Polish or other Eastern European Holiday Foods

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

My mother's side of the family is Polish and Czechoslovakian, so at Christmas time we make things like pirohi, fried fish, kolachki, etc. I'm interested to hear what other families of similar heritage will be making. Any special traditions that you care to share?

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

>talking to myself< I'd forgotten about "City Chicken" ... not really Christmasy per se, but brings back great childhood memories.

Surely we must have some pierogi / pirogy / pirohi makers on DG??? Hey Pittsburgh, Scranton, Detroit, and Binghamton members, where *are* you? Come out, Come out, wherever you are! LOL

Mount Laurel, NJ(Zone 7a)

hi wrightie, my neighbor is polish and makes awesome pierogi's :) We made them together once it was alot of fun and ummmmm good! my mom's boss is polish too and we always get a bread of some sort from her at Christmas time...not sure what it is called...round and sort of tall? babka? she dosn't make it from scratch though.

edited for typo :)

This message was edited Dec 8, 2007 8:13 AM

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

Could be Babka (Did it look like the bread on that old Seinfeld episode?) -- LOL.

Oh, Wind, you just reminded me of another Christmassy food - Poppyseed bread. Basically a brioche dough that is filled and rolled with a sweet poppyseed and walnut mixture. YUM. Why oh why must I be on a diet?

For Christmas this year, I'm going to combine my British Isles and Eastern European heritages ... Could be pretty weird.

Mount Laurel, NJ(Zone 7a)

you can still eat a little bit of everything of a diet :)
do you have a recipe for the poppyseed bread?

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

Oh gosh, the last time I made it, I pretty much "winged" it with a sweet brioche, filled with a can of Solo poppyseed, chopped walnuts, sweetened to taste (if needed). I'll see what I can dig up from my mother's old cookbooks, recipes and post here if I find it.

In the meantime, I've used this company in a pinch when I didn't have time to make and ship my own. Here's their version(s): http://www.polishpierogi.com/nutrolls-p-5.html Mind you, I haven't tried their food because I've only used them for gift-giving, but all reports were Two Thumbs Up. :)

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

Wind, this looks about right for the poppy seed roll: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/makowiec

I *might* lose the raisins and glaze because I don't recall my grandmother and mother using those in their delicious recipes, but I am definitely going to try this one even if it is slightly different!

Edited to note: After consulting several different recipes, it seems that the raisins and glaze are key components! Shame on me! lol

This message was edited Dec 9, 2007 10:18 AM

Mount Laurel, NJ(Zone 7a)

that recipe looks wonderful! I'm making a copy now and will surely try it out. I love baking :) ...used to work as an asst. pastry chef in Phila.PA, went to school for it and all that fun stuff! I'm trying to remember if my mom got a poppy loaf like that too last xmas along with the babka??? I'll go ask her now.

Anything else polish you want to post? I'm going to email my polish neighbor and see if she remembers any special goodies from the holiday season in her family.

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

I have been looking through my late mother's cookbooks and notes and have not yet found the family poppy seed / nut roll recipe (yet), but that recipe, above, looks really close!

How exciting about your pastry experience! My mother and all of her sisters learned to become fantastic cooks from their Polish mother. As a child, I loved to "bond" with my mom in the kitchen. So at five or six, I was helping her make pastries, bread, homemade egg noodles, dumplings, etc. etc. This is the time of year that brings back those great memories.

I just found a church cookbook from my hometown on ebay that I scooped up. It's called "Favorite Recipes Collected by St. Mary's Ladies Guild," St. Mary's Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church, Endicott, NY, 1984. It has a wealth of old family recipes in it!!!

This is a fantastic, authentic Polish cookbook which I can highly recommend to anyone interested in Eastern European cooking, "The Art of Polish Cooking" by Alina Zeranska http://www.amazon.com/Art-Polish-Cooking-Alina-Zeranska/dp/0882897098 Btw, I took a quick look at their poppy seed roll recipe and it looks very much like the one posted earlier.

This message was edited Dec 9, 2007 10:12 AM

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

Oh, regarding holiday faves -- Christmas Eve was when we had our big family feast on my mom's side. No meat on Christmas Eve, so we had fried fish (haddock). As children, we would load up on mountains of pirogies (in my generation they were usually potato-cheese-onion, and lekvar filled dumplings since the kids didn't like cabbage much) and fried fish -- so much so that I can barely remember what else was served.

On Christmas Day, we would drive up to my other (English) grandmother's house for a totally different kind of feast - ham, prime rib, turkey, etc. LOL

Mount Laurel, NJ(Zone 7a)

Well I can't say I learned much cooking from my mother....no bonding in the kitchen here! In my imagination I wish I could say I had kitchen/cooking family memories like yours...In my mind I can see all the women in the family coming here to cook Italian goods in preparation for the holidays.....ahhhh....NOT!

Only a few women first of all, and my sister is exactly like mom! I love mom dearly but her idea of a meal was to eat out somewhere!!! When my dad was alive, he did all the cooking. After he died it was tv dinners and fast foods. Trying to make up for it now, we eat really well in my house and I would love it if I had more time to spend in the kitchen :) When I made the pierogi's with my friend they were sooooo delicious but haven't made them since.

I sent my friend a copy of the link to the poppy seed recipe, she was thrilled and wants to try it also! She mentioned something about lots of fish at xmas too.

Mount Laurel, NJ(Zone 7a)

oh...forgot to mention Thanks for the cookbook link, I'll check it out :)

Utica, NY(Zone 4b)

oh... i finially perfected my ppirohi dough.....

I make atleast 15 dozen and it still is not enough....

6cups flour
4 eggs
1 1/2 water
1/2 oil
then roll , fill, boil, and try to freeze some! I use a tuna can to make the circle..... yes i sti;ll have to roll and cut circles,,,, not that good yet :)

Utica, NY(Zone 4b)

hey wightie,

what recipe do you use for your kolachki?


Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

Hi Janemarierose!!! I'm just checking in from work (sshhhhh).

Quick reply: For pirohi, I use a sour-cream dough per my mother. She and her sisters would argue over whether sour cream vs. potato water was the better way to go and I am my mother's daughter! lol To form them, I use a wine glass or anything else that's handy.

For kolachki, I keep it very simple - cream cheese dough with walnuts, sugar, egg, vanilla. I roll the pastry into rectangles, cut into long strips, fill each strip with walnut, then roll them. After rolling, I cut them. That's just how my family always did it and that seemed to be the standard shape in the Binghamton area... If you want actual recipes, just say the word and I'll post them later.

How much snow do you have on the ground up there?

Utica, NY(Zone 4b)

a few inches... the ice was pretty wicked though... most melted today :)

we missed the storm they called for last night...i think it went south of us.... but they say we are in for 2 more.... "OH YEAH" how i hate when the car is mess looking.... all the white salt stains.... no pretty at all.....

What 'bout you?

How does this sound for a recipe...



Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

I saw that recipe earlier in the week. The kolachki dough looks about right, but I don't like the looks of the walnut nor lekvar fillings --- LOL --- because of course everyone's family does it the BEST way! We add an egg to the walnuts and a little sugar as well as a splash of vanilla (we're heavy-handed with vanilla though). I'd be worried that that walnut filling in the other recipe would be too dry, if that makes any sense.

Lekvar: I don't even follow a recipe, never have. Throw pitted prunes in a saucepan and just cover with water, maybe a little extra water. Let them cook down, with occasional stirring until smooth. Splash of lemon juice and a little bit of sugar to taste. That recipe looks too sweet for my tastes - prunes are sweet enough on their own, imo. EDITED to add: Throw a TB or so of butter into the lekvar as well!

LOL, mind you, my mother was extremely anal retentive about the family recipes and she made it very clear that her recipes were the best (and I believe her!).

We had a whopping 3 inches last week, but it's all melted now.

I'm heading home and will come back with the family secrets....

This message was edited Dec 10, 2007 6:00 PM

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

Pirohi Dough a la Wrightie

4C unsifted flour
3 eggs
3T oil
1C sour cream

Note: It is extremely important to mix the above as gently as you can. Let dough rest for at least one hour.

Carefully knead the dough until smooth. DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH. Touch it as little and as lightly as you can possibly get away with, otherwise you will end up with tough dumplings. I cannot emphasize this point enough (and I don't want to upset my mother - LOL)! Roll out and fill with your favorite fillings.



8 oz. cream cheese, at room temp.
8 oz. butter, at room temp.
3 C flour

Mix butter and cream cheese till smooth, add flour and mix again until smooth. Roll into a ball, wrap it, and refrigerate for at least an hour or two before rolling out.

Walnut Filling

16 oz. ground (or well-chopped) walnuts
1 egg
1 C sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or until a sticky consistency is obtained)

Again, go easy on the dough. Be gentle and work quickly. Roll out, Fill and bake at 375 F for 10 - 15 min. until *lightly* browned.

Once cool, roll cookies in confectioner's sugar.

Tolleson, AZ(Zone 9a)

Wrightie that church cookbook sounds like a great one. Care to share some more recipes from it? You know those ae some of the best around.

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

Marie - I just ordered the church cookbook yesterday. Those recipes above are my family's recipes. I'll let you know when I get the church recipes - I absolutely agree with you. They are pure Gold!

Tolleson, AZ(Zone 9a)

I searched for that cookbook and came up with 3-4 recipes from it that have been posted in various forums and they all sound so gooooooooood!!! I am going to try the ones you posted too. I am from Pennsylvania and very much miss that food from there and that side of the U.S.

Plano, TX

i am lithuanian and our recipes are simular to polish--one recipe i always loved was bacon rolls and i love kugula-- and i love perohis--i buy the grocery frozen ones now but maybe will make some from scratch for the holidays

Frederick, MD(Zone 6a)

Oh wrightie - that's the dough alright :) My DH is 100% Polish - I fill mine with sauerkraut :)

And no problem with mixing the British venture!! A roast prime rib of beast is a fav!!

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

Dea, maybe we should arrange a pirohi swap. :~) I confess ... I am ashamed to admit that I have never tried the sauerkraut kind. I'm sure that I would love them. Are you willing to share how you make the filling?

Planolinda, please please please describe your bacon rolls and kugula!

Frederick, MD(Zone 6a)

Yes, please, do share! You never see me posting after 8 pm (well, almost never) cuz I have to be at the office by 5:30 each day, so I'll definately post the sauerkraut thingee manana :)

Denver, CO(Zone 5b)

Everyone please share. I can do a internet search but prefer to get some recipes from you folks here. It tastes better for some reason.

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

I couldn't agree more, Plutodrive!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I figured we didn't post recipes after 8 pm cuz we'd have visions of Kolachkis dancing in our heads. Getting too hungry after 8.... but looking forward to the recipes especially with the sauerkraut.

Love this food...

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

Does anyone else make (or know of) City Chicken? There's no chicken in the recipe at all, it's actually skewered veal and pork because way back when those cuts were cheaper than chicken. Here's a recipe that looks like my family's: EDIT Changed the link -- this one looks more like Mumsy's: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1939,159185-250200,00.html Oh my gosh, it's soooo good! Who else makes it?

Btw, I pretty much gave up veal as a young child but once in a blue (reallllllly blue!) moon, I'll have a taste.

This message was edited Dec 11, 2007 10:05 PM

Plano, TX

i will have to get back with you on the lithuanian foods since i am getting tired --but i love polish foods too and grew up in chicago with lots of both!

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

I want to know how you serve the cabbage and sauerkraut "peedogies" -- sauteed in butter and onion, sour cream on the side?

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

I'm hitting the hay, too. Nighters.

Beaver Falls, PA(Zone 6a)

I'm really enjoying this thread. I'm Polish on both sides and my Mother always made her Pierogi filling with cottage cheese. These are still a family favorite, although I buy the potato and cheese ones in a package at the grocery store too. Her filling is:

1 pound (or what is available now, could be 14 or 12 ounces) DRY cottage cheese
1 egg yolk
scant tablespoon of sugar
a couple of sprinkles of cinnamon

Mix together and use a couple of spoonfuls per pierogi. As it sits, it will form extra liquid so try to take spoonfuls of the mixture, leaving the liquid in the bowl so the pierogi won't get too wet inside and tend to tear.

I have a recipe for a dough given to me by a friend because my Mother always just "threw" a little of this or that together and had no written recipe. I don't like my recipe because the dough ends up just too springy. It reminds you of dough for homemade noodles and tends to spring back when you roll it out, necessitating much rerolling and a lot of work! The finished product is delicious but time consuming to roll out and make. I can't wait to try the dough recipes you all have shared. I like the idea of sour cream in the dough too!

Anyone have a recipe for a plum filling? Apparently, my Grandmother (who died shortly after I was born in 1952) made pierogi's using purple prune plums. I've never seen or had these kind, but my Father, who is 87 fondly remembers these. I'd love to surprise him with some!

Keep those Polish recipes coming!

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

Oh, Linda, thank you. I'm so glad that there is interest in this topic -- I was afraid that my thread was going to sink into cyber-oblivion.

Regarding your mother's plum filling - she used *fresh* plums before they dried (became prunes)?

Dry cottage cheese - do you buy the small/large curd stuff and then drain it in cheese cloth, or can you buy it dry?

Tolleson, AZ(Zone 9a)

I was going to ask the same questions wrightie.

Beaver Falls, PA(Zone 6a)

I'm clueless about the plums. I thought that they were fresh (or maybe canned?) but I'll ask my Mother if she knows what her Mother-in-law used. She always used the term "plums" and not prunes to describe the filling.

You should be able to buy dry cottage cheese. Here in western PA, that is what it is called. If you can't find it at a local grocery store, ask the manager to order it for you. There are lots of pierogi makers in this area and it is usually available at at least one supermarket. Most of the local churches who make pierogi's to sell, unfortunately, fill theirs with potatoes and cheese most of the time. So, if I want mine with cottage cheese filling, I have to make my own! And after reading the dough recipes here on this thread, I may just decide to make a batch soon.


Tolleson, AZ(Zone 9a)

I will have to look for it the next time I go home to Pgh for a visit.

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

I've seen that some of my mother's recipes call for dry cottage cheese, but I haven't seen it available in MD ... maybe some groovy little shop in Baltimore would have it though.

South of Winnipeg, MB(Zone 3a)

Plum pyrogies in my family were just a half of a prune plum with about a teaspoon of sugar in the hollow. The trick is to get them boiled without the seals breaking so the wonderful juice stays inside. Served with sour cream of course.

I have gained 10 pounds just reading this thread.

Metro DC, MD(Zone 7a)

OMG, Echoes!!! That sounds amazing. Do you saute them in butter after boiling or are they served straight from the water? Bet they'd be great either way.

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