Robert Strybel is the Polish American Journal’s Polish Chef. His column appears in each edition of the paper.Here are few of our readers’ more favorite Polish Chef columns that have been printed in the paper over the past few years.
Recipes are for home use only and may not be reprinted without permission of the author. Contact Robert Strybel at ul. Kaniowska 24, 01-529 Warsaw, Poland.
If you’d like to submit your own family recipe(s) for publication (and posterity) on this website, please send
recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org, re: Reader’s Recipes. Once enough recipes are collected, we will begin a web page for them. No payment will be given for recipes.
Cold Weather Warmer-Uppers
Need something to put in your thermos on a hunting or ice-fishing trip or an outdoor job? Want to treat guests to something different or just relax by the fire on a cold winter’s night? These traditional Polish favorites may just hit the spot. Some are also good for colds and insomnia.
MLEKO Z MIODEM (hot milk & honey): Combine in pot 1 c. milk (preferably whole milk but no leaner than 2%) and 1 heaping T. honey and gently heat to a boil. An excellent remedy for sleeplessness. For cold symptoms add 1 t. butter to pot.
HERBATA Z SOKIEM MALINOWYM (tea & raspberry syrup): Sweeten each glass or cup of hot tea with 1-2 T. pure raspberry syrup. This is a traditional cold and flu remedy. Other fruit syrups (cherry, strawberry, etc.) may be used but lack the medicinal properties of raspberry. For added potency, add 1/2 - 1 jigger vodka to each serving.
HERBATA Z RUMEM (rum-flavored tea): To each glass or cup of hot tea, sweetened to taste, add about 1 t. freshly-squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 - 1 jigger rum. Note: vodka plus several drops of rum extract may be used if real rum is not available..
GRZANE PIWO (mulled beer): In pot combine 1 qt beer, 4 T. sugar, 1 bayleaf, 2 pinches of cinnamon and ground cloves and (optional) a pinch of pepper. Heat to just below boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar and serve. Increase or decrease sugar and spices according to taste.
GRZANIEC (mulled wine): In pot combine 1 qt dry red wine, 5-6 T. sugar, a grating of nutmeg and a pinch or two of cinnamon and ground cloves and heat to boiling. You can also use a sweet red wine, in which case omit or decrease the amount of sugar.
KRUPNIK (hot honey-spice cordial): In pot combine 1 c. honey, 1/2 c. water, 1 crumbled bayleaf, 1/2 a vanilla pod, chopped (or 1 t. vanilla extract), 1 t. lemon zest, a grating of nutmeg, 10 cloves and 2 pinches of cinnamon. Bring to boil, reduce heat, skimming off scum and simmer covered about 10 min. Strain, discarding spices. Add 3 c. 100 proof vodka and heat gently but do not boil! Serve immediately, preferably in crystal cordial glasses. Warning: This is not a beverage to fill a thermos bottle with or drink by the cup!
Gardening the Polish Way
Even people who do not have room for a vegetable garden, may have a strip of unused land along the garage or out by the back fence. That may be just the place to plant a few garden greens that will be there whenever you need them. Scrambled eggs and cottage cheese are great with "szczypiorek," but will you always feel like dashing down to the supermarket for a bunch of chives every time you get the urge? And fresh dill, which gives a typically Polish accent to potatoes, vegetables, salads, egg dishes, sauces and much more is often hard to find even in large fruit and vegetable markets. Since store-bought beets are usually sold trimmed off their greens, you may never taste that delicate, creamy beet-green soup known as "bocwina." Here then are some Polish-oriented gardening suggestions for gardens big and small. Follow growing instructions on packets obtained through a seed catalog or at your nearest nursery center.
DILL. This fragrant herb is so good on so many dishes (soups, vegetables, salads, sauces, fish, meat, eggs) that you’ll want to have it on hand from late spring to early autumn. It can be chopped and frozen for the winter months.
CHIVES. This delicately onion-flavored herb complements many soups, sauces, egg dishes and salads. The store-bought variety is not as good as the freshly snipped chives you grow yourself.
PARSLEY. Although readily available in supermarkets, garden grown parsley not only provides a handy supply of fresh greens, but you also get the parsley root (used as a soup vegetable) thrown into the bargain.
RADISHES. The main advantages of growing your own is that the unwilted, tender young leaves of baby radishes (usually not commercially available) can be chopped and used as a garden green on salads and in soups. Try cooking mature radishes in a little salted water until tender and serving them as a cooked vegetable garnished with buttered, toasted bread crumbs.
MARJORAM. This is second only to dill as Poland’s favorite herb. It is used in kielbasa, kiszka, pea soup, bean dishes, pork, duck, goose, pata and much more. Grow, dry and sieve your own and store in air-tight spice containers until needed.
CELERIAC. Root celery, not stalk celery, is used in Polish cookery as one of the standard soup vegetables. It makes a nice salad when grated with apple and carrot, sprinkled with lemon juice and laced with mayonnaise. Cooked, diced celeriac is regularly added to potato salads.
HORSERADISH. This is a root that grows underground in any out-of-the-way place. Whenever you need a little freshly grated horseradish, just dig one up. A bit of the root and some of the leaves (which grow above ground) are used for making dill pickles.
BABY POTATOES. If you’ve got a bit of extra land, it is worth growing potatoes just to be able to enjoy the walnut-sized and smaller "baby potatoes" that are ready in June. Boiled, dotted with butter and garnished with dill—these are an unforgettable treat that cannot compare with what passes as "new potatoes" in the supermarket.
BLACK CURRENTS. These black, berry-like fruits are hard to come by in the U.S., but are prized by Polish cooks for jellies, syrups and cordials. Incidentally, black currants contain a whopping five times more Vitamin C than oranges. Their thorny bushes can also be used to keep out trespassers and stray dogs.
OTHER PRODUCE. Depending on how much land you have and how much effort you want to put into home gardening, other Polish backyard crops include: beets, cabbages, cauliflowers, carrots, wax beans, broad beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries and various fruit trees, to mention but a few.
Polish Spring Delights
In the weeks following the rich and heavy foods of Easter, various spring greens become abundant. They are used in salads, soups an other dishes which many Poles really enjoy. Perhaps it’s also time to sow some dill in your backyard (along a fence, behind the garage or wherever), so you can enjoy its delicious fragrance all summer. If you have a vegetable patch, also consider parsley, radishes, maybe even cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, celeriac and horseradish. But check at your garden center if the season is right in your part of the country. Meanwhile, why not try some of the following.
CHEESE & CHIVES. Fork-mash 1/4 - 1/2 lb Polish-style farmer cheese (also known as curd cheese and pressed cottage cheese) and stir in just enough sour cream (or for dieters low-fat yogurt) to form a thick paste. Sale & pepper to taste, garnish with chopped chives and enjoy with rye bread and butter. This is a typical Polish breakfast dish. Optional: Feel free to add chopped green onions and/or radishes. Variation: Creamed cottage cheese may be whirled in a blender or processor to get rid of those little blobs and used instead of farmer cheese, in which case omit the sour cream.
SPRING ONION SALAD. Chop 2 - 3 bunches washed and dried spring (green) onions and place in salad bowl. Salt & pepper rather generously, sprinkle with vinegar to taste and add 1 t. sugar. Cover and let stand about 1 hr. Drain off liquid. Add 2 - 5 chopped hard-cooked eggs and lace with sour cream, plain low-fat yogurt or mayonnaise mixed 50-50 with sour cream or yogurt. A nice change of pace from the run-of-the-mill tossed salad.
COLD RHUBARB SOUP. Wash, trim and dice 1 lb young rhubarb and place in pot. Add 5 -6 c. water, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer several min. or until rhubarb is tender. Remove pot from flame. Dissolve 1 - 2 T. potato starch (or cornstarch) in 1/2 c. water and stir into hot soup. Add a heaping T. or strawberry or cherry jam or jelly to improve the soup’s color, then sweeten to taste (with sugar or sweetener). Simmer 2 -3 min. Serve over cooked egg noodles or butter- or oil-fried croutons. A dollop of sour cream (or low-fat yogurt) may be added to each bowl.
SPRING VEGETABLE SOUP. You can make a similar soup any time using mature vegetables, but a genuine spring soup makes uses of the season’s first baby crops. To 6 -7 c. hot meat stock add a total of 3 c. diced vegetables in any proportion, including green onions, baby carrots, small kohlrabi, cauliflower flowerlets, celery and peeled new potatoes. Cook until vegetables are tender but not overcooked (15-20 min.) Thicken with 2 heaping T. flour dissolved in 1-1/2 c. milk and simmer several min. longer. Salt & pepper to taste and garnish with finely chopped fresh dill, and a little chopped parsley (optional).
CREAM OF SORREL SOUP. Trim stems from a handful of sorrel leaves and wash them well in plenty of water to remove sand. Chop sorrel fine and cook several min. in 6 - 7 c. boiling meat stock. Dissolve 2 heaping T. flour in 1-1/2 c. milk and add to pot. Simmer several min. Salt & pepper to taste and serve over hard-cooked eggs, allowing 1 egg per serving.
DILLED NEW POTATOES. Use a nylon pot-scrubber to remove the thin skin from 2 lbs of walnut-sized new potatoes under cold running water. Place in pot, cover with boiling water, add 2 t. salt and cook at a rolling boil until tender. Drain. Return pot to heat, cover and shake until all moisture steams away. Transfer to serving platter, dot with butter (or Butter Beads) and garnish with fresh chopped dill. They are delicious served with a creamy bowl of sour milk (see below), butter milk or kefir (a kind of liquid yogurt).
SOUR MILK. Most American store-bought milk has been chemically or heat treated to prevent curdling. So if you simply pour it into a bowl and leave it out in a warm place, it will eventually clabber, but may become unpalatably bitter. To get around this problem, pour 1 - 2 qts whole or 2% milk into a glass or crockery bowl, reserving 1 c. With whisk beat the reserved milk with 1/2 c. dairy sour cream or 1 c. cultured buttermilk. Let stand in very warm place (80° is good!) until clabbered. Refrigerate until ready to use. Before serving whisk until smooth.
Summertime in Poland means a large abundance of fruits and vegetables that are widely available and inexpensive only in season. Here are some typical foods which Polish people particularly enjoy at this time of year.
COLD CUCUMBER SOUP. Peel 2 cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, then slice thin into bowl or tureen. Add 1 bunch green onions chopped, 2 coarsely grated brined dill pickles (see below) and 1 c. of the pickle brine plus 2 -3 T. finely chopped fresh dill. Drench with 6 - 8 c. cold buttermilk (regular or low-fat). Mix well, salt & pepper to taste and add 1 t. sugar. Refrigerate until well chilled. Serve cold over sliced hard-cooked eggs (1 egg per serving).
CHILLED LITHUANIAN BORSCHT. Proceed as in preceding recipe, but use only 1 cucumber, add 1 bunch coarsely grated radishes and 1 small can sliced beets including the juice.
COLD FRUIT SOUP. Start with about 3 c. of any of the following single fruits or any combination thereof: small strawberries; blueberries; sour cherries (pitted or unpitted); peeled and sliced apples and/or pears; or halved, pitted plums. Place fruit in pot, add 5 -6 c. water, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 8 - 10 min. or until fruit is fully cooked.
Dissolve 1 - 2 T. potato starch (or cornstarch) in 1/2 c. water and stir into hot soup. Sweeten to taste (with sugar or sweetener) and simmer 2 -3 min. Serve over cooked egg noodles or butter- or oil-fried croutons. A dollop of sour cream (or low-fat yogurt) may be added to each bowl. This soup may be served hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled.
BLUEBERRY PIEROGI. Put a large pot of lightly salted water on stove to boil. Sift 2-1/2 c. flour onto bread-board and sprinkle with 1/2 t. salt. Break 1 egg into flour mound, add 1 T. salad oil and work into a dough, gradually adding about 1/2 c. water. Knead dough on floured board until smooth and place under warm bowl for 10 min. Sprinkle 2 - 3 c. washed, drained blueberries with 1 heaping T. sugar, 1 level T. plain bread crumbs and 1 level T. cornstarch and toss gently. Roll dough out thin, cut into rounds with glass or biscuit-cutter, place a spoonful of fruit onto round, fold in half, seal by finger-pinching and crimping with fork and drop into boiling water. Cover. when they float up, cook about 2-3 min. Remove with draining spoon and serve dusted with powdered sugar and topped with sour cream (or low-fat yogurt).
CREAMY CUCUMBER SALAD. Peel 2 -3 cucumbers, slice thin into salad bowl, sprinkle with salt, pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 t. sugar. Lace with 1/2 to 3/4 c. fork-blended sour cream (or plain low-fat yogurt) and garnish with fresh chopped dill if desired. Optional: add several thinly sliced green onions and/or radishes.
LETTUCE POLONAISE. Remove core from 2 heads Boston lettuce, wash in cold water, drain well, and break up into salad bowl. Sprinkle with salt & prepare, juice of 1/2 lemon and (optional) 1 level t. sugar. Toss gently. Fork-blend 1/2 - 3/4 c. sour cream (or plain low-fat yogurt) and pour over lettuce. Optional: salad may be topped with sliced hard-cooked eggs and/or sliced radishes and garnished with chopped chives.
POLISH TOMATO SALAD. Wash 4 large tomatoes well and slice. (You can easily remove the skin before slicing tomatoes by plunging them into boiling water for 30 sec. and then peeling it off under cold running water). Arrange on platter, season with salt, pepper, as little lemon juice and sugar and top with some chopped green onions (white bottoms and green tops). Optional: Dress with a little fork-blended sour cream or plain low-fat yogurt and garnish with chopped dill or chives.
ROAST SPRING CHICKEN POLONAISE. Wash, pat dry and rub a whole broiler-fryer inside and out with salt & pepper and set aside. Break up several slices stale French bread (white bread, hamburger buns, kaiser rolls, hot dog rolls, etc.) into bowl and drench with milk or water to cover. When bread is soggy, run it through meat-grinder with 2 -3 chicken livers and 1/4 lb ground raw turkey or chicken meat. To mixture add 1 - 2 egg yolks , 1 grated onion, 3 T. chopped dill, 1 t. chopped parsley, a dash or 2 of nutmeg, 1/2 t. Accent (MSG) and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well. Gently fold in 2 stiffly beaten egg whites. Work in a little milk if the stuffing is on the stiff side — it should be soft and moist. Fill chicken cavity 3/4 full with mixture and sew up or skewer. Place chicken on rack in roasting pan, brush with oil and pop into pre-heated 450° oven uncovered for 15 min. Reduce heat to 350°, add 1 c. water to pan and bake about 45 min., basting frequently.
BRINED POLISH DILL PICKLES. Soak 4 lbs 3 - 4 inch pickling cucumbers in cold water several hrs, then allow to drip dry. While they soak, bring 2 qts water and 4 T. kosher pickling salt to boil and set aside. At bottom of large earthenware crock or glass jar place 2 -3 stalks of pickling dill (or just the seed clusters), 2 slices of horseradish root, half a horseradish leaf, 1 grape leaf or 3 - 4 cherry-tree leaves and 3 - 6 buds garlic. Stand cucumbers upright in several layers in crock or jar and pour the luke-warm brine over them to cover. Place inverted plate on cucumbers and weight it down with a qt jar full or water to keep them submerged. Leave on counter-top at room temp. but out of direct sunlight. Ready to eat in 7 - 10 days. Some people like the crunchy undercured variety after only 4-5 days.
EGGLESS MEATLOAF. This recipe hails from World War II-`era Poland when eggs were in very short supply. Today it may be a boon to weight- and cholesterol-watchers. In a large bowl, mix 3/4 c. plain dry bread crumbs and 3/4 c. skim milk or water. Add 1-1/2 lb ground pork, veal or the pork-veal-beef meatloaf mixture available in many supermarkets. Add 1 - 2 grated onions and 1 medium-sized peeled, grated, raw potato. (The grated potato replaces the egg as a binder.) Mix well by hand until thoroughly blended. Season to taste with salt, pepper, a pinch of marjoram and (optional) 1 crushed bud garlic or a dash of garlic powder. Mix well, shape into a loaf and place at the center of a cakepan greased with oil. (Polish meatloaf is not normally made in a loafpan!) Add 1 c. water to pan and bake about 1 hr in pre-heated 350° oven.
MEATLOAF KRÓLEWIEC STYLE. This is a regional variation of the above recipe. Proceed exactly as above, but to your meat mixture add 3 - 4 finely chopped anchovy fillets (out of a can). Mix mixture well by hand to blend. You won’t taste the anchovies as such, by they will give your meatloaf an interesting flavor twist many people enjoy.
DIETETIC MEATBALLS. Prepare meat mixture as in first meatloaf recipe (above). In pot combine 4 c. water and 1-2 mushroom bouillon cubes and bring to boil.. Take small pieces of meat mixture and between floured hands roll into walnut-sized balls. Drop into boiling mushroom bouillon and cook 10 min. or until fully cooked. (Check one for doneness.) If they fall apart in the bouillon, work 1 t. cornstarch and/or some additional bread crumbs into meat mixture. Remove cooked meatballs with slotted spoon and serve. If you want a nice, light gravy to go with them, pour off 1 c. of the liquid in which they cooked, add 1/4 c. cold milk and dissolve 1 heaping T. flour in the liquid. Pour it into the pot, mix well and season to taste with salt & pepper if needed, and a sprinkle of vinegar if desired. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer gently several min.
EASY BRAISED BEETS. Drain enough canned beets (but NOT ‘pickled beets’!) to make 3 c. Reserve beet liquid for the following recipe. Chop or grate, place in pot, add 1 c. apple sauce, stir and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Fork blend 1 heaping T. sour cream with 1 heaping t. flour until smooth and stir into beets. Simmer several min., adding a little water if there is too little moisture. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder and simmer a while longer. A nice go-together with the meatloaf or meatballs (above).
CLEAR BEETROOT SOUP. In 3 c. boiling water dissolve 1 mushroom bouillon cube. Add 3 c. beet juice (from canned beets) and 1 c. apple juice. Bring to boil. Season to taste with salt & pepper, a little lemon juice or vinegar, pinch of marjoram and a dash or two of garlic powder. Serve hot in large teacups with hot crescent rolls (baked according to directions on package) on the side.
SILESIAN PORK STEW. Cut 1-1/2 lbs boneless pork into 1/2-inch cubes, dust with flour and brown on all sides in 3 T. hot oil or lard. Reduce heat, add 3 med. chopped onions, 2 small carrots sliced thin, 1/2 c. drained, well-packed sauerkraut chopped fine, 1 peeled, diced cooking apple and 3 T. water. Stir, cover and simmer on low until onions are tender. Add 1/2 c. beer, 1/2 c. water and 1/2 t. caraway seeds and simmer another 30 min. or so until meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. Add 1 crushed clove garlic and season with salt, pepper, 1 t. Maggi liquid seasoning and a pinch or two of marjoram and/or paprika.
KIELBASA or COOKED-MEAT GOLAMBKI. If you’re in the mood for golabki, but haven’t any raw ground meat on hand, try the following. If there’s a ring of smoked kielbasa in your fridge or freezer, simply remove the skin and grind or process. Scald cored cabbage and cook rice as usual. For 3 c. cooked rice, you will need about 1 lb of sausage. Other cold cuts or cooked meat or any combination can also be used. Combine the ground sausage with the rice, 2 - 3 chopped sautéed onion and 1 egg and season to taste. Then proceed to fill and roll wilted cabbage leaves as you would with raw-meat & rice golabki.
There are many different kinds of Polish hors d’oeuvres, but among the most interesting are skewered finger foods known as koreczki. These colorfully attractive shishkebab-style hors d’oeuvres will add a touch of elegance to any event. Serve them as the main attraction of a cocktail hour or a light appetizer preceding a full course banquet. Allow 2-3 hors d’oeuvres per person and prepare that many toothpicks or cocktail picks and skewer them with 4-6 of the following ingredients:
These are just a few examples. Use your imagination to come up with combinations of your own. Oranges, apples or grapefruits are impaled with the hors d’oeuvres and placed around the room for easy access. Snugly placing the orange, apple, etc., in a vase, bowl or glass will keep it stable.
Dinner Party Classics
A classic Polish dinner-party should comprise a cold starter course, soup, main course and dessert. At even the simplest dinner-party it would be unusual to serve just one cold starter (appetizer). The bare minimum is at least one cold fish, meat and egg dish. Bread and butter plus various relishes (cwikla, pickled mushrooms, spiced fruit, pickles, radishes, etc.) should be provided. Here are some suggestions.
HERRING IN HORSERADISH SAUCE. Prepare salt herring from scratch or use store-bought marinated herring. If using marinated herring out of a jar, drain and discard onions and spices. Plunge 3 c herring, cut into 1” - 1-1/2” pieces, into cold water briefly and allow to drip dry in sieve. Line serving dish with Boston lettuce and arrange herring thereon. Fork-blend 1/2 c mayonnaise, 1/4 c sour cream, 1 heaping T prepared non-creamed horseradish (more or less to taste), 1 t mustard, juice of 1/2 a lemon and 1 t confectioner’s sugar. Pour over herring. Chill at least 1 hr before serving. Decorate herring with hard-cooked-egg slices sprinkled with finely chopped chives.
EGGS IN SPRING SAUCE. Fork-blend 1/2 c. mayonnaise with 1/4 c. sour cream. Season with salt, pepper and 1/4 t. sugar. Add 2 chopped gherkins, (or 1 dill pickles), 2-3 coarsely grated radishes, 4 T finely chopped chives, 1 t chopped parsley and 1 heaping t drained capers, 1 t caper liquid and 1 t lemon juice. Salt & pepper to taste. Place 12 shelled, hard-cooked-egg halves cut-side-down on lettuce-lined platter and drench with sauce.
COLD ROAST PORK LOIN. Mince and mash 2-3 cloves garlic into a paste with 1 t salt and rub into 3 lb boneless pork loin. Place in roasting pan, cover and let stand at room temp 2 hrs. Remove loin, dust with flour (through sieve) and brown in hot fat on all sides to seal in juices. Place in loin in roaster fat side up on rack and sprinkle with caraway seeds, pepper and marjoram. Roast uncovered at 450° 15 min, then reduce heat to 350°. Add 1 c water to pan and baste occasionally with drippings that form. Roast about 90 min or until liquid that comes out of meat when pricked is white, not pinkish. Remove from oven and cool to room temp. Refrigerate over night and slice cold. Serve cold in overlapping slices on platter and decorate with spiced cherries, pickled mushrooms and parsley sprigs. Note: The pork loin can be also be served hot as a main course. Simply slice and let it summer several min. in its pan drippings. Serve with red cabbage (below).
BEEF BOUILLON. Wash 3 lb bone-in beef, place in pot with 8 c cold water and slowly bring to boil. Reduce heat, skim scum from surface until no more forms. Add 1 dry bolete mushroom, a 1 t salt and cook on low 1 hr. Halve 2 onions and scorch over gas flame, directly on coil of electric range or in dry frying pan until blackened rings form on surface of onion. Add to pot together with 1 portion soup greens, 1 small bay leaf, 6 peppercorns and 2 grains allspice. Simmer another 2 hr or until meat falls away from bone. (Hint: Save meat for paszteciki below and soup vegetables for salad or other dish.) Refrigerate room-temp stock. To serve, remove and congealed far from surface and heat to boiling. Season with 1 t Maggi liquid seasoning and salt & pepper to taste. The juice of 1/2 a lemon will perk up the flavor. Serve in teacups with paszteciki.
MEAT & MUSHROOM SOUP PASTRIES. In 3 T butter sauté 6 oz fresh sliced mushrooms with 2 coarsely chopped small onions until browned. Grind mushrooms & onions with 1/2 cooked beef and/or pork. Add 1 small egg, 2 - 3 T bread crumbs and season with Maggi, pepper and a pinch of marjoram. Mix well. Break open 2 8-oz pkg refrigerator crescent-roll dough and spread dough sheets on lightly floured board. Dip fingers in flour and press down to obliterate manufacturer’s perforations them. Cut each sheet lengthwise into 2 equal strips, run filling down center of strips and fold dough over it. Pinch to seal edges. Cut rolls at angle into 2” pieces and bake on baking sheet seam-side-down according to directions on pkg. Serve hot with beef broth.
ROAST CHICKEN WITH BABKA-RAISIN STUFFING. This is a tasty way to use up leftover holiday egg breads. Wash and pat dry 1 3-4 lb broiler or roaster (chicken). Rub insides and out with salt & pepper and let stand covered at room temp 1 hr. Meanwhile, in bowl place 2-3 c crumbled stale babka, placek, cha³ka or other plain, slightly sweet, yeast-raised coffee cake (without icing, poppyseed paste, fruit filling, etc.). (Note: The exact amount depends on the size of your fowl, but the general rule of thumb is to allow 3/4 c stuffing per lb of chicken’s raw weight.) Drench with 1 to 1-1/2 c milk. When soggy, 2 - 3 ground raw chicken livers, 2 lightly beaten raw egg yolks, 1/3 c raisins (rinsed and drained), 2 T soft butter, 1 t fresh chopped parsley and mix well with hand. Mixture should be moist and soggy, but if it appears too wet, stir in a T or so bread crumbs. Season with salt & pepper to taste and several gratings of nutmeg. Fill chicken with dressing, sew up openings and fasten wings and legs close to body with skewers or by tying. Rub all over with 2 T butter or oil, place on rack in roasting pan and sear in 450° oven 15 min. Add 1 c boiling water to pan, reduce heat to 350° and bake about 2 hr or until tender, basting occasionally (every 10-15 min) with pan drippings. Serve with potatoes cooked in pan drippings during last 30 min of roasting, a crispy green salad and baked apples (below).
APPLES BAKED WITH LINGONBERRIES. Remove core from large cooking apples, allowing 1 apple per serving. Fill opening with lingonberry jam (or whole-style canned cranberry sauce). Place in pan in water 1-1/2” deep and bake in 350° oven 30-40 min or until done. Serve with roast chicken duck, allowing 1 apple per person. Note: Lingonberries (also known in English as fenberries and mountain cranberries), may be found (in jams, preserves or unsweetened) in better supermarkets and European-style gourmet and import shops.
CAULIFLOWER POLONAISE. Place rinsed cauliflower with leaves removed stem-side-down into a pot at least 3” taller than top of the cauliflower. Add 1 t salt and 1 T sugar and scald with boiling water to cover. Bring to boil and cook several min. uncovered (to release strong ‘cabbagy’ odor), then reduce heat to med. and cook covered until fork-tender but not overcooked (about 20 - 30 min.). In saucepan brown 3-4 T plain bread crumbs in 3-4 T butter or margarine, salt & pepper lightly. Carefully transfer whole cauliflower to colander to drip-dry, then place it in serving dish, gently break it up into serving-sized portions and garnish with browned buttered bread crumbs. If too thick, add a little more butter to skillet. It should be pourable enough to be spooned over the cauliflower.
RED CABBAGE BRAISED WITH WINE. Discard outer leaves from med. head of red cabbage, cut in half and slice thin with knife. (Shredding with grater produces too fine a cut.) Place in pot, add 1 - 1-1/2 c cold water and bring to boil. Stir, reduce heat and simmer covered about 20 min. Meanwhile, try 1/8 lb diced salt pork, adding 2 chopped onions when nuggets are golden and fry to golden-brown. Stir in 1 slightly heaped T flour and fry into a golden roux. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 c vinegar. To cabbage add 1 large peeled, coarsely grated apple and the vinegar-roux mixture and stir well. Add 1 T sugar, salt & pepper and simmer covered 10 min or so.
Wigilia: Traditional & Simplified
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. For pierogi dough, sift 2-1/2 c. flour onto board, sprinkle with 1/2 t. salt, deposit whole egg and 2 T. salad oil at center and blend ingredients. Add about 1/2 c. cold 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 an warm inverted bowl 10 min. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: cook 1 lb potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Drain and cool. Add 1/2 lb crumbled farmer cheese and mash well together with the potatoes until mixture is uniform. In 2 T. oil lightly brown 2 chopped onions and add to mixture. Mix well and salt & pepper to taste. Roll dough out 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 and pinch edges together to seal. Cook in batches in a large enough pot of boiling salted water so they float freely without crowding. Cooking time is roughly 10 min. but test one for doneness just to be sure. Remove with slotted spoon and drain. Serve with melted butter, bread crumbs browned in butter or sour cream
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.
OAT PUDDING. Bring 2 c. milk to boil and remove from heat. Fork-blend or whisk 1/2 c. oat flour with 1/2 c. cold water to a smooth paste and whisk into hot milk. Add 1 heaping T. sugar, 1/2 t. vanilla extract and cook on low several min., stirring frequently. Pour into dessert dishes and let cool to room temp. Serve at room temp. (the traditional way) or chilled with a little fruit syrup or preserves. Note: To get oat flour, simply whirl uncooked rolled oats in food-processor to a fine powder and sift through sieve.
STEWED PRUNES & RICE. Soak 1 c. pitted prunes in 2 c. water several hrs. Add 2 T. sugar, 1/4 t. grated lemon rind and cook in same water 15 min. or until very tender. Season with a pinch of cinnamon if desired. Cook 2 c. rice in 2 qts boiling water until tender. Drain well. Serve stewed prunes over rice.
NOODLES & FRUIT. Cook a pkg of lasagna-type noodle squares or flat egg noodles. Usually the pkg directions are for the chewy, somewhat rubbery ‘pasta al dente’ Italians like so cook a little longer until noodles are really tender. Drain in colander. Transfer to serving dish. Dot with butter or Butter Beads, tossing lightly, and spoon 2 c. room-temp. canned cherry-pie or apple-pie filling. Toss lightly. Variation: The canned fruit fillings are also good over cooked rice.
GINGERBREAD CAKES. Cream 2 eggs with 1 c. sugar until white. Combine with about 4-1/2 c. flour, 1 c. honey and 1 t. baking soda dissolved in 3 T. water. Sprinkle in 1 t. ginger, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. ground cloves and 1/4 t. pepper and work ingredients by hand into a dough. Knead on floured board, sprinkle with a little flour and roll out to a thickness of 1/4”. With biscuit-cutter cut into circles and bake on greased cookie sheet in pre-heated 400° oven about 10 min. Remove from oven. When cool, store in air-tight tin. Prepare at least a week ahead, as the cakes becoming tender during storage. Enjoy them just as they are or glaze with white or chocolate icing before serving. Variation: Other than rounds, they can be cut into stars, hearts, angels and other shapes as desired.
DOWNLOAD PIEROGI RECIPES (Adobe PDF File)
Here's an interesting observation. Pierogi is probably the only Polish dish that seems to have its own patron saint. "Swiety Jacek z pierogami!", (St. Hyacinth and his pierogi!) is an old expression of surprise, roughly equivalent to the American "good grief!" or "holy smokes!" Nobody seems to know what the connection between these dumplings and the saintly 13th century monk was all about.
Standard Pierogi Dough. Sift about 2 1/2 c. flour onto breadboard. Sprinkle with 1/2 t. salt. Make a volcano-like crater in the flour mound and deposit 1 egg into it. Work ingredients into a dough, gradually adding about 1/2 c. cold water in a thin stream. (Some Polish cooks prefer lukewarm or even hot water.) Knead dough on floured board until firm and smooth, roll it into a ball, and let it rest 10 minutes or so beneath a warm inverted bowl. Take 1/3 of the dough at a time (leaving the rest beneath the bowl) and roll out thin. With glass or biscuit-cutter, cut dough into circles. Place a spoonful of filling on each circle slightly off center, fold in half, and press edges together with fingers, crimping to ensure a tight seal. Drop small batches of pierogi into a fairly large pot of boiling salted water, making sure not to crowd them. When boiling resumes, reduce heat to a slow boil and cook about 10 minutes. Test one to see how well dough is cooked. Remove to colander with slotted spoon and rinse lightly with cold water. Serve hot with topping of choice or let them cool and then fry them in butter to a nice golden brown. These dough recipes make 25-30 pierogi or roughly four servings.
Savory Cheese Pierogi Filling. Fill dough rounds prepared according to the above dough recipe with a mixture made by combining 1 lb. ground farmer cheese (or dry cottage cheese) with 1 whole egg, 1 extra egg yolk, and salt and pepper to taste. 1 t. sugar may be added (optional). If neither farmer cheese nor dry cottage cheese are available, drain and press out all moisture from ordinary creamed cottage cheese, which can be pulverized in a blender or ground. If filling is too wet, stir in some bread crumbs. Variations: Add 1-2 T. finely chopped chives to mixture and feel free to vary the taste with different spices like a pinch or two homemade herb pepper, hunter's seasoning, powdered caraway, crushed, dried mint leaves, etc.
Potato Pierogi Filling. Cook 1 1/2 lbs. peeled potatoes or potatoes in jackets (skins), and peel under cold running water. Mash well or put through ricer and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, lightly brown 2 finely chopped onions in 2-3 T. butter. Combine the potatoes with the onions, 1 egg, 2 T. bread crumbs, and (optional) 2 T. chopped chives. Note: The egg and bread crumbs may be omitted. For non-fast days, the onions may be fried up with a heaping T. of diced bacon or salt pork.
Sauerkraut and Mushroom Pierogi Filling. Soak 1 oz. dried Polish mushrooms 2-3 hrs. in 1 1/2 c. water, then cook in same water until tender. Chop mushroom fine, return to water, and cook to reduce liquid. When you have no more than about 2 T. of almost syrupy mushroom liquid left, switch off heat and set aside. Rinse well in cold water 2 well-packed c. sauerkraut, drain in colander, press out excess moisture, chop fairly fine, place in pot, scald with boiling water to cover, and cook on med. heat 20 minutes. Meanwhile, simmer 1 finely chopped onion in 2 T. butter until transparent or slightly browned. To sauerkraut add the mushrooms and their liquid, the browned onions, and (optional) 1/2 t. sugar. Simmer on low heat under cover another 30 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently to prevent burning. When tender, uncover and allow moisture to steam away. Salt and pepper to taste then transfer to sieve, pressing out all moisture. If you like the sauerkraut very fine, you may run it through your meat grinder. 1-2 T. bread crumbs may be added to mixture.
Cabbage Pierogi Filling. Shred 1 lb. (small head) of cabbage, scald with boiling water to cover, bring to boil, and cook 3 minutes. Drain. Cover with boiling water again and cook on med. heat 20 minutes. Separately, in skillet simmer 1 chopped onion in 3 T. butter until tender, add cabbage to onions in skillet, stir to mix ingredients, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer under cover till tender. Uncover and simmer a while longer, stirring constantly until moisture evaporates. Transfer to sieve and press out excess moisture. Chop fine or grind. Besides salt and pepper, other seasoning possibilities include about 1 t. or so chopped dill, or 1/4 t. crushed caraway seeds.
Fresh Mushroom Pierogi Filling. Wash, slice or chop and simmer 16 oz. fresh, wild, or store-bought mushrooms in 4 T. butter, together with 2 finely chopped onions under cover about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and continue simmering until moisture evaporates and mushrooms begin to sizzle. Run mushrooms and onions through meat grind together with 1 stale, unsoaked kaiser roll. Add 1 egg to mixture, mix well, salt and pepper, add a little chopped parsley (optional), and firm up with a little bread crumbs if necessary. Variation: We feel adding 1 or even 1/2 oz. dried Polish mushrooms (pre-soaked, cooked and chopped as usual) greatly improves the flavor of this dish. Another possibility is to use 8 oz. of the white, store-bought mushroom and 8 oz. oyster mushrooms.
Meat Pierozki Filling. Grind 1 lb. or so boiled or roast beef or equivalent amount of assorted, cooked leftover meat. Simmer 2 finely chopped onions in 2 T. butter until slightly browned. Soak a stale kaiser roll in 1/2 c. milk until soggy and grind together with the onions. Combine ingredients well, salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with MSG. Other seasoning possibilities include a sprinkle of garlic powder, paprika, and/or marjoram, a dash of beef seasoning or hunter's seasoning. Note: Polish dumplings or dough-pockets filled with meat are usually called pierozki (little pierogi) because they are somewhat smaller in size. Use a juice glass or smaller biscuit-cutter to cut out the rounds of dough.
Fish Pierogi Filling. Simmer 2 finely chopped onions in 2-3 T. butter until slightly browned. Run the onions and 3/4-1 lb. fried or otherwise cooked fish fillets through grinder. Into mixture work 1 beaten egg and 2 T. or so bread crumbs--enough to get a filling that is not too moist. Sprinkle in 1-2 T. chopped dill and salt and pepper to taste. Variation: Boneless smoked fish may be used instead.
Pea or Bean Pierogi Filling. Soak 1 c. navy beans, lima beans, or dried yellow peas in 5 c. water overnight, then cook in same water until tender but not disintegrated. Drain in colander and allow to cool. Brown a heaping T. diced bacon, remove nuggets, and lightly brown 2 chopped onions in drippings. Grind the beans or peas and combine with browned onions and bacon nuggets. Season with salt, pepper, savory, and/or marjoram. Note: The beans or peas may also be prepared with mushrooms.
Blueberry Pierogi Filling. Wash, drain, and drip dry 1 pt. blueberries. Some cooks sprinkle the blueberries with sugar before filling pierogi, but that makes the filling quite runny. We feel it is better to fill them with just the blueberries and then sprinkle the cooked pierogi with powered or granulated sugar on serving platter. This is a great summertime favorite, the more so that the small wild blueberries found in Poland's forests are far tastier than the commercially grown variety available in America. Note: Your blueberry pierogi will be less runny if you sprinkle the berries with 1-2 T. flour or potato starch.
Cherry Pierogi Filling. Remove stems, wash and pit 1 lb. or so sweet or sour cherries. Place in colander and gently press out some of the juice, taking care not to damage fruit. Fill pierogi with 3-6 cherries each, depending on the size of your dough rounds. Sprinkling cherries with flour or potato starch will help take up some of the juice and make your pierogi less runny. Variation: If fresh fruit is not available, canned cherry-pie filling or cherry preserves containing whole cherries may be used instead. Place 2 c. pie filling or preserves (or 1 cup of each) in a pot and heat to just below boiling. Drain and sieve, and when dripping stops, use the fruit to fill pierogi.
Prune Pierogi Filling. Soak 2 c. or so prunes overnight in water to cover. Add 1-2 sugar and 1 T. lemon juice. Cook on low heat until tender. Remove pits, place prunes in sieve, and press out excess moisture, then fill pierogi.
Apple Pierogi Filling. Peel and coarsely grate 5 cooking apples. Sprinkle with a heaping T. powdered sugar and a dash or two of cinnamon.
Date Pierogi Filling. Grind 12 oz. pitted dates and 4 oz. blanched almonds. Cream 2 1/2 T. butter with 2 hard-cooked egg yolks (sieved) and 1 raw egg yolk. Combine with date-almond mixture and flavor with 1 T. rum or 1/2 t. rum extract.
Poppyseed Pierogi Filling. Scald 1 c. poppyseeds with boiling water and cook covered on very low heat until poppyseeds fall apart when rubbed between fingers. Drain well and run through grinder 2-3 times. Mix with 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1/2 c. soaked, drained raisins, 1/2 c. ground or finely chopped walnuts, 1 beaten egg, and 1/2 t. grated orange rind. Note: Canned poppyseed filling, "doctored" with the above ingredients, may be used when there isn't time to make if from scratch.
Fried Pierogi. Spread 2 c. flour along the bottom of a large, dry skillet, sprinkle with 1 t. salt and heat, stirring frequently, until flour is lightly browned. Remove from heat. Slowly stir in just enough boiling water to bind the flour into a dough, return to heat, and mix well until dough comes away from skillet. Set aside to cool. Roll dough by hand on board into a long, narrow, even roll. Slice roll into 1/2-inch rounds one at a time, flatten between palms into a small pancake, fill with a spoonful of savory cheese filling of choice, fold over, and pinch edges together. Fry in 1 c. hot lard, vegetable shortening, or oil to a nice golden brown on both sides, drain on absorbent paper and serve immediately, topped with liquified sour cream.
Lazy (Unfilled) Cheese Pierogi. Grind 1 lb. (or slightly more) farmer cheese. Add 3 lightly beaten raw egg yolks and 2 T. soft butter. (Butter may be omitted if you're cutting down on fat.) Mix ingredients into a uniform mass and fold in 3 stiffly beaten egg whites. Stirring constantly, work in 1 c. flour, add 1/2-1 t. salt, and mix lightly. Turn dough out onto lightly floured board and roll by hand into a long 1-inch roll. Even up sides and flatten top with a wide-blade knife and cut at an angle into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces. Drop the dumplings in batches into boiling salted water so as not to crowd them in pot. After they float up, cook them at a slow boil about 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and serve immediately with melted butter or Polonaise topping.
LOW-FAT SOUR CREAM. In blender, whirl a pint of creamed cottage cheese and juice of 1/2 lemon to a smooth sour-cream consistency. You can also blend together 1 part cottage cheese and 1 part no-fat plain yogurt. Use as a cold topping on pierogi, nalesniki, potato pancakes and salads.
LOW-FAT MAYONNAISE. In blender, combine 2/3 c. sweetened canned condensed milk, 1/4 c. salad oil, 1/4 c. lemon juice, 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. brown prepared mustard (Polish or Dusseldorf type), 1 egg yolk and 1/4 t. white pepper. Blend until smooth and thick. Use as you would ordinary mayonnaise which would contain 7 times more oil than this recipe.
LOW-FAT ALL-PURPOSE SAUCE. Simply fork-blend 1 c. lite mayonnaise, 1 c. plain no-fat yogurt, 1 t. brown prepared mustard, 1 t. sugar, 1 T. lemon juice, 1/4 t. white pepper (or ordinary black pepper) and 1/2 salt (optional) until a thick, creamy sauce. Excellent on fish, cold meats, hard-cooked eggs, in sandwiches, potato salad, tuna salad, cole slaw and other salads. Variations: Add 1-2 heaping T. prepared horseradish for horseradish sauce or 1 heaping T. brown prepared mustard to get a nice mustard cold mustard sauce. For a pleasantly pinkish hue, stir 1/4 c. beet juice (from canned beets) into basic recipe. Or add 1 heaping T. beet and horseradish relish. For garden-green sauce, stir in 1 c. of any or all of the following finely-chopped greens: dill, parsley, chives, chervil, baby-radish tops, baby-beet greens, fresh basil, and garden cress.
POLISH-STYLE CRANBERRY RELISH. In blender, combine 1 c. whole-style canned cranberry sauce, 1 c. red-currant jelly and juice of 1 lemon. Whirl until blended and combine with 2 c. drained, diced, canned pears. Cover and refrigerate overnight or longer before serving. For a zesty twist, add 1 t. prepared non-creamed horseradish.
POTATO PANCAKES. Sift together into bowl 6 T. flour, 1 t. salt and 1/4 t. baking powder. Into blender pour Egg Beater or other egg substitute equivalent to 3 eggs. Start blender and add gradually 6 medium sized peeled potatoes, sliced or dices, and 1 small chopped onion. When mixture is uniform, pour it into dry ingredients and mix well with wooden spoon until blended. Spoon mixture into hot oil in skillet and fry until brown and crispy on both sides. Drain on paper towel and serve at once with sugar and/or your low-fat sour cream (made by blending cottage cheese).
EGGLESS PIEROGI. Sift 2 c. flour onto board. Make depression in flour mound and into it pour 1 T. salad oil and 2/3-3/4 c. lukewarm water. Use flat of knife blade to more dry flour into moistened center. When all is moist, work into a dough with your hands and knead until elastic. It has been kneaded enough if small holes are visible when dough is cut in half. Roll out thin on floured board and cut into circles with glass or biscuit-cutter. Drain about 3 c. canned apple or cherry pie filling in sieve, mixing lightly until dripping stops. (Use fruit drippings as topping for cakes, puddings or ice-cream.) Combine filling with 3 T. bread crumbs and use it to fill pierogi. Seal well by pinching ends together between fingers or crimping them with a fork and cook in lightly salted boiling water 8-10 minutes from the time boiling resumes. Remove with slotted spoon to colander, rinse briefly with cold water and serve immediately. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and low-fat sour cream.
Since the advent of capitalism, the people of Poland can also enjoy strawberries from the Middle East in February and Egyptian “new” potatoes in November. Although pricey, neither can compare in flavor and nutrition to the locally produced garden-fresh variety in season. So Poles to this day look forward to the first locally grown “nowalijki” (young greens – dill, chives, parsley, spring onions, radishes, etc.) in spring and new potatoes and strawberries around June. Here are some of the typically lighter and fresher foods Poles enjoy during the warmer months.
CHEESE & GREENS (twarożek z zieleniną): Grate or fork-mash 1 lb farmer cheese, salt & pepper, add several coarsely grated radishes, 2-3 diced spring onions mix well and lace with enough sour cream to form a thick spread. Serve with rye bread of rolls with butter as a spring or summer breakfast. Variation: If farmer cheese is not available, briefly process 16 oz creamed cottage cheese, combine with veggies but omit sour cream. Option: To enhance the nutritional value, add 1-3 chopped hard-cooked eggs
DILLED NEW POTATOES (młode kartofelki z koperkiem): Try to get real, young, walnut-sized new potatoes. They are truly the immature Polish-style “młode zimeniaki” if they need not be peeled because their skin is thin enough to scrub away under running water with a nylon scrubber. Place 2-1/2 lbs scrubbed (or peeled) new potatoes in pot, cover with boiling water, add 1 t salt and cook on med heat about 30 min or until fork-tender. Drain. Dot with butter (about 1 T) and garnish with finely chopped fresh dill. Toss gently to evenly coat potatoes with melting butter and dill.
NEW POTATOES & BUTTERMILK (młode kartofelki z maślanką): Prepare dilled new potatoes as above and serve as a light warm-weather meal in itself with a bold of cold buttermilk on the side.
SPRING SALAD (surówka wiosenna): Slice thin with knife of on slicer blade of hand-held grater 1 bunch washed, dried radishes and combine with 1 peeled, halved, thinly slice cucumbers and 1 bunch washed, dried green onions. Feel free to alter the proportions of veggies as desired! Fork-blend 3/4 c sour cream with juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 t salt and 1 t sugar and pour over salad. Optional: Top with sliced hard-cooked egg and dust with paprika.
SPRING ONION SALAD (sałatka ze szczypioru): Wash, dry and chop 3-4 bunches green onions. Salt & pepper. Fork-blend 3/4 c sour cream with juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 t salt and 1 t sugar and pour over salad.
CALIFLOWER POLONAISE (kalafior z zasmażką): Place whole cauliflower stem side up in pot, add 1 t salt and cold water to nearly cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook covered at a gentle rolling boil 20-30 min or until fork-tender. While it cooks, heat 2-3 T unsalted butter until bubbly and add 2-3 T plain dry bread crumbs, simmer, stirring frequently, until nicely browned. Spoon butter-browned breadcrumbs (known world-wide as Polonaise topping) over drained, cooked cauliflower.
BABY BEET-GREEN SOUP (botwinka): You’ll need a bunch (about 1 lb) of baby beets no larger than radishes plus their greens for this recipe. Cut away and said aside the greens. Peel the beets, dice or cut into matchsticks and cook in 2 c salted water containing 2 t vinegar until tender (about 20 min). Transfer to 4 c pork stock or bouillon, add the chopped beet greens, bring to boil and simmer on low 5 min. Remove from heat. Add 1 t sugar and 2 t lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste.. Fork-blend 1/2 c sour cream with heaping T flour until smooth and gradually stir in 3-4 T of the hot soup 1 T at a time, then stir into soup. Heat several min below boiling to rid the flour of its “raw” taste. Garnish with fresh chopped dill and chives and serve over hard-cooked edge wedges or slices (allow 1 egg per serving).
SUMMER BIGOS (bigos letni): Remove the skin from 1 lb smoked kiełbasa and dice or slice into thin rounds. Place in pot, add boiling water to cover and simmer covered 30 min. Wash well 1 head baby cabbage at the loose-leaf stage (not yet formed into a compact head). Trim away base and any wilted or damaged leaves. Chop cabbage coarsely and add to sausage pot. Mix well and simmer under tender. In saucepan lightly brown 2 T flour in 2 T bacon or fatback drippings and stir into cabbage. Simmer covered another 5 min. Season with salt and pepper, sour to taste with lemon juice (1-2 t) and garnish with chopped dill. Note: Mature cabbage may also be used, but requires somewhat longer cooking.
ROAST CHICKEN POLONAISE (kurczę pieczone po polsku): Soak 2 broken-up stale white rolls or French bread in milk to cover until soggy. Process or grind together with 3 raw chicken livers. Combine mixture with 1/4 lb raw ground veal, 1 - 2 eggs, 1 - 2 T soft butter or margarine. Work well by hand until fully blended. Season with salt, pepper, a dash of nutmeg, and 1 heaping T or more finely chopped fresh dill. Mix well. Use mixture to stuff 2-1/2 - 3 lb broiler and pat dry. Sew up, tying legs together. Rub chicken all over with a little oil, sprinkle with pepper and paprika and rub in. Add 1 c boiling water to baking pan. Bake in preheated 375° oven about 75 – 90, basting from time to time.
STRAWBERRIES & SOUR CREAM (truskawki ze śmietaną): Wash but and hull 1 lb strawberries. Dust generously with confectioner’s sugar and add a dollop of sour cream to each portion. Note: Larger berries may be halved.
SUGARED STRAWBERRIES (truskawki w cukrze): Wash but do not hull 1 lb strawberries. Place in serving dish stem-side-up and provide a bowl of sugar on the side so diners can dip their slightly moist strawberries in sugar before popping them in their mouth. The stem (hull) serves as a convenient holder.
RHUBARB COMPOTE: Bring 8 c water to boil. Wash and peel (or leave unpeeled) 1 lb rhubarb, diced. (Leaving it unpeeled will give the compote a nice pinkish hue!) Add rhubarb to boiling water with 2 cloves and 1/2 c sugar, reduce heat and simmer about 15 min. Sweeten with a bit more sugar to taste if desired and (optional) add a pinch of cinnamon. A heaping T red-colored jam (strawberry, cherry, red currant) stirred into the hot compote will improve its color and flavor. Serve at room temp or chilled as a refreshing home-made drink.
OTHER, MIXED COMPOTES (inne, mieszane kompoty): Also very good are compotes made with strawberries and cherries. Prepare as with rhubarb compote (above). Or try a mixed fruit compote: rhubarb & strawberry, rhubarb & cherry or rhubarb, strawberry & cherry.
EASY STRAWBERRY TORTE (łatwy torcik truskawkowy): Wash, drain and halve 1 lb strawberries. In saucepan melt a 9 or 10 oz. jar strawberry jelly, add the strawberries and simmer on low about 10 min. Set aside to cool. Spoon mixture over the top of a store-bought sponge-cake bottom (spód biszkoptowy). Cut into wedges and top with home-made or aerosol whipped cream just before serving.
Some readers complain that at many “Polish” festivals, such things as hotdogs, corndogs, hamburgers, french fries, pizza, tacos, etc, outnumber the actual Polish dishes available, and the organizers often use the excuse that it’s “for the kids”. The fact remains that people will drive for miles to attend Polonian fests and Polish parish picnics, and Polish food is one of the main attractions. And who says kids don’t like kiełbasa, gołąbki and pork cutlets?! Here are some of the favorites to consider when planning the menu of such an event:
SCRAMBLED EGGS & CHIVES (jajecznica ze szczypiorkiem): Dice 1/4 lb thick-sliced bacon and fry up with 2-3 minced onions until browned and fully cooked. Bacon nuggets should be tender, not crispy or brittle! Add 2 doz eggs and fry on low without stirring until almost set, then break up with spatula and fry briefly. It should still be slightly moist, not dried out. Salt & pepper lightly (provide salt & pepper shakers for diners to season their servings to taste) and garnish with finely chopped chives. Serve with rye bread and unsalted butter. Great for an after-mass breakfast!
SCRAMBLED EGGS & KIEŁBASA (jajecznica na kiełbasie): Skin and slice thin or dice 1 lb smoked kiełbasa and brown on both sides in butter, lard or bacon drippings. (Optional: brown 2 chopped onions with the kiełbasa until tender and golden.) Add 2 doz eggs and fry on low without stirring until almost set, then break up with spatula and fry briefly until set the way you like. Salt & pepper lightly. Optional: Garnishing with finely chopped chives will improve its appearance!
GRILLED KIEŁBASA (kiełbasa z rusztu): Cut smoked kiełbasa into 3 - 4” serving-sized pieces or use the smaller grillers (wiener-size Polish sausage) available in some places. Cook on charcoal or electric grill well away from flame, turning frequently, until evenly browned on all sides. These can also be cooked on a rotisserie. They can be kept warm and ready to serve in an electric roaster. Go-togethers include; prepared horseradish, Polish-style Sarepska or similar German-style Düsseldorf brown mustard, dill pickle and rye bread.
KIEŁBASA IN A ROLL (kiełbaska w bułeczce): Grillers or pieces of baked kiełbasa the size of the crusty split roll into which they are inserted are a convenient Polish fest fast food. Prepare as above and serve in crusty rolls (rye or crusty French bread type) with Sarepska or Düsseldorf mustard or red or white prepared horseradish.
FRIED KISZKA (kaszanka smażona): Slice kiszka 1/2” – 3/4” thick and fry in a little lard, butter or oil until heated through and crusty-browned on both sides. Go-togethers include brown mustard, horseradish, fried onions, dill pickles and sliced tomato. Provide brown mustard and/or horseradish and rye bread.
KISZKA-BURGER (kaszanka w bułce): Remove skin from kiszka and fry in a little lard, butter or oil, breaking it up with spatula to a hash-like consistency. When nicely browned serve on a crusty bun, hamburger-style. Provide brown mustard and/or horseradish, fried onions and dill pickle. The kiszka can also be fried broken up (like hash).
POLISH GROUND CUTLET (kotlet mielony): Soak 2 stale bread rolls (app. 1/4 lb) in water or milk until soggy. Fry 2 sliced onions in a little fat until golden. Run drained soaked bread and onions through meat-grinder or process briefly. Combine with 2-1/4 lbs ground meat (pork, pork & beef or pork, beef & veal mixture), add 2 eggs, mix well by hand to blend ingredients, season with salt & pepper, a bit of garlic powder and a pinch of ,marjoram. Form thick oblong patties and brown to a nice golden-brown on both sides in hot fat, then reduce heat, cover and simmer on low another 10 min or so until fully cooked. Serve as a main course or in a crusty bun with mustard, mayonnaise, dill pickle, or tomato slice.
BREADED PORK CUTLET: (kotlet schabowy): Cut bones away from center-cut pork chops or slice boneless center-cut pork loin 1” thick and pound with meat mallet pound on both sides until 1/4” – 1/3” thick. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a pinch of marjoram and/or garlic powder if desired. Dredge in flour, dip in egg wash and roll in fine, plain bread crumbs. Gently press breading into cutlets and. Fry to a nice golden brown on both sides in hot lard, vegetable shortening or oil until fully cooked, drain on paper towel. These can be kept warm until needed in an electric roaster. Serve as a main course with dilled new potatoes salad or in a crusty bun or between slices or rye bread with mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato or sliced dill pickle.
BREADED CHICKEN-BREAST CUTLET (kotlet z piersi kurczaka): Pound chicken half-breast thin with meat mallet, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a faint pinch of marjoram, dredge in flour dip in egg wash (egg beaten with equal amount of water) and roll in plain dry breadcrumbs, pressing in breading and shaking off loose, excess crumbs. Fry in butter, lard or oil to a nice golden brown on both sides, drain on paper towel and serve as a main course with dilled whole potatoes and mizeria (see below). These can also be served fast-food-style on a bun as above.
CUCUMBERS & SOURCREAM (mizeria): Peel cucumbers and slice thin. Toss with thinly sliced onion (roughly 1 small onion to 2-3 cucumbers). Salt & pepper, sprinkle lightly with vinegar and sugar and toss. Since cucumbers and sour cream turn very soupy, at a food-fest venue it’s best to dish out portions with slotted spoon (to drain off excess liquid) and spoon some liquefied sour cream over each portion as needed. (Fork-blend sour cream to liquefy!) Garnish with some fresh finely chopped dill if desired.
POLISH HUNTER’S STEW (bigos): Drain 3 qts sauerkraut, rinse in cold water, drain again, squeeze dry and chop coarsely. Place in pot with 1 bay leaf, cover with cold water and cook uncovered about 60 min, stirring occasionally. Transfer drained sauerkraut to baking pan and add some or all of the following: 2 qts various boneless, cooked, cubed meat (beef, venison or other game, pork, veal, turkey, duck), 3 c smoked Polish sausage, 1 mushroom bouillon cube, 1 c stewed tomatoes, chopped, 1 c pitted prunes, chopped, 1/2 c dry red wine, 2 buds crushed garlic, 2 diced large cooking apples, peeled and diced. Mix ingredients and bake uncovered in 360° oven 30 min. Mix again, cover pan and bake another 2 hrs at 325°. After switching off heat, leave bigos covered in oven until it cools to room temp. Refrigerate over night. Reheat at 350° for 90 min before serving. If too moist, pour off some of the liquid and stir in a T or more flour, mix well and bake another 15 min. Serve with rye bread or potatoes.
STUFFED CABBAGE (gołąbki): Combine 1 lb raw ground meat (pork, pork & beef, pork-veal-beef combination) with 4-6 c undercooked rice, 1-3 chopped butter-fried onions and 1 egg. Mix ingredients by hand and salt & pepper to taste. Other seasonings can include: 2-3 dashes of garlic powder and/or Tabasco, or a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley or dill. Use meat-rice mixture to fill pre-wilted cabbage leaves. Before filling and rolling, cut out or shave down the thick central vein near the base of the cabbage leaves. Place gołąbki snugly in roaster no more than 2 layers and drench with 3 c tomato juice (plain or containing 1/2 c spicy-style ketchup). Bake covered in preheated 360° oven 1 hr. Reduce heat to 325° and cook another 2 hrs. Switch off heat and leave in oven another 20 min or so for flavors to blend.
PIEROGI DOUGH (ciasto na pierogi): 1. Sift 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 c flour onto bread-board. Sprinkle with 1/2 t salt. Deposit 1 small egg at center and use knife to mix outlying flour into egg. Gradually add about 1/2 fairly hot water in a thin stream and work mixture by hand into a dough, gradually working in 2 T salad oil. Knead well until dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to hand. On lightly floured board, roll out thin 1/3 of the dough, leaving the remainder under a warm inverted bowl so it doesn't dry out. With drinking-glass or biscuit-cutter cut dough-sheet into rounds. Place a spoonful of filling just off center of each dough round, cover filling with larger dough flap and pinch edges together to seal. 2. Combine 2 c flour, 1 c dairy sour cream, 1 small egg and 1/2 t salt. Work ingredients together to form smooth dough and knead briefly. Roll out and proceed as with the recipe above.
CHEESE & POTATO PIEROGI (ruskie pierogi): Cook 2 lbs peeled potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, drain, mash and set aside to cool. To potatoes add 1 lb farmer cheese or dry cottage cheese, mashed with potato-masher or processed to a ground-like consistency in processor, 2 finely chopped onions sautéed in 2 T oil or butter until tender and lightly browned. Mix ingredients well and season with salt & pepper. Toppings may include sour cream, or skwarki (fried golden-brown pork fatback nuggets).
SAVORY CHEESE PIEROGI (pierogi z serem na słono):): Combine 1 lb farmer cheese or dry cottage cheese, pulverized to a powder in food-processor, 1 t salt, 1 t sugar, 1 t lemon juice and 1 raw egg yolk into a smooth filling. The cooked pierogi may be served with melted butter, sour cream or plain low-fat yogurt (for weight-watchers).
SWEET CHEESE PIEROGI (pierogi z serem na słodko): Combine 1 lb grated or processor-pulverized farmer cheese or dry cottage cheese, 1/4 t salt, 3 T sugar sugar, 1 t lemon juice , 1/2 t vanilla extract and 1 raw egg yolk into a smooth filling. Optional: Add 1/2 c raisins. The cooked pierogi may be served with melted butter, confectioner’s sugar, sour cream or plain yogurt (for weight-watchers).
POTATO & ONION PIEROGI (pierogi z kartoflami): Cook 6-7 med potatoes until tender, drain well, steaming off moisture, and mash thoroughly are put through ricer. Dice 3-4 slices thick-sliced bacon and brown with 2 finely diced onions. Note: For fast-day (or vegetarian) pierogi, fry the onions in 2-3 T butter or oil.) Add fried mixture to potatoes, stir in 1 egg and (optional) 1 T bread crumbs. Salt & pepper to taste. 1-2 T chopped chives, parsley or dill or a combination thereof may be added to filling. Serve with sour cream or plain yogurt.
SAUERKRAUT & MUSHROOM PIEROGI (pierogi z kapustą i grzybami): Drain, rinse and re-drain 1 qt sauerkraut and cook under cover in water to cover containing 1 mushroom cube 30 min. Uncover and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to colander and, when cool enough to handle, press out as much moistrue as possible, chop rather fine. In 2-3 T butter or oil simmer 16 oz washed, diced Portobello mushrooms with a finely diced onion until fully cooked (about 15 min). Return sauerkraut to pot, add cooked mushrooms and simmer covered about 20. Drain in colander pressing out all moisture. Salt & pepper to taste. Garnish cooked pierogi with skwarki or fried diced onions.
BLUEBERRY PIEROGI (pierogi z jagodami): Remove any leaves or stems from about 1 lb fresh blueberries, rinse and drain well in colander or sieve. Dust berries 1 t cornstarch starch to make the cooked filling less runny. As toppings, provide granulated or confectioner’s sugar, sour cream (or yogurt) or heavy sweet cream. Many prefer these cooked in water, drained, cooled and refried in butter when ready to serve. The pierogi will be a nice golden brown and the filling will be firmer.
POTATO PANCAKES (placki kartoflane): Peel and grate of cut into cubes and process in processor 2-1/2 lbs potatoes, place in sieve and allow to drip-dry, catching drippings. When drippings settle, pour off dark liquid and add the white sediment (pure starch) left at bottom to the grated potatoes. Add 1 grated onion, 3-4 T flour, 2 t salt and mix well. Fried potato pancakes are not good reheated, so in a festival setting it’s best to fry them as orders come in. With dipper place portions of potato batter in hot lard or oil, flatten gently with spatula and fry to a golden brown on both sides. Provide salt, sugar and sour cream.