Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pope John Paul II Feast

On May 18, 1920 Karol Wojtyla was born in Wadowice, Poland. Fifty-eight years later on October 16, 1978 he was elected the 264th Pope and took the name John Paul II. Pope John Paul II's pontificate was the second longest in history at twenty-seven years, second to Pius IX's thirty-one year reign. He was known as the pilgrim Pope visiting more than 100 countries and is generally acknowledged as the most well traveled world leader ever. Wherever our dearly loved Pope went his heart was in Poland. This jewel of Catholicism and culture has endured great hardship in the last century having been occupied by both Nazi's and Communists for most of the 20th Century. Through all of this unedurable persecution the faithful of Poland remained steadfastly Catholic and when their greatest son became the first Polish Pope they were well rewarded for their unwavering love of God. It is commonly believed that that event marked the fall of communism in Poland, a country at that time only held together by the Catholic Church. Today, as a tribute to our beloved John Paul the Great and the great people of Poland why not have a traditional Polish feast. We are blessed to live near a town with a large Polish community so I have access to several Polish deli's and grocery stores. That proximity to a Polish area isn't really necessary anymore. You can find excellent Polish sausage in most grocery stores and pierogies are readily available in most frozen food sections. However if you want to go traditional and do a nice meal from scratch it really isn't difficult. Polish food is hearty and easy to cook. It's also not for those overly concerned with their carb intake. However, you can always diet tomorrow, that's what Monday is for. Here is a traditional pierogi recipe

Potato and Cheese Filling


tablespoon grated onion


tablespoons butter


cups cold mashed potatoes


cup cottage cheese (or more)

salt and pepper


2 1/2

cups flour


teaspoon salt




teaspoons oil


cup warm water

Potato and Cheese Filling: Cook the onion in butter until tender.

Combine it with potatoes and cheese.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Vary the proportions and ingredients in this recipe to suit your taste.

Mix the flour with the salt in a deep bowl.

Add the egg, oil and water to make a medium soft dough.

Knead on a floured board until the dough is smooth.

Caution: Too much kneading will toughen the dough.

Divide the dough into 2 parts.

Cover and let stand for at least 10 minutes.

Prepare the filling.

The filling should be thick enough to hold its shape.

Roll the dough quite thin on a floured board.

Cut rounds with a large biscuit cutter, or the open end of a glass.

Put the round in the palm of your hand.

Place a spoonful of filling in it, fold over to form a half circle and press the edges together with the fingers.

The edges should be free of filling.

Be sure the edges are sealed well to prevent the filling from running out.

Place the pierogi on a floured board or tea towel and then cover with another tea towel to prevent them from drying out.

COOKING: Drop a few pierogies into a large quantity of rapidly boiling salted water.

Do not attempt to cook too many at a time.

Stir VERY gently with a wooden spoon to separate them and to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Continue boiling for 3-4 minutes.

The cooling period will depend upon the size you made it, the thickness of the dough and the filling.

Pierogies will be ready when they are puffed.

Remove them with a perforated spoon or skimmer to a colander and drain thoroughly.

Place in a deep dish, sprinkle generously with melted butter to prevent them from sticking.

Cover and keep them hot until all are cooked.

Serve in a large dish without piling or crowding them.

Top with melted butter- chopped crisp bacon and/or chopped onions lightly browned in butter.

REHEATING: One of the great things about pierogies, is that they can be made in large quantities, refrigerated, frozen and reheated without lost of quality.

Many prefer reheated pierogies as compared to freshly boiled ones.

To re-heat, you can: 1) pan fry pierogies in butter or bacon fat until they are light in color or, 2) heat the pierogies in the top of a double boiler or in the oven until they are hot and plump or, 3) deep fry them.

Another great recipe which would make a nice lunch or light supper.

Potatoes Baked with Egg and Cream
2 Tbsp melted butter 3 cups diced cooked potatoes 2 eggs beaten 1 cup sour cream 2 Tbsp of chopped chives salt and pepper to taste Pour the butter into the bottom of a baking dish. Cover the whole bottom of the dish. Add the potatoes to the dish. Mix the eggs and sour cream thoroughly and pour over the potatoes. Add the chives, salt and pepper. Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour. Serve hot. This recipe doubles and triples nicely for a larger group as is it feeds 4-5 people. Another great dish that is easy to prepare is ... Golabki (Stuffed Cabbage)
Don't let the long ingredient list put you off, you probably have most of them in your pantry.

1 1 cabbage, center core removed
3 lb ground meat (turkey, beef or pork)
2 cups cooked white rice
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup tomato paste
cans crushed tomatoes
11/2 cups vegetable stock
tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon parsley
teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup butter
4 carrots, sliced
ounces mushrooms, quartered
2 bay leaves

Parboil cabbage in a large pot, removing leafs as they fall off into the water and are tender.
Cook till all leaves are tender, but not ripping apart; usually 15.
Run under cold water and drain.
Cut the thick membrane off back of each leaf.

While cabbage is cooking saute onion in butter until lightly browned.
Put all the uncooked meat into a large mixing bowl add eggs.
Add the sauted onions.
Next add salt pepper, celery salt, parsley, nutmeg, and Worcestershire sauce along with the cooked rice.
Mix it all up thoroughly.
Lay out leaves and depending upon their size, place 2-3 tablespoons of meat mixture on the wider side.
Roll leaf up and over meat, tuck in sides of leaf, and continue to roll to use all leaves and stuffing. Place rolls, seam down into a greased roasting pan. Layer carrots and mushrooms over cabbage.
Mix together the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, water and brown sugar and pour evenly over all the rolls.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and add bay leaves.
Cover roaster and bake 325 degrees for 2- 2&1/2 hours.
Half way through baking check to make sure there's enough liquid; additional water can be added.
To serve, spoon sauce over rolls. Serve with Mashed potatoes!

I leave you with my favorite Pope John Paul II quote.

"Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence."

Have a blessed day.

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  1. Lovely feast ideas Mary Ellen, thank you!!

  2. I must respectfully disagree with "cover with a towel to prevent the pierogi from drying out." They will cook much nicer if they are dried. In fact, in my husband's family, when they make the hundreds of pierogi needed for Christmas Eve dinner, they have someone assigned to use a blow-dryer (on low) over the pinched pierogi before they are boiled. If they're not dried, they stick together in the pot.
    Barb Szyszkiewicz, sfo
    Enjoy the pierogi. They are work to make, but well worth it!

  3. Thank you Barb. I've never had them stick because I only add a few at a time but it is good to know. I'm glad you chimed in :)

  4. Mary Ellen, in this family you never only get to cook a FEW at a time! LOL! Maybe that's why they need to make sure they dry out.

    I've got to save your golabki recipe. I love golabki....

  5. Thank you, Mary Ellen. These are wonderful ideas to round out our week!

  6. I just found your site by way of Happy Catholic and am really enjoying it.
    I remember cooking hundreds of pierogi with my mother, grandmother and aunts. My job as a small child was to watch the pot of boiling water because the pierogi are done when they pop to the surface and I was to call for an adult to get them out of the pot. We never stirred them. Also my grandmother mixed riced pototoes into the flour for the dough. They were always served after being browned in butter.
    My grandparents were from what is now Ukraine right on the current border of Poland. They did not have rice or tomatoes being poor farmers. They cooked with what they grew. Golubki was made using riced potatoes instead of rice, no tomatoes and baked covered. When they were served, melted butter was poured over them. Yum. Just not very heart healthy but all my mother's family lived into their mid 90's, so I will risk it. Terentia