All recipes by Polish American Journal’s Polish Chef, Robert Strybel. Recipes for personal use only. For reprint permission, contact the Polish American Journal.
Even if you have never prepared Polish-style Christmas delicacies from scratch, I’m sure you will find many of the following recipes quite easy to follow. Most will serve from 4 to 6 people, so simply multiply the ingredients for larger groups.
HERRING IN OIL. Drain 12-16 oz. jar of marinated herring, discarding onions and spices. Plunge into cold water for no more than 1 min. and drain well in colander. Place in clean jar or bowl and drench with salad oil to cover. Refrigerate over night or longer. When ready to serve, remove herring with fork to serving platter. Top each piece with a little half a spoonful of very finely-chopped onions. Decorate platter with parsley sprigs, pickled mushrooms and/or gherkins.
CREAMED HERRING. Store-bought creamed herring are not very good, because they contain all kinds of chemical preservatives to prevent such a spoilage-prone combination as fish, cream and onions from going bad. Instead, drain a 12 - 16 oz. jar of marinated herring, discarding onions and spices. Plunge into cold water for no more than 1 min. and drain in colander. If desired, cut herring into smaller, bite-sized pieces and arrange on lettuce-line serving dish. Fork-blend 3/4 c. dairy sour cream (or plain low-fat yogurt for dieters) with 1/4 c. mayonnaise (regular or light), 1 t. sharp brown prepared mustard, the juice of 1/2 a small lemon and several dashes of white pepper. Drench herring with sauce just before serving. Note: herring are served either with rye bread or boiled potatoes.
HERRING SALAD. This is a more economical way to serve herring. Drain 8 oz. jar marinated herring and discard onions and spices. Dice herring and place in salad bowl. Add 2 c. cold, cooked diced potatoes, 2 peeled, diced apples, 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped dill pickles and/or 10 gherkins and 1 t. chopped fresh parsley. Toss gently and fold in sauce: fork-blend 1-1/2 c. mayonnaise with 1/2 c. sour cream and 1- 2 T. brown prepared mustard. Chill at least 2 hrs before serving. Optional: for a gourmet twist add 1 heaping t. capers.
CLEAR BEETROOT SOUP. In pot combine 3 c. beet juice (from canned beets) and 2 c. apple juice and heat. In it dissolve 3 vegetable bouillon cubes (enough for 3 c. bouillon). Add 2 T. vinegar and season to taste with a little garlic powder, liquid mushroom extract, pepper, sugar and a pinch of marjoram. Add 2 T. unsalted butter, simmer a few min., switch off heat and let stand a few min. covered for flavors to blend. Serve in large teacups with hand-held paszteciki (below).
FILLED SOUP PASTRIES. Simmer 2 finely chopped onions in a little butter until tender and just barely browned. Combine with 1 c. cooked rice, 4 finely chopped hard-booked eggs, 1 raw egg, a heaping T. fresh chopped dill (now available year round in better supermarkets!) and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well. Open a tube of refrigerator crescent-roll dough and with floured thumb obliterate manufacturer’s perforations. Instead cut dough sheet into 2 parallel strips and run filling down the middle of each strip. Roll dough over filling snugly to form a roll and cut it at an angle into 2- 3 pastry rolls. Pinch together ends of each pastry roll to keep filling inside. Repeat with other roll. Bake according to instructions on package or until nicely golden brown. Serve hot with beetroot soup.
CLEAR MUSHROOM SOUP. Soak 1-1/2 oz. dried bolete mushrooms in 3 c. water several hrs or over night. Cook mushrooms in the water in which they soaked until tender. Cut cooked mushrooms into thin strips or dice. Combine mushrooms, their liquid and 1-1/2 c. vegetable stock and bring to boil, then reduce heat. Brown 2 finely chopped onions in 2 T. butter and add to soup. Simmer several min. longer. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a little lemon juice and serve over cooked noodle squares or ribbon-type egg noodles. Optional: Garnish with a little chopped fresh parsley before serving.
FRIED FISH. Wash and dry 2-1/2 - 3 lbs fresh or thawed fish fillets (pike, carp, walleye, lake or ocean perch, catfish, cod, haddock, pollock, etc.), salt well, drizzle with lemon juice and intersperse with lemon slices and refrigerate several hrs or overnight. (Optional: If desired, intersperse also with onion slices.) Rinse and allow to drip-dry, salt & pepper, dust with paprika and sprinkle with a pinch of sage, roll in 50-50 mixture of plain bread crumbs and flour and fry in hot oil until golden brown on the outside and fully cooked on the inside. Drain on paper towel and serve with horseradish sauce: fork-blend 2/3 c. mayonnaise, 1/3 c. sour cream and 1 heaping T. prepared horseradish. Season to taste with lemon juice, sugar and a pinch of salt. Serve fish with boiled potatoes and sauerkraut salad (below).
CREAM-BAKED FISH. Wash and pat dry 2-1/2 - 3 lbs northern pike, walleye or perch fillets, sprinkle with juice of 1 lemon, salt well and refrigerate several hrs or overnight. Rinse and pat dry. Brown fillets in a little oil or butter until just barely golden on both sides, then transfer to casserole. In skillet in which the fillets were browned, gently simmer 2 small onions sliced wafer thin until transparent, adding more fat if needed. Spoon onions over fish and bake in pre-heated 375° oven uncovered about 15 min. Meanwhile, in saucepan melt 2 T. butter or margarine, stir in 2 T. flour, stirring into a paste and diluting with 3/4 c. milk. Add 1/4 t. salt and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, gradually stir in 1/2 c. sour cream and 1 t. lemon juice. Heat but do not boil. Pour sauce over fish and bake another 15 min. or until fully cooked. Garnish with a little fresh chopped parsley and/or dill just before serving.
WALLEYE POLONAISE. Cut 2-1/2 - 3 lbs walleye fillets into 4” pieces and cook in 1 qt gently boiling vegetable stock (home-made or bouillon-cube type) containing 1 T. vinegar 5-10 min. or until done (but not overcooked). Transfer with slotted spoon to warm serving dish. Chop 3-4 hard-cooked eggs and toss in 3 T. hot melted butter, but do not cook. Add a heaping T. fresh chopped dill, salt & pepper and toss to blend ingredients. Sprinkle hot fish with lemon juice and cover each piece with a little of the egg topping. Note: Other fish fillets may be prepared the same way.
CHEESE & POTATO-FILLED PIEROGI. See pierogi recipes below.
SAUERKRAUT SALAD. Drain 1 pt sauerkraut, reserving juice. Rinse in cold water, drain, press out moisture and chop coarsely. Place in salad bowl. Add 1 finely-grated carrot, 1 coarsely grated peeled apple and 1 finely-chopped onion. Toss to blend ingredients and season with a little sugar and dress with 2-3 T. oil. Optional: Sprinkle with several pinches caraway seeds. If salad is not as tart as you like, sprinkle with reserved sauerkraut juice.
SAUERKRAUT & MUSHROOMS. Rehydrate 1/2 - 1 oz dried bolete mushrooms over night and cook in same water until tender. Chop mushrooms and return to their stock. Drain 1 qt sauerkraut, reserving juice. Swish sauerkraut around in a large pot of cold water, drain in colander, press out moisture, and chop coarsely. Place sauerkraut in pot, scald with boiling water to cover, add 1/2 a bay leaf, bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook uncovered on med. heat about 1 hr. Replace water that evaporates and stir occasionally. While sauerkraut cooks, in 3 T. oil fry up 8 oz. diced fresh mushrooms and 2 chopped onions on med. high heat, stirring frequently, until fully cooked and browned. Drain sauerkraut of excess moisture, add the cooked bolete mushrooms and their stock, the fried fresh mushrooms and (optional) 2 - 3 canned anchovy fillets, finely chopped. Season with a few dashes of pepper, mix well and bake in covered casserole in 350° oven 1 hr. After switching off heat, leave in oven until cooled to room temp. Prepare a day ahead. Refrigerate over night and bake another hour or so before serving.
Traditionally the five-course Wigilia supper was once the most modest spread, found even in the poorest of homes. Seven, nine and 11-course suppers were standard in better-to-do households, and in some parts of Poland a 12-course meal was typical. However, many Polish-American households nowadays comprise only one or two members and do not do much cooking anymore, so even a three-course supper may be quite a challenge to some. If you feel up to more, there is nothing to stop you from expanding the following trios to include dishes from any of the other combinations given below.
COUNTRY-STYLE MUSHROOM SOUP (zupa grzybowa po wiejsku): In 2 T butter or oil cook 8-12 oz chopped fresh portobello mushrooms and 1 chopped onion until lightly browned. Place in soup pot, drench with 6 c water, add 2 peeled diced potatoes and 1 mushroom bouillon and cook until potatoes are tender. Cream with ¾ c sour cream fork-blended with a heaping T flour. Salt & pepper, sour to taste with sauerkraut juice or cider vinegar and simmer a bit longer.
HERRING IN OIL (śledź w oleju): Drain 12 oz. jar marinated herring, discarding onions and spices. Plunge into cold water, drain and pat dry. Place in clean jar and drench with salad oil of choice to cover. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, remove herring with fork to serving platter. Top each piece with a little very finely chopped onion. Serve with plain boiled potatoes or rye bread.
DRIED-FRUIT COMPOTE (kompot wigilijny z suszu): Soak 2 c. mixed dry fruit, ½ c diced dried figs and ½ c raisins in water to cover water 2 hrs. Add a little more water if all has been absorbed and cook about 15 min. A pinch of cinnamon may be added before cooking. Serve chilled in dessert bowls. Note: To serve as a fruit drink, dilute with as much pre-boiled water as you like. Add a bit of lemon juice for added zing.
FRIED BREADED FISH (ryba smażona w panierce): Wash and dry 2 -3 lbs fresh-water or ocean fish fillets. Sprinkle with lemon juice, intersperse with onion slices, salt well and refrigerate several hrs or overnight. When ready to use, dry fillets on absorbent paper, Dredge in flour, dip in egg wash and roll in bread crumbs, pressing breading in so it adheres. Fry on both sides in hot oil until golden brown on the outside and fully cooked on the inside.
EASY SAUERKRAUT AND PEAS (łatwa kapusta z grochem): Drain, rinse if very sour and chop coarsely 1 pt or more sauerkraut, transfer to pot, add cold water to cover, 1 bayleaf and 1 mushroom bouillon cube and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook 30 min uncovered, adding more water as it evaporates. Add 1/2 t caraway seeds, cover and cook another 30 min or until tender. While it cooks, fry up 3-4 oz washed and diced portobello mushrooms and 1 chopped onion in 2-3 T butter until lightly browned and add to sauerkraut along with 1 c drained, canned chickpeas and 1 t sugar. Simmer another 30 min or longer. Season with pepper and marjoram to
GROATS OR NOODLES & FRUIT (kasza lub kluski z owocami): Place hot cooked buckwheat groats, barley, rice or well-drained egg noodles on serving dish, dot with butter and over them ladle fruit topping of choice: dried-fruit compote (above), home-made or store-bought preserves or even canned apple- or cherry-pie filling.
CLEAR BEETROOT SOUP (czysty barszcz czerwony): In pot combine 3 c beet juice (from canned beets), 2 c apple juice and 3 c vegetable bouillon (home-made, canned or bouillon-cube type). Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer briefly. Add 2 T vinegar and season to taste with a little garlic powder, liquid mushroom extract, pepper, sugar and a pinch of marjoram. Simmer a few min, switch off heat and let stand a few min covered for flavors to blend. Note: This soup can also be made with liquid beet concentrate (koncentrat barszczu), available at Polish delis. There you can also find Krakus and Hortex brand heat-and-eat barszcz in 1-liter cartons. Serve with hot, hand-held pasties (below)
PASTIES (paszteciki): Open a can of refrigerator crescent-roll dough. Place a spoonful of filling on each piece, roll up, pinch sides shut and bake according to package directions. For the filling, combine 1 c cooked rice, 5 chopped hard-cooked eggs, 2 diced onions sautéed in 2 T butter until lightly browned. Combine ingredients with 1 small beaten uncooked egg, 1 - 2 heaping T. chopped fresh or frozen dill and salt & pepper to taste.
CREAM-BAKED PIKE (szczupak zapiekany w śmietanie): Rinse well and pat and dry 2 lbs northern pike, walleye or sea pike (hake) fillets, sprinkle with juice of 1 lemon, salt well and refrigerate several hrs or overnight. Pat dry. Place 2 T butter in casserole and heat in oven. Place fillets in casserole and roll in the hot butter to coat all sides. Bake in 375° oven uncovered about 15 min. Meanwhile, in saucepan melt 2 T butter, stir in 1 T flour. Remove form heat, stir in ľ c. fork-blended sour cream, add Ľ t salt, return to heat and simmer until bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1 t lemon juice. Pour sauce over fish and bake about 15-20 or until fish is fully cooked. Dust with paprika and garnish with chopped parsley just before serving.
NOODLES & POPPYSEEDS (kluski z makiem): In pot combine 2 c poppyseed with plenty of cold water and swish around with hand. Pour off any impurities that float up. Drench with cold water again and drain through fine sieve. Place poppyseeds in pot, scald with boiling water to cover and simmer on low until poppyseeds disintegrate between fingers (about 40 min.). Drain in fine sieve, pressing out moisture. Pass through fine strainer of meat-grinder twice or through special poppyseed-grinder once. Or process them in food-processor several min until puréed. In saucepan melt 3-1/2 T. butter, add poppyseeds, 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 t grated lemon zest and 1/2 c honey and simmer 15 min or on low heat, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 t vanilla extract and/or several drops of almond extract. Optional: 1/3 – 1/2 c plumped raisins may be added. Toss with cooked egg noodles and serve room temp or chilled. Note: A store-bought canned poppyseed pastry filling may be used if you lack the time and/or energy to make it from scratch.
PICKLED HERRING (śledź marynowany): Store-bought pickled or marinated herring is good just as it comes from the jar, and it’s a great time-saver. Drain, discarding onion and spices, and serve with boiled potatoes on the side as a traditional Wigilia entrée.
BATTER-FRIED MUSHROOMS (grzyby smażone w cieście): Soak 12 large dried bolete mushroom caps of roughly equal size in warm water 1 or more hrs or overnight. Add 1/2 t salt and cook in same water at a gentle boil until fully cooked but still firm. Carefully remove mushrooms, drain and dry on absorbent paper. (Save water in which mushrooms cooked for other purposes: soups, gravies, sauerkraut dishes, etc.) For the batter, combine 3/4 c flour, 1/2 t baking powder, 1/2 t salt, 1 t oil and several dashes pepper, stir in 1 c milk and 1 beaten egg and whisk until smooth. Let stand 30 min. Dredge cooked mushroom caps flour, shaking off excess, dip in batter to cover and fry in 1/2” hot oil to a nice golden-brown on both sides. Add more oil to skillet as needed. Drain on absorbent paper and serve hot as a dish in itself or a hand-held go-together with clear red barszcz.
POPPYSEED ROLL (makowiec, strucla z makiem): Sift 3 c flour onto bread board and cut in ⅓ lb butter, chopping to achieve a groat-like consistency. Add 2 eggs and 3 yolks, lightly beaten, ½ c sour cream, 1 scant c confectioner’s sugar, 1 t grated lemon zest, ½ t vanilla and 1 cake yeast mashed with 1 T sugar. Quickly work ingredients into a dough, adding a bit more sour cream if it is too stiff to handle. Divide in two and roll each half out into a roughly 10” x 14” rectangle. Spread each rectangle with commercial poppyseed filling, leaving a ¾ ” margin round the edges, and roll up jelly-roll fashion. Transfer to baking pan, cover with cloth and leave in warm place to rise. Bake in preheated 390° oven 40-50 min. Drizzle with plain white icing and sprinkle with raisins and/or shaved almonds.
CLEAR MUSHROOM SOUP (czysta zupa grzybowa): Wash well, drain and dice 6 oz. fresh portobello mushrooms, simmer with a small chopped onion in 2 T. butter 10-15 min. or until fully cooked. Place in pot, add 6 c. water and 1 mushroom bouillon cube and simmer covered 10 min. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a dash of vinegar. Garnish with a little fresh chopped parley, if desired, and serve over cooked egg noodles or lasagna cut into 1” squares.
FRIED FISH (ryba smażona): Wash and dry 2 -3 lbs very fresh or thawed fish fillets (pike, carp, walleye, lake perch, catfish, bass, cod, hake, pollock, haddock, etc.), sprinkle with lemon juice, intersperse with onion slices, salt well and refrigerate several hrs or overnight. Rinse and pat dry, salt & pepper, dust with paprika, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, fry on both sides in hot oil until golden brown on the outside and fully cooked on the inside.
HORSERADISH SAUCE (sos chrzanowy): Fork-blend 2/3 c mayonnaise, 1/3 c sour cream and 1-2 heaping T prepared horseradish. Season to taste with lemon juice, sugar and a pinch of salt and serve with fried fish.
NOODLES & PLUM BUTTER (kluski z powidłami): Cook a package of egg noodles in lightly salted water until tender (a while longer than the Italian-style “al dente” time given on the package!). Drain, turn out onto serving platter, dot with butter and spoon some powidła (imported Polish plum butter) over it.
FISH POLONAISE (ryba po polsku): In 4 c vegetable stock containing 2 T cider vinegar cook 2 lbs lake perch fillets (or similar) until done (only a few min). Carefully transfer cooked fillets with slotted spoon to platter and keep warm in oven. In saucepan melt 3 T butter and switch off heat. Add 4 - 5 finely-chopped hard-cooked eggs and toss to coat evenly with butter. Add 2 -3 T fresh finely-chopped dill and salt & pepper generously. Toss to blend ingredients. Sprinkle fish with lemon juice and cover with hard-boiled-egg topping.
GROATS & MUSHROOMS (kasza z grzybami): Slice thin 1 lb washed and dried fresh portobello mushrooms. In large skillet sauté 1 finely-chopped onion in 2 - 3 T butter or margarine until tender and golden. Add the mushrooms, toss with spatula to coat all over, add 3 T water, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until cooked (15 - 20 min or so), stirring occasionally. Salt & pepper. Fork-blend 2/3 c sour cream with 1 T flour, stir into mushrooms and simmer on low 2 - 3 min. Garnish with chopped fresh dill and/or parsley (optional). Serve over cooked buckwheat groats, boiled potatoes, noodles or rice. Variation: This dish will be even tastier if made with 2 oz or more rehydrated and cooked dried Polish bolete mushrooms.
POLISH HONEY-SPICE CAKE (piernik): In a large bowl, mix a scant c sugar with 2 t ginger, 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t pepper, 1/2 cloves and 1/2 nutmeg or allspice (all spices ground). Stir in 4 slightly beaten eggs, 1/2 c milk, 1/4 c salad oil and 1 t baking soda. Bring 1 c honey to boil in saucepan, set aside to cool slightly and then stir into other ingredients along with 4 c flour. Mix by hand with wooden spoon about 10 min, then cover with cloth and let dough rest 1 hr. Transfer dough, which should not exceed a height of 2 inches, to lightly buttered baking pans and bake in preheated 325° oven about 75 min or until pick inserted at center comes out clean. Serve as is, dusted with confectioner’s sugar or glazed, as preferred.
CHRISTMAS EVE RYEMEAL SOUP (żurek wigilijny): Soak 4-5 dried Bolete mushrooms several hrs or overnight in 2 c water and cook in same water until tender. Slice or dice cooked mushrooms and add together with mushroom stock to 3 c vegetable stock. In it cook 2 - 3 diced potatoes. When potatoes are fully cooked, a 1 c liquid rye sour (żur) or to taste, bring to boil. and remove from heat. Fork-blend 1/2 - 3/4 c sour cream with 1 T flour until smooth and stir 1 c hot soup into mixture, 1 T at a time so sour cream doesn’t curdle. Slowly stir in sour-cream mixture into soup and heat gently several min but do not boil, stirring constantly. Season with salt, pepper and several pinches marjoram.
MUSHROOM GOŁĄBKI (gołąbki z grzybami): In 3 T butter, margarine or oil sauté 12 oz fresh wild or store-bought portobello mushrooms (washed and diced) with 2 med chopped onions. Combine with 3 - 3-1/2 c preferably slightly undercooked rice, barley or buckwheat groats, cooked with 1 mushroom cube. Add 1 raw egg and mix to blend ingredients. Salt & pepper to taste and (optional) garnish with 1 T chopped fresh parsley. Spread pre-wilted cabbage leaves with mixture, tuck in side and roll up as usual. Arrange snugly in no more than 2 layers in roasting pan or casserole drench with 3 c vegetable stock and bake in preheated 350° oven at least 2 hrs. Serve drenched with mushroom sauce (made by combining and bringing to boil 3 c water, 1 mushroom bouillon cube and 1 can cream of mushroom soup; after switching off heat, stir in a heaping T sour cream).
WARSAW FRUIT CAKE (keks warszawski): Beat 5 eggs with 1-3/4 c confectioner’s sugar until creamy. Cream 3/4 c butter with 1 t vanilla extract until light and fluffy, then beat in 1/4 c milk and 1/2 t salt. Sift 1-1/2 c flour with 2 t baking powder, add to butter mixture and mix well. Fold in egg mixture and another 1-1/2 c flour. In cornstarch-filled plastic bag place 1 c chopped prunes and figs, 1/2 c raisins and 3/4 c chopped walnuts and shake to coat thoroughly. Fold into dough and mix to distribute evenly. Transfer dough to well-greased, bread-crumb-sprinkled loaf pan(s) and bake in preheated 350° about 50 min.
HERRING SALAD (sałatka śledziowa): Drain 8 oz jar marinated herring and discard onions and spices. Dice herring and place in salad bowl. Add 2 c cold, cooked diced potatoes, 2 peeled, diced cooking apples, 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped dill pickles and 1 t. chopped fresh parsley. Toss gently and fold in sauce: fork-blend 1˝ c. mayonnaise with ˝ c. sour cream and 1- 2 T. brown prepared mustard. Chill at least 2 hrs before serving. Optional: for a gourmet twist add 1 heaping t. capers.
CHEESE & POTATO-FILLED PIEROGI (pierogi z kartoflami i serem., “ruskie”): For pierogi dough, sift 2½ c. flour onto board, sprinkle with ½ t salt, deposit whole egg and 1 T salad oil at center and blend ingredients. Add about ½ c. water a little at a time, working the dough constantly to absorb it. Knead dough until smooth, roll it into a ball and let is rest beneath a warm inverted bowl 10 min. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: cook 1 lb potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Drain and cool. Add ½ lb crumbed farmer cheese and mash together with the potatoes until mixture is uniform. (If you like, you can whirl ½ lb dried cottage cheese in food-processor to a fine powder and use it instead of the farmer cheese.) In 2 T oil lightly brown 2 chopped onions and add to mixture. Mix well and salt & pepper to taste. Roll out dough thin on floured board, cut into rounds with glass or biscuit-cutter, place a spoonful of filling at center of each round, fold in half, pinch edges together to seal. Cook in batches in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cooking time is roughly 10 min, but test one for doneness just to be sure. Serve with melted butter, sour cream or butter-fried bread crumbs (Polonaise topping). Note: If you can’t make them from scratch, use store-bought pierogi.
CRANBERRY JELLY DESSERT (kisiel żurawinowy): In pot combine 2 c raw cranberries, 2 cloves and 1 c water, bring to boil and cook until the skins of the cranberries pop. Discard cloves. With wooden pestle or spoon force cranberries through metal sieve (a plastic one may melt!), using rubber spatula to scrape scrapings from bottom of sieve into a clean pot. Add 1 c sugar and a pinch of cinnamon (optional) and simmer until sugar dissolves. Dissolve 3 T + 1 t potato starch (or cornstarch) in 1 c cold water and add to cranberries. Simmer a few min, stirring constantly, and transfer to bowl, cover and let stand until cooled to room temp. Serve at room temp or chilled, topped with super-easy vanilla sauce: beat 2 T instant vanilla-pudding mix powder (more or less) with 3/4 c cold milk to get a nice, pourable sauce.
PICKLED HERRING, HOME-MADE (śledź marynowany domowy): Soak 1 to 1-1/2 lbs Matyjas* herring fillets (available at Polish delis) in cold water 2 hrs and drain well. In pot combine 13/4 c white vinegar, 3/4 c water, several peppercorns, bay leaf, an allspice grain or 2, 1 t mustard see and 1-3 T sugar. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered about 10 min. Set aside to cool to room temp. Cut the herring into bite-size pieces or larger, intersperse in jar with thinly sliced or chopped onion and drench with strained marinade. Seal and refrigerate 2-3 days before serving. Serve with rye bread & butter or hot boiled potatoes.
* Matyjas type herring are lightly salted and to not require a 24-48 hr soaking!
PICKLED HERRING, STORE-BOUGHT (śledź marynownay kupny): Simply buy an 8-oz jar of plain marinated herring (not in wine sauce and not creamed) and serve as is or in any of the herring recipes below. Any of the herring can be served either with hot boiled potatoes or with rye bread.
CREAMED HERRING (śledź w śmietanie): ): Soak 1 to 1-1/2 lbs Matyjas herring fillets in cold water 2 hrs and drain well. Cut into bite-size pieces and arrange in serving dish. Coarsely grate 2 peeled, tart apples, sprinkle with juice of 1/2 a lemon so apples do not turn dark. Chop 2 onions fine and mix with apples. Top herring with apple-onion mixture and drench with 1 c sour cream fork-blended with a little sugar, lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste. Optional: Garnish with a little chopped parsley.
HERRING IN OIL (śledź w oleju): Use the home-made pickled herring above or drain one or more jars of pickled herring, discarding onions and spices. Plunge herring into cold water for a min or so and drain well. Transfer to jar, interspersing each layer of herring with a layer of chopped onions. Fill jar with salad oil and refrigerate several hrs or over night. Turn out onto lettuce-lined serving platter with only as much oil as clings to the herring. Top with fresh, fine-chopped onions.
MAZURIAN HERRING SALAD (sałatka śledziowa po mazursku): Soak 4 Maytjas herring fillets in cold water 2 hrs. Dry well and dice. Combine in bowl with 1 c drained (uncooked) sauerkraut, 3 med cold, cooked, diced potatoes, a chopped onion. Fork-blend 4 T salad oil with 1 T sharp brown mustard and season with a little sugar and pepper to taste. Pour over salad and toss well.
HERRING-VEGETABLE SALAD (sałatka śledziowo-jarzynowa): In salad bowl combine: 1 c diced, drained marinated herring or pre-soaked (for 2 hrs), dried and diced Matyjas herring, 2 chopped dill pickles, 2 chopped onions or 1 bunch chopped green onions, 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced, 1 c drained canned navy beans or pea-beans, 1 c drained canned peas & carrots, 2 c diced cooked potatoes, 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped, and (optional) 1 heaping T capers. Toss gently. Lace with sour cream-mayonnaise sauce: for 1 c fork-blend 1/2 c each sour cream and mayonnaise and season to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice, brown mustard and (optional) confectioner’s sugar.
MIXED VEGETABLE SALAD (sałatka jarzynowa): Omit the herring from the above recipe for a plain vegetable salad.
EASY CLEAR BEETROOT SOUP (łatwy czysty czerwony barszcz): In pot combine 3 c beet juice (from canned beets), 2 c apple juice and 1/2 a mushroom cube dissolved in 1 c boiling water. Heat to boiling. Season with salt & pepper, a dash of garlic powder, a pinch of marjoram, 1 T dry red wine and a little lemon juice and (optional) sugar to get a balanced tangy, tart & sweet flavor. Diced the leftover canned beets and mix with horseradish to taste and a little lemon juice to prepare ćwikła, the ideal go-together with ham, kiełbasa and other meats served on Christmas Day.
EASIEST CLEAR BEETROOT BARSZCZ (najłatwiejszy czysty barszcz): The Polish deli, grocery of import shop near you may stock Polish brands (Hortex, Krakus) of heat-and-eat clear beetroot barszcz that comes in a carton like juice. It may be “doctored up” to taste with a little garlic powder, dry red wine, lemon juice or marjoram if desired.
SAVORY PIE TO GO WITH BARSZCZ (kulebiak do barszczu): An easy way to whip up this old favorite is to use store-bought refrigerator crescent-roll dough. After opening tube, unroll dough on floured board and with floured thumb press down to obliterate manufacturer's perforations. Run filling down center of dough-sheet and fold parallel sides over it to overlap. Pinch seam to seal. Also pinch together any other openings that appear in dough where perforations had been. Place seam-side-down on baking sheet, tuck ends under, brush with beaten egg and bake according to pkg directions or to a nice golden brown. Let cool at least 15 min at room temp before slicing and serving. For the filling, combine 1-1/2 c cooked rice, 5 chopped hard-cooked eggs, 2 chopped onions sautéed in 2 T butter or oil until lightly browned. Combine ingredients with 1 beaten uncooked egg 1 - 2 heaping T chopped dill and salt & pepper rather generously to taste.
BARSZCZ-ACCOMPANYING TURNOVERS/PASTIES (paszteciki do barszczu): Proceed as in savory pie recipe above, but after obliterating manufacturer's perforations with floured thumb, cut dough sheet into 8 small rectangles. Place filling on each, roll up, tuck ends under and bake on baking sheet as above.
EASY CLEAR MUSHROOM SOUP (czysta zupa grzybowa łatwa): Wash, dry and slice 5-6 smallish fresh portobello mushrooms and fry in 1 T butter until moisture evaporates and mushrooms begin to sizzle. Set aside. Dissolve 2 mushroom cubes in 6 c boiling water, add the fried mushrooms and simmer several min. Darken with 1/8 t Kitchen Bouquet and season to taste with a little pepper and lemon juice. Serve over cooked egg noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
CLEAR MUSHROOM SOUP (czysta zupa grzybowa): Drench 2 oz dried bolete mushrooms with 2 c hot water and let stand 2 hrs, then cook in same water until tender. Remove mushrooms and use in the uszka recipe that follows.
LITTLE-EAR DUMPLINGS (uszka): Soak 1 slice French bread in ½ c warm water until soggy. Chop and sauté 1 coarsely-chopped onion in 2 T butter until tender and lightly browned. Run cooked recipes (from preceding recipe), onion and squeezed-out pre-soaked bread through food chopper or process briefly. Add ¼ c bread crumbs or more, stir in 1 egg white, add 1 t chopped parsley and/or dill, salt & pepper to taste and mix well. For the dough, sift 1 c flour onto bread-board, work in egg yolk and just enough water to bind ingredients into a dough. Knead until smooth, roll out very thin and cut into 1½” squares. Place a little filling on each square, fold 2 opposite points together to form a triangle and pinch shut. Gently pull 2 ends of the triangle together into a ring and pinch them together. Cook in lightly-salted boiling water without crowding until uszka float up. Remove with slotted spoon and serve in clear beetroot soup.
MUSHROOM/CABBAGE-FILLED PASTIES (paszteciki z kapustą i grzybami): Place 2 c shredded cabbage in small pot, scald with boiling water and cook until tender. Drain in colander. In skillet brown 8 oz diced fresh white and/or portobello mushrooms with 2 chopped onions in 3 T oil until fully cooked and nicely browned. Chop mushrooms & onion and cooked cabbage in food-processor. Place mixture in sieve and force out excess moisture. If still too mushy, stir in 1 T or so bread crumbs. Salt & pepper to taste. Open pkg of refrigerator crescent-roll dough. Obliterate manufacturer’s perforations by pressing down on them with floured thumb. Cut into 2” or larger squares, spread each with a little mushroom filling and roll up jelly-roll fashion, pinching ends shut and tucking underneath. Bake according to package directions and serve hot as a hand-held accompaniment to the clear beetroot soup.
FRIED BATTERED MUSHROOMS (grzyby smażone w cieście): Soak 8-12 dried Bolete mushroom caps in water several hrs, and cook in same water until tender. Transfer cooked caps to paper towel and cover with another sheet to dry thoroughly. (Note: Add leftover mushroom water to sauerkraut dishes or savory soups.) Beat together 1 c flour, 1 c milk (or 1/2 c milk and 1/2 c water), 1 egg and 1/2 salt to form a smooth batter. Dredge mushroom caps in flour, shaking off excess, dip in batter and fry on both sides in hot oil to a nice golden brown. Drain on paper towel before serving.
ŻUREK WIGILIJNY (ryemeal-mushroom soup): Wash, slice or dice and fry 1/4 fresh Portobello mushrooms and 1 chopped onions in 3 T butter until tender In pot combine 5 c water, 1 c liquid rye sour (żur is available at Polish delis*) and 1 mushroom cube. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer several min. Add mushrooms and cook a while longer. Season to taste with salt, pepper and marjoram. 1 - 1-1/2 c peeled diced potatoes may be cooked in soup until tender. Thicken with 1/2 sour cream fork-blended with a heaped T flour. *If you cannot get żur liquid, sour your soup with 3-4 pinches citric acid crystals, 1 T vinegar or lemon juice and add an extra c water.
POLISH FISH CHOWDER (zupa rybna): Clean and behead ˝ - 1 lb small panfish (perch, bluegills, chubs, crappies, bullheads) or use 1 or 2 heads (with eyes and gills removed) of a larger fish (carp, pike, walleye, whitefish, etc.). Rinse well and place in pot, add 6-8 c water and 1 t salt and cook 1 hr. Drain. If using panfish, force them through a sieve into stock. If using large fish, remove all meat from heads and return to stock. To stock add 2 sliced carrots, 1/2 a small celeriac (or 1 stalk celery) diced, 1 small sliced parsley root, 2 quartered onions, and 2 peeled diced potatoes, 1 bay leaf, 6 peppercorns and 2 grains allspice and cook until vegetables are tender. Remove soup from flame. Fork-blend 3/4 c sour cream with 2 T flour and 1 T vinegar and gradually stir into soup. Simmer several min longer. Salt & pepper to taste and add 2 - 3 gratings nutmeg. Garnish with a heaping T fresh or frozen finely chopped dill. FRIED FISH (ryba smażona): Carp and pike are the traditional Wigilia fishes but any fresh-water species (esp. walleye, perch, trout, bass, catfish, etc.) will do. Slice larger, cleaned (gutted, scaled, beheaded and fin-trimmed) fish into 1 to 1-1/2” steaks. Smaller panfish may be left whole. Intersperse with onion and lemon slices, salt well, sprinkle with lemon juice and refrigerate covered overnight or at least 2 hrs. Rinse and pat dry fish (discard onion and lemon slices.) Season fish with pepper and paprika, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, and fry in hot oil to a nice golden brown on both sides. Variation: After dredging in flour, dip in beaten egg, roll in plain bread crumbs and fry in hot oil 1/2-inch deep to a nice golden-brown on both sides. When fully cooked, drain on paper towel and serve immediately.
SAUERKRAUT & PRUNES (kapusta ze śliwkami): Drain, reserving juice, from 33 oz jar of imported Polish sauerkraut, rinse lightly, drain again, chop coarsely and place in pot with 8 oz chopped, pitted prunes. Add 2 c water, 1/2 a mushroom bouillon cube and 1 bayleaf, bring to boil, reduce heat to med for 15 min, then reduce to low, cover and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally (1 hr or more). Brown a large chopped onion in 2 T oil, add 1 c liquid from sauerkraut pot, cool slightly and in it dissolve 1 heaped T flour. Stir mixture into sauerkraut and simmer a while longer. Season with pepper and 1 t or so liquid Maggi seasoning. Serve with fried fish.
SAUERKRAUT SALAD (surówka z kwaszonej kapusty): Drain and rinse 1 pt (preferably imported Polish) sauerkraut, press out moisture and chop. Place in salad bowl and tear apart so it doesn’t stick together. Add 1 chopped onion, 1 finely grated carrot and 1 finely diced, peeled apple. Season with pepper and sugar, drizzle with salad oil and toss. Garnish with chopped chives. Excellent with fried fish Optional: Salad may also be seasoned with a sprinkling of caraway seeds.
FRIED FISH FILLETS (smażone filety rybne): Using fillets is a more convenient and less messy than bone-in fish. Whole fresh-water fillets are preferred, but the pressed, frozen, ocean-fish squares are also OK. Marinate fillets in salt, lemon and onions as above, pat dry, dip in egg wash, roll in bread crumb-flour mixture and fry in hot oil to a nice golden brown on both side. Drain on absorbent paper and serve immediate with horseradish sauce (below).
HORSERADISH SAUCE FOR FRIED FISH (son chrzanowy do smażonej ryby): Fork-blend 1/3 c each: sour cream, mayonnaise and prepared (non-creamed) horseradish). Season with salt, white pepper, lemon juice and a little confectioner’s sugar to taste. Serve cold in sauce bowl.
POACHED FISH (ryba z wody): Delicate and delicious poached fish is recommended for weight-watchers and those who must avoid hard-to-digest fried foods. To 4 c vegetable stock (home-made or bouillon cube) add 2 T vinegar and (optional) 1/4 c dry white wine. Bring to boil and in it cook 2-1/2 lbs portion-sized fish (1 fish per person – whole perch or rainbow trout with heads and tails intact are especially good)) until done: app. 20 min. The stock should cover the fish during poaching. Carefully remove cooked fish with slotted spoon to platter. Pour off water that collects on platter. Drizzle with melted butter and lemon juice and garnish with chopped dill. Note: If poaching fillets, reduce cooking time.
POACHED FISH POLONAISE (ryba z wody po polsku): Prepare poached fish as above. While it cooks, melt 3 T butter in sauce pan, add 3-5 chopped hard-cooked eggs, toss to coat evenly with melted butter, salt & pepper and garnish with chopped dill. Do not fry – only heat through and garnish portions of poached fish with egg topping.
CHRISTMAS EVE CABBAGE ROLLS (gołąbki wigilijne): Core cabbage and wilt cabbage leaves in boiling water cored-side-down, remove wilted leaves and set aside to dry. Chop and fry 8-16 oz fresh Portobello mushrooms and 2 onions in 3-4 T butter until tender and combine with 3 c slightly undercooked groats (buckwheat, barley, millet) or rice. Stir in 1 egg, salt & pepper generously and add a heaping T fresh, finely chopped dill and/or parsley. Form gołąbki and place snugly in no more than 2 layers in roasting pan or casserole. Drench with 2 mushroom cubes dissolved in 4 c hot water and bake covered at 350° 2 hrs or more. Combine pan drippings with a heaping T flour dissolved in milk to make a sauce.
SAUERKRAUT & MUSHROOMS (kapusta z grzybami): Drain, rinse, re-drain and cook a (preferably Polish imported) 1-liter jar of sauerkraut and chop coarsely. Place in pot, scald with boiling water to cover, add 1 mushroom cube, 1 bay leaf and cook 1 hr or until it looses its crunch. In 3 T hot oil fry 8 - 12 oz fresh diced Portobello mushrooms and 1 large diced onion, stirring frequently until liquid evaporates and mushrooms begin to sizzle. Sprinkle with 1 heaping T flour, add several T sauerkraut liquid and simmer briefly. Stir into sauerkraut and simmer on stove-top or bake in 350° 1 hr. Season to taste with salt, pepper, a little ground caraway and/or marjoram and a 1-2 t sugar. Simmer a while longer.
SAUERKRAUT & PEAS (kapusta z grochem): Proceed as in kapusta z grzybami (above), but use only 1/2 the amt of mushrooms. When adding mushroom-onion mixture to sauerkraut, add 1 c drained, canned chickpeas, stir and simmer another hr on stove-top or in oven.
SAUERKRAUT & NOODLE SQUARES (kapusta z łazankami): Prepare sauerkraut as in preceding recipe but omit chickpeas or beans. Cook a pkg of lasagna longer than directions on package indicate, so it is no longer “al dente” (rubbery), but fully cooked. Drain, rinse under cold running water in colander, drip dry and cut into squares. Combine with the hot sauerkraut and serve.
BUCKWHEAT GROATS (kasza gryczana): For 3 cups, bring 2 c water containing 2 t salt and 1 T oil or butter to boil. Rinse and drain well 1 c (white, med. brown or darker brown) buckwheat groats. Add to boiling water a little at a time so boiling does not cease. Stir, reduce heat, cover and pop into 325°oven for at least 30 min.
BUCKWHEAT GROATS WITH MUSHROOMS (kasza gryczana z grzybami): In 3 T butter sauté 12 - 16 oz fresh diced portobello mushrooms and 1 large diced onion, stirring frequently. When moisture evaporates and mushrooms begin to sizzle stir in 2 c milk in which 1 mushroom bouillon cube and 1 heaped T flour have been dissolved. Stir and simmer into a smooth sauce, stirring in a heaping T sour cream. Season with salt & pepper and (optional) garnish with a little fresh chopped dill and/or parsley. Serve over hot buckwheat groats.
BEANS & PRUNES (fasola ze śliwkami): Cover 10 - 15 diced pitted prunes with warm water and let stand 30 min. In 2 T butter sauté 1 chopped onion until tender and lightly browned. Cook prunes in the water they were soaked 20 min, adding a little more water if all of it was absorbed. Add the onions, 2 T vinegar and season with salt, pepper and marjoram. Pour over about 1 qt Prepare the beans as directed in previous recipe. Pour hot stewed-prune mixture over 1 qt or so heated, drained, canned beans (navy, great northern, pea-beans, lima).
Sift 3 c flour onto bread-board, sprinkle with ˝ t salt and 1-2 T salad oil, deposit 1 egg in the “crater” and pour about 1 c hot water over flour, bringing flour towards center with flat of large knife. Continue mixing by hand until uniform and knead until dough is smooth, elastic and dotted with air holes. Cover with warm bowl and allow to rest 30 min. Divide in two (keeping the temporarily unused half under bowl) and roll out thin. Cut into rounds with drinking glass or pastry-cutter, place a spoonful of filling on one side of circle, fold other side over and crimp to seal. Transfer to large pot of lightly salted boiling water. When boiling resumes, reduce heat to a gentle, rolling boil and cover. When pierogi float up, remove with slotted spoon to colander drip-dry. Combine and roll out dough scraps and repeat process if there is some filling left over.
PIEROGI FILLINGS (nadzienia pierogowe):
CHEESE & POTATO (z serem i kartoflami, “ruskie”): Cook 1-1/4 lb peeled potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, drain, mash and set aside to cool. To potatoes add 3/4 lb farmer cheese or dry cottage cheese, mashed in with potato-masher or processed to a ground-like consistency in processor, 2 med. finely chopped onions sautéed in 2 T oil until tender and lightly browned. Mix ingredients well and season with salt & pepper.
FARMER CHEESE (pierogi z serem): Combine 1 lb farmer cheese or dry cottage cheese, pulverized to a powder in food-processor, 1/4 t salt, 1 t sugar and 1 raw egg yolk into a smooth filling. Variation: Those that prefer sweet cheese pierogi may add 2 - 3 T sugar and (optional) 1/4 t vanilla extract. 1/4 - 1/3 c plumped raisins and/or 1/4 t grated lemon zest may also be added.
POTATO & ONION (pierogi z kartoflami): Cook 6-7 med potatoes until tender, drain well, steaming off moisture, and mash thoroughly or run through ricer. Lightly brown 2-3 onions chopped fine in 3 T butter or oil. Add fried mixture to potatoes, stir in 1 egg and (optional) 1 T bread crumbs. Salt & pepper to taste.
SAUERKRAUT & MUSHROOM (z kapustą i grzybami): Rehydrate, cook and chop 1 oz dried mushrooms. Drain, rinse and re-drain 1 qt sauerkraut and cook in water to cover containing 1 mushroom cube covered 30 min. Uncover and allow liquid to steam away. Transfer to colander and when cool enough to handle chop. Return sauerkraut to pot, add cooked mushrooms & liquid and 1 chopped, butter browned onion and simmer covered about 20. Drain in colander pressing out all moisture. Salt & pepper to taste.
CABBAGE & MUSHROOM (ze słodką kapustą): Core, and shred 1-3/4 lb cabbage, place in pot cover with water add 1 mushroom bouillon cube and cook 30 min from the time it comes to a boil. Drain in colander and press out moisture. Brown 1-2 chopped onion in 3 T butter or oil. Combine with cabbage and simmer 15 min, stirring to allow moisture to evaporate. Drain and press out moisture. Add 1 T bread crumbs and salt & pepper to taste. 6-8 oz fir4ed fresh mushrooms or 1 oz cooked rehydrated dried mushrooms may be added.
MUSHROOM (z grzybami): Soak 1 slice crumbled-up stale French or Vienna bread or a small roll in 1/2 c milk. Wash and slice 1 lb fresh portobello or white mushrooms (or some of each), and cook with 1-2 onions finely chopped onions in 3 T butter or oil until moisture evaporates. Grind of process mushrooms, onions and soaked bread, add 1/4 c bread crumbs, 1 small egg and mix well. Salt & pepper to taste and (optional) garnish with 1 T chopped fresh dill and/or parsley.
GROAT & CHEESE (z kaszą i serem): Combine 3 c cooked buckwheat groats with 2 c mashed farmer cheese and 2 small chopped onions sautéed in 3 T butter, margarine or oil. Mix well to get a uniform consistency. Stir in 1 small egg and salt & pepper to taste. Optional: Season with a pinch or two of ground dried mint leaves.
KLUSKI Z MAKIEM (noodles & poppyseed) Cook 1 lb pkg of wide or medium-wide egg noodles according to directions or until tender. Dot hot, freshly-drained noodles with a little butter and stir in 1 c ready-to-use poppyseed pastry filling. If store-bought filling does not contain raisins, add 1/2 c plumped raisins and toss gently to distribute evenly. May be served warm, room temp or chilled.
KUTIA (grain, honey & poppyseed pudding): Soak wheat 1 c bulgur wheat in about 2 c hot water 30 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook covered until tender. Mix in 1/2 c poppy seeds. Bring 1 c honey and 2 c water to gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer on low 20 min. When cool, stir into wheat & poppyseed mixture. May be served with cold coffee cream. Optional: 1/2 t vanilla extract, 1/4 - 1/2 c. ground or chopped almonds or walnuts and/or 1/2 c plumped raisins may be added. Note: Instead of wheat, kutia can be made with cooked barley or rice.
GROATS & FRUIT (kasza z owocami): An old sweet dish of Wigilia is cooked rice, barley, buckwheat or millet groats (kasza jaglana) topped with fruit. The cooked grain is placed in a serving bowl and topped with: stewed-fruit compote (below), preserves, powidła (Polish plum butter), jam, canned pie filling, etc. There is no set recipe, so use your judgment as to how much topping you like on your rice or groats. The hot grain can be dotted with butter and sprinkled with a pinch of cinnamon before the fruit topping is added.
BAKED RICE & APPLES (ryż zapiekany z jabłkami): Place 4-5 c cooked rice (preferably cooked in milk or half water, half milk) in well-buttered casserole. Top with 2 c canned apple-pie filling, dot with butter and bake covered 45 min at 350°. Naturally, you can stew your own diced apples with sugar to taste and a pinch of cinnamon until tender. Raisins may also be added.
NOODLES & FRUIT (kluski z owocami): Cook 1 pkg egg noodles according to pkg directions or slightly longer, drain well, dot with butter and drench with compote (below), preserves, canned pie filling, powidła or jam of choice.
CHRISTMAS EVE COMPOTE (kompot wigilijny): Soak 1 c pitted prunes, 1 c mixed dried fruit 1/2 c raisins and 1/2 c diced dried figs in hot water to cover 1 hr. Add a little more water if all has been absorbed and cook on low heat about 15 min from the time mixture boils. Switch off heat and let stand covered until cooled to room temp. Perk up the flavor with a little lemon juice. Note: 1/2 c sugar may be added to compote during cooking. Serve as a stewed-fruit dessert or dilute with 1-2 parts pre-boiled water for a beverage.
STEWED PRUNES, FIGS & RAISINS (kompot z suszonych śliwek, fig i rodzynków): In bowl combine 1 c whole pitted prunes, ½ c chopped figs and ½ c raisins. Scald with boiling water to cover and let stand 1 hr. Add 1 thinly sliced, peeled lemon with seeds removed and cook 15 min, adding a little more water if all has been absorbed. Serve chilled in dessert dishes.
POLISH PANCAKES: (racuszki): Use American-style plain or buckwheat pancake mix for this recipe and prepare according to instructions on pkg, but use buttermilk instead of milk. Stir 1/2 t baking soda and 1/2 t vanilla into batter but add no oil. Into large skillet pour oil to a depth of 1/4” and heat until fairly hot. Spoon batter into hot oil and fry roughly 3” pancakes to a nice golden-brown on both sides. Drain on absorbent paper and serve at once dusted with confectioner’s sugar or drenched with any of the fruit toppings indicated in noodles & fruit above.
OAT PUDDING (kisiel owsiany): Scald 2 c oat flour (you can make your own by processing rolled oats to a powder) with 4 c boiling water, stir and set aside in warm place overnight. Next day, add 1 c warm water and stir well. Strain through sieve, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Discard content of sieve and cook liquid 20-30 min on low heat, stirring frequently. Transfer to bowl and, when cooled to room temp, refrigerate. Serve with fruit syrups or preserves of choice. CRANBERRY GEL (kisiel żurawinowy): Rinse 16 oz fresh cranberries under running water, place in pot with 1 c water, a small piece of cinnamon bark and 1-2 cloves, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook several min. Discard spices and process cranberries, then force through sieve. Add 7 T sugar and cook on low, stirring frequently, 10 min. Remove from heat to cool slightly. dissolve 5 T potato starch (or cornstarch) in 1 c ice-cold water and stir into cranberry mixture. Cook several min longer. Set aside to set. Serve warm or cold with coffee cream.
COUNTRY-STYLE FRUIT CAKE (keks wiejski): Beat 5 whole eggs and 5 yolks with 1 slightly heaped c sugar until fluffy. Combine 1-3/4 c flour with 1 level T baking powder and stir into egg mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in 1/4 c melted butter. Rinse 1 c raisins and 1 c chopped prunes, drain, shake in plastic bag to coat with flour and stir into dough. Add 3 T finely chopped candied orange rind. Mix gently to evenly distribute fruit. Transfer to well-greased narrow loaf pan(s) and bake in preheated 375° oven about 1 hr. After it cools, serve as is, or dust with confectioner’s sugar or glaze with icing.
POPPYSEED ROLL (makowiec/ strucla z makiem): Sift 3 c flour onto bread board and cut in 1/3 lb butter chopping to achieve a groat-like consistency. Add 2 eggs and 3 yolks, lightly beaten, 1/2 c sour cream, 1 scant c confectioner’s sugar, 1 t grated lemon zest, 1 t vanilla and 1 cake yeast mashed with 1 T sugar. Quickly work ingredients into a dough, adding a little sour cream if it is too stiff to handle. Divide in two and roll each half out into a roughly 10” x 14” rectangle. Spread each rectangle with ready-to-use poppyseed pastry filling, leaving a 3/4” margin round the edges, and roll up jelly-roll fashion. Transfer to baking pan, cover with cloth and leave in warm place to rise. Bake in preheated 390° oven 40-50 min. Dust with confectioner’s sugar or glaze with white icing. Optional: Before it sets, soft icing may be sprinkled with whole poppyseeds, chopped candied orange peel, raisins, slivered almonds or chopped walnuts.
HONEY-SPICE CAKE/GINGERBREAD (piernik): Heat 2 c honey over small flame, stir in 1/2 c butter or margarine and 1-2 T honey-spice-cake seasoning (“przyprawa do pierników” – available at Polish imports shops and delis; you can also make your own by combining equal parts ground cloves, cinnamon, ginger and pepper). Separately, beat 6 eggs with 1 c sugar, stirring in slightly cooled honey mixture. Beating constantly, gradually sift in 4 c cake flour mixed with 1 T baking soda, and continue beating until fully blended and smooth. Optional: stir in 1 c chopped walnuts. Transfer batter to narrow loaf pans and bake in preheated 340° about 70 min. When cool, remove from tins. Slice in half lengthwise, spread bottom half with powidła (Polish plum butter), replace top half and glaze with white or chocolate icing.
POPPYSEED COOKIES (ciasteczka z makiem): Work 2 c flour, 1/3 honey, 1/3 c sugar, 1/3 butter, 1/3 c poppyseeds, 4 whole eggs and a pinch of salt into a uniform dough. Roll out thin, cut into circles, stars, crescents, etc. with pastry cutter, arrange on greased baking sheet, puncture each cookie with fork in several places and bake in 360° oven 15-20 min. Decorate with icing after they cool off, if desired.
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