday. I guess it is also a matter of economics.

How is dining out in Poland different from in the USA?

When you walk in the restaurant, you probably expect a hostess who will lead you to the table. This is quite rare in Poland and mostly used at very busy places. Normally you can just choose the table you like. The waiter will not come right away to ask you about the drinks before you even look in the menu, either. If you want something before your main course you can call the waiter and order it, of course, but if you don’t, the drinks generally come with the meal or just a minute before it.

Oldest restaurant in the world in Krakow Poland and where I had my wedding reception

When you are done reading the menu and know what you want, close the booklet so that they know you are ready to order. The prices are in Polish Złoty and the tax is already included in the quoted price. This applies to anything that you buy in Poland and all over Europe, I believe. There might be some exceptions but none that I know of , and I’ve seen quite a lot of the continent.

In Europe it is not obvious that you want ice in your drink like it is in the USA, so make sure you tell the waiter about the ice if you want it. Otherwise you can get just a chilly or even room temperature beverage, especially in the winter. (However, this rarely happens during warmer seasons and will never ever happen with alcoholic drinks.) It’s because a lot of people here don’t like their drinks freezing or believe they will give them a sore throat. When I worked in a restaurant it was quite common that someone would ask for a room temperature Coke. It’s unacceptable in America, but not here.

Service is not included in your total. The tip should be about 10% of what you spend, as it is around the world. Try to leave them in cash as some restaurants do not allow the waiters to take tips off of a credit card. It makes things easier.

Smoking is not allowed in most places nowadays, only if the restaurant has a separate room for the smokers, but few of them do, thank goodness.

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Poland Polish food

Kielbasa – Types of Polish Sausage

Types of Polish Sausage

I wrestle in my mind how much eat I should eat both for ethical and health reason. But when I am in Poland, which is where I live, I can not resist Polish Kielbasa, especially grilled.

I do not know one person who could name all the kinds of Polish sausage, simply because there are too many to remember. Some of them are local products, too and you cannot just go to any store and buy it. Here are the most significant kinds.

Look at all the different types of Polish sausage

Zwyczajna

The name means ‘regular’, ‘usual’ or ‘average’. Zwyczajna is the common kind, almost always destined for grilling or frying on a pan. There are numerous types, such as Śląska or Podwawelska, but they are all similar in taste. Make sure you eat it with good mustard and a wheat roll or bread. It makes a good addition to scrambled eggs after it is cut into half slices and fried, too.

White sausage – Biała Kiełbasa

This kind is boiled instead of smoking which makes it pale and not attractive looking. It usually goes with żurek, polish sour rye soup, sometimes they are even cooked together. I’m not a fan of this one, but a lot of people like it. It is the most controversial sausage- you can either love it or hate it. As a foreigner you are probably more likely to dislike it, but still give it a try.

Kabanos

Kabanos is a skinny cocktail sausage, usually a spicy one. The more dry it is, the better it tastes so do not keep it wrapped into anything after you buy it, although there are low chances of kabanos to last until it is dry, you will most likely eat it the day you get it, this is what happens at my house every time. It is meant to be eaten cold. I have heard of someone making hot dogs with it, but I don’t think it is a good idea. A regular skinny sausage would make a better hot dog as it is not dry. Kabanos is a good party food too, you can make koreczki with it, which are pieces of kabanos or ham, cheese and bell peppers (or whatever you please) on a toothpick.

Country – Wiejska

Another one that is only served cold. Wiejska is the most favorite one and a must have at every Polish home on Christmas, Easter or anytime the family gets together. It tastes best with vegetable salad and country bread.

Sucha Krakowska

Dry Kraków sausage, I have no idea why it is called dry sausage because it is not dry at all to me. Maybe it’s because it seems dry on the outside. It is mostly used for sandwiches, kind of like ham and is a good addition to vegetable salad as well. Although it is a chubby sausage, it is called skinny because it contains very little fat compared to other kinds.

Parówkowa

It’s just a really fat hot dog but often made with better quality meat, depending on where you buy it.

There are more kinds that are not popular or widely available but these are the basics that you should try while visiting Poland.

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Poland Polish food

Polish Zapiekanki – cheap food in Poland

If you want to know where and how to eat cheap in Poland, here is a food that although is not really traditional Polish cooking, it is part of the Polish diet. Za-Pie-kan-ki literatlly means something that is baked.

Polish Zapiekanki

A zapiekanka is the most popular kind of fast food In Poland. No one really knows the story behind inventing it, but what I know is that it first became popular in 1970’s, during the Communism period in Poland. It is quick and extremely easy to make, even for someone who hardly knows how to make scrambled eggs. Zapiekanki are very popular among college students, as they can make a good, filling and hot meal and at the same time are relatively cheap, especially if you buy them frozen. This kind is not that great though, so if you are not a student have a real one instead.

Zapiekanki is a cheap way to eat in Poland, look at the prices in Polish Złoty on the right.

What actually is a zapiekanka?

It’s a half of a long roll with different kind of toppings, baked in an oven and served hot. You might find it close to pizza although it rarely contains tomato sauce. The two basic ingredients that are used in a classic zapiekanka are cheese and mushrooms, but nowadays it revolved to a level where you can choose from such things as a Mexican or Greek style ones, so mushrooms are no longer a must as they do not go with everything.

I like lots of vegetables on it as the base price is pretty cheap and even if you go hog wild you are talking less than 3 dollars for a substantial meal. In Krakow,  found the best one in Podgorze where I live (ask me for directions). It is called the ‘red pepper pizza shop’ in English, but the one in Kazimierz is a Jewish and hipster district of Kraków are the most popular as late night pub goers get food there.

Pizzeria "czerwona papryczka" is where I recommend to get a real cheap and good baguette in Krakow.

The most popular toppings are mushrooms, cheese and ham, served with ketchup or garlic sauce on top. Those can be made at home easily and a lot of Polish moms use them as quick dinner replacements when they do not have time to cook a more complex meal. For a homemade one you can use a round bun or even a slice of bread, as long as it is a wheat product. Dark whole grain bread is great, but I would save it for a different occasion as it will never make a good zapiekanka. The base has to be neutral so that you can fully enjoy the fun stuff that is on top of it.

Warning about this Polish food – If you eat it before you go to bed you will have so many wild flying dreams as they load it up with mushrooms. Normal Polish mushrooms but still they are powerful enough to give you crazy dreams.

Where to eat zapiekanka?

You will find them anywhere in Poland. By the bus stop, on the beach, in bars and football stadiums. They are everywhere, but if you want the best one, come to Kazimierz – old Jewish district of Kraków. It’s famous for its zapiekanki and it is probably the only place where you can get one with feta cheese and barbecue sauce, if that is what you like.

How to make zapiekanki?

Here’s what you need to make a classic one:

  • A wheat bun (preferably a long and skinny one)
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Ham, salami or bacon

And this is what you need to do:

1. Melt some butter on the frying pan, throw in sliced mushrooms and chopped onions. Add some salt and pepper and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Cut the bun horizontally in half, spread some butter on it and place the mushrooms on top using a big spoon. Then put some ham on it and cover with cheese, it can be grated or just slices.

3. Bake for about 15 minutes at 185°C (365°F) until the bun is crispy and the cheese is well melted and starts to dry around the edges.

After it’s done you can sprinkle it with chives. Most people like it with ketchup or even mayonnaise on top, I like it with both.

Enjoy!