Fort Wayne – Growing up just outside Detroit, Susan Sirois, 61, was given the opportunity to try a variety of ethnic foods. She recalls the times when her grandmother and parents prepared traditional Polish, Slovak and German dishes.
I used to help them with their cooking. I remember when my grandma Mary was making noodles and shed use this big knife and cut the noodles, she says holding up the large kitchen knife she inherited.
One dish she grew up with was bobalki and sauerkraut, something her grandmother Mary made for Christmas Eve, which Sirois says was traditionally a meatless meal. It was served with a simple dried mushroom soup and poppy seed rolls.
My mom and I would go to the old delis that had sauerkraut juice, says the Fort Wayne resident and mother of two.
Her daughter, Renee Sirois, says a dish her mother often makes is chicken paprika.
She makes it with really big dumplings, Renee Sirois says.
Asked to describe her cooking style, Sirois replies, Grandmas cooking.
On the other hand, the only Czechoslovakian phrase Sirois remembers her grandma used when she cooked was, O muj boze.
Which means Oh, my God, she says smiling.
Regarding beginner cooks, Sirois has a couple of suggestions.
Go with your instinct. I think everybody can cook, she says adding, I know many people are on a fixed income, but use what youve got and use the produce from farmers markets.
Of the 200 cookbooks Sirois owns, her favorite is a slim one she got from her late mothers collection.
Its a little one, Culinary Delights by T. Witkowski from Hamtramck, Mich., she says.
You like the Caribbean one, Renee says, referring to her mothers copy of Caribbean Food Made Easy by Levi Roots.
Sirois also likes Guy Fieri Food: Cookin It, Livin It, Lovin It.
Recently, Sirois heard about a pizza contest sponsored by Tandoor Chef. Using her love for Indian food, she created and submitted her recipe for Hurry Curry Scampi. Shes learned she had the winning recipe.
We just started doing the food contests. Weve entered a lot of contests, she explains.
Says Renee, We didnt know who won the contest of the pizza and we looked it up.
I thought of Hurry Curry Scampi because you like do something quick. It didnt take long to think up the recipe, about 10 minutes maybe, she says continuing, The lady said what got her attention was the scampi.
Q. What do you do to keep meals healthy?
A. We use the freshest possible produce or fruit. I use a lot of garlic in my cooking. I use butter or olive oil.
Q. Whats one thing people would not find in your refrigerator?
A. Youd never find margarine in my refrigerator. I like to cook like the 1950s. The perfect refrigerator would not have any additives and preservatives.
Q. If you were stuck on an island, whats one food you would have to have?
A. Cheese, it would be.
Bobalki and Sauerkraut
2 boxes of quick hot roll mix
2 (32-ounce) cans sauerkraut
12 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
Make dough as directed according to directions on box. Divide dough into four balls or sections. Roll one section out at a time on floured surface; cut into 1-inch squares. Place on greased (or buttered) baking sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven for 15 to 20 or until lightly browned. After squares are browned on one side, flip over and brown on opposite side. Watch to keep from burning. Remove from oven, put in a bowl to reserve. Repeat until all dough is used. Boil water in a large pot. Take a scoop of baked squares and throw them into boiling water. Boil for about 20 seconds; remove from pot. Place in colander over an empty pot to drain. Take sauerkraut and squeeze out juice, reserving it for sour mushroom soup. Melt 8 tablespoons of butter to frying pan. Add chopped onion if desired and then add sauerkraut to pan; brown. Add Hungarian paprika and a bay leaf, remove bay leaf before serving. After browning, take a big pot and add 4 tablespoons butter and vegetable or sunflower oil. Mix together browned sauerkraut and squares. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Mashed Potatoes and Buttermilk
Butter, to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup milk
2 medium-sized onions
4 tablespoons butter
1 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, divided
Clean potatoes, dice and boil. Add butter, salt and pepper to your tasting. Using a potato masher, add a small amount of milk and mash all together. Chop onion and brown in butter. Add potato and onion to bowls and add 1/2 cup of buttermilk to each bowl before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Mushroom (Sauerkraut Juice) Soup
7 packages of European mushrooms (or any type of dried mushroom)
1 to 2 onions
2 to 3 quarts sauerkraut juice
1/2 tablespoon butter
Water, to taste
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Soak dried European mushrooms. Keep draining and rewashing mushrooms in fresh water. Sauté chopped onions in butter. Add the drained chopped mushrooms, sauerkraut juice and water to taste; salt and pepper to taste. Simmer to blend flavors. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Hurry Curry Scampi Pizza
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup salad shrimp
1/2 cup red onion slices
1/4 cup fresh baby spinach
1 red chili pepper, diced
2 tablespoons turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 Tandoor Chef naan, garlic
2 tablespoons paneer cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Add vegetable oil in large skillet. Sauté shrimp, onion, spinach and red pepper with turmeric, cumin and cinnamon for 4 to 5 minutes. Top naan with cooked ingredients. Add paneer cheese and bake in a 325-degree oven until cheese bubbles, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve. Makes 4 servings.