Family Recipes from Big Martha, Martha Stewart's Mother
Cooking has always been very important to Martha Stewart and is central to her empire. Martha's love and mastery of all things food came from a very important person in her life: her mother, Martha Kostyra, who is otherwise known as "Big Martha." Mrs. Kostyra lived to be 93, and the family matriarch often appeared with her daughter on Martha's TV show. The 1983 cookbook, "Martha Stewart's Quick Cook," was even dedicated to Big Martha. The dedication reads: "To my mother, Martha Kostyra, and her mother, my early teachers." In Martha's 1985 dessert cookbook "Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts," she wrote, "My mother spent most of her time in the kitchen, cooking, baking and sewing."
The recipes that Martha learned from her mother are delicious classics that you'll want to make again and again. They include traditional Polish dishes like kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, and several different pierogi recipes, both savory and sweet. There are also comfort food classics including roast loin of pork, borscht, meatloaf, mac and cheese, and stuffed peppers, all perfect for dinners year-round. And Big Martha's dessert recipes are equally mouthwatering: Think spice cake, rice pudding, white cake, lemon meringue cake, and recipes you might not be as familiar with, like blueberry buckle and lardy cake.
Clearly, food and cooking was a big part of Big Martha's life, and she made a point to pass this love down to her daughter. Want to learn how to make some of Mrs. Kostyra's most delicious recipes? Read on and bring your appetite!
Mrs. Kostyra's Basic Pierogi
Grandma's Mac and Cheese
While paying tribute to her Grandma's mac and cheese recipe, which included unusual ingredients such as spaghetti, tomato soup, and sour cream, Martha and her mother called upon a few of the more traditional additions, such as elbow macaroni and grated Swiss cheese.
Mrs. Kostyra's Blueberry Buckle
Mrs. Kostyra's Borscht
Filled with beets, mushrooms, and fresh herbs, Mrs. Kostyra's Borscht is guaranteed to warm anyone's heart.
Mrs. Kostyra's Meatloaf
Although many meatloaf recipes use just beef, adding veal and pork produces a more tender, juicier loaf. Mrs. Kostyra's recipe calls for an ample amount of breadcrumbs, to give the meatloaf its distinctive texture and prevent it from becoming too dense.
Mrs. Kostyra's Meringue-Topped Rice Pudding
The key to good rice pudding is its texture. For the best rice pudding, cook it slowly—and top the pudding with an airy crown of meringue like Mrs Kostyra did!
Pierogies with Cabbage Filling and Clarified Butter
Mrs. Kostyra's Stuffed Peppers
Choose firm, plump peppers with a glossy surface, and avoid blemishes or soft spots for Mrs. Kostyra's Stuffed Peppers. Substitute green peppers for the yellow ones in this recipe if you prefer more bite.
Mrs. Kostyra's Kielbasa
Sharing her special way of cooking kielbasa, which ensures a crispy skin, Mrs Kostyra noted it is important to pierce the sausage casing so that it doesn't crack while cooking.
Mrs. Kostyra's Perfect White Cake
Topped with Italian meringue buttercream, Mrs. Kostyra's white cake is a sweet ending for any birthday or celebration.
Mrs. Kostyra's Stuffed Cabbage
When Martha was growing up in Nutley, New Jersey, her grandmother often made a Polish version of stuffed cabbage leaves, called "golabki." The filling is a simple one—rice and meat with onions, garlic, celery, cloves, and green apple—but the dish is as tasty as it is comforting.
Pierogi with Potato Filling and Brown Butter
Make hearty potato pierogi creamy with the natural buttery flavor of Yukon Golds and a drizzle of nutty brown butter.
Mrs. Kostyra's Spice Cupcakes
These spiced cupcakes are adapted from a recipe by Mrs. Kostyra, who was an avid baker. Here they're topped with topped with orange glaze.
Mrs. Kostyra's Lemon Meringue Cake
This light, airy cake is the perfect finish to any meal.
Mrs. Kostyra's Roast Loin of Pork
Pierogi with Italian Plum Filling and Spiced Sour Cream
Martha and her mother, Big Martha, often made pierogi together. For this recipe, be sure to use seasonal fruit, such as plump blueberries or Italian plums.