Cookbook Author Julia Turshen on Laid-Back Sundays and the Magic of Breakfast Hand Pies

updated Mar 11, 2021
Everything Bagel Hand Pies

These breakfast hand pies, almost like miniature calzones, are filled with scrambled eggs and scallions, then topped with everything bagel seasoning.


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Credit: Melina Hammer

For food writer and cookbook author Julia Turshen, Sundays are about relaxing, recharging, and reconnecting. She and her wife, Grace Bonney, are both self-employed and worked from home pre-pandemic, so they’re well-versed in the all-the-days-run-together phenomenon. But on Sundays, they make a conscious effort to take a break and slow down, and that includes in the kitchen.

I recently had the chance to talk with Julia about her weekend breakfast routine (past and present); her new book, Simply Julia; and her personal feelings about meal planning.

Sunday cooking means different things to different people. Are you the kind of person who takes it easy or are you more of a meal planner?
Lately, I’ve been asked a lot if I’m the kind of person who makes a meal plan. And I think I’m being asked that because a lot of people think they are supposed to be doing that. Or they want to be doing that and don’t know how. I am happy to make a meal plan for someone else. I write cookbooks, so I love writing about meals and recipes, but the idea of making a meal plan for me and my wife stresses me out. And I get how it might give people comfort, but I just want a leisurely breakfast on Sunday. I don’t want to think about the whole week and everything.

Speaking of breakfast, I noticed that you dedicated an entire chapter to breakfast in Simply Julia. Is it an important meal for you?
When I was growing up, my parents both worked full-time, so we all just grabbed something out of the toaster oven and took it with us in the morning. Since we didn’t eat as a family during the week, weekend breakfasts were special.

For the most part, they were of three things: diners, bagels, or matzo brei. When I was a little kid we lived in New York City, and toward the end of elementary school we moved to the suburbs. But no matter where we lived, we found a diner. My family loves a diner. Picking up bagels on the weekend was also a very big thing. (I’m from a New York Jewish family, so bagels are in my bloodstream.) And option three, matzo brei, was one of the only things I remember my mother cooking when I was growing up. It was something her mother made for her. Her version is just straight-up matzo and eggs cooked in butter, and then she would put it on the table with the sugar shaker.

I know that you started cooking at home at a young age. Did that change your family breakfast traditions?
It did, because the fourth option for family weekend breakfast was me cooking. I’m a self-taught home cook and learned mainly through cookbooks and public television. I think in middle school, roughly between the ages of 10 and 12, one of the things that I obsessively made was breakfast potatoes. I made like mountains of them. On Saturday morning I would see what I could do with leftover baked potatoes and the next weekend I would slice them thinly and cook them in the oven. And then I would shred them and fry them. I tried them every single way. 

Did you keep that up when you moved away from home?
In my college years and early 20s I was in the city, and my weekend breakfasts looked a lot like my early childhood ones, which meant diners and bagels. I think the only thing that changed was that in those years a lot of my Sunday breakfasts were hungover. Not every Sunday, but frequently. And when I met my wife and we got married breakfast for us, in general, not just on Sunday, has become a big part of our ritual as a couple. 

Before I met Grace, I wouldn’t always eat breakfast. I would always have coffee in the morning and grab something, like a muffin or a bagel. But Grace is a big breakfast-first-thing-in-the-morning person, so I’ve become one, too. I’m like, “We get to have this great meal immediately? Fantastic!”

So are you the breakfast cook at home or is Grace?
I do most of the cooking, but Grace also did a lot of cooking when I was working on my book, because she tested all of the recipes for me. In the past, I’ve sent my recipes to family and friends with a bunch of questions to just see how the recipes work in other people’s kitchens. But with Grace testing them, I had the experience of having my recipes tested right in front of me, which was really amazing. Something that I wrote that I thought was totally clear, Grace would say, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Her favorite recipe in the book happens to be a breakfast recipe — the Everything Bagel Hand Pies — which I think she was a little nervous about making.

Wait. Breakfast hand pies? I’m going to need to hear more about that.
Well, a few years ago, I got into the two-ingredient dough recipe that was going around, which was a mix of Greek yogurt and self-rising flour. For the book, I did a version of the dough that’s very bagel-like and is approximately one million times easier to make than homemade bagels. My favorite way to use it is for breakfast hand pies, which are almost like miniature calzones that are filled with scrambled eggs and scallions (a nod to scallion cream cheese, an everything bagel’s best friend).

Those sound great. And sorry, let’s get back to the recipe-testing story.
So Grace is a very capable and very good home cook, but she doesn’t have as much experience with baking. When I gave her the hand pie recipe, I think she was a little like, “Oh. How’s this one gonna go?” And it was so successful and it was so cool to watch her make them and succeed. From my perspective as a cookbook author, that’s what it’s all about. I want to give you all the information so that you can make the recipe and feel supported and have it turn out and be really proud of yourself. That’s what I strive for.

Credit: Melina Hammer

Are the hand pies something you’d make for a weekend breakfast?
Yeah. I actually made them over the weekend and we warmed up leftovers for breakfast on Monday. They reheat well in the toaster oven.

What else is on your Sunday agenda?
Lately, we’ve been on a real early kick. Mainly because we’re having pandemic fatigue and go to bed early, so that means we’re up early. And we also have two dogs, so if we’re not stirring by 7:30, they’ll let us know. Our mornings always start with coffee. And lately we have been spending our mornings with our coffee doing puzzles. So we sit there at our kitchen table with our dogs and our puzzle and our coffee and that has been a really, really nice ritual. It’s nice to start the day not on a screen. And we do this pretty much every day, but on Sundays neither of us has to rush off quickly to get to any kind of work thing. It lets us do more of the puzzle.

And then later in the day, we both Zoom with our families. Grace gets on Zoom with her parents and I try to join and I then get on Zoom with my parents, my grandmother, my brother and his family, and often my cousin. I’m close with my family and I have always talked to various members of my family frequently, but for that group of us to get together every week has been really nice. I’ve been more in touch with my family than ever, even though we’re not seeing each other in person. I’m very grateful that we have the ability to do that.

Thank you, Julia!
For more recipes like the Everything Bagel Hand Pies (below), be sure to check out Simply Julia.

Credit: Melina Hammer

Everything Bagel Hand Pies

These breakfast hand pies, almost like miniature calzones, are filled with scrambled eggs and scallions, then topped with everything bagel seasoning.

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


For the filling (and the egg wash):

  • 5

    large eggs

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 4

    scallions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced

For the dough:

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour, plus more for your work surface

  • 1/2 cup

    whole wheat flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2/3 cup

    plain, full-fat Greek yogurt

  • To finish: 1 tablespoon everything bagel seasoning


  1. First, preheat your oven to 375ºF.

  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Next, make the filling:

  1. Place the eggs and salt in a small bowl and whisk well to combine. Place 2 tablespoons of the egg mixture in a small bowl and reserve it (this is your egg wash that you’ll use later to brush the hand pies).

  2. Place the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once it melts, add the remaining beaten eggs and scallions and cook, stirring, until the eggs are just set, about 3 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a plate to stop them from cooking any longer and let them cool to room temperature. Reserve them.

Next, make your dough:

  1. Place the flours, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the yogurt to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture is crumbly. Switch to your hands and knead the dough directly in the bowl until it’s smooth, about a minute of kneading. If the dough sticks too much to your hands, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it’s no longer sticky. Alternatively, if there are dry crumbs at the bottom of your bowl, add more yogurt, 1 tablespoon at a time, until they’re all absorbed.

Next, assemble and bake your hand pies:

  1. Lightly flour your work surface and transfer the dough to it. Evenly divide the dough into 4 pieces and form each into a small ball. Dust each ball with flour and press each into a small disc. Lightly dust a rolling pin with flour and use it to roll each piece of dough into a circle measuring about 6 inches in diameter. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin or your work surface, just dust it with more flour.

  2. Evenly divide the cooled egg mixture among the dough circles. Form each dough circle into a half moon, covering the egg mixture. Roll the edges of each hand pie to form a thick edge and then dip the tines of a fork in flour and use it to press the edges of each hand pie (the quick flour dip will keep the tines from sticking). Transfer the pies to the parchment-lined sheet pan.

  3. Brush each pie with some of the reserved egg wash and sprinkle the everything bagel seasoning evenly on each pie. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve hot.

Recipe Notes

From the book SIMPLY JULIA by Julia Turshen. Copyright © 2021 by Julia Turshen. Published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission. Photo credit Melina Hammer.