pickles in brineThe pickle cucumber season is coming to an end. I’m so sad since I feel I didn’t make enough this year. I was really disappointed that I couldn’t find the right flower dill for a while. That is until my friend discovered one farm that was going to bring it to Eastern Market.  I could finally get ready my pickles. It was quite an expensive investment so luckily you only make them once a year. More »

pierogi
Summer in Poland means that all kinds of fruit is cheap and accessible on every corner. It’s something that you don’t get in the US. There are farmers markets that sell seasonal produce but in my mind I always recalculate the prices and it just makes me sad to see that I have to pay $5 for a small box of strawberries or cherries.  This time I was on a quest for prunes. I’ve seen different plums around but not prunes until my recent Costco trip. Who would have thought that I would find them there? I had to get them and the first thing that came to my mind was prune pierogi. I know that when most people think about pierogi they instantly think pierogi with meat, sauerkraut, mushrooms or cheese and potatoes.  But in the summer Poles like their pierogi with fruit. My mom would always make them with strawberries, prunes or blueberries, but you can make them with apples and cinnamon and other fruit. More »

pierogi5This can’t get any more traditional. Polish pierogi with meat, sauerkraut and dry wild mushrooms.
I also like the non meat version or the ones with potatoes and cheese and I can’t actually decide which are my favorites. Growing up, my mom would make those more often because she would always have some leftover meat from Sunday chicken soup, not to mention dried mushrooms that she hand picks every year in the fall, or home-made sauerkraut that she usually makes in a large jar starting early Fall.
They might seem time consuming, but once you make that one large batch, they freeze well and they taste pretty great fried, especially with some bacon.  If the amount of pierogi seems a little too much, then use half of the ingredients.  But it’s almost impossible to have too many pierogi. :) More »

With the barbecue season starting on Memorial Day weekend let me pitch in some Polish barbecue delights.

fire1This is one of my family favorites in the summer time and my mom loves it so much that she sometimes makes it on the gas stove in the kitchen. It does require one very specific component and that is the cast iron pot. I have a 4 quart iron pot but my mom has one that is 6 quarts. It’s originally made to prepare dishes for hunters in a bonfire after a hunting day.
I brought it with me from Poland (lucky me I didn’t have to carry it myself ;)) but you can prepare it in a cast iron pot on your stove, or on a cast iron Dutch oven that can be used in the fire, which you can find at a camping store.
This recipe has some basic veggie and meat ingredients. You can try adding some other veggies but I think that the simpler version is better in this case. My mom tried adding mushrooms and carrots once and the whole family voted against it. It just completely changed the taste. Just make sure that when you pick a sausage it’s a real pork sausage. Avoid all the turkey and beef mixes. More »

barszcz18

There are few very classic Polish soups that I really like to eat and borscht/beetroot soup is one of my favorites. It’s essential and full of flavor and I sometimes like to drink it from a cup, but in most cases I serve it with little meat dumplings. Some people would say that this soup has some magical powers as a hangover cure, and here is where my husband would definitely concur, but the truth is that beetroots are very healthy and good for you.  Just drinking a glass of beetroot juice (mixed with your favorite fruit or carrot) gives you tons of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants.
With this recipe I prefer to roast them and then cook them for a short amount of time so that they don’t lose all the goodness in the process of boiling.
In the past for many years I would use a premade beetroot concentrate but since I don’t live in Poland anymore and getting that concentrate would mean traveling to a Polish store, which is not really anywhere close to me right now, I decided to make my own. I have done different fermented bases for soup or bread in the past so I figured it shouldn’t be that difficult. I checked a bunch of different Polish websites and blogs and many of them asked for a piece of rye bread, which again is not that easy to find in the States. (American Rye bread is different than Polish Rye.) So I came up with this recipe and called it an experiment. And guess what! It turned out pretty good. So now I always double the ingredients and keep half of the concentrate in a fridge for the next time.
There are also ways to tweak it and change it into a more hearty soup just by adding potatoes and cream and sprinkling with fresh dill.  Or, you can make a completely new soup called Ukrainian borsht by adding green beans, white large peas, cabbage, potatoes and cream, though this particular soup has dozens of other versions that vary from region to region and country to country.
Nevertheless, beetroot soup/borsht is definitely something that would be common in Poland and other Central and Eastern European countries but not necessarily in other countries or continents.  However if you don’t want to prepare a soup there are always other ways to add a beetroot to your lunch and dinner. More »