While many food writers are publishing recipes deep in cultural roots, others are taking the tried-and-true to new levels with a creative, almost impertinent approach. Such is the composition of Casey Barber’s new cookbook Pierogi Love.
“I love the basics, and I love the simple,” Barber says, “But what I really love is the weird.” The Pittsburgh native, along with her sister Tessa were “sitting around” one day in Pittsburgh when they came up with an idea to use the pierogi as a vehicle for savory or sweet one or two bite morsels.
Basic dough recipes are filled with unexpected ingredients. Cooking methods vary from classic boiling in water, to a crispy pan saute. A deep fried jalapeno popper pierogi is a brilliant idea for new party hors d’oeuvres, as is a not-so-typical Buffalo chicken pierogi drenched in hot sauce and served with a creamy blue cheese dip.
Scallion pancake pierogi’s take a traditional concept and turn it upside down. Not only does Barber use an Asian food-concept worked into a Slavic dish, but she very simply gilds the lily with a flavor enhanced dough. To say these recipes are innovative is an understatement. Perhaps revolutionary better describes the concept of turning an “old-world comfort food” into something unexpected.
The recipes are simply written. They are easy enough for a novice cook to follow and the ingredients lists are quite manageable.
Greek, Asian, and traditional themes such as a potato and cheese recipe are included. How to freeze and reheat instructions answer your basic questions. Photos of the finished product are artistic and give the reader some interesting serving technique ideas.
An entire chapter devoted to your sweet tooth turns this Polish-Russian-Slavic peasant food into a surprising treat. Fruit fillings, chocolate, nuts are used in completely unexpected ways. Barber takes the basic Mounds bar and turns it into pierogi heaven. The messy campfire s’more is given the Barber treatment as well.
Unique and unusual recipes aside, Barber’s approach is down-right sassy. She dares the reader to think outside the box. Pierogi Love is one of the most dynamic and audacious ideas to come into the food world in a long time. There will be copycats. You’ll see menus filled with Barber’s concept because this food is doable for the home cook as well as big restaurant crowds. People get tired of the same-old-dish and this book is filled with new ways to use recognizable ingredients in tantalizing recipes that will inspire awe.
Casey Barber lives in New Jersey with her husband Dan Cichalski. She writes the blog Good.Food.Stories. She is also is also a contributor to the food blog The Kitchn. She will be teaching a class at Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge, NJ on September 16th.