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.