Recipe: Pierogi

For the past five years I have been lucky to celebrate Christmas Eve with a friend of Polish descent. I adore food traditions, and while I had heard of the Italian Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of Fishes, I was not familiar with the Polish custom of Wigilia.

Traditionally, the Polish Christmas eve meal consists of multiple courses of white, usually meatless, dishes. The feast begins when the youngest child sees the first star in the night sky.

My friends’ and my Wigilia remains Polish in flavor and snowy in color, though we generally throw in a main course of schnitzel or whole salt-roasted snapper. No matter the entree, something that we simply cannot do without are Pierogis.

They do take some time and effort to make, but the beautiful part is that you can you make them all the way to the final step in advance and stock your freezer full so you have their pillow-y potato goodness at the ready before the holiday season overtakes you.

So, here, a month before Christmas, I give you a recipe for Christmas Eve Pierogi. Call over your some friends and pinch away.

Pierogi Dough:

(Click here for video: )

Adapted from the Costello Family Recipe

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 cup sour cream

Mix egg and sour cream until combined. Add flour and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until dough comes together. If the dough looks dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Refrigerate for 5-8 hours, or if it is cool enough, simply rest on countertop with bowl overturned on top.


2 lbs russet potatoes

1 tbs vegetable oil, or vegetable oil spray

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, roughly grated

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash potatoes. Poke holes in potatoes. Coat lightly in oil and sprinkle skins with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes on rack in center of the oven, with a baking sheet or a piece of foil on a lower rack beneath them to catch and water or oil that might drop from them. Roast potatoes until tender in the center, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Slice each potato in quarters, and scoop flesh into a bowl. Reserve potato skins for a chef’s snack*.

Add cheddar and pinch of nutmeg to hot potatoes and stir until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.


Divide pierogi dough into quarters. Cover dough with a damp towel to keep from drying out. Roll one quarter of dough at a time on a floured surface to 1/8″ thickness. Cut three inch rounds of dough. Roll scraps into a ball and allow to rest before rerolling.

Fill each dough round with 1 rounded teaspoon of potato filling. Wet the edges of the dough with water and press to seal well. Place sealed pierogi on a baking sheet lined with parchment (or cornmeal) to prevent sticking. Cover filled pierogis with a dishtowel to keep from drying out.


4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup onion

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Gently drop 4-6 pierogis at a time in the boiling water. Cook until pierogis float to the top of the pot, then allow to cook 1 minute more before removing with a strainer. (From this point, pierogis can be frozen and stored for 2 months).

In a large heavy skillet over medium high heat, soften 1/2 cup of onions in 2 tablespoons of butter. Add strained pierogis to the skillet an toss to coat with butter (it is ok if a little bit of the pierogi water splashes into the pan; this will only help emulsify the sauce and give it a creamy body). Lower heat and allow one side of the pierogi to reach a rich golden brown.

Repeat with the rest of the dumplings. Serve with sour cream, apple sauce, and sauerkraut on the side.

Restaurant Etiquette: Children in the Dining Room

As the classic 1980’s ballad goes, children are the future. And there are many things that we ought to teach them well, one of which is how to co-exist in a shared space with other people.

Some of my favorite guests in restaurants are precocious little gourmands, but there are some things that adult companions of children would do well to keep in mind when dining out:

1The waitstaff are not childcare professionals. They are here to perform a job that involves carrying hot, heavy plates and trays full of highly breakable glassware. No one wants to see a child with a bowl of hot soup or a tray of martinis spilled on them. Not to mention that the restaurant is liable for the safety of all of their guests and staff during the course of the service. So should another guest trip over an unaccompanied toddler who is running through the hallway to the lavatories, it could be a horrendous collision. It is also worth noting that restaurants are not in the business of vetting their customers. Permitting unaccompanied children to race through a dining room with several entrances and exits is no different than permitting a child to race through a carnival or a department store.

2Make special needs known in advance. While restaurant staffs are not childcare professionals, we are in the business of working with the public and accommodating may different types of people. If your party needs space for a stroller, a wheelchair, or a more secluded table to help ease the anxiety of a young diner who is sensitive to large groups of strangers, etc, let us know in advance. We want you and your guests to be comfortable, and knowing in advance helps us plan for you.

3Ask if the restaurant offers a children’s menu before you arrive. While some establishments may not have a formal children’s menu, most any restaurant will have an informal array of dishes (plain pasta, lightly seasoned chicken with vegetables) that are designed to please the palates of young diners. If, on inquiring about a children’s menu the response from the restaurant is that they do not offer alternatives for children, or that they do not have high chairs or booster seats available then you know that this establishment is not attempting to be child friendly and your party may be more satisfied by taking your dinner elsewhere.

4 Most restaurants will offer crayons or coloring sheets for children, but not all do. It is a good idea to have some diversion available for the children in your party. Though if your diversion makes noise, such as a movie on a tablet or phone, please bring headphones. The table next to you may not wish to have the dialog to Finding Nemo as the soundtrack to their anniversary dinner.

5 If your child has reached her limit and needs to go, the most polite move is to request to have your food boxed and have the check brought rather than subject the entire dining room to the dulcet screams of a toddler meltdown.

Recipe: Cherry Clafoutis

Recipe Video here!

Cherry Clafoutis

3 cups dark, sweet cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted and halved

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp flour

Pinch cinnamon

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups milk

1/8 tsp salt

2/3 cup sugar, separated into 1/3 cup portions

1 tbs vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1 tbs butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place cherries on a foil lined baking sheet and roast until soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice, 2 tsp flour and a healthy pinch of cinnamon. Set aside.

In the pitcher of a blender, or a large flat bowl with an immersion blender, combine milk, eggs, 1/3 cup of sugar, salt, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend on high until combined, about 1 minute. Melt 1 tbs butter in a heavy bottom, oven safe skillet. Pour in a 1/4 inch layer of custard and cook over medium heat until set. Remove from heat.

Add half of the cherries, sprinkle with 1/3 of the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, then pour on the rest of the custard, finish with the remaining cherries and sugar.

Bake in 425 degree oven until puffed and golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before serving in wedges.

Hospitality @ Home: The. Epic. Wedding. Post


the rascal-y bridal party

So. It’s been a full week of recovery from my sister’s wedding. While we put together the rehearsal dinner ourselves, as well as the wedding cake, floral arrangements, and photo booth, there are only photographic catalogs of 4 of those things— as I sustained a really dumb injury on the night of the rehearsal dinner. As you will definitely see in some of these photos.

smoothing the cake with a bum thumb

It was seriously silly, I cut my thumb open while opening a bottle of tequila with a knife. Which I knew was dangerous at the time, but man, I wanted to get those margaritas made in time to enjoy with the guacamole…. We just super-glued my wound together, chef-style, because there was a full night of cake-finishing to go.

So, here’s the blow by blow. As soon as I landed on Wednesday night, we hit Costco to grab the beverages for the rehearsal dinner, the reception, and The Cake.

bride and the booze

Then we took stock of the bodies at our disposal, and separated them into Team Tux (responsible for getting everyone’s tuxes finished and fitted), and Team Cake (who had the unique distinction of being bossed around by me all day). I ended up with a seriously awesome team of my sisters Megh & Rebekah, along with my sister’s friends Piper, Zach, and Cat (whose amazingly well-stocked kitchen we cooked in).

Rebekah, a major player on Team Cake

After all the testing documented on this blog, we had settled on the Margarita Cake (since they got the marriage license on Cinco de Mayo), strawberry curd filling, Italian Meringue buttercream frosting, and Marshmallow fondant decorations.

It was a process. But it was such an amazing experience. There was a lot of love put into that cake. As demonstrated by the fact that Piper, Zach, and Rebekah assembly-lined the zesting and juicing of the limes.


We doubled up as many tasks as we could.

Like stirring multiple pots of strawberry curd.

While the cakes were baking, we pulled together some marshmallow fondant, that we used later to create ribbons and roses for the cake decorations.

megh’s handmade leaves– no special tools other than toothpicks
blue and white roses

I really liked that none of the roses looked the same, just like in nature. While some of us worked on the cake, there was also the candy-floral centerpieces to work on, and the photo-booth props to complete.

bowl of candy, glue gun, itunes on the laptop….

This photo is of the process of tying colored candies into little bundles, that will be wrapped together with flowers to create hydrangea-like candy centerpieces for the tables. These candy bundles also doubled as favors for the wedding.

the finished centerpiece

And the photobooth….it’s such a fun trend and so easy to do. What I love is the way the guests actually interact with the props and create energetic, whimsical interactions, rather than a bunch of stiff photos with people holding glasses of champagne and trying to look cool.

Jason was man enough to wrangle the hot glue gun and put together some mustaches and lipstick kisses.

cutting out the ‘staches….. yes, his shirt does say “I’ve tried Polygamy”…. it’s a beer.

And because of his valiant efforts, we were able to get moments like these:

And the irreplaceable Piper made magic with the bouquets and centerpieces. We really wanted to work some blue into the bridal bouquets. When the delphiniums looked like they might not make it, Piper suggested individually wiring the blooms to tuck them in to the puffs of hydrangea… and they turned out lovely.

hydrangea, baby’s breath, blue delphinium

I loved that so many hands went into making this whole project come together.

the finished cake!

A giant thank you to my sister and sister-in-law’s friends; you all seriously are the best. Your generosity of spirit, the way you welcomed all of us into your lives (& kitchens), and made sure that everything that needed to get done got done in time, whether it meant pulling an all-nighter, sharing your Costco account, or loaning your stand mixer– It made me eager to move back to the mid-west.