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Cook's Corner

  • Juice shop owners have big dreams
    Dani McGuire and Julia Haller are excited about Friday. The two will celebrate the grand opening of their business, Jai Juice and Cafe, of which they are co-founders. It’s located at 1301 Lafayette St.
  • Juice shop owners have big dreams
    Dani McGuire and Julia Haller are excited about Friday. The two will celebrate the grand opening of their business, Jai Juice and Cafe, of which they are co-founders. It’s located at 1301 Lafayette St.
  • Baker feeds customers, family from the oven
    Krysta Young of Fort Wayne has been baking cakes out of her home for a while.
I still want to learn…
A. More of the New Orleans-style cooking.
I can’t wait to…
A. Open my own cook house or soup kitchen.
Diana Parker | The Journal Gazette
Susan Sirois of Fort Wayne shares her recipe for Bobalki and Sauerkraut.

Contest winner has lifelong love of ethnic food

– 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 she’d 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, “Grandma’s 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 you’ve 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 mother’s collection.

“It’s a little one, ‘Culinary Delights’ by T. Witkowski from Hamtramck, Mich.,” she says.

“You like the Caribbean one,” Renee says, referring to her mother’s 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.” She’s learned she had the winning recipe.

“We just started doing the food contests. We’ve entered a lot of contests,” she explains.

Says Renee, “We didn’t 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 didn’t 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. What’s one thing people would not find in your refrigerator?

A. You’d 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, what’s 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

12 potatoes

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.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-0088; fax 461-8648; or email