Thes dumplings are gluten free and basically three ingredients!
They are named after the region of Śląsk in Poland (but also part of Germany and Czechia).
They can be served with a variety of toppings or sauces, whatever one finds best! I made mine with a creamy mushroom bacon sauce that I don’t have the recipe for right now because I have a small baby as a first time mom and to me making these was a triumph!
The recipe is babushka style, meaning there are no real measurements. And best of you have a potato ricer!
Silesian Dumplings (Kluski Śląskie)
about 2 lbs starchy potatoes (like Russet or Idaho)
– Start by peeling and boiling potatoes. Strain them and let them cook a bit.
– Then mash them in the potato ricer or whatever your favorite way to get them super smooth!
– Once mashed, pack them tight into their bowl, smooth and even the top. With a knife divide the dough into four parts. Remove one part but keep the potatoes. Fill that hole with potato flour until even. Sprinkle some salt all over.
– Start boiling a big pot of salted water.
– Mix everything well, like you would do a dough. Use your hands! Knead it on the counter until a very cohesive dough forms.
– Remove about a tablespoon size and roll it into a little ball. Use a finger to press into the center and set aside. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
– Gently place half of the balls into the boiling water. Once they float to the top let them stay there a couple minutes, and then with a slotted spoon remove them into a strainer. Repeat with the rest.
– These are best served right away with your favorite sauce. They can also be frozen before boiling and then boil them frozen!
I am not big on supplementation. I find unless you really know what your body needs through tests and have really good quality supplements you have to be careful. I try to get lots of sun in the summer for my Vitamin D and in the winter I try and take cod liver oil instead. When I’m sick I take lots of things to support, but mostly herbs. I’ve started learning herbal medicine for this reason, they are actually so rich in vitamins and minerals that a big cup of herbal tea or the right tincture can really help. Even adding lots of ‘herbs’ to regular cooking helps, like garlic, ginger, mushrooms, thyme, parsley. I eat balanced and overall find stressing about it makes me feel worse.
But there are times we need to supplement to support our body and right now for me pregnancy is one. The body goes through a huge change and it’s also helping grow another life!
I am working with midwives and have done some of my own research, here is what has worked for me!
I wanted a prenatal without iron. My iron levels are good but it is recommended to have extra during pregnancy. The first prenatal I took was a whole food based one but had added iron and it really slows down my digestion, which is no fun when pregnant. I had heard good things about Mary Ruth’s Organics so tried it out and I like it. It also has magnesium which has been helpful for digestion. It’s a liquid and some don’t like the flavor but I don’t mind.
This is to supplement my iron, but liver is so good for you! I just can’t stomach it in its normal form but it is a goal of mine, I wish I could. If anything, a pâté is a good way to fit it in. For now these supplements are so great, I actually feel a difference if I take them, I am more focused and have more energy. Some call it ‘nature’s multi-vitamin’ because it is so full of good vitamins and minerals! Also during third trimester blood volume increases and liver can help support with the right vitamins for that.
This picture shows a bigger portion I make sometimes if I am busy, and strain and leave half in the fridge.
Sometimes I make a big jar of it and let it sit longer, strain it and leave it in the fridge to sip on.
Raspberry Leaf : The queen of pregnancy, she is a must, if you drink one herbal tea make it this! It is a great tonic herb that helps strengthen the uterus for labor and after to help prevent postpartum hemorrhage. The constituent fragarine does this. There are great studies in its efficiency, which is sometimes hard to find for herbs! It is also rich in minerals (calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium), vitamins and antioxidants. It may negatively impact production of breast milk for some, it’s not recommended for those with anemia, and best avoided in first trimester like many herbs.
Nettle: The king herb of all! So many good reasons to enjoy nettle but for pregnancy it’s used for its nutritive qualities (easily assimilated nutrients to make you feel stronger, more energetic and prevent disease). It’s list of vitamins and minerals is too long to list! It’s great for the kidneys, which are working extra hard during pregnancy to detox for two. It’s also good for breast milk production so combined with red raspberry leaf you got your bases covered.
Oat straw: Another nourishing herb that is also great for the nervous system, to help keep you feeling calm and supported! It is also very hydrating! I love it in tea, it adds an earthy flavor that I can’t resist. Note: some with celiac may be intolerant.
Lemon Balm: Because it’s always good! Another calming herb that is tasty in tea. It is also anti-microbial and great for digestion! It helps balance out the earthiness of the other herbs.
Magical one their own in my opinion, I really don’t understand those who don’t like them, to me they are like candy! They are loaded with fats, carbs, vitamins, minerals and fiber. There are less studies on how they work but one theory is they can effect our levels of oxytocin, the feel good hormone that makes labor possible. Some studies show they can help with cervical ‘ripening’, less need for inductions, faster dilation times. These are major benefits because most interventions happen when labor isn’t progressing fast enough, women get tired while they wait for their body to relax and open. Anything to help that process is worth a try in my book!
When pregnant you will learn that it is recommended that one eats lots of protein! Collagen is great for that. It can be found in foods we eat so supplementing is obviously not necessary, but it case you find your not getting enough this is a great choice to add to your diet. It is not a replacement for whole food protein, just like the definition implies, it is to supplement, to add a little extra, a little boost. It also packs a nutritional punch! It can also help the baby, and your belly as it stretches, and your joints as they get more load. In my book, it’s an easy choice. It hasn’t been studied as much but generally considered safe! This brand is also really great quality, so make sure you stick with great quality.
I do most of these everyday, if I forget I at least have my prenatal and drink lots of water and eat well. Obviously speak to a medical professional first but mine have all approved these for me, but everyone is different. There is no one size fits on to pregnancy and health.
This herbal vinegar is probably the most well known and it has its roots in a legend from the Black Plaque. The story is of 4 thieves who either got caught robbing those who died of the plaque and a judge in awe learning of an herbal concoction they used to keep them safe let them go in exchange for their recipe, or 4 thieves who got caught and as punishment had to bury those dead from the plague by burying them and to protect themselves dowsed the deceased in an herbal concoction. Either way the legend went on and the herbs used might have changed over time, this is the most common recipe that has stayed.
Vinegar itself is known to have antibacterial properties and even current studies can attest to its benefits as a great cleaning solution.
The other herbs are warming and have aromatic, diffusive and diaphoretic properties. Aromatic herbs like sage, lavender and thyme are high in volatile oils which lend them to having anti microbial properties. Diffusive herbs like rosemary, sage and garlic bring heat from the core to the surface helping stimulate circulation. And diaphoretic herbs like rosemary, sage and lavender increase detoxification by promoting sweating. Garlic is also antibacterial and antiviral.
I tend to be liberal with herbal preparations, often considered the folk method so instead of measuring exactly I do it more by eye. But here is a rough raft of what I like to do.
You can use either dried or fresh. Fresh you want to use more because the water content is high and the shelf life is a little shorter.
4 Thieves Vinegar
1 tbsp dried lavender buds
1 tbsp dried sage (or 2 tbsp fresh)
2 tbsp fresh rosemary (or 1 tbsp dried)
2 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tbsp dried)
6 cloves garlic crushed
Apple cider vinegar to cover (about 2 cups)
– Crush and chop all the herbs and garlic. Place in jar and pour vinegar to cover.
– Place parchment or wax paper to cover over your lid if it has a plastic sealant. Shake and leave for 1 month or a little more, in a dark place.
– Strain and enjoy like any vinegar or take sips like a tonic. Or add to your favorite natural cleaning solution.
These are seriously so good I can’t stop eating them! We still have some blueberries in the freezer from last summer when we went to a blueberry pick it yourself farm in Indiana so I was inspired to start using them and mixed some recipes together to make these and they have become my favorite! We also made a bunch of blueberry jam last summer so I used that and man, nothing like real blueberries that you picked yourself.
I used rye flour the first time because I ran out of regular but loved it so much that it is staying, it adds such a nice hearty flavor. You can also just use regular flour is you don’t have rye but maybe also try it with rye sometime!
Blueberry Jam Rye Bars
1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups frozen blueberries
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup blueberry jam
Preheat the oven to 350 and spread a 8 x 8 pan with butter.
Mix the flours, salt, sugar, baking powder cinnamon and butter together in a mixer until starting to blend. Then add an egg. Mix well.
Take half of the dough and pack it into the pan.
Mix the blueberries with lemon zest and cornstarch. Dollop the jam over the dough. Add the blueberries over the jam. Crumble the rest of the dough over the blueberries.
I wish I could say that this blog is where I share all the knowledge and recipes passed down by my grandmothers, that what I share is rooted in a deep tradition from my motherland. But the truth is, it is not. ‘Babushka Training’ satisfies and challenges me and what I share is from what I teach myself by reading and watching and sometimes what my mother teaches me.
I did not grow up with my grandmothers. My parents left their home country when they were a bit younger than I am now. Many people in America know what this type of life is like. I met my grandmothers a handful of times. Some people move on, they are citizens of the world and find happiness anywhere they go. Some live their life with one foot back in their home country. My parents did a little of both and as their child I always felt a part of me was missing.
It wasn’t until I was older and started spending my days how I wanted that I started to yearn for deep old traditions. The beauty of folk art and culture really touched me. I was living in New York at the time and after moving around to 4 different apartments in 5 years I moved to the Polish neighborhood of Brooklyn called Greenpoint. It is a really charming little community that is now what you would call very ‘hipster’. But the Polish history still stands. I started going to the Polish church and the little deli and I realized I don’t want to loose this as I get older. I finally felt like I was home, I finally realized I missed this part of myself and If I didn’t work to keep it, it would just disappear.
This year seemed like the perfect year to really dive in to more babushka training. More time at home, more time in general! That’s what I am always lacking is time. But for some reason it was hard to motivate myself. But I realize now that I was practicing another skill, maybe an even more important skill. Babushka training isn’t just about cooking and baking and making, babushka is amazing because of her character. I posted on my Instagram and my last post that we can get through whatever this year is and it is because people have gone through worse, my babushkas were teenagers when WWII broke out in Poland. They were right in the middle of it all. Their country destroyed, people being killed for no reason except that they were Polish; hiding, fighting, living in fear. And then they raised their children in Communism. Their land was taken away and they had to live in apartments that were too small. Everything they stood for was no more, the only thing that got you ahead was to be a part of the ‘party’. Freedom as we know didn’t exist. But they endured. They were stronger than us.
That is what I have been thinking about this year. They were stronger than us. How can I be strong like them. So here is my babushka manifesto, what makes a real babushka. Maybe you feel the same way, maybe you call yours something else, in Polish it’s actually babcia. But at the end of the day, real babushka training is character. And with that hopefully we can carry the traditions of our ancestors as well.
doesn’t think of herself first
cooks you too much food, is always welcoming
doesn’t let you leave too quickly
does not care what people think about her
stays calm when things get crazy
will tell you the truth when needed
family is number one
takes her time
let’s you sneak in some chocolate once in a while
values the simple things in life
has high standards but will love you no matter what
is polite and has impeccable manners
Maybe your babushka was different and that is ok. Whatever in was in her that you looked up to, I hope you keep striving for that in your life. I hope your babushka will live in you and you pass that on to your future generations!
I didn’t realize when I started this blog that I would have so many soup recipes, although I am not surprised because Polish food is so much soup. A meal is not complete without a soup. Even in the summer. I have a secret dream of opening a soup shop somewhere, maybe here in Chicago, called ZUPA, and we just serve soups. It won’t even be just Polish but French and Italian, all soups welcome. And we’ll have really good bread and coffee. Would you go to a place like that?
This soup, like barszcz in general, needs to be prepared in advance, you need to know you will be making it because you need to make your sour starter. But the good news is you can buy it ready made in a jar from Eastern European stores, so check it out. This time we are using rye. We are making a fermented rye juice. There are different ways to make it, here is my way.
żur zakwas (fermented rye liquid)
1/2 liter warm water (2 cups)
60 g rye flour (1/2 cup)
4 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
a small pieces of stale naturally leavened bread (optional but helps it turn sour faster)
– Stir everything together in a very clean jar with a clean spoon. If you don’t have a piece of stale bread that is ok, it might just take longer. Cover the jar with a paper towel or cheese cloth with a rubber band. Let it sit for 4-8 days. Stir it around the first two days and then check it to make sure it is not getting too sour because you don’t want it to grow mold. Keep it in a bowl in case in bubbles up. If it turns sour enough you can always put it in the fridge before you use it for soup. But sour is good, that is what makes this soup good! Longer is better is you like it to be very sour so give yourself time to have some wiggle room.
Żurek – a white barszcz
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled
1/4 celery root, peeled
2 bay leaves
a couple of dried mushrooms if you have them
1 tbsp butter or ghee
3 white sausages (like Polish or German bratwurst)
1/4 pound thick slab bacon, diced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 tbsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp horseradish from a jar, less if you can get fresh
4 garlic cloves crushed and minced
1/2 liter żur zakwas
4 hard boiled eggs
salt and pepper
sour cream (optional)
– First make a base broth. In a large pot add the carrots, parsnip, celery root, peppercorns, bay leaves, dried mushrooms and one sausage. Cover with 2 liters of water. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
– In the meantime you will sauté the other sausages. If they are really fresh, cook it with a lid on a low heat so it cooks through all the way and then slice it after it has cooled. If it is pre-cooked or you can easily slice it, sauté with butter or ghee in small circles on a skillet. Set it aside.
– On the same skillet or cleaned if that one is dirty, sauté the bacon for about 5 minutes on a medium heat until just a little crispy. Add the onion and sauté for another 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
– Once the broth is ready, remove the parsnip, celery root, mushrooms, bay leaves and peppercorns if you can with tongs. Otherwise strain it into a different pot. But you want to keep the carrots! (At least I do). Take out the sausage and slice it up. Add that sausage plus the sautéd ones and bacon and onions. Stir well.
– Strain the zakwas and add it into the soup and cook for about 3-5 minutes to break down any flour. Add the marjoram, horseradish and garlic and cook another 3-5 minutes on low. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
– Serve the soup with slices of hard boiled eggs. enjoy! You can also add a bit of sour cream.
Hello from the world of quarantine. The world as we know it has changed. If you are reading this in the future, we are currently battling a pandemic in this world of ours. We have been exposed to a new virus, covid-19, and much of the world is on lockdown or semi-lockdown. First it was China and then we waited. And then Italy. Then Spain. Then everywhere. I am home and I can not really do my job from home. But it is a perfect time for babushka training. My babushkas lived trough WWII and Communism so this is a perfect time to channel their energy. The days somehow go by faster than it would seem.
We knocked out 4 batches of these in three days, because we have nowhere to be and we can’t really be anywhere anyway but it feels good to be productive.
I don’t have any pictures but instead a video!
Here is the recipe we used (thanks to my husband’s family for teaching him so well).
3 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp neutral oil (like sunflower or grapeseed)
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup warm water
1 lb ground meat like beef, pork or lamb (or a combination)
1 small onion diced
2 tbsp dried cilantro
salt and pepper
broth, herbs, vinegar and sour cream for serving
To make the dough add the flour to a large bowl. Make a little hole in the middle and crack the egg in it, add the salt and the oil as well. Mix it slowly with a fork and add a little bit of water at a time until you have a shaggy wet dough. Start to use your hands and then lay the dough onto a hard surface to knead it. You will knead it for about 15 minutes, continue to add flour if it’s needed. Then let it rest for half an hour wrapped in a towel or plastic.
Mix the ground meat with onion, cilantro and salt/pepper. Let it sit in the fridge until you need it.
Once it’s rested roll out 1/3 of your dough to a nice thin layer. Using a champagne class or something of similar size make circles as close together as you can.
Fill each circle with a little bit of meat, on the stickier side if there is one. Fold the circle in half, pulling the edges if needed, and press to seal it shut. If it’s too dry use a little bit of water. Take the two ends and press them together to make a little dumpling shape.
Place each pelmeni on a floured cutting board so they don’t stick together. Once you have a board full you can stick them into the freezer. Once they are all the way frozen you can throw them into a bag, and save them for another time if you want.
To cook them bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and then place about 10-15 pelmeni at a time if there is room. They will float to the surface once they are done, let them cook a bit longer on the surface. Remove them with a slotted spoon.
Serve with a broth, herbs, vinegar and sour cream or any combination of those!
I love soup. Polish people love soup, and I love that they do. Soup is easy to make, it lasts a long time, it feeds many and it fills you up. Plus this one has sauerkraut which is really good for you. So many reasons to make it and love it.
Kapusta is cabbage. The underrated vegetable that kept many Europeans from starving. Kapuśnaik is just a cute way of saying cabbage soup. I mean what is not to love! I always put a lot of garlic into my soups, feel free to add less or more. I also used Italian sausage I have to admit! I was trying to avoid saying it but I just like the flavors better for this soup, traditionally it is made with kielbasa. Don’t get me wrong, kielbasa has my heart forever just not in this soup. We’ll save that for bigos (Polish hunters stew). In the meantime this is much easier and very satisfying.
2 tbsp neutral oil (like grapeseed or sunflower)
half of an onion, diced small
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp dried marjoram
2 tsp salt, more to taste if needed
1 tsp pepper, more to taste if needed
4 small yellow potatoes, diced
1 cup thinly chopped cabbage
8 cups vegetable broth
1 cup sauerkraut, roughly chopped
3 Italian sausage, diced into pieces
parsley for serving
– Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it is soft. Add the carrots, celery, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Sauté about 3-5 minutes. Add the broth and the cabbage and potatoes.
– Bring the soup to a boil and then lower the temperature to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
– Add the sauerkraut and the sausages and cook for another 20- 30 minutes until the potatoes and sausages are cooked all the way through. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. serve with chopped parsley.
Oh man I love foods like this. There are so many variations of dough filled with stuff in Eastern European food. These are the kind my father said his grandmother made, so I am trying to carry on that tradition. I can’t wait to serve them at Christmas Eve, that is when they are usually served. On Christmas Eve in Poland you don’t eat meat and you have a big dinner in the evening, so these are perfect to munch on while you wait for the cooks to finish the meal. They are so good fresh from the oven.
Pasztet actually means pâté, so I will have to try them with pâté next time!
1 cup milk
1 packet of instant dry yeast (7 g or 2 1/4 tsp)
1 tbsp sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 egg yolks, save the whites
300 g mushrooms – all types but the more flavorful the better
300 g sauerkraut
2 tbsp butter
– First heat the milk a bit so that it is warm, about 100° F is good. Sprinkle in the yeast and sugar and stir it up a little bit. Let it sit for 5 minutes so that it blooms.
– In a bowl or in a mixer stir the flour with salt. Add the milk once it has bloomed. stir or mix it well. Add the egg yolks, mix well. Add the butter pieces a little at a time. If you don’t have a mixer, you will use your hands now. Knead the dough to incorporate everything and then knead it for about 10 minutes, it will be wet, try not to add too much more flour. Cover it and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour until it is doubled (it might take more than an hour).
– To prepare the mushroom and sauerkraut filling first clean the mushrooms and grate them on a grater so you have really small shredded pieces. Strain the sauerkraut in a strainer and press to release more liquid from it. Heat a skillet and add the oil. cook the mushrooms until they are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the sauerkraut and cook for about 15 minutes on medium-low, you don’t want it to brown too much. Let the mixture cool before doing the next part.
– Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
– Once the dough is ready, flour your surface a bit and roll out the dough into a big rectangle, about 9 inches. Cut the rectangle into three long pieces. fill each piece with some of the filling right down the middle and not too close to the sides. Fold the dough over the filling from both sides and press to seal it.
– Cut each long piece into smaller pieces about 2 inches long. Place each piece fold side down on the baking sheet.
– Lightly beat your left over egg whites and brush on the top of each piece.
– Bake for about 25-30 minutes.
– They will last about 2-3 days, after that they dry out a bit.
Some people love fall. I get it. It’s not my favorite I will admit. The transition just doesn’t do me well, it hits me out of nowhere and I get a bit depressed. But I do what I can and cook and bake and start to be a babushka again.
This recipe is actually really easy and so tasty, it will impress if you think your not a good cook. It’s also mushroom season right now so feel free to use some different types if you can get your hands on them!
2 lbs beef sirloin, lean, cut into thin slices
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms, baby bella will do just fine or some sort of button type
2 small onions, cut into thin half moon shapes
2 cups of beef broth, sometimes I use mushroom which is also good
4 tbsp all purpose flour
1/3 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped parsley for serving
12 oz of egg noodles
– In a wide saucepan add the butter to melt and sauté the beef for about 5 minutes on each side until it is half browned on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside for a moment.
– In the same pan add the onions and the mushrooms until soft. Add the beef back in and season with salt and pepper. add the broth and the flour and mix everything very well.
– Let the sauce boil and then bring it to a simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes. Take the lid off and simmer for another 10 minutes.
– Meanwhile cook your noodles.
– Once the sauce has thickened adjust the seasoning if needed and mix in the sour cream. We like to add a lot of black pepper! Serve with noodles and parsley on top.