Tuesday, November 10, 2020

 Witamy!  And Happy Thanksgiving!

American Thanksgiving is just a few days away.  In this crazy year of dealing with the Pandemic, customary plans for traditional big feasts must be put aside, in favor of safety and prudence.  Never the less, with a little creativity and an abundance of caution,  a lot of good can happen.

Most of us understand that Thanksgiving is not a classic Polish tradition.  But for the ten million Americans of Polish origin living in the U.S. that’s no reason why we can’t have a fusion of both cuisines – traditional American Holiday                                            fare with a Polish spin.  In fact, after a lifetime of traditional Thanksgiving feasts, adding a Polish twist is a pretty attractive and easy idea. 

The first way is to chop up a few tablespoons of fresh dill and combine with your favorite crouton or bread stuffing, replacing any other herbs that might compete with the dill. Consider that herbs such as sage, thyme, or marjoram just don’t do well next to fresh dill. 

By the way we recently learned that “stuffing” is what you place inside the turkey, but it’s called “dressing” if you bake it outside the turkey.  For many years Laura would stuff the turkey and then bake the left over stuffing in the oven.  But a few years ago she stopped stuffing the turkey after noticing that most of our guests preferred the “dressing.” It was less greasy and gloppy than the stuffing from inside the bird.  Makes sense to me!

So if you added a Polish spin to your stuffing (or dressing)  the rest of the “fusion” will come from the sides you choose. 

We love to do Vegetables Polonaise from Page 65 of our book “Polish Classic Recipes."  Cook the vegetables in salted water, drain, place on a pretty serving platter. Then garnish over the top with a mixture of breadcrumbs that have been sautéed in butter until dry.  So pretty, so colorful and with a new taste profile. 

Another way to enhance your turkey is whip up a small batch of Ćwikła (page 49) – the famed spicy garnish made with shredded beets, and prepared horseradish.  It’s easy:  five parts shredded beets (not the pickled kind), one part horseradish (more or less to taste) and a pinch of sugar.  That’s it.  Make it up a few days ahead of time and let it sit in the fridge.  Taste just before serving...Peter likes to add some horseradish but he likes it hotter. 


Another favorite that pairs well with turkey, is Polish Vegetable Salad  (Page 22)


4 cups cooked, diced potatoes
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables, cooked and drained
2 cups frozen peas, cooked and drained
3 large dill pickles, diced (optional)
1/2 cup chopped green onion
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
 Salt and pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

Mix the potatoes with the vegetables, pickles, onions and dill.  Season with salt and pepper. Mix mayonnaise with sour cream and mustard.  Combine dressing and vegetable mixture.  Chill thoroughly.  Arrange salad in a pretty bowl.  Sprinkle top with the chopped or sliced egg. A few slices of radish and sprigs of dill will add a nice touch of color.  

Our menu has evolved over the years as there are fewer guests coming to dinner and as we reduce the number of dishes and work for the cooks.  Everyone still gets their favorite but our feast is now Gluten Free and Low Carb.  Those are manageable challenges even with dessert.  The turkey dressing relies on croutons made from GF bread, and we’ve cut out potatoes and the pumpkin pie will be made from a GF crust.  

However you celebrate Thanksgiving in your family, it seems that there’s no real one traditional menu any more...culinary traditions vary from family to family as each cook’s version has evolved over the years.  Each family’s Thanksgiving table usually showcases one or more family favorites...some beloved by all and some favored by just one or two.  It’s all about compromise.   Peter is not a fan of green beans sauced with cream of mushroom soup, or sweet potato casserole loaded with marshmallows, but the jellied cranberry sauce, right out of the Ocean Spray can, is an absolute requirement.  Go figure!

Friends, when it’s all said and done, it doesn’t matter so much what’s on the table, be it American, Polish, Italian or Chinese...a turkey, ham or hot dogs.  What matters is that every year we have a new opportunity to give thanks for our blessings.  Hopefully you will be lucky enough to spend it safely with family or friends. 

May your Thanksgiving, be filled with Health, Love, and Harmony!
Laura and Peter
Smacznego! 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Polish Apple Lemon Cake

 

Did you know that Poland is one of the largest exporters of apples in the world?  Poles love apples and Polish apple desserts are famous all around the globe.  Here is a recipe that was passed down from Peter’s Grandmother who received it from a friend back in Warsaw, probably around the turn of the century. 


This is a heritage wonder that features a slight back note of lemon to make the apple sing!  Laura just made this cake a couple of days ago for this picture, and the cut-out sample piece disappeared as soon as we put the camera down.  When we shared the picture with family they all texted their claims for a share right away.  Before we knew it there were only a couple of pieces left for us to save in the freezer.  It’ll go so well as an afternoon snack (podwieczorek) with coffee or tea.

CAKE:

½ cup and 2 tablespoons butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

3 eggs

1 ¾ cups sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind


  2 medium baking apples, pared, cored & sliced into ¼ inch slices.

  2 additional teaspoons sugar

  Place the softened butter and ¾ cup of sugar in the bowl of a   standing mixer.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium   speed until the mixture is pale yellow, light and fluffy.  Add the   flour, baking powder and lemon rind and beat for 4 minutes.  Turn    into a greased 9-inch spring-form pan.

Arrange the apple slices on top of the batter. Sprinkle the top with sugar.  Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Test with a toothpick for doneness.  Remove the cake from the oven, brush the apples on top with the glaze and let cool.  .    

GLAZE:
½ cup apricot jam
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Melt the jam in a small saucepan, add the lemon juice and stir until smooth.  Leave the pan on low heat so the glaze remains spreadable, until the cake is done.  It’s even better with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. 

Smacznego!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Gluten Free Pierogi

 Note: During these unsettling times of staying at home, many of us are spending a lot of time in our kitchens.  So it's a perfect time for trying new Polish heritage recipes. For the next several weeks we will be reprising some of our favorite recipes for Polish comfort food.

Witamy!

Are you eating Gluten Free (GF) these days?  Are you missing Pierogi?  Well, despair not because there is no reason to deny yourself one of life’s greatest pleasures, delicious pierogi, arguably the most popular dish of Polish cuisine.  In truth, they are no harder to make than traditional Pierogi.

Laura made a batch of GF sweet pierogi this week with a cherry filling, just to test the recipe and the gluten free flour.  They were delicious and the whole batch disappeared quickly.  

If you’ve not worked much with GF baking, the key is in the flour. 

Laura used King Arthur © brand Gluten Free Flour, which is marked “Measure For Measure Flour” on the bag.  This makes it an easy one for one substitute for regular flour. This brand consists of several types of rice flour and assorted preservatives, but more importantly, it also contains xanthan gum which replaces the gluten in regular flour and makes your dough supple.  Be sure to check the list of ingredients on your package before buying.  If you can’t find a gluten free flour with xanthan gum, you can buy it separately and add about one teaspoon of xanthan gum to one cup of other gluten free flour.  You may have to experiment a bit, but according to “Google,” the rule of thumb for GF baking is that “for every cup of gluten-free flour in a recipe, use 1 tsp of gum for cakes and cookies or pasta and 2 tsp of gum for breads and pizza.”

Dough
Feel free to use your favorite recipe for pierogi, just substituting the flour, but first read Laura’s notes below.  Here is our updated recipe which has been thoroughly tested.  

2 eggs
2/3  cup milk
¼  teaspoon salt
2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose flour
1 to 2  teaspoons xanthan gum (if needed)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water, for sealing

Whisk together the two eggs, milk and salt.  Stir in half of the flour until flour is incorporated, then add the other half and continue to stir.  When the mixture comes together to form a thick sticky dough, place the dough on a floured surface.  Note: additional flour may be incorporated if the dough is too wet or sticky.  Using additional flour knead the dough until you have a smooth, supple dough that is soft but not sticky.  Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic or cover with a bowl and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Take half of the dough and roll it out as thin as possible on a floured surface.  Note: When rolling and cutting, be sure to use lots of flour on your board and rolling pin. It should be almost translucent, approximately 1/8th inch.  Cut the dough into 3 or 4-inch rounds or circles.

Filling 
Start by assembling one tester pierogi, just to make sure of your techniques and measures.   Using your favorite pierogi filling, place a small amount in the center of a dough round.


Be sure to leave about a 1/3 inch edge around the entire circumference of your round.  Note:  Gluten free dough is a bit more “crumbly” than traditional dough, so if you use too much filling the pierogi won’t fold in half properly, the filling could spill out or dough will tear.  Also, over-stuffed pierogi can burst during cooking.   

Brush the edges of the dough circle with the beaten egg.  The egg acts as a glue to hold your pierogi together.  Fold the dough in half into a half-moon shape. 

Pinch the edges of the rounds firmly together using your fingers or the tines of a fork.  Tight sealing ensures that the edges stay together during cooking.  If your tester pierogi was good, the filling stayed inside and the seal was tight, assemble the rest of the batch.  Keep the finished pierogi covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel, as you are filling the rest of the pierogi, to prevent the dough from drying.

Cooking 
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil, then turn the heat down so the water is just simmering lightly.  If your water is at a high rolling boil, your pierogi may fall apart.  In batches, gently place the pierogi in the boiling water.  We only cook about ten at a time in a 6-quart pot, making sure they have room to “swim.”  And don’t let them stick to the bottom when they first go in.  When the pierogi float to the top of the water, continue to boil for 10-12 minutes.  The thicker is your dough, the longer they will need to cook – plus cooking time for gluten free pierogi will be a bit longer than pierogi made with regular flour – about 12 minutes or so.  Cut the first one open and taste, to see if the dough is cooked all the way through.  It should be the texture of moderate to firmly cooked pasta.  Remove the finished pierogi with a slotted spoon and drain.


Dessert pierogi are great when topped with a sweet sauce made from sour cream and sugar. But we love to serve savory pierogi that have been sautéed in butter and topped with caramelized onions and bacon.  Check out our Polish Classic Recipes cookbook for classic fillings and toppings. 


In closing, Celiac disease and gluten intolerances now affect many more people in the world than when most Polish classic recipes were first created.  Regardless of the why or wherefore, gluten intolerance is a reality of today’s life and anyone in the business of eating or cooking should be aware of this and other common food allergies. 
Smacznego!

Friends:  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. 



Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Summer Barszcz - Polish Style

Note: During these unsettling times of staying at home, many of us are spending a lot of time in our kitchens.  So it's a perfect time for trying new Polish heritage recipes. For the next several weeks we will be reprising some of our favorite recipes for Polish comfort food.

Witamy!
Soups are a fundamental parts of Polish dinners.  Polish soups are usually robust, fragrant, creamy and filling.  However, during warmer weather, summer soups are often lighter and served chilled, taking advantage of nature’s bounty of fresh vegetables harvested from nearby farms.    (image courtesy of Adam Chrzastowski)

We love this cool and refreshing soup by itself for a really healthy lunch.  This version we sharing today was a favorite of Peter’s Grandmother’s.  It’s just one lighter spin
on the many versions which have been around for centuries.


Full of fresh flavors and a slight tang from the beets, cucumbers and sour cream, it’s immensely refreshing as a perfect lunch or light supper. We have a big bowl chilling in the fridge right now and we’ll serve it tomorrow with ripped hunks of fresh aromatic rye bread smeared with soft sweet butter and paired with a dry white wine.

Serves 10
2 bunches young red beets with tops, sliced & julienned, OR:
     2 cups of canned beets (not pickled)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup sour cream
½ cup juice from canned beets
½ teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste
1 large cucumber, peels and sliced thinly
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced or quartered
1 table spoon fresh chopped dill
2 table spoons chopped green onion or chives


Boil the beets with their tops in a pot of water with the lemon juice for 20 minutes or until just tender.  Cool completely.  (note: for the fresh beets, an ice bath will hasten this process).  Drain completely.  Or, if using canned beets, julienne the slices and simmer in their juice for 5 minutes or until hot. Drain, retain the juice, cool completely. 

Place the beets in a big bowl.  Stir in the buttermilk, sour cream, beet juice and cucumber slices.  Season with sugar and salt.  Gently fold in the hard boiled eggs, dill and green onion.  Chill for half a day. Serve cold with fresh bread and sweet butter.  
Smacznego! 
   
Friends:  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. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Laura's Strawberry Pie

Note: During these unsettling times of staying at home, many of us are spending a lot of time in our kitchens.  So it's a perfect time for trying new Polish heritage recipes. For the next several weeks we will be reprising some of our favorite recipes for Polish comfort food.    
Witamy!
I don't know for sure if this recipe is truly Polish, but I do know that strawberries are a favorite fruit in Poland. And the number of recipes for strawberry dishes could stretch from Belarus to Germany or from the Baltic Sea to Slovakia - many times over.  Here in central Virginia, where we now live, the first crops of strawberries are just being picked.


We visited a near-by farm yesterday and picket a couple of buckets of fresh, warm juicy berries - right off the vine.  In fact we got these berries before the local farmers market had any, so we really lucked out.  On the way home Laura asked if I had any requests for the berries and I chose her strawberry pie in a nano-second because it is absolutely to die for and super-easy to make.  Truth be told the recipe below is not a heritage Polish recipe but it is Laura’s heritage recipe which she has tweaked and perfected over time.

As soon as we got home, we wanted to taste-test the farm-berries against some berries we had bought at the grocery store just the day before.  These were imported from California, and while they looked picture-perfect on the outside, that’s where the similarities ended.

Both samples were cut in half – the imported berries were quite pale in the center and the farmer’s berries were deep red throughout.  We bit into each and rolled the fruit around our taste-buds, just like a fine wine.  The “shipped-in” berries were rather bland and did not have that intense strawberry flavor simply because they were picked before their time.  But the farmer’s berries on the other hand, were juicy and had that bright sweet flavor that let us know they were still on their stems just earlier that morning.  There’s an obvious moral to this story…if you have access to a berry farm or a farmers’ market, it’s well worth the extra pennies to buy berries that are totally satisfying.  

Laura’s Strawberry Pie
(serves 8)

1  9-inch baked pie crust (homemade or purchased)
2 quarts  fresh strawberries 
3 tablespoons  corn starch
½ to 1 cup  sugar (depending on the       sweetness of the berries)
1 cup  water
1 teaspoon  butter 

Wash the strawberries and remove the hulls.  Mash enough of the strawberries to make one cup.  Put the mash with one cup water in a 1-quart or larger glass measuring cup.  Add sugar ¼ cup at a time, mix and taste until you achieve the desired sweetness.  

Microwave the strawberry mixture on high for 4 to 6 minutes or until the mixture is boiling.  Watch carefully so the mixture does not boil over. 

Soften the corn starch in a couple of tablespoons of water and whisk quickly into the strawberry mixture.  Microwave the mixture another 2 to 3 minutes on high or until mixture thickens.  Stir in the butter.

Let the mixture cool completely.  Cooling may take 30 minutes or longer.

Arrange the remaining strawberries, either whole or sliced, in the baked and cooled pie crust.  Pour the cooled strawberry glaze mixture evenly over the top of the berries.  Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours, before serving.  Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.
Smacznego!

Friends:  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. 


Friday, May 8, 2020

Haluski - a Polish-American Comfort Dish

Note: During these unsettling times of staying at home, many of us are spending a lot of time in our kitchens.  So it's a perfect time for trying new Polish heritage recipes. For the next several weeks we will be reprising some of our favorite recipes for Polish comfort food.    

Witamy!
One of the favorite comfort foods of Poles on the East Coast of the U.S.  is Haluski – a scrumptious and satisfying combination of buttery egg noodles, fresh cabbage, and spices.   Traditionally, Haluski is a meatless dish often served during Lent.  But for the rest of the year, many home cooks like to kick in a little umph by adding bacon or kielbasa.  


Haluski may or may not be an original Polish dish.  Around Philadelphia, up-state New York or Buffalo, many claim Haluski as their own.  But others say that Haluski has Slovak or Hungarian origins.  But no matter – everyone loves it.  We’ve also heard that Haluski has been especially popular for many decades in Western Pennsylvania, specifically around Pittsburgh and the community of “Polish Hill.”   

These days Haluski is on the menu of several Pittsburgh-area restaurants serving Polish dishes.

As we travel around to various Polish festivals up and down the east coast, we almost always see Haluski being served in the Polish Food tents, right along with traditional Cabbage Rolls in tomato sauce, savory Bigos and flavorful Pierogi – and the recipes for the latter three dishes are in our book Polish Classic Recipes.  So here is an easy recipe for this simple and delicious dish which is perfect for supper on these chilly fall afternoons.  In fact we just made a big pan of Haluski, to test the proportions in this recipe.  It was delish and we've got left-overs for lunch! 


Serves 8 
6 cups green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced 
2 cups white onions, peeled and thinly sliced 
4 cups egg noodles, pre-cooked al dente and
     rinsed in cold water
1 stick butter or 1/3 cup cooking oil
2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1 tablespoon ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped garlic, to taste
1 tablespoon caraway seeds, to taste  (optional)
½ pound crisp, cooked bacon, crumpled  (optional)
1 cup smoked, cooked kielbasa, sliced and quartered  (optional)

Heat butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, half the salt, pepper and garlic, and sauté until translucent, stirring often. (Note, don’t let the butter turn brown).  Mix in the cabbage and keeping cooking while stirring often, until the onions turn golden and the cabbage is starting to change color and become limp – about 12 minutes.

Stir in the noodles and more salt, pepper and garlic - a bit at a time and while tasting.  Cook until the noodles are just done – keep tasting.  Add the caraway seed, if desired, and keep tasting while the flavors marry.  Let it all cook together for 5 to 10 minutes, on low to medium heat, allowing the flavors to come together thoroughly.  Taste the noodles so they don’t overcook.

Variation #1:   To add some kick to the dish, pre-cook the kielbasa and / or bacon, and add it to the mix when adding the noodles.  Caution:  if using fresh kielbasa make sure it is thoroughly precooked.  

Variation #2:   After the noodles, cabbage and all the flavorings have cooked for about 5 minutes, transfer everything to a casserole dish and finish in the oven, at 350°F for about ten more minutes, or until the top just begins to brown and crisp.  A few seconds under the broiler may help to crisp up the top quicker

Note: the big key to this dish is to not overcook the noodles or the cabbage, otherwise the whole plate turns mushy. 

2nd Note:  this is one of those dishes where the proportions of cabbage to noodles to kielbasa are totally up to you.  The flavors come from the spices and the marriage of ingredients, so more or less of one or the other will just reflect your personal taste. 
Smacznego!  

Friends:  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. 



Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Polish Hamburgers...A Perfect Comfort Meal

Note: During these unsettling times of staying at home, many of us are spending a lot of time in our kitchens.  So it's a perfect time for trying new Polish heritage recipes. For the next several weeks we will be reprising some of our favorite recipes for Polish comfort food.    
Witamy:
I struggled with what to call these meat patties in English.  Google translate wasn't very helpful because they are not cutlets as we think of Pork or Lamb cutlets. As you can see from the picture, they aren't traditional burgers, they aren't baby meatloaves, and they aren't Caribbean meat patties. So I decided to just not worry about it, because anyone who grew up with classic Polish cuisine is probably familiar with these traditional "kotlety siekane."

The texture and flavor of these patties are vaguely reminiscent of a Polish meatloaf…only more dense.  What makes them truly Polish is that they are rolled in breadcrumbs, and browned before baking.  The recipe here is a classic version, but you can easily make it your own by adding into the meat mix some finely chopped, fresh mushrooms and dill (of course) or other herb.  But please be cautious with the herbs—too much, or more than one, could be overwhelming. After all, the meat is the star of this dish.

You can also freeze any leftover patties and serve them later for a quick and delicious cold lunch, sliced thinner on a very fresh, crisp hard roll with sliced tomato and a little mayo, and with a crunchy Polish dill pickle on the side.  

Yields 6 patties 

1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 slices of dry white bread
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 ½  pounds meatloaf mix, OR: 
    1 pound ground beef
    ½ pound pork
1/3 cup bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Soak the bread in the milk until all the milk is absorbed by the bread.  Rip the wet bread into very small pieces.  

Saute the chopped onion in the bacon drippings until golden.  Set aside to cool.  (Hint: we always keep a jar of bacon drippings in our fridge for just these kinds of uses.)

Combine the beef, pork, egg, bread, and onions in a large bowl.  Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Form the mixture into 6 thick, round patties about three inches across, and one inch thick.  Roll them in bread crumbs.  Brown the patties in the oil.  Place the patties in a casserole dish and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.


In the interest of healthier eating, you could also make these with ground chicken or turkey, as shown in this image borrowed from   http://www.mojkulinarnypamietnik.pl/

Garnish with a sprig of dill, and serve with your favorite vegetables, sliced tomato, cabbage beet salad, or any other seasonal side dish.
Smacznego!

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

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.
Smacznego!


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.