Every year my family has a traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner. It's spelled Wigilia, and pronounced "Vee GEEL ya." My maternal grandmother was Polish, so 15 of my relatives from that side of the family came over to my parents house in NJ this past Sunday to eat the meal (there were 20 of us total, whew).
The dinner consists of an almost entirely white meal: flounder, pickled and creamed herring, tapioca, egg noodles, rice pudding, pierogies, dried fruit, and beet soup (borscht). The borscht and dried fruit are the only splashes of color in the whole meal.
After my grandmother died, we started eating frozen pierogies. But for the third year in a row now, my mother and I have made our own pierogies, adjusting and perfecting the recipe as we went. This year I fermented my own sauerkraut for the filling and they were delicious.
I also used the secret weapon that my friend Nicole gave me, the ravioli press. It was so easy, and the finished product was so mangled from the boiling and frying that you couldn't really tell that they were ravioli-shaped anyway.
I also made the borscht from scratch this year, and again, it was amazing. My friend Sarah gave me her Moosewood recipe, which I can pass on to anyone interested. Just look at that color.
In fact, I'm going to go and have a bowl of leftover borscht right now. Happy Holidays!