I am not a foodie. I live to eat, not the other way around. In fact, I often get quite annoyed by the fact that I have to stop and take the time to eat (and taking time to prepare food is especially annoying). So, this is kind of a funny prompt for me, as food is not something I usually spend a lot of time thinking - or writing - about.
But, I do have foods that I prefer over others, and a few recipes that I really like. If we're going to talk about favorites, then I'd have to go with noodles. Or soup. (Which probably makes soup with noodles pretty much the top of my personal food pyramid, doesn't it? And if I had to pick an absolute favorite, then I'd have to go with udon - for both noodles and soup).
But I'm not going to talk about noodles, because I have a good "family" recipe to share so I'll talk about something else instead. Pierogi. For those of you who aren't familiar with pierogies, they're basically meat- or vegetable- or cheese-stuffed pastries. Really, some variation on this theme appears in pretty much every culture's cuisine - pot stickers, ravioli, pasties. As far as pierogi are concerned, there are different ethnic variations on those, as well, but the recipe I have is for the Polish variety. Pierogies made with this recipe were a staple of my childhood, especially at holidays spent with my grandmother, Busha, whose parents emigrated to Chicago from Poland in the early 20th century (as did my grandfather's parents), and brought these recipes with them. Both my grandmother and my own mother cooked pierogies regularly, as well as golabki, or however you spell it (it's pronounced "gah-woomp-ki"), which are delicious stuffed cabbage leaves. I have made pierogies with this recipe, although sadly not as often as they used to be made by my mom and grandmother. It's kind of a long process, and (as I said above), I don't often get in the mood for a lot of time-intensive food preparation. But they really are amazingly delicious and worth the effort. Maybe I'll make some this weekend. (Although that would involved a trip to the grocery store, another of my least-favorite things).
Also, while this is the recipe my mother used, I'm not sure it gets the nod for total authenticity (the use of instant mashed potato flakes was probably not practiced my ancestors who actually lived in Poland, and probably not by my great-grandparents, either), but the dough is delicious, so I'm not complaining. :D I'm all for a little modernization, as long as the end result is still yummy.
Make up 6 servings instant mashed potatoes, according to box directions. Cool. (Can also make mashed potatoes from 9 to 10 medium potatoes)
Mix potatoes with:
1/2 t salt
2 to 3 cups flour (enough to make soft dough)
Let stand for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use.
Cut a head of cabbage into quarters, and cook in salted boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove from water.
Saute the following in 2 T of butter:
2 large onions, chopped
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, chopped
Cooked cabbage, chopped
1/2 t sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/3 c sour cream
2 cups of ground cooked meat (chicken, turkey or beef) (Optional)
Assembling the pierogies:
Roll out ball of dough in lots of flour only once (Trimmings can be saved and cooked in boiling water later)
Cut dough into circles about 5 or 6 inches in diameter, and place a couple of T of filling in the center, then fold in half and pinch edges to seal.
Boil filled pierogies in water for 5 to 8 minutes; drain.
Saute in melted butter, and sprinkle with bread crumbs
Here are some further comments from my mom, who suggests doing this as a three-day process:
Day 1 - cook the meat (for example, a pot roast, or boiling chicken thighs, and make the mashed potatoes. Refrigerate.
Day 2 - Cook the fillings. Meat, onion, mushroom or cabbage, onion, mushroom.
Day 3 - Make the dough as needed. After pierogies have been assembled and boiled, if they are not to be eaten right away, they can be coated with melted butter (to prevent them sticking to one another), and then refrigerated OR frozen. Only add the bread crumbs right before they are to be eaten.
My own comments:
If it's not clear in the instructions, a whole variety of fillings can be used. My favorite was pot roast with onions and mushrooms, but the cabbage/onion/mushroom ones are also delicious. I'm sure there are loads of other things that could be done with these - some sort of cheese filling, for example. In any case, they are worth the effort - and since they're kind of a pain, it is probably worth it to make a double batch and freeze LOADS of them. They'll last for several months in the freezer. Also, if anything in this recipe is unclear, feel free to ask questions. I transcribed it from something typed by my mom, so it might not be entirely coherent.