In my family, we love birthdays. I mean L O V E birthdays. The celebrations last for days, sometimes weeks. There are multipe cakes with candles, singing, presents, phone calls, and of course meals to celebrate. My Mom is the one responsible for this intense love of birthdays. And to be honest, it is one of the many reasons why I love her so much. She doesn't care if she turned 30, 40 or in this case 64. Every year brings 365 reasons to celebrate. She believes this with her whole heart and I think this is a wonderful way to live.
I think she inherited this deep belief from her Father, my Papa. Papa was a Holocaust survivor and he reminded us regularly that his survival was a gift. He would say "tomorrow is never promised." he lived life to the fullest, always had an ear to ear smile on his face. He loved everything about his life, mostly his wife, kids and grandkids. And of course, he loved to eat. He was Hungarian and Hungarians are no stranger to good food, especially pastries. Most cities my Papa visited, he started with that cities bakeries. It brought him such joy.
A favorite dish of his, and one that he and my grandma would spend hours and hours making for their family is called "derelye." This dish is a sweet ravioli filled with a prune jam called "lekvar." My Grandma remembers making this recipe from 10 cups of flour. It was a day long event. And they would save this dish for special occasions, like birthdays. Even as an adult, this was the dish that my Mom would request. So this year, on her 64th birthday when I was trying to think of what to get my mom for her birthday, this dish came to mind. First, I thought I would surprise her. I would make the recipe and have her walk in my house for her birthday dinner and she would see these raviolis and I could imagine the sounds of delight she would make. But then I rethought my plan and decided I wanted her to be part of the baking with me. No way to better spend a few hours together then baking side by side in the kitchen. I shared my plan with her and she was thrilled!
Got to love the internet, I googled the dish and I found one site in English that sounded like a similar recipe to how my Grandma use to make them. I followed this recipe to make the dough and it turned out great.
We only made enough for one meal for 6 people so we weren't at it all day. I would say 2 hours from start to finish and we had our final, delicious product. First we made the dough, a basic pasta dough, really. Then we made the buttered breadcrumb topping.
The most fun part is of course the filling of the raviolis, my favorite teamwork part. I rolled the dough, cut the squares and my mom filled them and pinched them. Then I placed them in small batches into a large pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes. When they come out of the boiling water, you cover them in the buttered breadcrumbs and serve. Or in my Mom's case, start eating before they make it to the serving dish. The second that butter was heated and combined with the breadcrumbs, the house filled with the smell of childhood memories. Her childhood and mine. She could picture her parents standing and working together in the kitchen and she saw her siblings as little kids. I saw all of us sitting together around my grandparents dinning room table and celebrating a birthday or a holiday together. That smell and the taste took us both back. The best part, though, was sharing in this stroll down memory lane together. Such special memories were conjured up in both of our minds. My birthday present was a success and it tasted delicious! I'm so glad I thought to share this experience with my mom. I know we created more memories by doing this together. And I know we'll make them again.