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VOL. 40 | NO. 20 | Friday, May 13, 2016

Learning to cook a favorite dish discovered in Poland

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I recently purchased a new cookbook, even though I have many from earlier years that I hardly ever use.

Before the great World Wide Web became our all-inclusive recipe book, I used them religiously. Also, through the worn and sometimes messy-due-to-food-spills pages, I have recipes tucked here and there of family and friends favorites.

So I bought this new one I really did not need, but cookbooks are sort of an addiction of mine. Maybe it is that way with all people who love to cook.

This cookbook is about the Vatican and presented by the Pontifical Swiss Guard. It holds 500 years of recipes different Popes have favored, along with artwork and life at the Vatican.

Our youngest son, David, who is in the National Guard, traveled to Poland a few years back to assist in teaching the Polish Police some American Army strategies.

While there, he ate a variety of Polish foods and, once home, told me of one of his favorites, pierogi. I found some at one of the local health food stores, and David instructed me on how the Polish restaurants prepared them. They are really good. While skimming through my new Pontifical cookbook, I found a recipe for them. I haven’t made them yet, but I intend to do so very soon.

Under the recipe is written:

Pierogi

Filling:
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1/2 celery stalk
1/2 shallot bulb
2 bay leaves
1/2 pork tenderloin
1/2 chicken breast
2 small onions, diced
2 garlic cloves
3-4 Tablespoons butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

Filling: Cut vegetables (except onions) into large chunks. Place vegetables and bay leaves in large pot of water (8 cups) and bring to a simmer. Cook until tender. Add the meats. Cook until tender about 20-30 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking liquid. Remove the meats and discard the vegetables. Once meat has cooled, place in a food processor and pulse until smooth. You can also chop very finely by hand. If meats seem too dry, add some of the cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper.

Dough: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Mix flour, water, olive oil and salt in bowl; knead about 10 minutes until a thick, smooth dough forms. Add more water if needed, one teaspoon at a time. Roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Using a 3” round cookie cutter, cut out circles. Place 1 teaspoon of filling on circles and carefully fold over into half-moon shapes, sealing the edges firmly. Boil the Pierogi for 2-3 minutes, until soft. When done, lift out with strainer-spoon and place on plate.

Dice the onions and garlic; sauté in butter over medium heat until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté the Pierogi in the butter until nicely browned.

“One of the darkest moments in modern times came on May 13, 1981, when Pope John Paul II was shot and critically wounded before thousands of the faithful in St. Peter’s Square. Thanks to the Swiss Guard, fine doctors and nurses, and the grace of God, he survived that terrible day. It was only the beginning. Doctors cautioned that he faced a long and arduous recovery, more surgery, and rehabilitation. They prescribed a very restrictive diet. The Pope made a single request: Pierogi, a favorite of his Polish homeland. The response was unanimous: No, out of the question. But the Pope insisted and the doctors relented. Who can say no to the Pope? Pierogi were served on a regular basis and proved to be good medicine. The Pope made a remarkable recovery, leading the Church for 24 more years as Holy Pontiff.”

So before the recipe I have a joke, told to me by my music minister, Pastor Rick Couch. Enjoy it and the recipe:

There was this woman who loved to cook for her husband. She made him wonderful meals morning, noon and night. She was especially good at cooking meals with mushrooms.

It was such a surprise when the man up and died. No one could find any reason for him to die. Everyone was so dismayed, and the woman just stopped cooking altogether.

Eventually she remarried and began cooking again – such scrumptious meals.

Well, as fate would have it, this man up and died. Again no one could discover the cause of death. Once again, she was alone.

Not too long after the second husband died, the woman married a third time. She made her new husband wonderful meals, just like the first two husbands, which also included mushrooms.

Well, after about two weeks, someone came by to visit and found the third husband dead on the kitchen floor. But this man was lying there with a cracked skull and a rolling pin on the floor beside to him.

When the police came to question the woman, they asked her why she had hit the man with the rolling pin. She said, “He wouldn’t eat his mushrooms!” (Here’s where the laughter is supposed to start!?!)

And here’s where the cooking begins, sans mushrooms! Thank-you Bro. Rick for that bit of humor!

Kay Bona is an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.

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