When Michell Huber moved to Austin four years ago, she said she was shocked by the city’s lack of authentic ethnic cuisine. A first-generation Polish-American, Huber said she longed for the days when she would cook pierogies with her grandmother Freda—thus, the inspiration for Freda’s Kitchen was born.
“When you ask someone how they learned to cook, their face changes,” Huber said. “You see a relaxation wash over people. I wanted to recreate that.”
Visitors to Freda’s Kitchen cook alongside international chefs who share family recipes in intimate, hands-on settings. All of Huber’s chefs, hailing from Tuscany to Thailand, are either immigrants or first-generation Americans and are required to teach the cuisines from their native countries. The brand operates on three tenets—stress relief, connection and inclusion.
“These are divisive times, so I wanted to bring people together to appreciate and experience each other through food,” Huber said.
Interactive cooking classes and private culinary events are hosted by Freda’s Kitchen across Austin, often at Southwest Austin event spaces such as the TippingT Tejas Pavillion near Dripping Springs. Participants leave with a recipe book and are encouraged to call Huber if they have trouble recreating the dish.
“We always try to give the people who come to our classes [something to go home with] because we get such a joy from them trying out the recipes at home and adding their own history to it,” Huber said.
What separates Freda’s Kitchen from a traditional cooking class is Huber’s emphasis on cooking as a shared experience. Upon leaving a pop-up event or private party, Huber said visitors form a bond.
“I always say it’s not where you’re from, what color you are, who you love or what you are capable of doing,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what you are given in life, you have to eat, so let’s share that celebration of food.”
512-900-6643 • www.fredaskitchen.com
Check website for cooking class schedules
Pierogies are Polish dumplings made with light dough and stuffed with fillings, such as potatoes, meat and cheese. Pierogies can be served steamed or fried.
Pierogi z’ Ruskie (Cheese and Potato Stuffing)
- 2 lbs of russet potatoes
- 1 large yellow onion (divided)
- 2 tsp oil for sauté/frying
- 8 oz ricotta cheese (room temperature)
- 3 slices bacon
- Boil potatoes (you can scrub potatoes and cook with skins on, removing them later, or peel them) in water: (cut/pierce) potatoes to help them cook faster (about 20 – 30 min)
- Dice half of the onion.
- Saute onion in 1 tbsp butter or 2 tsp oil
- Let potatoes cool before removing skins if you left them on.
- In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, onion and ricotta cheese.
- Refrigerate for about 30 min or overnight (better).
Pierogi Dough (makes about 4 dozen)
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup of hot water (boiled water, cooled just a little, but still hot)
- 1 tsp salt
- In a food processor with dough blade, add flour and salt.
- Pulse twice
- Slowly add enough water until dough forms a ball
- Process for one minute
- Flour surface and place pierogi dough on it.
- Knead dough by hand for about five minutes.
- Keep flipping and flouring to ensure it doesn’t stick to the surface.
- Divide dough in half, and place half in a plastic bag until ready to use.
- Roll out dough until it’s thin on flour surface.
- Using a biscuit cutter or glass, cut circles; dip cup in flour to prevent sticking.
- Dough can be refrigerated for a couple days or frozen for later use.
Stuffing and boiling the pierogi
- Place 1 teaspoon of meat mixture onto pierogi dough circle.
- Close dough around potato stuffing, stretching dough and sealing tightly with fingers and fork. If the dough gets dry, dip your fingers in water and run your index finger around the rim of the dough circle.
- Boil large pot of salted water.
- Add pierogi to water, careful not to crowd. Use a wooden spoon to ensure pierogi don’t stick to bottom.
- Once pierogi start to float, leave them in for one more minute.
- Remove pierogi with slotted spoon place on clean, dry kitchen towel to drain for a couple minutes.
- Place on lightly greased sheet, or parchment paper.
- You can freeze them, refrigerate them, or eat them with sour cream.
- Heat skillet.
- Add bacon and onion to skillet and cook until bacon and onion are browned (five min).
- Remove from skillet.
- Add pierogi, careful not to crowd.
- Brown pierogi, turning to prevent burning.
- Place browned pierogi on plate with paper towel to drain grease.
- Serve warm covered in bacon, onion, and sour cream.