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The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

E-mail Laura Stec

About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Just Stuff Me and Wrap Me Up

Uploaded: Dec 19, 2014

Most (all?) cultures have some type of dumpling (dough cooked alone or wrapped around a filling) as a part of their cuisine. There is the Asian wonton, Indian pakora, Italian ravioli, and Jewish matzo ball, just to name a few.

Because of the extra work involved, these wraps naturally become the special holiday dishes. And they're the perfect reason to gather your besties together for a Food Party! Many hands make light work. I just finished a private tamale fest (Don't be like me - too nervous to invite anyone over), using the recently published recipes in Sunset for Pulled Pork, Roasted Poblano and Cheese, and Pineapple. Thought I'd make everything from scratch, but the gals at Mercadito Latino in Redwood City told me "everyone buys the premade masa because it's really good and easy," and they were right. I forget the brand name, but I bought their more expensive mix (5# for $8.99) and it was surprisingly fresh tasting and not too salty. Next time though, I'll make the Sunset fillings less traditional. More than just Guajillo pepper seasoning for the pork, and maybe some roasted carrot, cilantro and green onion to zazz-up the cheese and poblano.

Question: Does anyone know how to seal the tamales at the top so that the cheese doesn't seep out?

By the way, you don't need special equipment to steam. A pasta pot works perfectly. Also, recipes say soak corn husks one hour, but I found it's better to soak over night.

Polish girl did bastante bueno on the tamales, but daj mi pierogies. I've learned from the master Helen (Helcha) Stec. We make for Wigilia, the Polish Christmas Eve seven course meal. One dish per course - placed center of table - that everyone eats from. Two bowls per table; eight spoons.

When making pierogies or even tamales, it's smart to start with the filling. Pictured below is Polish sauerkraut and prune, but we also fill with potato and onion.

Make the pierogi dough.

Roll and cut.

Boil like a bagel.

Here's a holiday gift to you ? my mom's handwritten pierogi dough recipe. If you do it, make sure you invite me over when it's time to fill.

Me meter y me concluir, or rzeczy mnie i owinąć mnie.

I like it any way you dish it out.

Mercadito Latino
1726 El Camino Real, Redwood City

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North,
on Dec 23, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

The Jewish version of wonton or ravioli is kreplach, more than matzo ball or (stuffed) matzo ball. Matzo meanwhile is a flatbread, as in the bread didn't have a chance to rise before the Exodus. There's also, and I am a little out of season here, matzo-bri which is pieces of the flat-bread scrambled into eggs.

More importantly, where can I find HeBrew the seasonal lager?

And why did I find gelt made in Ghana easier than made in Israel?

And not to stray too far, but the famous song "I have a little dreidel -- toy top -- I made it out of clay" is a mis-read of "blay" which means led. The rock band Golem has a sexy new video that could be playing in the window of 520 Ramona the vibrator shop, meanwhile, that is closer to the original Yiddish "I am a little dreidel".

I am not making any of this up. And none of this is making me up.

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North,
on Dec 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Laura, I believe that I've known you long enough, since BAA circa 1993 to say, in response to "Just Stuff Me and Wrap Me Up", and in reference to the video I only alluded to above but link to here, if you were a dreidel I'd want to give you a spin:

Web Link

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Dec 24, 2014 at 6:02 am

Mark, Interesting. I have never heard of a kreplach. What is it filled with and is the dough similar?

Posted by A Single Guy, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Dec 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm

If I recall correctly, pierogi, kreplach, and uszka are all very similar and made out of the similar unleavened dough, essentially pasta dough (flour, egg, water).

The differences are basically the naming (kreplach is a Yiddish word and this type of dumpling was found in Ashkenazi Jewish families) and the shape of the final product (uszka apparently means "little ears").

Thus, it isn't surprising that Laura -- coming from a Catholic background -- is not familiar with kreplach despite the fact that they are basically the same as pierogi. It's just that Jews and Catholics give the same thing different names.

I understand that dumplings are not the only things that Jews and Catholics have different names for. ;-)

Heck, the Japanese and Chinese have different words for the same dumplings/steamed buns/noodles/etc.

In a similar way, Italian pastas are all given different names. Tortellini are a type of ravioli, but with a specific shape.

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