Sunday, March 29, 2020

Celebrate This Easter With a Heritage Polish Easter Cheesecake

Happy Easter – “Wesołego Alleluja”

Are you bored yet?   Have you started thinking about your family’s celebratory Easter meal yet?  It’ll be a bit more challenging this year since we’re staying close to home and can’t always find all the groceries we need.  But with the extra time on our hands, it’s a great opportunity to explore our Polish roots and try a new Polish heritage recipe.
 Traditionally the Easter meal is a mid-day, room-temperature feast served after church.  Or this year, it may be church-on-line or on U Tube or some other social media platform.  Our family’s Easter menu has been pretty much the same for over a century, dating back at least to Peter’s great grandparents in Warsaw in the early 1900’s. The menu has been honored through six generations, including Peter’s emigration to Canada in the 1950’s, through our marriage, kids, and a 10-year old grandchild.  Lucy already has an adventuresome palate, is learning to cook, and last year loved some of our traditional Easter dishes.  She won’t be with us this year but we may still drop off some of this delicious cheese cake on their doorstep.   

So today we want to share with you a very traditional recipe for a Polish Easter cheesecake that goes back several generations.   It’s absolutely delicious, a perfect ending for your Easter meal, and not hard to make if you follow the recipe exactly.  And all the ingredients should be available in a regular grocery store – even in this time of shortages.

Yields 32 portions
1/3     cup butter
     cups flour
½       cup confectioners’ sugar
     teaspoons baking powder
1        egg
3        tablespoons sour cream
¾       cup seedless raspberry jam

Using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, cut the butter into the flour until it forms coarse crumbs.   Mix the egg with sour cream and add, then add the sugar and baking powder.  Mix until all the ingredients come together into a soft dough.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out 2/3 of the dough to fit a 9x12-inch pan, buttered and sprinkled with bread crumbs.  Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes.  The crust will be only partially baked.  Remove from oven and cool.  Spread the raspberry jam over the partially baked crust.

Note:  if you wish to make a traditional decorative lattice on top of the cheesecake, reserve the remaining third of the dough and keep it cold until you are ready. If you’ve chosen to forgo the lattice, use the entire dough ball in the baking pan.

Cheese Filling
6        eggs
     cups confectioners’ sugar
     teaspoons vanilla extract
2        teaspoons lemon zest
2        teaspoons orange zest
2/3     cup unsalted butter, softened
     tablespoons flour
     pounds ricotta or farmer’s[PJW1]  cheese
½       cup candied orange rind, finely chopped
1        egg white, beaten

Using a standing mixer, beat the eggs with the confectioners’ sugar for 5 minutes at high speed.  Add the vanilla, and lemon and orange zests.  Combine the cheese with the butter and flour and add to the egg and sugar mixture.  Fold in the candied orange rind.  Spread mixture over the partially baked crust and raspberry jam.

Bake for 50 to 65 minutes or until the cake is firm.  Remove and cool.

To decorate the top with lattice, remove the cake from the oven after the first 30 minutes, or as soon as the filling is firm enough to support the dough strips without sinking. 

Form the remaining dough into thin, even rolls (like long straws) and place them diagonally across the top of the cheesecake in a criss-cross pattern.  Brush the latticework lightly with a beaten egg white.

Note:  for aesthetics, try to lay out the lattice rolls evenly parallel to each other, but don’t worry if they break or don’t quite stretch to the edge.  Stretch and seal the breaks and they’ll be just fine after baking – a few imperfections add rustic character to your cake. 

Return the cheesecake to the oven and continue baking for an additional 20-30 minutes until the lattice is golden brown and the cheesecake is firm.

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. 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Polish Pork Cutlets and Apple Raisin Cake - Polish Heaven


Polish cuisine often means delectable comfort food, but we can’t survive just on our beloved kielbasa, pierogi or stuffed cabbage rolls.  The days would get boring quickly.  So to help you mix things up, we’re sharing again two of our absolutely favorite heritage dishes which are guaranteed to please everyone at your table - Polish Pork Cutlets and Apple Raisin Cake. 
Pork Cutlets – Polish Style

Have you noticed how store-bought pork has changed over the last few years?  Center-cut boneless pork chops are lean and devoid of flavor compared to what we used to enjoy.  That’s why the safe cooking temp was lowered by the USDA to 145 °F - a full 15 degrees less than before.  And now the USDA says it’s OK to eat your pork slightly pink.  So we no longer buy boneless chops, opting for bone-in, with a nice layer of fat around the edges (great for cooking…it gets cut off before eating). 

Pork has always been an important part of the Polish diet.  This classic cutlet is a tasty choice anytime and anywhere in Poland.  Quite similar to Viennese Schnitzel, the Polish version is often served with boiled potatoes, dill pickles or Brussel sprouts & carrots. 

Serves 4
4        thin, center cut pork chops
3        tablespoons flour
1        egg, beaten
½       cup bread crumbs 
1        teaspoon marjoram finely chopped
          salt and pepper to taste
2        tablespoons olive oil

Use bone-in or boneless chops, either will work.  Trim most of the excess fat from the chops.  Pound the meat to tenderize until about 1/4 inch thick.  (Hint:  pound the chops under a plastic freezer bag to make the process easier and cleaner).  Cutlets may be cut into smaller pieces to better fit your skillet.  Season generously with salt and pepper.
Mix bread crumbs and marjoram.  Dredge the cutlets in flour.  Dip in the beaten egg.  Roll in bread crumb mixture and press in to make bread crumbs stick to the cutlets.

Pre-heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté the cutlets until golden on both sides, until the pork is just barely pink - about 5 to 7 minutes per side. 

Garnish with fresh chopped dill.  Serve with your favorite vegetables, boiled baby potatoes, and slices of dill pickle.

Apple Raisin Cake

There are few better combinations of flavors than apples, cinnamon and walnuts.  This is one of our absolutely favorite desserts and one that we often prepare for sampling at book signing events.  Laura makes it in a mini-cupcake size and it works beautifully.  It’s very easy to prepare and it’s super popular with all our friends.

½ pound butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ cups raisins
4 cups cooking apples, peeled & coarsely shredded
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy. A standing mixer is perfect for this job but a hand mixer will work just as well.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat five more minutes (less if using a standing mixer).  Add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and beat three more minutes.  Fold in the fruit and walnuts. 

Butter and flour a high 10-inch round spring form cake pan.  Pour in the finished batter and shake it around for even distribution.  Bake at 350 degrees for an hour to an hour and a half (60 to 90 minutes).  Test at 60 minutes for doneness with a toothpick.  The cake is done when the toothpick comes out dry.  Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before releasing the pan.  Yields 12 to 16 portions, depending on size of slices and how hungry your guests are.

 For our beautiful collection of heritage Polish recipes, check out our two globally acclaimed cookbooks, above.  If you purchase them on our site, we will autograph and personally dedicate each book to whomever you’d like in the U. S.  They’re also available from any online book seller such as Amazon – world-wide.


Saturday, February 1, 2020

Unique Polish Winter Soups - Dill & Sauerkraut

Witamy!  Peter’s Mom, who grew up in Poland, often recalled that soup was always an important part of a Polish dinner. Back in the day, appetizers were not served for every day meals, but soups were traditionally served as the first course of dinner - especially in winter when hardworking Poles craved thick, fragrant, creamy, hearty nourishing soups served in deep round bowls.  Before the days of coffee and tea at breakfast, country folks would often start their mornings with a steamy bowl of hearty soup to provide nourishment for the day’s work.  Here are two delicious soups that are uniquely Polish, revered by Poles all over the world.

Dill Soup (Koperkowa) can be served a number of ways:  with either hard boiled eggs as an enhancer (as with the iconic sorrel soup), or  with dribbled batter dumplings (lane kluski in Polish).  When Peter was young, “dribbles”  were an infrequent treat, even though they are incredibly easy to make.  Other popular choices are to serve Dill Soup with potatoes (cooked in the soup), with rice, or even egg noodles.  Regardless of the starch you choose, this is a tasty traditional soup that everyone will love.  

Serves 4
2 tablespoons butter, divided
¾ cup dill, finely chopped
6 cups stock, either: beef, veal, chicken or vegetable
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup cold water
1 egg yolk
½ cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet, add ¼ cup dill and sauté gently over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
·       Heat stock to boiling and add the dill and butter mixture. 
·       Dissolve the flour in the cold water and add to the stock.  Bring the stock back to a low boil.
·       If you are cooking the string dumplings (see below), dribble the dumpling mixture into the boiling stock and cook for one minute.  Keep soup at a low boil to avoid disintegrating the dumplings.

·       Beat the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of butter.  Gradually add 1 cup of the boiling stock and stir well.  Stir in the sour cream until the mixture is smooth.  Return this mixture to the soup pot.
·       Simmer for a minute or two but do not boil.  Turn off the heat, add the remaining dill, stir, cover and let stand for 2-3 minutes.
·       Adjust seasonings.

String Dumplings  (Lane Kluseczki)
1 large egg
3½ tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
·       Mix egg with flour and salt.  Beat with whisk or fork for 2 minutes.  Dribble batter slowly into boiling stock from a spoon.

Sauerkraut Soup (Kapusniak) (serves 10) 

1 pound sauerkraut
6 cups beef broth
¼ pound bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 tables flour
3 tablespoons cold water
Salt & pepper

Rinse the sauerkraut well in cold water and chop finely. Cover with water and simmer in a covered pot for about 30 minutes, making sure the water doesn’t boil off (add water if needed).  Add the broth. Sauté the bacon and onions until golden brown.  Sprinkle in the flour and sauté for 5 more minutes while stirring. If the mix is very pasty, add some cold water, a tablespoon at a time, and stir.  Add this onion mix and carrot to the sauerkraut and bring to a low boil. Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Serve with boiled potatoes drizzled with butter and fresh chopped dill.

If you liked these recipes, please check out our globally acclaimed cookbooks:  Polish Classic Recipes and Polish Classic Desserts, available autographed on this website or from any on-line bookseller such as Amazon, world-wide.