Friday, March 29, 2019

Galant Foods

I often review snack foods (most Fridays in fact ...), but this one is a bit different.  Piroshki.  Do they count as snacks?

Galant Foods started as a little piroshki shop in San Francisco’s Richmond District in 1956.  Since then, it has grown, considerably, now with several entirely different product lines: Paramount Piroshki (focusing on piroshki), Benny's Bagel Dogs (yup, bagel dogs), and Clara's Kitchen (burritos, calzones, and more).

Paramount Piroshki

The first product line from Galant that I tried was Paramount Piroshki.  They offer only piroshki.
"Since 1956, we have been delivering this Eastern European experience to cafes, delis, and institutional customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Handmade, our piroshki are stuffed with a variety of savory fillings and come either baked or fried. Perfect for appetizers, mini piroshki are also available upon request."
Individually Wrapped Piroshki.
They make a variety of flavors: Beef, Beef & Cheese, Chicken, Rice & Cheese, Spinach & Cheese, Pizza, and Potato, Beef & Mushroom.

I opted for the traditional beef & cheese, and the crazy sounding "pizza" varieties, both fried.  You can find these in many grocery stores around the Bay Area.
Beef & Cheese, Fried.
"Traditional pre-fried Piroshki. Ground beef, and cheddar cheese." -- GourmetXpress, Distributor

"Ground beef and cheddar cheese in an authentic Russian bread dough." -- Paramount Piroshki

I started with traditional beef and cheese, fried style.  It was fully cooked and fried, shipped frozen, but I allowed it to thaw.

It came individually wrapped, with clear instructions on how to heat up: 60-90 seconds in microwave (on paper towel) or 15-20 min in 350* oven (wrapped in foil).  I took the later approach, since I was worried the microwave would just make soggy.
Beef & Cheese, Fried: Inside, Unbaked.
Before I cooked it though, I cut off the end to look inside.  I wanted to see what I was in for!

The filling didn't look particularly generous, and I didn't see cheese, only some ground beef.  It looked like a lot of bread, particularly the end, the filling didn't extend very far through.

But I wrapped it up in foil, and waited 15 minutes.

When I unwrapped it however, it was just as soggy as I feared the microwave approach would make it.  I left it unwrapped to cook longer.
Beef & Cheese, Fried: Baked.
Once I baked it a bit longer unwrapped, the exterior got more crispy, which is what I wanted.

I still didn't see cheese oozing out though, which made me sad.  I expected a far more substantial cheese component.

I bit in.  The filling was ... ok.  Basically, just ground beef.  Not really seasoned, just a little salt and pepper.  The ingredients say there was a little onion too.  I didn't really taste it.  Fairly plain filling, and it made me want to dunk it in ketchup.  I might have detected a tiny bit of cheese, but certainly not much, and it tasted more like mozzarella than cheddar.

I can't say I was particularly drawn in by this filling.

The exterior though was fairly fascinating.  Fried dough.  Very fried dough.  Since it was reheated, it wasn't dripping in oil, but it was very clearly quite fried.  Greasy and fried.  In the way that fried dough is.  It made me think of state fair fried dough or a donut.  But, uh, with beef inside.  I kinda liked it.

Overall, this was a mixed success for me.  I think with the filling, I would have preferred a baked piroshki, not fried, and I would have liked it more if I took the time to get some ketchup to dunk it in.  Or, really, I would have liked it more if it had cheese and seasoning.  But I did like the fried dough, I just wanted it served differently, like, with whipped cream, powdered sugar, or other sweet toppings.
Pepperoni, Beef, & Sausage Pizza Deluxe, Fried.
"Traditional pre-fried Piroshki. Pepperoni, Italian sausage, Cheese, and tomato sauce."

Traditional beef out of the way, next I went for the ridiculous "Pizza Deluxe" version, featuring pepperoni, sausage, and pizza sauce, in addition to beef and mozzarella cheese this time.

I again baked it.
Pepperoni, Beef, & Sausage Pizza Deluxe, Fried.
The pizza flavor also didn't have nearly as much cheese as I wanted.  This time mozzarella rather than cheddar, but still, not much to be found, certainly not oozing out as I wanted.  Maybe I just want a Hot Pocket?

The pizza sauce was kinda nice, since I did somewhat want marinara or ketchup to dip the simple beef & cheese one in before.

The filling though ... eh.  Bits of pepperoni, bits of Italian sausage, bits of ground beef.  Nothing particularly flavorful nor well spiced.

Eh.  I did like the fried shell again.

Clara's Kitchen

Next, I tried Clara's Kitchen, a fairly random product line of wraps (breakfast style or Mexican or Thai), breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches on english muffins, and calzones.


"Mama Mia! Each one of our handmade calzones is double proofed, and stuffed with traditional and unique fillings. From Chicken Fajita, to Pesto-Mushroom. Individually labeled for retail sale and bulk packed for foodservice."
The calzone lineup includes both meat and veggie selections: Italian Brand Three Meat Combo , Chicken Fajita, Spinach-Feta, and Pesto Mushroom.

I tried the later.
Pesto Mushroom.
"Sauteed mushrooms, natural mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and pesto sauce in a scrumptious dough."

From the outside, this looked like a pretty standard calzone, the right shape, although it had a random sprinkle of sesame seeds on top, some green visible from within, and looked a little doughy.

Instructions are to microwave for 45 seconds, or wrap in foil and convection oven bake at low temperature (225*) for 15-20 minutes.  I had zero hope that the microwave would work well here, expecting it to make the dough tough, so I went for the convection oven, even though I found the temperature strangely low.

After 15 minutes I checked on it, and, although warm, the exterior was just soft and not quite what I wanted.  Much like the piroshki, I left it unwrapped for a few minutes, and cranked up the heat, and got better results, a nice crispy exterior.

The crust though ... eh.  "Scrumptious dough", they proclaimed, but I wasn't into it.  It tasted too "healthy", whole wheat, hearty, and just not pizza dough at all.
Pesto Mushroom: Inside.
But the insides were good.

The mozzarella cheese got melty, the mushrooms were soft and meaty, and the pesto quite flavorful.  Good onion and garlic flavors too.  The fillings were all in the right ratio to each other.

So, good filling, kinda poor crust.  I think it would be improved with some pesto on the side to dunk it in.

I wouldn't want this again.