Thursday, October 25, 2012

Strawberry Decadence From Poland


Yesterday I bought some strawberries at the local grocery store.  True, they were shipped in from the west coast or some warmer and more tropical climes to the south of the U.S.  (I didn't check) but they were still pretty good although many of the centers were quite pale and white.  I have to tell you that in a pinch frozen strawberries are almost as good as the fresh ones, if defrosted slowly and carefully.  On our last trip to Poland we noted that Polish strawberries are generally smaller than those we see in America and they have a more intense flavor because they are not harvested so early.
Here is an old fashioned dessert dating back to the Polish monarchies as well as the court of the Romanoffs, and the epoch of the last Russian czar.  Within the walls of their sumptuous castles and grand residences, their days were filled with laughter, elegance and splendor.  Banquet tables were heavy with delicious dishes meals prepared for aristocrats, diplomats and other gentry.  This particular dessert was  favored by the diners but also by the kitchen staff because it is so easy to prepare.  Serve it in your finest crystal glassware.

• 2 quarts small ripe strawberries, washed, hulled and chilled

• 1 cup whipping cream

• 1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened at room temperature

• ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

• 1/3 cup Cointreau or similar orange-flavored liquor

Whip the cream until stiff.  Beat the ice cream in a mixer until fluffy.  Gently combine the whipped cream, ice cream, lemon juice and liquor and mix lightly.  Fold in the berries. Portion into pretty crystal glasses and serve immediately.  

Serves 8

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ugly Apples for Dessert

It’s apple time!  Local orchards are full and ready for picking.  Apple cider is fresh and tangy and most fun when purchased from a roadside fruit stand -- I’ve always preferred the fresh pressed, unpasteurized, straight-out-of-the-barrel kind because the taste is so much more intense.  Grocery store shelves are overflowing with several varieties of apples, including those “not-so-pretty” local varieties.  In fact I just read about one orchard featuring “heirloom apples”...yes, they were deformed and misshapen, but apparently just delicious. 

Apples are an important part of Polish cuisine and here is a favorite dessert that Peter's Mom made for him as a child.

Apple and Rice Pudding
Serves 6
4  cups, semi-tart, peeled, cored and shredded apples    
1  tablespoon cinnamon
½  cup brown sugar
4   cups cooked rice, not precooked or instant rice
1½  cups sour cream
4   tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Note:  try to use those ugly local apples...they taste great, are often cheaper and more plentiful in the fall, and they support your local produce farmers.

Preheat oven to 375 °F.  In a bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar with the shredded apples and mix well.

Grease a 9-inch baking dish (or glass pie pan)  and spread out the rice and apples in the pan , in alternating layers  (rice/apples/rice/apples/rice.)


Cover and bake for 40 minutes.  Mix the sour cream and sugar onto a sauce and set aside.


Let the pudding cool down a bit.  Serve warm in small bowls, topped with the sweet, sour cream sauce. 

Note:  the top layer of rice may get a little crunchy, but that gives it a great texture.