19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (2024)

Martha's love and mastery of all things food came from a very important person in her life: her mother, Martha Kostyra, also known as "Big Martha." Mrs. Kostyra lived to be 93, and the family matriarch often appeared with her daughter on TV.

The recipes that Martha learned from her mother 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, meatloaf, and stuffed peppers. Big Martha's dessert recipes, from lemon meringue cake to blueberry buckle, are equally mouthwatering.

We're sharing these family recipes so you can make some of Martha's mom's favorite dishes.

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Country Cheesecake

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (1)

Rather than the usual cream cheese-filling and graham cracker crust, the cheesecake Martha's mom made pairs a filling of tangy farmer cheese and plump golden raisins with a piecrust-like pastry.

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02of 19

BIg Martha's Mashed Potatoes

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (2)

Another dish Mrs. Kostyra was renowned for was her mashed potatoes. What makes them so rich and delicious? The secret ingredient is cream cheese, but they also contain butter, cream, and milk.

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03of 19

Grandma's Mac and Cheese

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (3)

Martha's grandmother made mac and cheese with some unusual ingredients such tomato soup and sour cream. When Mrs. Kostyra and Martha made the recipe, they tweaked it slightly to use more traditional ingredients such as elbow macaroni and two cheeses.

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04of 19

Stollen Wreath Bread

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (4)

Mrs. Kostyra's stollen was a Christmas treat everyone, including Martha, looked forward to. It's a sweet, rich yeast dough accented with dried fruits and nuts, shaped into a wreath, and baked until golden brown.

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Mrs. Kostyra's Basic Pierogi

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (5)

Pierogi are an incredibly versatile food. They are also Martha's favorite comfort food. She always uses her mother's recipes, like this one, when she makes pierogi.

Get Mrs. Kostyra's Basic Pierogi Recipe

06of 19

Mrs. Kostyra's Blueberry Buckle

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (6)

This streusel-topped, fruit-filled dessert is a crowd pleaser, perfect for a family celebration.

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Mrs. Kostyra's Borscht

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (7)

Packed with beets, mushrooms, and fresh herbs, Mrs. Kostyra's borscht is guaranteed to warm your heart.

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08of 19

Mrs. Kostyra's Meatloaf

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (8)

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.

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09of 19

Mrs. Kostyra's Meringue-Topped Rice Pudding

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (9)

The key to good rice pudding is its texture. For the best result, cook it slowly—and top the pudding with an airy crown of meringue, like Mrs. Kostyra did!

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Pierogies with Cabbage Filling and Clarified Butter

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (10)

Follow Martha's recipe for making pierogi just like her mom did. Adding cream cheese to the filling slightly softens the cabbage and gives each bite a tender crunch.

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Mrs. Kostyra's Stuffed Peppers

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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.

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12of 19

Mrs. Kostyra's Kielbasa

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (12)

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.

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Mrs. Kostyra's Perfect White Cake

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (13)

Topped with Italian meringue buttercream, Mrs. Kostyra's white cake is a sweet ending for any birthday or celebration.

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14of 19

Mrs. Kostyra's Stuffed Cabbage

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (14)

When Martha was growing up in Nutley, N.J., 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.

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15of 19

Pierogi with Potato Filling and Brown Butter

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (15)

Make hearty potato pierogi creamy with the natural buttery flavor of Yukon Golds and a drizzle of nutty brown butter.

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16of 19

Mrs. Kostyra's Spice Cupcakes

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These spiced cupcakes are adapted from a recipe by Mrs. Kostyra, who was an avid baker. They're topped with topped with an orange glaze.

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Mrs. Kostyra's Lemon Meringue Cake

19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (17)

This light, airy cake is the perfect finish to any meal.

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18of 19

Mrs. Kostyra's Roast Loin of Pork

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This savory pork dish was one of Mrs. Kostyra's favorite recipes to prepare—and has been one of Martha's favorites since childhood.

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19of 19

Pierogi with Italian Plum Filling and Spiced Sour Cream

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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.

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19 Family Recipes From Big Martha, Martha's Mother (2024)

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