Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sour Milk - A True Polish Delicacy (For Real!) Zsiadłe Mleko

Really?  Sour Milk?  Oh yeah, for sure and for real!   Keep reading: 

One of my favorite childhood food memories was a summer delicacy called Zsiadłe Mleko or in English, Sour Milk.  Now before you scroll away or hit the delete key, just hang in there with me because there is nothing spoiled or sour about it and it is a genuine Polish delicacy.  I just devoured a bowl of it and it was an absolutely refreshing and tangy summer lunch.

Close your eyes and think slightly thin or loose yogurt…with a similar tang of buttermilk and the texture of a light pudding or flan.  Its served with buttered baby potatoes and fresh dill.   I promise that it really tastes fantastic and there’s nothing sour about it.   

There was a great story told by my Mom, who was active in the Polish resistance, that during World War II, there was a small band of Polish resistance fighters who found themselves in France behind enemy lines. They were lost and exhausted from dodging the enemy.  A French farmer took them in and let them hide in his cow barn. That farmer, seeing that they were also famished, apologized and said that all he had was some potatoes in the field, a few left-over sprigs of dill in the garden, and a bucket of soured milk which he was planning to feed to his pigs.  The Polish soldiers, hearing this, started laughing hysterically and pounced on the bucket of sour milk.  You see, where they grew up in Poland this was a delicacy known as “a dish for kings” -- a bowl of sour milk enjoyed best with a small plate of buttered potatoes and dill.  Amazing!

In Poland you can buy it commercially prepared but back in the day, this dish was made at home with unpasteurized milk.  But these days there is risk of germs or disease from consuming raw milk, so we strongly suggest that only pasteurized milk be used.

The Recipe:  First, the milk has to be “cultured” to become thick and tart.   Pour  a quart of whole milk into a glass or ceramic bowl (anything but metal).  Add ½ cup of sour cream OR 1 cup of cultured buttermilk.  Whisk or blend the mixture thoroughly.   Place the bowl into a warm spot (80 °F is great) and let it stand for 24 hours or until thick.  Do not move or disturb the bowl while the milk is setting up.  When it thickens to the consistency of flan or a light pudding, place the bowl into the fridge and cool for half a day or so.  To serve, spoon it into serving bowls and serve with young white potatoes that have been sprinkled with butter and fresh chopped dill.  

PS:  I had a bowl it for lunch – I started it two days ago with a quart of 2% milk and 3 tablespoons of sour cream.  The bowl just sat in our kitchen for a day and a half before it set up.  A little clear liquid separated in the bowl but I just poured that off.  I boiled a few baby white potatoes, sprinkled them with melted butter and dill.  My lunch was so refreshing on this hot day and just so delicious that I’ve got another bowl started.  


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Delicious Polish Summer Salads

Classic Polish cuisine embraces a huge variety of delicious, cool & crunchy summer salads that pair really well with just about any entree.  We love them especially with meats off the grill, whether your favorite kielbasa (Polish sausage) or burgers ‘n dogs, or just about anything you’ve pulled out for tonight’s dinner.  They’re quick and easy to prepare. 

And now that all the neighborhood farmers markets are going strong, their ingredients are so fresh and flavorful.  Can there be anything better that biting into a juicy tomato or crisp cucumber just picked that morning and prepared for tonight’s dinner? 

The second salad takes advantage of cabbage and dill pickles, both staples of classic Polish cuisine.  Using a food processor it will take just moments to prepare.  Its tang will be sure to delight the whole family.  Tip:  Imported Polish dill pickles are a bit sweeter than what’s usually found in American grocery stores. 

Tomato Cucumber Salad
Serves 6

1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced
4 medium tomatoes, sliced
¼ teaspoon salt, or a bit more to taste
¼ teaspoon sugar, or a bit more to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill (dried is OK)
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Arrange the tomato and cucumber slices, alternating each, on an oblong serving platter.  Sprinkle with the salt, sugar and dill.  Top with a sprinkle of green onions and finally sprinkle everything lightly with the vinegar, just to give it all a slight tang.   Serve chilled or at room temp.

Cabbage and Dill Pickle Salad
Serves 6

2 cups, shredded cabbage
2 medium dill pickles, coarsely shredded
¼ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
½ teaspoon sugar (reduce by half if using imported Polish dill pickles)
2 tablespoons pickle juice
                                                2 tablespoons salad oil
                                                1 small tomato, sliced

Mix the cabbage and shredded pickles thoroughly.  Season with salt, sugar, pickle juice, and oil.  Arrange on a serving dish and garnish with the tomato slices.  Serve chilled. 

For three more delicious summer salads check out our blog post from 7-14-14.