Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Year’s Pork Loin With Fruit, Polish Style

Witamy!  Happy New Year!

Poles love pork and enjoy it prepared in dozens of ways.  In our house we always enjoy a pork loin on New Year’s Day, swimming in caraway flavored sauerkraut, served with buttery mashed potatoes and bright, fresh, vegetables.  And we always stick a couple of hot dogs or brats in the sauerkraut for anyone at the table who prefers “tube steak.”

Pork loin roasts are extremely versatile but there are a few tips to keep them moist. 

* 1st, we always buy the kind that is tied together with butchers’ string. That means there are usually two pieces with a small layer of pork fat between the pieces which adds the goodness of flavor and moisture during roasting.  So don’t remove it. 

* 2nd, always cook your pork low and slow.
* 3rd, always brown the pork first to create an outside crust that will help the meat retain its natural moisture.
* 4th, be sure to use a quick-read digital meat thermometer -- the latest guideline from culinary scientists suggests that pork will be safe when the internal temperature reaches 145°F followed by a three-minute rest time, and is a little pink inside.  But frankly we like it better at 160°F.

* Finally, cook your roast in something moist...whether its sauerkraut, or apples, or prunes, and baste often with the liquid.  Your pork roast will always be a winner if you follow these simple tips. 

Here’s a recipe for a Polish favorite – Pork Loin with Fruit – it is often prepared with prunes but feel free to substitute any fruit you wish – apple slices or drained peaches work well.

Pork Loin with Fruit
Schab z Owocami

4 to 6 pound pork loin, boneless
2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 to 3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoon bacon drippings (or cooking oil such as canola)
12 ounces of pitted prunes or peeled apple slices or drained peach slices

Sprinkle the meat with salt and flour.  Brown thoroughly in a hot skillet in the drippings and set the roast into your roasting/braising pan.  Loosen the drippings in the skillet, whisk them together with boiling water and pour the mixture over the roast.  Bake at 325°F for about 40 minutes per pound.  Baste often.  For the last hour, add the prunes, or apples, or peaches, to the pan.  Remove from oven when the internal temp reaches 150°F.  Tent with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.  

Make the sauce while the roast is resting.  Pour off the liquid, whisk in a little flour and bring to a low boil, whisking continuously.  Slice the meat into portion sizes and place on a warmed serving platter.  Strain the sauce through a sieve and pour over the sliced meat.  Garnish with the fruit. 

Serve with potatoes, red cabbage and dill pickles. Pair with a light red wine or a slightly sweet pinot gris.  Smacznego!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Give The Gift of Heritage

Thanksgiving is over and it is time to turn our attention to holiday gifting.

Amazing food is in our genes and it’s in our history! Poles everywhere love to eat and traditional Polish cuisine is as rich in flavors as Poland’s history is rich in customs and traditions.  Many Polish traditions involve food, especially at Christmas and Easter.  And as the younger generations move farther away from our parents and grandparents who grew up with these traditions and foods, it is important to preserve what was left to us by those that came before us. 

When Peter & Laura started writing their first book, it was really about updating The Art of Polish Cooking, by Alina Zeranska – Peter’s mother.  Her iconic cook book is still available in many on-line book stores, but it was written before the days of standing mixers, immersion blenders, or microwaves.  So the goal was to produce a new book based on traditional cuisine.

Now there are two.  As each book was released, Peter & Laura spent a lot of time on the road signing their books at Polish heritage festivals, book fairs, and many Polish church gatherings.  Everywhere new friends tell their stories about growing up with the traditions and with these dishes.  So they quickly learned that their books have become a way to bring back the memories and to preserve the culinary culture for those who don’t have frequent opportunities to taste these heritage dishes.
Each book showcases classic heritage dishes that have thrived over many generations.  Each is true to its roots, just updated for modern kitchen tools.  Each recipe has been thoroughly tested and Laura included a lot of tips and hints to help even the least experienced home cooks produce a successful dish.  Each book features over 100 stunning photographs. 

Most of Peter and Laura’s new friends who purchased these books, fall into three groups:  1)  those who want to help their grown children to reconnect with their Polish roots;  2) those younger generations who want to relive the memories of the food from their childhoods;  3) others who experienced Polish culture and food through Polish friends and want to experience those fabulous tastes again. 
Christmas is literally right around the corner, so here is a great way, with one click, to take care of your shopping.  Polish Classic Recipes and Polish Classic Desserts will make great gifts.  Everyone who looks at them just loves them.  So please just click on the title images at the top.  That links to a PayPal page and you can receive your personally signed and dedicated books in just a few days. 

Wesołych świąt i smacznego! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Goulash Soup - Polish Style

Witamy!   The orange and yellow fall leaves are mostly down from their branches, and the temperatures have been dropping.  Today it’s just as cold in Warsaw as it is in Washington DC.  Laura and Peter have retrieved the heavier down comforter from the closet and are once again sleeping with the windows open.  Last night they were awakened by the neighborhood red fox barking and again by deer snorting their way through the back yard, on their way to a better feeding ground.  And so it’s time to turn our culinary attention to comfort food and the soups and stews that keep us warm and satisfied on a brisk, chilly day.  

Goulash Soup is a staple of many European cuisines and only varies by its spices and flavorings.  Peter prepared this rich and satisfying soup in a Polish style by using dill as a key flavoring.  In Hungary we might use sweet paprika.  In Spain we might add olives and use saffron or coriander.  In Italy we would probably flavor our soup with bay leaf, sage, rosemary or thyme.  But regardless of where in the world you live, or which cuisine you love best, you will never go wrong with dill.   

Serves 10,  OK to Freeze

  • 2 medium onions, shredded
  • 3 teaspoons cooking oil
  • 4 tablespoon fresh chopped dill (double if dried)
  • 2 pounds stew beef (sirloin is good) trimmed and cut into small, bite-sized cubes 
  • 8 cups beef stock or broth
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 can (14 ounce) whole tomatoes (save the juice)
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 parsnips (or other root vegetable)  sliced
  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a soup pot (any 5 or 6 quart pot with a lid) sauté the onions in oil until golden, add the meat, cover with broth (about 1 ½ cups) water, salt & pepper.  Cover and simmer for 1½ hours or until the meat is tender.  Check the pot periodically to make the liquid has not evaporated.  Add the vegetables, half of the dill and the remaining broth.  (Note:  substitute the retained tomato juice for an equal amount of broth).  Cover and simmer for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are just soft.  Adjust the seasonings.  Garnish with the rest of the fresh dill.  Serve hot with a slice of crusty dark bread and a glass of hearty red wine. 


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Polish Wedding Chicken


During our travels to heritage Polish festivals throughout the Mid Atlantic region of the U.S. a lot of new friends asked if we have a recipe for Polish Wedding Chicken.  Truthfully, Peter had never even heard of it, but that’s probably because he didn’t go to any Polish weddings while growing up.  So Laura did the research...checked the usual on-line cooking websites, Peter even checked Polish websites and we found them -- a lot of recipes for Polish Wedding Chicken.  Well our research suggested that that this dish actually is a Polish-American invention created by preparing roast chickens for hundreds of Polish American weddings in Polish American communities throughout the U.S.  And as many weddings as there were, each big pan of roast chicken was prepared by just as many church ladies in just as many church halls of just as many Polish churches.  And we found just as many variations.

So, you may ask, isn’t this just a “glammed up” roast chicken?  Can’t anyone stick a chicken in the oven and pull it out after 90 minutes?  Well, yes that’s technically possible, but then it wouldn’t be Polish style, and it wouldn’t have the love of an authentic Polish Wedding Chicken!  

Here’s a recipe that Laura prepared for yesterday’s supper and how it looked right out of the oven. 
It was a far cry from the fast food chicken joints, or the Latino chicken joints, or the rotisserie chickens from the Safeway.  This was moist, flavorful, and just plain delicious. There was no residual taste of the vodka and the sauce had a distinct flavor of the dill. 
If you take the time to do it right, everyone around the table will love you for it, and who knows...could there be another wedding in your future?  

1 roaster chicken, 3 to 5 pounds
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt, more or less to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, more or less to taste
1½ cups chicken broth, low sodium
1/3 cup vodka  (Polish potato vodka is smooth)
2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped finely ( or 3 tbsp dried dill)
2 tablespoons sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Remove giblets from the chicken; discard or keep for making homemade stock.  Remove big pieces of excess fat from the bird but don’t take it all because some fat will keep it moist while roasting.  Dry insides with a paper towel.  Use your fingers to slightly loosen the skin in a few spots on the breasts and thighs but be careful not to tear the skin.

Combine onion, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender; puree until smooth.  

Spread half of onion puree in the bottom of a roasting pan.  Place chicken in pan on top of the puree.  Rub the rest of the puree under the skin around the breasts, thighs and in the cavity.  Tuck wings back and tie legs.

Roast the chicken for 20 minutes.  Baste on top with 1/4 cup of broth and roast for 40 minutes more, basting with pan drippings and/or broth every 15 minutes or so.  Watch the color of the skin to be sure it doesn’t turn too dark.
When the skin goes just past golden brown, place a “tent” of aluminum foil loosely over the top.  Continue roasting and basting for an additional 30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, reads 175 °F and the cavity juices are clear.

Transfer chicken to a platter and cover with foil while resting.  The inner temp will rise about five more degrees. Pour off the pan juices (those fat separating cups are genius) and chill until the fat has risen to the top.  While the pan juices are cooling, add remaining chicken broth and vodka to roasting pan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, scraping up all the little brown bits of goodness stuck to the bottom of the pan. 

Skim off fat from chilled pan juices and add back to the roasting pan. Bring back to a boil for just a couple of minutes.  Strain juices through a fine sieve into a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Blend water and cornstarch in a small bowl; whisk into the sauce pan to make the gravy. Cook about a minute while continuously stirring, until slightly thickened. Whisk in dill and sour cream.  Taste and season as needed. 

Carve the chicken.  Arrange on a pretty platter.  Serve with Vegetables Polonaise (Polish Classic Recipes, page 65).  Pair with ice cold vodka, a light red wine such as Pinot Noir, or a dry Rosé.

Monday, September 30, 2013


The recipe, not the soufflé!  It’s nearing the end of September and in Northern Virginia we’re still taking the kids out to pick apples off the trees. Many varieties are available in regional orchards or at local farmers’ markets.  This is the time to take advantage of nature’s bounty.  We’re thinking apple pie, apple cake, apple sauce, apple compote, baked apples, etc. etc.

Here is a recipe that Peter’s mother received from a childhood friend who received it from her mother who probably got it from her mother.  So that must make it at least one hundred years old – a perfect example of classic heritage cuisine! 

Fresh Applesauce
4 medium cooking apples (tart), cored, pared & quartered
1 cup water
½ cup brown sugar (more or less to taste)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Place the apples in a pot with the water; heat to a boil then simmer for ten minutes or until very tender and mushy.  Add in the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Stir and break down the apples to a sauce-like consistency.  Cool and place in sealable jars for later use.  (Yes you can use store-bought applesauce but making your own will enhance the flavor of the soufflé.

Apple Soufflé
Serves 4

1½ tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs at room temperature, separated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
15 ounces applesauce
1/8 teaspoon salt (to taste)
½ cup breadcrumbs
Rind of one orange, grated

Cream the butter, adding sugar a spoonful at a time, the egg yolks and lemon juice.  Using a mixer, blend for 5 minutes more.  Add the applesauce.

Combine the orange rind and breadcrumbs.  Combine salt with the egg whites and whip until stiff.   Gently add the egg whites to the apple sauce mixture, alternating with small amounts of the bread crumbs.  Mix it all well but gently.

Turn the mixture into a deep 1 ½ quart casserole dish which has been buttered and sprinkled with more breadcrumbs.  Bake in a 375 °F oven for 35 minutes.  Serve very warm. 


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Apples & More Apples - Apples Everywhere


It's apple season!  Apple tree branches at local orchards are heavy with fruit and bent low, offering their luscious fruit to anyone strolling by.  This is such a great activity for this weekend’s family time.  When our daughter was young we visited orchards as often as possible...berries, peaches, apples, and later for pumpkins, hayrides and toasted marshmallows (not so Polish but sooo good when skewered on a  crooked stick and held over an open fire in the farmer’s field).  And now our daughter carries on the fall tradition with her own family and our 3-year old granddaughter.  Last weekend they came back with bags of yummy apples just waiting to be enjoyed in a dozen different ways.  Today we want to share with you an incredibly flavorful way of using apples for dessert – in a somewhat healthier way than donuts, chocolate brownies or fried Twinkies.

Stuffed Apples  (Serves 6)
  • ·       3 tablespoons honey
  • ·       3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
  • ·       3 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
  • ·       2 tablespoons orange liqueur  *
  • ·       6 medium apples  (not tart)
  • ·       3 teaspoons butter
 Preheat oven to 375 °F.  Mix the honey with the walnuts, cracker crumbs and liqueur  * or substitute with 2 tablespoons orange juice plus ½ teaspoon orange zest.    Cut the tops off the apples and core to remove the seeds.  Fill the holes with the stuffing.  Top with ½ teaspoon of butter  and cover with the apple tops.    Place close to one another in a baking dish and bake for 1 hour.  Serve warm. 

Apple Mousse  (Serves 6)

This dessert only takes only ten minutes and is especially useful for using up any left over egg whites and using up all the apple sauce you made after the last orchard trip!
  • ·       3 egg whites
  • ·       1 envelope plain gelatin
  • ·       3 tablespoons cold water
  • ·       1 tablespoon boiling water
  • ·       4 tablespoons sugar
  • ·       ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ·       1 pound apple sauce (about 2 cups)
  • ·       ¼ cup almonds, chopped
  • ·       Cinnamon (optional)

Soak the gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Add boiling water.  Place the gelatin cup into a shallow pot with hot water and stir until dissolved.  Keep warm.
Whip the egg whites until stiff.  Add the sugar one teaspoon at a time while beating constantly.  Add the almond extract.  Mix in the gelatin slowly by pouring in a thin stream while beating until completely incorporated..   Fold in the apple sauce and mix gently.  Place mousse in sherbet glasses.  Sprinkle with chopped almonds and dust with the optional cinnamon.  Chill thoroughly in refrigerator before serving. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013


At their last few book signing events Laura and Peter were often asked if there are any gluten-free recipes in their books.  Celiac disease and intolerance to gluten is a relatively recent concern (recent meaning the last few decades) and researchers aren’t quite sure why its incidence is on the rise.  But it is, and anyone in the cook book business should be aware of it.

Off the top of Laura’s head she knew their books contain recipes based totally on fruit and a delightful coffee custard recipe, but not being totally familiar with the gluten-free diet restrictions she wasn’t sure if other recipes fit the bill or were adaptable.  So she decided to do a little research on what a gluten-free diet is.  Here is the short version of what she discovered:

Gluten-free excludes the protein gluten that is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye.)  Many foods such as beans, nuts, seeds, fresh eggs, meat, fish and poultry, fruits and vegetables and most dairy and some grains such as quinoa, white rice, potato flour, cornstarch are allowed foods.

Armed with this information Laura reviewed the pages in Polish Classic Recipes with a new perspective and found six recipes that fit the definition - without any changes or substitutions.

1. Gypsy Mazurka - Page 14
2. Mocha Torte - Page 38
3. Dried Fruit Compote - Page 81
4. Strawberry Kissel - Page 82
5. Poached Pears - Page 85
6. Coffee Custard - Page 86

Then, Laura made a field trip to a few local grocery stores to see what gluten-free products were available.  She was pleasantly surprised to find several gluten-free flour options on the shelves of two big-brand grocery stores.  She purchased a box of stone ground white rice flour to try in a couple of recipes, in place of all purpose flour.

First were almond cookies (Page 26).  The one cup of all purpose flour was replaced with the white rice flour and yielded excellent results.  There was no discernable difference in the taste or texture of the finished cookie.  However, the dough could not be rolled as thinly, resulting in a slightly thicker cookie and a smaller yield - not a big deal.

Peter whipped up batch of crepes using a 1 for 1 exchange of rice flour for the all purpose flour.  The resulting crepes were no different in taste or texture from the original.  He does recommend using whole milk to give the batter a little more body.

Several other Polish Classic Dessert recipes are easily adapted for the gluten free diet, with a minor substitution of readily available gluten free products:

Almond Cookies - Pg 26:  substitute rice flour instead of all purpose flour.

Krakow Cheesecake - Page 61:  Replace the bread crumbs in the crust with a gluten-free product such as crushed rice or corn chex or bread crumbs made from gluten-free bread. Replace the flour in the filling with something like rice or potato flour.

Plum Dumplings - Page 77:  In the dough, use potato flour in place of the all purpose flour.

Crepes with Sweet Cheese - Page 78:  Try gluten-free rice flour to make the crepes.

And there are more for anyone comfortable with a little experimentation.

In closing, Celiac disease and gluten intolerances now affect many more people in the world than when most Polish classic recipes were first created. A quick internet search suggested that scientists are not sure why the occurances of Celiac disease are increasing but there is a feeling that it is an evolutionary result of increased consumption over time of wheat flour and other glutens - at least according to one scientist working with the US Department of Agriculture.  Regardless of the why or wherefore, gluten intolerance is a reality of today’s life and anyone in the cookbook business should be aware of this and other common food allergies.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fresh Summer Barszcz (Chłodnik)

Welcome to summer!  This cool refreshing soup is a meal unto itself and a clear winner, even for friends who have not yet discovered the goodness of beets.   This soup is a mainstay of classic Polish cuisine and has been around for centuries. Full of garden flavors and vegetable crunch, it’s immensely refreshing as the most perfect lunch or light supper. We're having a bowl tonight  (see photo below), with a hunk of fresh aromatic rye bread smeared with soft sweet butter and paired with a dry white wine. 

Serves 10
  • 2 cups beets, drained and cut in 1/4 inch julienne (fresh roasted beets are waaay better!)
  • 1/4 cup beet juice
  • 1 cup chopped kale or swiss chard
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups beef broth 
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup sliced roast pork or veal
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
  • 1 fresh radish sliced thinly

Simmer the beets, stems and leaves in 1/4 cup of beet juice and the vinegar for 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the beef broth and simmer 5 minutes longer.
Mix the flour into 1/4 cup water, add to the beet mixture and stir.  Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.  Cool completely.  Mix in all the remaining ingredients and chill for several hours.  Serve cold.

Tip:  for a truly stunning presentation, garnish the soup with a few whole "head-on" shrimp, slices of hard boiled egg, radish slices, and chopped fresh dill.  While not everyone appreciate a "head-on" shrimp, the visual presentation is stunning. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ten Minute Cheese Dumplings

This is a nourishing tasty meal especially handy when you have a houseful of guests, or the kids bring their buddies home, or you are just tired and in a hurry.  They only take a few minutes to prepare and everybody will be well fed and happy.  Note:  The recipe calls for Farmers cheese, but if that’s not available, you can substitute Ricotta cheese or small curd cottage cheese that has been drained very well and pressed thru a sieve to remove as much of the liquid as possible.  Serve with a green salad.

Serves 6

2 pounds farmers cheese
4 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cream of wheat
1½ cups flour
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs

Crumble the cheese well and mix in the eggs and salt. Add the cream of wheat and flour. Mix with a spoon or mixer on low for 2 or three minutes.
Using a teaspoon, drop small pieces of the dough (try to make the size consistent) into a pot of salted, boiling water.  Bring to a hard boil and cook on high heat for 3 minutes.  Note:  Larger dumplings will obviously take longer to cook so take one of the larger ones out (with a slotted spoon) and cut in half to make sure they are cooked through. 

Drain well and transfer to a warmed serving dish.  Slowly melt the butter over low heat or in the microwave. Add the breadcrumbs and saute for a few minutes, continuously stirring, until golden brown.  Pour the mixture over the dumplings and serve. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Czarnina...really?? (Polish Duck Blood Soup)

You say you want to make Czarnina  (Polish duck blood soup)? 
Because your grandmother used to make it when you were a child?   Well good luck with that!    Curiously enough, Czarnina is one of the most frequently mentioned classic recipes that is not in either of our books.  It’s not there for good reason – because it is almost impossible to find duck blood anywhere...  Peter called all around Northern Virginia looking for duck blood and no one here carries it – not the Safeway, not the Polish deli, not the gourmet grocery store, not the butcher, and not the Asian store.  No one carries fresh or frozen duck blood - unless you happen to live next to a duck farm.  And even then you have to get it fresh, and make the soup before the blood coagulates  (ugh!) 

You can find cow blood in most Asian stores and we suppose from a decent butcher, but Peter doesn’t have a clue how it would taste in comparison to duck blood.  He has never tried either and he is not about to.  Let Andrew Zimmern (the weird foods guy on the Travel Channel) tell us. 

So while researching this bloody topic Peter ran across several recipes for imitation Czarnina, also known as Blind or Bloodless Czarnina.  It gets its flavor from smoked meat, dried prunes and other fruit.  The flavor is very unique and intriguing, so here is an adaptation from different several recipes that could be easy to prepare and could be quite tasty. 

Imitation Czarnina
Serves 8

1 ham bone, meaty
3 quarts water
1 cup chili sauce
4 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces pitted prunes
1 small can (8 to 10 ounces) pears
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup vinegar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
½ cup half-and-half or ¼ cup heavy cream
1 package cooked egg noodles

In a large pot combine the ham bone, water, chili sauce, celery, onion, salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer about one and a half hours, or until the ham meat starts to fall off the bone.  Let the soup cool; remove the bone and anything inedible.  Chop any large pieces of meat to a small dice.

Add the prunes, pears, raisins, and vinegar.  Bring to a simmer; cover and simmer for one more hour, then bring to a low boil.  Adjust the salt, pepper and vinegar to your taste.  Whisk the flour into the cream and add gradually to the pot while whisking enthusiastically.  Cook until thickened to the consistency of creamy tomato soup.  Taste one final time.  Serve over the egg noodles.

We promise to make a batch “soon” but in the mean time you be the next and be sure to let us know how it came out! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Polish Salads - Vibrant and Bold

The weather is starting to warm up and we are eating lighter.  Peter is not a big fan of salads, but he’ll eat just about anything with bold flavors.  These two Polish salads are refreshing, the flavors are bright and both pair really well with almost any meat or fish.  And what makes them unique is the combination of ingredients that are traditionally found in Polish cuisine.  Specifically, the use of dill, flavoring sour cream with a bit of sugar and salt,  using sour cream over salad vegetables, etc. 

Apple, Carrot, & Horseradish Salad
Serves 4

2 semi-sweet apples (such as Gala), cored & shredded
6 medium carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2/3 cup sour cream
½ tablespoon sugar, more or less to taste
1/8 teaspoon (a pinch) salt, to taste
Parsley (or dill) for garnish

Combine the carrot, apples and horseradish, sugar and salt.  Taste and add sugar or salt to taste.  Gently mix in the sour cream.  Chill thoroughly ,  add color by garnishing with any green leaves such as parsley.   Goes well with pork loin or baked fish. 

Polish Summer Salad
Serves 6

2 heads butter lettuce
8 to 10 medium radishes, sliced
1 large cucumber, sliced
1 cup sour cream
Sugar and salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Wash the lettuce and separate the leaves.  Combine with radishes and cucumber slices.  Season the sour cream with sugar and salt and pour over the vegetables.  Sprinkle dill over top.  Serve immediately.  ( Note, if you wait too long before serving, the cucumbers will start giving up liquid).

Friday, April 12, 2013

After Easter - Spring Pea and Sorrel Soup


Easter has passed.  All the left overs are gone and the freezer is kind of empty.  Here in Northern Virginia, spring has clearly sprung! The daffodils have already been out for a while, the cherry, plum and pear trees are in full blossom. And our magnolia is showing off its’ brilliant hues of pink-to-purple, while a mama and papa robin are hanging around trying to find a place to build their nest.

Peter asked Laura what foods she first thought of when thinking about spring, and her first reaction was “peas and sorrel.”  That was a great thought because we had just discovered that our one and only sorrel plant (now two years old) had survived the winter beautifully and is actually ready for the first harvest.  So Laura dove into her collection of Polish cookbooks and realized that Pea and Sorrel Soup is a quite popular part of Polish cuisine.  So she put several recipes out next to the out a big pot and created her own Polish-style, Spring Pea and Sorrel Soup which we’re having for lunch today.  The peas give it color and body while the sorrel is bright and fresh with just a hint of lemon.  The soup will be perfect served just warm, with a crusty French baguette & sweet butter, a glass of wine, and a nap to follow.  Life is good!    Smacznego!

Spring Pea and Sorrel Soup

Serves 4-6

2  tablespoons butter
2  large shallots, thinly sliced
4 cups chicken broth
2  cups peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup sorrel leaves
4 tablespoons flour
2/3  cup sour cream
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons softened butter (additional)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
 salt and pepper to taste

In a 4-quart sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter on medium heat until melted.  Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove the stems from the sorrel and chop.

Add chicken broth, peas and sorrel to the sauce pan and bring mixture to boiling.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Using an immersion blender or stand alone blender, puree the pea and sorrel mixture until most of the mixture is smooth.

Return mixture to saucepan and reheat. Mix the flour with sour cream and add to the broth.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Mix the egg yolk with the remaining butter and add to soup.

Add the lemon juice a little at a time until you can taste a light lemony note on your tongue.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Heat through but do not boil.