Friday, February 8, 2008

Food Finds: Pierogi Plus

By Pat Tanner

Once a month the good people of St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Hillsborough cook up a dinner of authentic dishes from their Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and Slovakian heritages. From when the doors swing open to the public at the unfashionably early hour of 4 p.m. and until they close at 7, about 400 diners feast on tasty, made-from-scratch stuffed cabbage rolls, kielbasa, potato pierogi topped with sour cream, buttery bowtie pasta with cabbage - even mashed potatoes and gravy. A downright steal at $11 ($5 for children) this bargain meal is rounded out with salad, rye bread, sheet cake, and hot and cold drinks.

The driving force behind the dinners is Ted Petrock, the church’s resident executive chef, who is also a parishioner and who runs the church’s catering arm, Heavenly Catering. He learned to cook in the military – at the Pentagon cooking for the likes of Colin Powell and Caspar Weinberger – then attended culinary school in New York, and was at one time executive chef at Rutgers University.

St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church is at 1900 Brooks Boulevard, Hillsborough. The next Slavic dinner takes place on Wednesday, February 13, from 4 to 7 p.m. Just show up hungry – very hungry - on the appointed day and time and eat hearty. For more information call 908. 725.0615.

Want to try your own hand at making pierogi? Or any of 100 varieties of filled dumplings, pockets, and little pies from around the globe? Then Edison-based author-photographer Brian Yarvin’s newest cookbook A World of Dumplings (Countryman Press 2007) is for you. His color photographs are invaluable for demonstrating dough making, shaping, steaming, and frying.

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