One of the biggest holiday traditions is that on Christmas Eve we have a "white" meal. That basically means no red meat. All my life we have had a Christmas meal of fish, pierogies, kapusta, salad, and normally some kind of vegetable. As a child we would normally spend this time with lots of family members. When I was really little, we would go to my Babcie's (my Polish grandmother) house or to my great Aunt Jane's and have dinner with the whole family. I always knew it was crowded, but after hearing my dad reminiscing this past weekend, I now know there were up to 40 people there! Aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and grandparents, etc.
One of my mom's favorite stories to tell about these Christmas eve gatherings is about what we ate as children. When my mom married into the family, she says that they tried to get her to eat some of the more unusual foods like pickled herring, but she wouldn't do it. I totally understand. Ick. However, when Catherine and I were little, she says around 1 - 2 years old, they would feed us pickled herring, those big onions, and anything else on the table...and we ate it all. She says that all of our polish great uncles were impressed with the foods we would let them feed us. I no longer eat that stuff, but wow. I was one brave child...
Anyway, back to the Christmas eve meal...We all help prepare (but my mom does most of the work) and it is pretty fun. This year I asked about the pierogies and my mom told me that she had "bought the frozen kind". We've had them before. They're not that bad. But they're not that good either. So I suggested that we make them! She of course, thought this was a marvelous idea, with about 201 other things to do at that moment, but she was nice and agreed to teach me how to make them.
So here you are, my Babcie's homemade Pierogi recipe:
You start by making the dough. You start with one beaten egg in a bowl and add 1 1/4 cups of milk and a little bit of salt. Then, you add flour until the liquid is absorbed and a little bit of baking powder.
After that you prepare the filling. We chose to make potato pierogies, but there are other kinds. I can only help you with the potato kind. :)
We had already boiled potatoes and so I then mashed them up. While mashing I mixed in two eggs, and some farmers cheese. (The recipe says one part cheese to two parts egg.) We also added some dried onion.
Before you start anything, get a big pot of water and start it heating. It needs to be boiling for the next part...and now comes the fun...actually making the pierogies...
Take the dough and add some more flour to the dough so that it's not sticky. Then you take small balls and roll them out on a baking cloth. They should be pretty thin, but not so thin that they will fall apart in the pot. Normally, we aimed for about 1/4 inch thick.
Once you have a large rolled out circle of dough, you have to fill it with the filling and then pinch the edges of the dough together to make a pocket. Make sure you pinch the edges together really well because you don't want the filling to come out when we boil them.
If there is a lot of extra dough left where you pinched it, you can cut that off.
After the edges have been pinched and trimmed, the pierogi can go right into a pot of boiling water.
Boil the pierogies until they float, or for at least 3-4 minutes. Then take them out and place them aside.
Fry each side until golden brown.
And there you have it. The finished product. They were delicious! And so much better than the frozen ones! We serve them with a little bit of sour cream.
It was so much fun and I'm glad that my mom was able to teach me. Babcie was smiling down at us, I am sure of it.
What are your family traditions?