Sunday, September 20, 2020

Polish Apple Lemon Cake

 

Did you know that Poland is one of the largest exporters of apples in the world?  Poles love apples and Polish apple desserts are famous all around the globe.  Here is a recipe that was passed down from Peter’s Grandmother who received it from a friend back in Warsaw, probably around the turn of the century. 


This is a heritage wonder that features a slight back note of lemon to make the apple sing!  Laura just made this cake a couple of days ago for this picture, and the cut-out sample piece disappeared as soon as we put the camera down.  When we shared the picture with family they all texted their claims for a share right away.  Before we knew it there were only a couple of pieces left for us to save in the freezer.  It’ll go so well as an afternoon snack (podwieczorek) with coffee or tea.

CAKE:

½ cup and 2 tablespoons butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

3 eggs

1 ¾ cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind


  2 medium baking apples, pared, cored & sliced into ¼ inch slices.

  2 additional teaspoons sugar

  Place the softened butter and ¾ cup of sugar in the bowl of a   standing mixer.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium   speed until the mixture is pale yellow, light and fluffy.  Add the   flour, baking powder and lemon rind and beat for 4 minutes.  Turn    into a greased 9-inch spring-form pan.

Arrange the apple slices on top of the batter. Sprinkle the top with sugar.  Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Test with a toothpick for doneness.  Remove the cake from the oven, brush the apples on top with the glaze and let cool.  .    

GLAZE:
½ cup apricot jam
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Melt the jam in a small saucepan, add the lemon juice and stir until smooth.  Leave the pan on low heat so the glaze remains spreadable, until the cake is done.  It’s even better with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. 

Smacznego!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Gluten Free Pierogi

 Note: During these unsettling times of staying at home, many of us are spending a lot of time in our kitchens.  So it's a perfect time for trying new Polish heritage recipes. For the next several weeks we will be reprising some of our favorite recipes for Polish comfort food.

Witamy!

Are you eating Gluten Free (GF) these days?  Are you missing Pierogi?  Well, despair not because there is no reason to deny yourself one of life’s greatest pleasures, delicious pierogi, arguably the most popular dish of Polish cuisine.  In truth, they are no harder to make than traditional Pierogi.

Laura made a batch of GF sweet pierogi this week with a cherry filling, just to test the recipe and the gluten free flour.  They were delicious and the whole batch disappeared quickly.  

If you’ve not worked much with GF baking, the key is in the flour. 

Laura used King Arthur © brand Gluten Free Flour, which is marked “Measure For Measure Flour” on the bag.  This makes it an easy one for one substitute for regular flour. This brand consists of several types of rice flour and assorted preservatives, but more importantly, it also contains xanthan gum which replaces the gluten in regular flour and makes your dough supple.  Be sure to check the list of ingredients on your package before buying.  If you can’t find a gluten free flour with xanthan gum, you can buy it separately and add about one teaspoon of xanthan gum to one cup of other gluten free flour.  You may have to experiment a bit, but according to “Google,” the rule of thumb for GF baking is that “for every cup of gluten-free flour in a recipe, use 1 tsp of gum for cakes and cookies or pasta and 2 tsp of gum for breads and pizza.”

Dough
Feel free to use your favorite recipe for pierogi, just substituting the flour, but first read Laura’s notes below.  Here is our updated recipe which has been thoroughly tested.  

2 eggs
2/3  cup milk
¼  teaspoon salt
2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose flour
1 to 2  teaspoons xanthan gum (if needed)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water, for sealing

Whisk together the two eggs, milk and salt.  Stir in half of the flour until flour is incorporated, then add the other half and continue to stir.  When the mixture comes together to form a thick sticky dough, place the dough on a floured surface.  Note: additional flour may be incorporated if the dough is too wet or sticky.  Using additional flour knead the dough until you have a smooth, supple dough that is soft but not sticky.  Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic or cover with a bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Take half of the dough and roll it out as thin as possible on a floured surface.  Note: When rolling and cutting, be sure to use lots of flour on your board and rolling pin. It should be almost translucent, approximately 1/8th inch.  Cut the dough into 3 or 4-inch rounds or circles.

Filling 
Start by assembling one tester pierogi, just to make sure of your techniques and measures.   Using your favorite pierogi filling, place a small amount in the center of a dough round.


Be sure to leave about a 1/3 inch edge around the entire circumference of your round.  Note:  Gluten free dough is a bit more “crumbly” than traditional dough, so if you use too much filling the pierogi won’t fold in half properly, the filling could spill out or dough will tear.  Also, over-stuffed pierogi can burst during cooking.   

Brush the edges of the dough circle with the beaten egg.  The egg acts as a glue to hold your pierogi together.  Fold the dough in half into a half-moon shape. 

Pinch the edges of the rounds firmly together using your fingers or the tines of a fork.  Tight sealing ensures that the edges stay together during cooking.  If your tester pierogi was good, the filling stayed inside and the seal was tight, assemble the rest of the batch.  Keep the finished pierogi covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel, as you are filling the rest of the pierogi, to prevent the dough from drying.

Cooking 
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil, then turn the heat down so the water is just simmering lightly.  If your water is at a high rolling boil, your pierogi may fall apart.  In batches, gently place the pierogi in the boiling water.  We only cook about ten at a time in a 6-quart pot, making sure they have room to “swim.”  And don’t let them stick to the bottom when they first go in.  When the pierogi float to the top of the water, continue to boil for 10-12 minutes.  The thicker is your dough, the longer they will need to cook – plus cooking time for gluten free pierogi will be a bit longer than pierogi made with regular flour – about 12 minutes or so.  Cut the first one open and taste, to see if the dough is cooked all the way through.  It should be the texture of moderate to firmly cooked pasta.  Remove the finished pierogi with a slotted spoon and drain.


Dessert pierogi are great when topped with a sweet sauce made from sour cream and sugar. But we love to serve savory pierogi that have been sautéed in butter and topped with caramelized onions and bacon.  Check out our Polish Classic Recipes cookbook for classic fillings and toppings. 


In closing, Celiac disease and gluten intolerances now affect many more people in the world than when most Polish classic recipes were first created.  Regardless of the why or wherefore, gluten intolerance is a reality of today’s life and anyone in the business of eating or cooking should be aware of this and other common food allergies. 
Smacznego!

Friends:  This is a great time for exploring your Polish roots by trying some new heritage recipes.  Our books each have 45 traditional Polish dishes that have been handed down from our family or our friends’ families.  They’ve been updated for modern kitchens, so no more “pinch” of this or “glass” of that.  And each has been extensively tested, much to the delight of our friends and neighbors.  Each recipe is accompanied by beautiful photography. Each book contains poignant family stories about growing up Polish. And each book is full of helpful hints and tips to help make your dishes successful.  The books are available autographed and personally dedicated, on our website (in the U.S.) or a bit cheaper from any online bookseller such as Amazon (worldwide).  Your family will love you for it. 



Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Summer Barszcz - Polish Style

Note: During these unsettling times of staying at home, many of us are spending a lot of time in our kitchens.  So it's a perfect time for trying new Polish heritage recipes. For the next several weeks we will be reprising some of our favorite recipes for Polish comfort food.

Witamy!
Soups are a fundamental parts of Polish dinners.  Polish soups are usually robust, fragrant, creamy and filling.  However, during warmer weather, summer soups are often lighter and served chilled, taking advantage of nature’s bounty of fresh vegetables harvested from nearby farms.    (image courtesy of Adam Chrzastowski)

We love this cool and refreshing soup by itself for a really healthy lunch.  This version we sharing today was a favorite of Peter’s Grandmother’s.  It’s just one lighter spin
on the many versions which have been around for centuries.


Full of fresh flavors and a slight tang from the beets, cucumbers and sour cream, it’s immensely refreshing as a perfect lunch or light supper. We have a big bowl chilling in the fridge right now and we’ll serve it tomorrow with ripped hunks of fresh aromatic rye bread smeared with soft sweet butter and paired with a dry white wine.

Serves 10
2 bunches young red beets with tops, sliced & julienned, OR:
     2 cups of canned beets (not pickled)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup sour cream
½ cup juice from canned beets
½ teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste
1 large cucumber, peels and sliced thinly
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced or quartered
1 table spoon fresh chopped dill
2 table spoons chopped green onion or chives


Boil the beets with their tops in a pot of water with the lemon juice for 20 minutes or until just tender.  Cool completely.  (note: for the fresh beets, an ice bath will hasten this process).  Drain completely.  Or, if using canned beets, julienne the slices and simmer in their juice for 5 minutes or until hot. Drain, retain the juice, cool completely. 

Place the beets in a big bowl.  Stir in the buttermilk, sour cream, beet juice and cucumber slices.  Season with sugar and salt.  Gently fold in the hard boiled eggs, dill and green onion.  Chill for half a day. Serve cold with fresh bread and sweet butter.  
Smacznego! 
   
Friends:  This is a great time for exploring your Polish roots by trying some new heritage recipes.  Our books each have 45 traditional Polish dishes that have been handed down from our family or our friends’ families.  They’ve been updated for modern kitchens, so no more “pinch” of this or “glass” of that.  And each has been extensively tested, much to the delight of our friends and neighbors.  Each recipe is accompanied by beautiful photography. Each book contains poignant family stories about growing up Polish. And each book is full of helpful hints and tips to help make your dishes successful.  The books are available autographed and personally dedicated, on our website (in the U.S.) or a bit cheaper from any online bookseller such as Amazon (worldwide).  Your family will love you for it.