paszteciki!

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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!

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Paszteciki

1 cup milk

1 packet of instant yeast (7 g)

1 tbsp sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 stick of European style unsalted butter (113 g, 8 tbsps), softened

2 egg yolks, save the whites

300 g mushrooms – all types but the more flavorful the better

300 g sauerkraut

1 tbsp neutral oil

– 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 by pieces 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, you don’t want the dough to be too big or too thin.  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.  

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–  cut each long piece into smaller pieces about 5 inches long.  place each piece fold side down on the baking sheet.  

– 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.

Enjoy!

 

 

jagodzianki! (blueberry yeast buns)

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I am going to be honest with you.  I have been determined to get a a good recipe for these mostly because I love the name.  They are good, don’t get me wrong, especially when they are fresh.  But the name is just the best.  In Polish blueberries are called jagody, so it’s just a cute word for blueberry buns.  It’s a little harder in English because it doesn’t have as many ending options of making something cute, but it would be like saying blueberry bunsies, cute little blueberry buns.

Another thing I will be honest about is that these are more popular in the Spring and early Summer when blueberry season first starts.  This year I was a little late at making these the way I wanted and I was late to go blueberry picking in Indiana like I try to do every year.  But, I did go and now I have a freezer full of blueberries!  And actually these are perfect with defrosted blueberries, I think because they turn jammy better when baked.

They are easier than you think, just like with any yeast dough you gotta stick around and watch it, because it’s alive!  The folding can also be tricky, I had many a leaked jagodzianki.

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Jagodzianki

3 cups packed all purpose flour (or 500g)

1 cup milk

1 tbsp instant dry yeast

8 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 stick of European style butter (113g, 8 tbsp), softened

3 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, defrosted

2 tbsp potato starch

for the crumble:

3 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp cold butter

5 tbsp flour

1 egg for brushing

– heat the milk until it is lukewarm, not more than 100º F.  mix in a little bit of the sugar and all of the yeast and let it sit until it blooms.

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– mix the flour, and add the rest of the 4 tbsps of sugar in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, or in a big bowl with a large spoon.  add the milk mixture and mix on low in the stand mixture or continue with a spoon if you have a bowl instead.  add the egg and keep mixing until incorporated, possibly using your hands if not in a stand mixer.

– add the softened butter a bit at a time and knead or mix it in.  mix or knead for about 15 minutes, you want the dough to be very soft and elastic.  cover it in a bowl and let it sit in a warm place for about an hour.

– make sure there is no more liquid in the blueberries and mix the blueberries with the sugar and starch.

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– once it doubles in size take it out of the bowl.  divide the dough into about 12 even balls.  flatten each ball on a floured surface and place about 2 tbsp of blueberries on the dough.  pinch four sides together to make a little sack to cover the berries.  really pinch the sides and twist the top slightly, and fold it in.  really make sure there is no space for liquid to leak through and place it twist side down on a lined baking sheet.

 

– repeat with all of them and let them sit for about half an hour.

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– pre-heat the oven to 375º.

– make the crumble by mixing the flour and sugar first in a bowl.  cut the cold butter into small pieces and add it to the flour.  mixing with your hands or a fork, but probably ending up with your hands, mix the crumble into a nice crumble.  beat the egg and set aside.

– once the little balls have rested, brush with the egg and sprinkle some crumble on top.  bake for about 25-30 minutes.

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enjoy!!!!!!

cheesecake and jello cake (my Polish-American pie)

Does it seem weird? Does it kind-of sound not appealing? Maybe. But we do it anyway and actually it’s quite delicious. Especially because I would eat jello everyday if I made it everyday. This cake is so very Polish to me and maybe even Polish-American. I saw it in Poland. But jello is so American to me, as well as no bake cheesecake. So it’s one of those things that somehow became a thing when mainstream American commercialism made its way to post Soviet countries. At least that is my story. I can say I never grew up having this at any of my American friends houses and we have had it many times and I see it at almost every Polish bakery. So there you go.

Here is a picture of me on my second birthday eating a very similar style cake my mama made 🙂

Here is how I made mine, I thought it was very good. Also yes to no baking in the oven!!

Cheesecake and Jello Cake

1 1/2 cups crushed up ginger cookies (the dry hard kind)

5 tbsp butter, melted

1 cup ricotta cheese

8 oz cream cheese

3 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

zest of half a lemon

2 packets plain gelatin – 1/4 oz each

2 cups white grape juice

1/4 cup sugar

3 1/2 cups berries (about), cut into bite size pieces if big like the strawberries especially

– mix the melted butter with the cookies and press them into an 8 inch spring form pan (or something close to that size) to create a crust. place it in the fridge for half and hour.

– mix the ricotta and cream cheese together in a food processor until well blended. add the zest, extract and honey and mix well. if the crust is hardened enough pour it onto the top and let the whole thing sit in the fridge for an hour.

– in a small sauce pan heat 1/4 cup of the white grape juice until warm enough to mix in the sugar to dissolve it. keep it on low.

– in a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over another 1/4 cup of the white grape juice. let it sit 2 minutes.

– turn the heat off the sauce pan and pour in the other gelatin mixture and mix well with a whisk. then add the rest of the grape juice.

– if the mixture is cool pour it over the cooled cheesecake and start to add your pieces of fruit in whatever way is pleasing to you. make sure not to touch the cheesecake part with your fingers or don’t press the fruit down too much.

– let it cool about 1.5 hours until set. when serving run a knife around the edge before removing the spring form. keep in the fridge if not eating 🙂

Enjoy!

pickle soup (zupa ogórkowa)

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Let’s talk about the weather, because food and weather always go together.  We are in that strange time of year where fall starts to creep up slowly. It starts with a couple of cool days that feel like heaven because the sun is still warm enough to tingle the surface of the skin.  Then it comes in fast with a day where we do not have enough clothes and we get a little tickle in our throat that turns into full on sore the next morning.  I am very much not looking forward to that day or to my first winter in Chicago in 8 years.  Every year I have dreams of trying to enjoy winter, we will see if I am better this year.  I really really want to like winter, but every time it comes around I can’t seem to keep my spirits up. What about you?

This soup seemed to me to represent this time, mostly because it isn’t really seasonal.  In some ways it is a winter soup because well, it is soup. But also because it is made from pickles so you don’t really need the bounty of summer produce to enjoy it.  But maybe it’s actually perfect right now when we are not in love with squash yet and so cold that all we want is fat.  We still want a little funky freshness, so try this funky delicious soup.

It’s a basic soup that is flavored with brine pickles to add a little tang, just enough.

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Pickle Soup / Zupa Ogórkowa

2 tbsp butter

1 onion, diced

1/2 tbsp dried marjoram

salt/pepper

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 small parsnip, peeled and diced

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

6 cups of vegetable stock

4-6 pickles in brine (not vinegar pickles), grated on a cheese grate

1/2 cup pickle brine

1/3 cup sour cream

1/2 tbsp flour

dill

– in a large pot heat the butter. cook the onions until soft. season with salt and pepper and marjoram. add carrots and parsnip. cook about 5 minutes.

– add the stock and potatoes. bring to a boil and then simmer 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.

– grate the pickles if not already grated. once the potatoes are cooked add the pickles and simmer another 10 minutes. add the brine.

– mix the sour cream in a small bowl with the flour until combined and then add 1 cup of the warm soup. mix it well until everything is dissolved. add it back to the soup. season with more salt/pepper to taste and serve with chopped dill.

enjoy!

bay leaf pudding

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I have so much free time right now, but I am so not using it wisely!  I am now living in a new city and looking for new jobs and trying to save money so my mind is not focused yet.  It’s so exciting though, I feel positive.

I lived in New York, Brooklyn specifically, for 7 years.  It was such an amazing adventure.  I learned a lot, worked my butt off, did stupid things, did really cool things, wasted time and wasted money.  After everything I was burnt out!  I needed a different pace, I needed to spend less money and I needed my family around.  New York is amazing, but after a while, it’s just too much for someone like me, a year goes by like three months.

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(New York from a rooftop in Brooklyn)

I have never really put together a list of stuff to do in a city but maybe I will do it for New York/Brooklyn, from the perspective of someone living there and seeing how much there is and not really having money, time and especially energy to do it all.  It can either be a really good list or a really lame list, we will see.

And now Chicago, I really love this city and kind-of want to keep it a secret, let’s just keep it at that for now…

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(Lincoln Park in Chicago)

And even though I have lots of time right now, you might not, and this is a such an easy but amazing dessert!  This stuff is addicting!  Seriously, I can eat the whole thing and more.  I have a thing for puddings, any pudding: rice, chocolate, lemon.  But bay leaf?  I am not sure how to describe the flavor, it’s a bit herbal, maybe a hint of licorice, but it’s very subtle and does not overpower.

Bay Leaf Pudding

2 1/2 cups milk

6-10 dried bay leafs (I used a lot, and you can also use fresh, experiment and taste!)

1/3 cup of sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

– heat 2 cups of milk in a small saucepan on medium heat until almost boiling.  remove the milk from heat and crush up the bay leafs into the milk.  let it sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the milk does not create a film on top.

-strain the milk and reheat until almost boiling again.

-mix the remaining 1/2 cup of milk with 1/4 cup of cornstarch in a small bowl a little at a time so it breaks down evenly so there are no lumps.  turn the heat down a little on the milk and add the sugar.  stir for about 5 minutes.  keep stirring and add the cornstarch mixture. stir occasionally on low heat for about 5 minutes.

-remove from heat and let it cool down a bit.  pour into a bowl or whatever your using and place plastic right on top of the pudding to help not create a film (or not if you don’t mind).  let it cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.

yummmmm

-Jrad

 

celebration salad

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The celebrations are over obviously.  But there will be more.  I also got engaged over the holiday and so I have that to celebrate still and I get to start practicing making a wedding cake.

I am calling this salad celebration salad because I am not sure what to call it really.  It is obviously olivier salad, which in Poland they call sałatka jarzynowa – which basically means vegetable salad.  It is a salad my family has pretty much every time there is a holiday and possibly birthday.  I am sure if you are Polish you might have a similar experience.  If you are not Polish you might think it is a rather weird salad.  I was eating it yesterday and someone asked me what was in it and I said “Vegetables with mayo, and pickle and egg, and apple”.  She is from Michigan and said that sounds like her potato salad, and I agree.  It is a bit like potato salad with potato not being the main component, but instead each bite has different layers of flavor.  By far not the most stylish looking salad, unless we are back in the 1950’s, but that is why I love this salad, it has a lot of charm to me.

(If you didn’t read the link to olivier salad, this was very interesting: The first version of olivier salad was apparently “grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, and smoked duck” – so I guess our version is like the poor man’s version!!!)

I have many good memories with this salad.  My dad is always the chopper of the vegetables, he doesn’t cook much but can be (like many men in the kitchen) very precise about his chopping, but my mother always gives him a hard time anyway.  And my brother, who doesn’t like many other traditional Polish dishes, loves this salad and often complains it doesn’t always taste the same, probably because there is no real recipe.

Alas, here is a recipe.  There are so many versions of it, but this is how I like it, no meat or fish just simple.

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Celebration Salad

2 medium potatoes, peeled

2 medium carrots, peeled and ends cut off

1 medium parsnip, peeled and ends cut off

1/4 big celery root (or half a small one), peeled

4 eggs

1 green apple, peeled and diced

2 cups defrosted frozen peas

3 big dill cucumbers in brine (pickles), diced

1 small leek, very thinly diced

1 1/4 cup mayo

1 tsp dried marjoram

2 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp grated horseradish

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

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– place the potatoes, carrots, parsnip, celery root and eggs in a large pot and cover everything with water.  bring to a boil.  once the water is boiling set a timer.  after 12 minutes take out the eggs and place them in cold water.  after about 30 minutes take out the potato, parsnip and celery root.  if they are not soft yet leave them a bit longer.  leave the carrot in for about 35 minutes.  keep checking because each vegetable is different.  remove everything when ready.

-let the vegetables and eggs cool. chop up the apple, pickles and leek into even diced pieces.  once the cooked vegetables have cooled to room temperature chop them up the same way.

-place all the ingredients in a big mixing bowl.  mix the mayo, mustard, horseradish, marjoram, salt and pepper in a small bowl until well combined.  mix the dressing with the vegetables thoroughly, adjusting seasoning as needed.  place in the fridge to cool some more.  the salad will last a couple of days in the fridge. I think it usually tastes best the day after being made.

and celebrate!!

peace, jrad

knedle (plum filled potato dumplings)

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I’ve been missing in action writing here, and cooking in general.  I went on a last minute trip to ARMENIA! with my husband to be.

It was mainly to see his family, but I had a lovely time being somewhere different and learning about the culture.  It’s a beautiful place that many people do not know much about, and I encourage people to visit, there is a lot of history there and it is a very unique place.  The food was really great, since it is such a small country it seems that much of the food is very local and fresh.  We ate a lot with Gevork’s aunt, she would make very simple dishes and they were all so good!  Lamb patties with herbs, lamb chops with tomatoes and herbs, eggplant and other veges slow cooked, chicken with mushrooms or again with tomatoes and herbs, meatballs without anything basically except seasoning (really gotta learn this trick!).  My favorite salad was just simple tomatoes, peppers, red onions, and cucumbers cut thick with oil, salt and again lots of herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, and some other ones I am not sure because they were not translated to me in English – one was purple, maybe purple basel or lovage?).  Everything was served with fresh lavash that she would get every morning.  I am obsessed with lavash, it is the coolest tastiest secret, only in Armenia can you get really good lavash.

I hope to be a better story teller next time, it was definitely a new experience for me, but also a bit overwhelming with family stuff and getting comfortable.  So I will be prepared next time to share the wonders!

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This recipe is similar to the lazy dumpling in my last post, however these might be my favorite dumplings.  I didn’t eat these much growing up but they are still somehow special to me.  On my last trip to Poland I went to a restaurant in Krakow and ordered these because I wasn’t eating meat and I was so happy I did, they were delicious!  I also remember eating one of the best mushroom soups I’ve ever had there.

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Knedle

500 g potatoes – pick a sturdy cooking potato (once peeled and cooked will weigh 400g – even if it doesn’t, just use that much for the dough)

100-150 unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp potato flour (it makes for a softer dough)

1 egg

15-20 very RIPE Italian plums (not so ripe that they are rotten, just with a nice squish when tested)

2 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar

salt

1 cup sour cream

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-peel and chop your potatoes into cubes.  boil in a pot of salted water until cooked.  drain and mash them very well so there are no clumps. let them cool.

-cut each plum longways on one side. if they are ripe the pit should come out really easy, so that is a good test.  remove all pits and set aside, plum should still be whole just cut on the side.

-once the potatoes are cool mix them with 100g of flour, the potato flour and the egg in a bowl.  mix well with hands or with spoon if too sticky.  it will be very sticky but if it is not coming together add more flour.  every potato is different so you have to figure it out as you go.  the more flour you use the denser the dough will be and we don’t want that for these. let it sit for a bit.  flour your work surface well.

-fill a big pot with water and salt well.  turn on heat and bring to a boil while you do the next part.

-make sure you have very well floured hands for the next part.  take a third of the dough and roll it into a log about two inches thick and six inches long, cut it into pieces and flatten out a piece.  you want to be able to fit a plum in there so use your own judgement on how big your plums are.  fill a plum with a little powdered sugar and place it into the dough with the cut side facing side.  pick it up in your hands and gently start pushing the dough up so it covers the plum.  seal it with your fingers, keep flouring those hands if you need.  roll it around in your hands so it seals shut and let it sit on a floured surface or plate while you repeat.  repeat until you run out of dough or plums…

-once the water is boiling gently place the dumplings in the water, in batches. once they float to the top let them cook another 5 minutes.  take them out with a slotted spoon and let them drain in a strainer for a second and them place them on a plate.

-mix about 1 cup of sour cream with 1 1/2 tbsp of powdered sugar.  serve with the knedle.  there is also the option of sautéing them in butter and sprinkling with sugar, or even bread crumbs, but I was quite satisfied with the sour cream 🙂

na zdrowie!