Pierogi, the traditional Eastern European stuffed dumpling, is the kind of specialty one learns to make standing next to a grandmother or aunt.
Natasha Obulhov did just that. When she moved from central Russia to join her husband, Vladimir, in Plymouth some 15 years ago, she brought kitchen memories and her grandmother's recipes. Since then, she's been serving pierogi and dumplings to her family and friends and, with encouragement from those happy eaters, to all of us.
Pierogi are pillowy and substantial, savory or sweet, especially good simply browned off in butter (lots of it). Obulhov is passionate about what makes a proper pierogi.
"We are careful making pierogi and dumplings. We work in small batches and we use the best ingredients — fresh vegetables and meat from small local farmers and producers. We're planning to become certified organic soon," Obulhov said, noting that she is the only one to make this locally for commercial sale.
Obulhov began selling her foods at the farmers market, which is where I first encountered her and immediately became a fan. The potato and Cheddar cheese pierogi are a family favorite and make an easy dinner. Like the smaller dumplings, pierogi sauté quickly or can be microwaved.
Natasha's Pierogi Traditional Foods, launched five years ago, now works out of Premier Kitchen, a large certified facility in New Hope.
"I always wanted to have my own business," Obulhov said. "I'd been working for a jeweler, so was familiar with retail and accounting. This seemed like a good next step."
Daughter Nicole, age 10, is learning to make the dumplings and pierogi, and helps out with sales at the farmers markets.
"She's got a knack," Obulhov said.
All 13 varieties of pierogi (including seasonal fruit), four kinds of dumplings plus Natasha's boldly seasoned ginger garlic sauce are available at farmers markets, Premier Kitchen and online. Check the website for the farmers market schedule or to order directly.
The three Lakewinds co-ops and Sentyrz Market in Minneapolis also carry several varieties of the pierogi and dumplings, as well. They range in price from about $8 for a package of six pierogi and $10 for a package of 20 dumplings. natashaspierogi.com