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Head back to ‘old country’ with pierogis

 The horrors began early in the afternoon, just after the beautiful wedding in Queens.  I was warned of the drinking abilities of the Polish, but I felt I was ready for the task.  In fact, I knew I was ready.
The day started off innocuously enough, with my five-hour drive to New York ending with a bowl of pork and barley soup, sweets on every floor of the house, a beer and some traditional Polish snacks.  I wasn’t worried a bit.
But it wasn’t until I was at a small table in the bride’s house with the older men, uncles and aunts that I realized that I would have to pace myself.  It was only four o’clock in the afternoon, for god’s sake.
My dear friend married a beautiful Polish woman and her family flew in from the Old Country to celebrate.  As I was somehow in the house alone with the family and one other Anglophone, a Frenchman who was a friend of the groom as well, we quickly learned that we were grateful for the limousine service.
I saw the room-temperature bottle of vodka and quickly felt that I was going to be forced to chug it warm, never a welcome moment for me.  I shuddered, but then I learned of a simple and popular Polish cocktail: vodka and ginger ale.  Making it much more palatable, it was not long before the women were mocking us for our lack of sturdiness and drinking ability.  “Paul!  Drink! Raymond! Drink!” were the only discernable words to us known by our newly formed group of friends.
After a couple hours of this, we took a limousine to Brooklyn, where we started our cocktail hour with bride- and groom- selected specialties.  As I had not had any food since noon to speak of, I was pacing myself again.  But, after making friends with others in the party, many of the guests couldn’t bear the thought of me having an empty hand.  I nursed my drinks during the hour and somehow convinced the servers to make a stopover with Raymond and me so that we could have first dibs on the passed hors d’oeuvres as they came out of the kitchen.
Next up was the secret of the drinking fortitude of the Polish – dancing.  I don’t dance and I never have, but the aunts had me on the dance floor for an hour.  At most weddings I would be mortified, but dancing was such an integrated part of the celebration that one couldn’t help but to cut the rug, at least a little.
After the reception was over, we headed out for another round, ending up the evening with even more food and laying my head down to rest at four in the morning.  I don’t know how they do it.  Unfortunately, I had to leave before the brunch that was on the schedule, and all I could think about was how I hope I get to experience that again some day.  It was one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever been to.
In the spirit of my weekend, one that I will not forget any time soon, I decided to make some Pierogis, that ubiquitous Polish specialty that is both simple and satisfying.
Make sure to add this to your recipe binder and always make sure that you have some vodka and ginger ale, a tasty mix but much more importantly, one that will take you back to the old country, or at the very least a dining room in a lovely house in Queens.­­
Serves 4
2 c. bread flour
1/2 c. Semolina
1/2 c. ice water
1 large whole egg
1/2 tsp. salt
3 russet potatoes, large
8 oz. cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

scallions, as needed
butter and EV olive oil, as needed

Combine and knead together the first five ingredients for at least a few minutes to make your pastry dough.
Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for 30 minutes, which allows the dough to relax a little bit,
Boil the potatoes until they are very mashable.
Mash the spuds and add the cheese, season to taste and throw in a few slices of scallion greens.
When ready to stuff the pierogis, divide the dough into 2-inch balls and roll out as you would when making empanadas or other popovers.
Put 2 teaspoons of the potato-cheese filling in a pastry and turn it to seal completely.  Make sure that it is sealed because you do not want it to leak out.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the pierogis in batches, cooking for about 7 minutes.
Remove from the water and place on a towel to get some of the water off of it.
In a fry pan, melt the butter and add the olive oil, heating it until the foaming subsides but the butter is not burning.
Add the pierogis and cook until a nice golden brown.  At the last second, toss in some sliced scallion greens and serve immediately with a mushroom-sherry sauce or an onion-sour cream sauce.
Of course, pair it with a tall Champagne flute of vodka and ginger ale whilst bellowing “Nostrovia!” at every sip … or chug.