busha

Busha’s Pierogi

Pierogi

Whenever I make pierogi it makes me think of making them with my mom. They were also a favorite of my Polish Grandmother, or Busha.

Pierogi, if you don’t know, are pasta filled with different fillings, often potato based.  They are also sometimes stuffed with prune filling or sauerkraut. The potato and cheese filled make a great meat-free meal.

Today you can find pierogi filled with all sorts of fillings. There are variations in the dough, too. Some use just eggs, flour, water and salt. Others add some dairy in the form of milk or sour cream.

Once the pierogi are made, you boil them and you can just serve them that way. I prefer to  brown the boiled pierogi in butter, then serve with caramelized onions and sour cream. My mother used to make sweet and sour cabbage and serve it with the pierogi, or sometimes even use it as a filling.

 

Pierogi

Dough:
2 c. flour
1 t. salt
½ c. water (you can also use half milk and half water)
1 egg
Mix all ingredients together and knead on floured surface until smooth. Cover and let rest at least 15 minutes. Roll out thin and cut into circles. Re-roll scraps. You should get between 20-30. Spoon filling of your choice on center of dough circle. Fold dough in half over filling and press edge with fork to seal. Wetting the edge of the dough will help the dough to stick. Don’t overfill or the pierogi will split. Test a couple first to get the hang of it. Place a few at a time into salted boiling water and cook until they float. You can eat them as is or brown cooked pierogi in butter in a skillet. Serve with grilled onions and/or sour cream. We would often make a larger batch and then freeze them, uncooked on wax paper-lined baking sheets. When frozen they would be transferred to a freezer bag or container. Place right from the freezer into boiling water when ready to use.

Potato filling:
2 lbs. Potatoes, peeled and boiled
½ onion, minced
2-3 T. cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Mash potatoes with other ingredients and season to taste.
Note: you can also add cheddar cheese if you like. Sometimes I even add fine diced ham or crumbled bacon.

Fresh made pierogi

Fresh made pierogi

 

Busha’s Beet Soup

Busha’s Beet Soup

This colorful, tasty soup, was first made for me by my Busha, my Polish grandmother. Beets are a big ingredient in Eastern European culture. My Mom cooked with them, too.

I have fond memories of spending time with my Busha. I stayed with her on weekends a few times. One of those weekends, she taught me how to make a wonderful coffee cake. I still have the index card where I wrote down the recipe as she went along making it. Busha didn’t write her recipes down much.

Another time, she made beet soup. I loved it. I think the color is what pulled me in. I was a big fan of pink back then. I still am, especially when it comes to this soup.

I prefer to use fresh, raw beets.  You can use cooked beets, or even canned, if you like.

I made homemade spaetzle, but other pasta or cooked, diced potatoes are good, too.

So here is the recipe for the soup and the spaetzle. I always think of Busha when I make it.

 

 

Busha’s Beet Soup

1 large onion, sliced thin

oil

5-6 medium beets, about 2 pounds

5-6 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock

1 c. dairy sour cream

1 t. dill weed

cooked spaetzle, recipe follows

 

In soup pot, sauté onion in oil until starting to brown. Meanwhile, peel and dice the beets. You should end up with 5-6 cups of cubed beets. Add beets and stock to pot and bring to boil. Cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook until beets are tender, about 20- 25 minutes.  Place sour cream in small bowl and ladle in a little of the hot soup, whisking until smooth. Add another ladle of soup and whisk again. Pour this mixture into pot of soup along with the dill weed. Serve with the spaetzle.  Serves 4-5.

 

Note: You can also pre-cook the beets or use canned beets. Trim off leaves of beets, leaving 2 inches of stem. Leave roots intact. Boil beets in water until tender, which can take as little as 20 minutes for tiny beets or 45 minutes for the large ones. Cool in bowl of ice water and then slip off the skins. Dice and add to soup as if the beets were canned. You don’t need the long cook of fresh beets. Just bring soup up to a simmer.

If you prefer, serve the soup with diced boiled potatoes or kluski, rather than the spaetzle.

 

You can serve the sour cream on the side, rather than incorporating it into the soup, then allow people to add a dollop of sour cream to individual bowls. Polish beet soup usually adds the sour cream and Russian style is to dollop on the top. Both versions taste good.

 

Spaetzle

3 eggs

1/2 c. half and half or evaporated milk

1/2 t. salt

1 1/2 c. flour

 

Combine all ingredients and let rest 30 minutes. Drop by small spoonfuls into boiling water. Cook until they float and puff up, about 5 minutes. Drain and serve with soups, stews, sauces or buttered.