Polish summer food fest

Polish summer food fest

Here are some typically Polish taste treats of summer. Why not give them a try at your next family Sunday dinner, picnic, parish supper or Polish festival. They’re sure to be a hit!

BABY BEET-GREEN SOUP (botwinka):

Wash extremely well under running water 3/4 – 1 lb baby beets (which should be no larger than small radishes) together with their greens (tops). Trim away any damaged or blemished sections. Chop quite fine and cook in a small amount of lightly salted water containing juice of 1/2 a small lemon until tender. Add to 6 c strained meat stock (veal stock is excellent!). Add about 1 c juice from canned beets and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Fork blend 1 c sour cream with 1 heaping T flour until smooth and stir in 1 c soup 1 T at a time. Stir mixture into pot and simmer several min without boiling. Season to taste with salt, pepper, a pinch or 2 of sugar and lemon juice. Garnish with chopped fresh dill. Serve over sliced hard-cooked eggs.

CREAM OF SORREL SOUP (zupa szczawiowa):

Wash a handful of fresh sorrel (about 1/3 lb) very well in plenty of cold running water to remove all sand. Trim off and discard stems. Chop and simmer in 2 T butter in sauce pan about 5 min. Dissolve 2 T flour in 1 c meat stock or bouillon, add to sorrel and simmer several min longer. Add to 5 c meat or vegetable and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Fork-blend 3/4 c sour cream, gradually adding 1 c soup 1 T at a time. Gradually stir into soup and simmer several min without boiling. Serve over halved hard-cooked eggs, allowing 1 egg per serving.

ROAST STUFFED SPRING CHICKEN, POLISH STYLE (kurczak pieczony po polsku):

Soak 2 broken-up stale rolls (kaiser, hamburger, French bread, etc.) 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, 1 heaping T finely chopped fresh dill and (optional) 1 t finely chopped parsley. Mix well. Rinse well 2-1/2 – 3 lb broiler and pat dry. Rub inside and out with salt and stuff just before roasting. Note: For fluffier stuffing, add the beaten yolks first and then fold in the stiffly beaten whites. (Allow about 3/4 c stuffing per lb chicken.) Sew up, tying legs together. Rub chicken all over with a little oil, sprinkle with pepper and paprika and rub in. Bake in pre-heated 375° oven about 75 – 90 min. Baste occasionally with pan drippings. Serve with mizeria (cucumber salad) and new potatoes (below).

CUCUMBERS & SOUR CREAM (mizeria):

Peel 2 nice-sized cucumbers and slice into thin rounds. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 30 min. Pour off liquid. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, 2- 3 pinches sugar and 1 T lemon juice or vinegar. Lace with 3/4 c fork-blended sour cream.

TOMATO & ONION SALAD (salatka z pomidorów):

Another typically Polish salad is the height of simplicity. Arrange tomato slices on serving platter. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper and top each slice with several wafer thin onion slices or about 1 t chopped green onions. Serve as is or drizzle with a little salad oil.

LETTUCE & SOUR CREAM (zielona salata ze śmietaną):

Wash well and drain Boston lettuce, bib lettuce or (as a last resort) iceberg lettuce. Tear up into bite-sized pieces and place in salad bowl. Fork-blend 3/4 sour cream with 1/4 t salt, juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 t sugar and pour over lettuce. Variation: Top lettuce with 2 sliced hard-cooked eggs and or several thinly sliced radishes before drenching with sour cream. Garnish with chopped green onion if desired.

DILLED NEW POTATOES (mlode kartofelki z koperkiem):

Instead of peeling, use a nylon scrubber to scrub away the thin skins from 2-1/2 lbs walnut-sized new potatoes under cold running water. Place scrub-peeled potatoes in pot, cover with boiling water, add 1 t salt and cook on med heat about 30 or until fork-tender. Drain. Return to flame and shake pot until all moisture steams off. Dot with butter (about 1 T) and garnish with finely chopped fresh dill. Toss gently to even coat potatoes with melting butter and dill.

KIlEBASA-KABOBS (szaszlyki po polsku):

If you have a charcoal grill, rotisserie or other such appliance, try this Polish variation of the Middle Eastern shish-kebab. On skewer alternate 1/2″-thick rounds of smoked kielbasa, fresh mushroom caps, onion slices, squares of bacon pieces of bell pepper and pitted prunes. All ingredients should be roughly the same size. Brush with lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper & marjoram and cook over flame or coals, turning frequently until fully cooked and nicely browned. Variation: intersperse pieces of beef tenderloin and/or boiled ham among the ingredients listed above. Serve with cooked rice or bread and Polish tomato salad (above).

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BRAISED BABY CABBAGE & SAUSAGE (mloda kapusta duszona z kiełbas):

Remove the skin from 1 lb smoked kielbasa. Dice chop kielbasa or cut into thin half-slices. Place in pot, add 2 c boiling water 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 fat-back (slonina) drippings, dilute with 1 c of cabbage liquid and stir until smooth. Add to cabbage and mix well. Simmer covered another 5 min. Season with salt and pepper and sour to taste with lemon juice (1-2 t). Serve with boiled, dilled new potatoes (above) for a complete summer meal.

BLUEBERRY PIEROGI (pierogi z jagodami):

Rinse 1-1/3 lb blueberries, discarding any stems, leaves and impurities. Let drip-dry in colander and dust (though sieve) with 1 T cornstarch. Put a big pot of water on to boil, adding a little salt and 2 T salad oil. Sift 2 c flour onto bread-board, sprinkle with 1/2 t salt, make well at center and deposit 1 egg inside. Mix flour with egg, gradually adding about 1/2 c warm water. Work dough by hand on floured board until soft and glossy. Divide into 3 parts, covering 2 parts with inverted bowl or several thicknesses of dish towel so the don’t dry out. Roll out thin, cut into 3″ circles with glass or biscuit-cutter. Place spoonful of berries on each round, fold in half and pinch edges together well. When the 1st batch of pierogi is made, proceed the same way with the remaining 2 batches of dough. Cook pierogi in boiling water in batches so as not to overcrowd. When they float up, cook another 2-3 min. Remove with slotted spoon to colander. Serve with melted butter or 1 c sour cream fork-blended with 3-4 T sugar.

NEW POTATOES & BUTTERMILK (mlode kartofelki z maslanka):

Prepare dilled, buttered new potatoes as in previous recipe. Instead of serving with the roast chicken or other main course, as a nice summer lunch or light supper serve with a bowl of cold buttermilk (eaten with a spoon like soup) on the side. Just like babcia used to!

CHEESE & CHIVES (twarozek ze szczypiorkiem):

Briefly process 1 pt creamed cottage cheese to obliterate those little globs and obtain a smooth texture. Add 1 heaping T finely chopped fresh chives and 2 – 3 chopped greens onions (bulbs & greens). Several coarsely grated radishes and a roughly 2-inch length of peeled cucumber may be added. Mix well, season with salt, pepper, paprika and (optional) a pinch of caraway seeds. Serve with kaiser rolls, rye bread or French bread for breakfast or a light supper.

COUNTER-TOP DILL PICKLES (ogórki kiszone):

Wash well about 4 lbs of 3 – 4 inch pickling cucumbers and allow to drip dry. In the bottom of a well-scrubbed, pre-scalded earthenware crock or gallon glass jar place 3 stalks of mature pickling dill, 3 – 4 1″ slivers of horseradish root, half a horseradish leaf (optional), 5 buds of garlic and 2-3 cherry-tree leaves (optional). In pot combine 6 c water (non-chlorinated well water is best!) with 3 T kosher salt, bring to boil and remove from heat. When it cools a bit, pour the warm brine over the cucumbers to cover. Place a scalded, inverted dinner plate or other dish over the cucumbers to keep them submerged and weight it down with a qt jar full of water. Keep on kitchen counter for 3 days, then move to cooler place. Ready in 10 days.

Rob Strybel

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