Polish Easter Treats
By Robert Strybel
The Polish Chef
SHARING BLESSED EASTER EGGS (dzielenie się poświęconym jajkiem): Family Easter breakfast as well as your club or parish Święconka or Dyngus Day festivities should begin with the sharing of the Easter eggs blessed in church on Holy Saturday. The shelled eggs should be cut into four quarters (wedges). Either a plate with the eggs is passed around and everyone impales a wedge with their fork or the host or hostess brings the plate around the each of the dinner guests. When all have impaled their wedge, they are eaten simultaneously amid wishes of “Wesołego Alleluja!”
WHITE EASTER BARSZCZ (biały barszcz wielkanocny): In soup pot combine 8-9 c water, 1 quartered onion, 3 bay leaves 6 peppercorns, 3 grains allspice and 1 lb fresh kiełbasa, bring to boil, reduce heat and skim off skim until no more forms. Cook covered at gentle boil 45 min, switch off heat and let stand until cooled to room temp. Separately refrigerate stock and sausage. overnight, Next day, remove and discard any congealed fat from stock. Add 1 t marjoram to stock, bring to boil and remove from heat. Fork-blend 1 to 1.5 c sour cream with 2-3 T flour until smooth, gradually whisking in 1 c hot stock a T at a time. Slowly stir sour-cream-flour mixture into stock and heat several min without boiling. Add 1-2 T prepared horseradish and 3-4 T cider vinegar. (or to taste) and serve over sliced or diced cooked kiełbasa, sliced hard-boiled eggs and (optional) cubed farmer cheese.
EASIEST WHITE EASTER BARSZCZ (biały barszcz najłatwiejszy): If the above recipe is too inovled, the next best thing might be imported biały barszcz or żurek in one-liter cartons. Look for Krakus, Knorr, Dawtona and other brands at your local Polish grocery or deli. All you need to do is heat it and serve as above.
(HARD-BOILED EGGS (jaja na twardo): Place as many room-temp eggs as needed (allowing 1-2 per person) in pot and fill with cold water to cover by at least 1”. Add a T or so salt. Remove and discard any egg which does not touch the bottom of water-filled pot. If it floats up, it is not very fresh. Bring water to boil and immediately reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 8-10 min (depending on size of eggs). Cool immediately in cold water. Serve whole or halved, drenched with sauces or plain with horseradish and ćwikła on the side.
SAUCES FOR EGGS AND MEAT (sosy do jaj i wędlin): Without any cooking or involved preparation, sauces (dressings) for hard-cooked eggs and cold meats can easily be whipped up in no time. Fork-blend 1 c mayonnaise and 1 c sour cream to get your basic sauce. Vary the flavor by stirring in 1 heaping T (more or less) brown prepared mustard or horseraidsh. Or, go for the Eatsr sauce (below).
EASTER SAUCE (sos do święconego): Fork-blend pr whisk 1c dairy sour cream with 12 c mayonnaise, add 1 – 2 chopped hard-cooked eggs and 1/2 – 3/4 c mixed finely chopped greens and crunchies: dill pickle, pickled mushroom, radishes, chives, green onion, parsley and dill. Stir in 1 heaping t prepared horseradish and season to taste with salt, sugar and lemon juice or vinegar.
EASY POLISH DEVILED EGGS (jaj faszewrowane): To give your deviled eggs a genuine Polish twist, replace the ham called for inyoiur recipe with skinned, ground smoked kiełbasa. If your recipe calls for mustard, use Polish imported Sarepska or Dijon.:
BEET-HORSERADISH RELISH (ćwikla z chrzanem): Drain a can of beets or pickled beets (reserving liquid for some other use). Dice, grate coarsely or slice thin (preferably on slicer blade of hand-held grater). Stir in about 1 heaping T prepared horseradish per 1 c beets, toss to blend and refrigerate covered until needed. Optional: The ćwikła may be seasoned with salt & pepper, a little caraway seed, lemon juice or vinegar and a bit of sugar.
APPLE HORSERADISH (chrzan tarty z jabłkiem): Soak 4 horseradish roots in cold water several hrs or overnight. Next day peel and grate fine near an open window (the fumes can be overpowering!). You can also cut the roots into cubes and grate in food processor. Sprinkle grated horseradish immediately with 2-3 t freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent discoloration and toss. Add 2-3 peeled, cored grated apples, mix well and sweeten to taste with a little sugar. Pack into small jars, seal and refrigerate at least 24 hrs before serving.
PICKLED MUSHROOMS (grzyby marynowane): These are available in Polish delis, but if you want to prepare you own, choose 2 lbs of smallish fresh mushrooms of roughly equal size. Wash well and plunge into a large kettle of boiling salted water. Cover and cook 15 min. In separate pot combine 1 c cider vinegar, 1 c water, 1/2 t salt, 1 T sugar, 1 crumbled bay leaf, 3 grains allspice and 10 peppercorns. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 min. With slotted spoon transfer mushrooms to jars. Pour room-temp marinade over mushrooms to cover, seal and refrigerate overnight before serving.
MIXED VEGETABLE SALAD (sałatka jarzynowa): In salad bowl combine 3-4 c cold, cooked, diced potatoes, 2 12-14 oz cans drained peas & carrots, 2 cans drained navy beans, 4 diced dill pickles, 1 bunch chopped green onions, 1 bunch diced radishes, 2 – 3 peeled, cored, diced apples and 4 – 6 diced hard-cooked eggs. Toss ingredients gently, season with salt & pepper and garnish with 3 T chopped fresh parsley. Note: Feel free to add, delete or vary ingredients and quantities to taste. Lace with just enough sauce to thinly coat ingredients. For 1 c, fork-blend 1/2 sour cream, 1/2 c mayonnaise and 1 slightly heaped t sharp brown mustard. Season to taste with a little salt, pepper, sugar and lemon juice or vinegar.
HOT STUFFED EGGS IN SHELLS (jaja faszerowane): Hold cold, hard-cooked egg against cutting-board and tap it lengthwise with a sharp, thin-blade knife and cut through to cutting-board shell and all. Carefully scoop out yolks and whites and set aside, taking care not to break the shell. remove and discard and loose, jagged shell fragments that adhere to eggs or rim of shells. Set shells aside. For 10 eggs, simmer 2 finely minced onions in 2 T butter until tender and golden. Grind or chop eggs very fine and combine with onion. Add 1 – 2 heaping T finely chopped fresh dill, 1 heaping T finely chopped chives and salt & pepper to taste. Stir in 1 beaten fresh egg and mix ingredients well. Fill shell halves with mixture pressing it down very gently so as not the damage them. Sprinkle tops generously with bread crumbs, pressing them in gently. Fry stuffed eggs, open-side down in 2 T butter or margarine until a golden crust forms on the bottom and top of shells are hot to the touch.
COLD-MEAT PLATTER (półmisek zimnych mięs i wędlin): On lettuce-lined platter, artistically arrange any or all of the following: sliced ham, cooked fresh and smoked cold kiełbasa, krakowska, ozorowa (tongue sausage), Canadian bacon, roast pork loin, roast veal, roast turkey, etc.Decorate paltter with curley parsley and radish roses.
HOME-MADE KIEŁBASA (kiełbasa domowa): Dice or grind coarsely 4.5 lbs pork butts and combine with 1 lb fatty hamburger. Sprinkle with 2.5 – 3 T salt, 3/4 t freshly ground black pepper, 1 T marjoram and 3-4 buds finely minced garlic. Work mixture well by hand, gradually adding 3/4 c cold water until fully absorbed. Refrigerate covered over night. Stuff hog casings with mixture, twisting into 12” – 13” links and tying them with white twine. Cook as below.
BOILED FRESH KIEŁBASA (biała kiełbasa gotowana): Place 3 lbs fresh home-made or store-bought kiełbasa in pot of cold water which should cover it by at least 1”. Add 1 bay leaf and 1 large quartered onion and cook on low to a gentle boil. Simmer on low covered 30-40 min from the time boiling starts. Let stand in hot liquid another 10 min before serving. Pork must be fully cooked so make sure it is no longer pink inside. The kiełbasa stock make a nice soup base.
OLD POLISH KIEŁBASA (kiełbasa zapiekana po staropolsku): Place 3 lbs fresh kiełbasa in single layer in baking pan. Drench with 2 c beer and enough water to barely cover the sausage. Bake in pre-heated 375° oven unitl half the liquid evaporotaes. Turn kiełbasa over. Scatter 4 thinly sliced onions all over the kiełbasa, sprinkle with caraway seeds and bake until all liquid is absorbed and sausage starts to sizzle. Serve hot striaght form the oven, or warmed up after being refrigertaed overnight. It is also good cold, sliced into thin rounds and served on the cold-meat platter ( above).
KIEŁBASA & SAUERKRAUT (kiełbasa z kapustą): Prepare 2-3 lbs fresh kiełbasa cooked as above (boiled or Old Polish) Drain 2 – 3 qts sauerkraut (reserving lkquid) and rinse in cold water. Drain again, press out moisture, chop coarsely, place in pot, scald with boiling water to cover, add 2 bay leaves and cook uncovered 45 – 60 min. Drain and transfer to baking pan. Smother 2-3 lbs cooked fresh or uncooked smoked kiełbasa with the sauerkraut and bake covered in 350° oven 90 min or so. Dissolve 1 -2 T flour in 1 c pan drippings and stir into sauerkraut. Leave in oven 30 min after switching off heat. Cut sausage into 2” or 3” and serve mixed mix with the sauerkraut.
oven 30 min. Mix again, cover pan and bake another 2 hrs at 325°. After switching off heat, leave bigos covered in oven until it cools to room temp. Refrigerate over night. Reheat at 350° for 90 min before serving. If too moist, pour off some of the liquid and stir in a T or more flour, mix well and bake another 15 min.
per lb. When completed, remove and discard bread crust and serve ham hot or cold.
ROAST PORK LOIN (schab pieczony): Mince and mash 2-3 cloves garlic into a paste with 1 t salt and rub into 3 lb boneless pork loin. Place in roasting pan, cover and let stand at room temp 2 hrs. Remove loin, dust with flour (through sieve) and brown in hot fat on all sides to seal in juices. Place in loin in roaster fat side up on rack and sprinkle with caraway seeds, pepper and marjoram. Roast uncovered at 450° 15 min, then reduce heat to 350°. Add 1 c water to pan and baste occasionally with drippings that form. Roast about 90 min or until liquid that comes out of meat when pricked is no longer pinkish. Serve hot as a main course or cold on the cold-meat platter (above).
EASTER LAMB CAKE (baranek z ciasta): Not the taste but the presentation is what counts with the Easter Lamb cake which serves as an Easter centerpiece, so feel free to make it with bread, babka or placek dough or even use a cake-mix. You will need a two-part lamb-cake mold. The cake can be left as is or covered with a white frosting to resemble fleece. But remember, it is not an Easter Lamb unless it sports the Banner of Resurrection – usually a red cross on a white background or gold cross on a red background.
EASY POLISH LOG CAKE (łatwy sękacz): Beat 1 slightly heaped c unsalted butter with 1⅛ c sugar until fluffy (app. 5 min), Add 7 egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until fully absorbed before adding the next, and beat until fluffy and lemony. Stir in 2 t vanilla extract. Separately, combine 1⅛ c instant flour, c potato starch and 2 t baking powder and stir into egg mixture. Beat 7 egg whites until they peak and carefully fold into batter. Heat overhead broiler in oven. Grease a tube pan and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Ladle some batter into the pan to cover bottom and place under broiler 2 min or until golden brown. Ladle in another portion of batter and repeat process. Keep repeating until all batter is used up. Check for doneness with wooden pick. If it does not come out clean, bake in hot oven a while longer.
FRUIT & NUT MAZURKA (mazurek z bakaliami): In a bowl, combine 1 c flour, 3/4 c sugar, 1 t baking powder and 1/4 t salt. Stir in 1 c chopped, pitted prunes, 1 c raisins and 1 c chopped walnuts, mixing ingredients together. Add 1 t vanilla extract and fold in 4 stiffly beaten egg whites, mixing gently. Form into a square 1 inch high, transfer to greased baking pan and bake in 300° oven 40-45 min to a nice golden-brown. When cool, cut into serving-size squares.