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Polish Your Kitchen by Anna - 1w ago

This is Szczecin. My home town. I grew up and went to school in the suburbs, then commuted to center city to go to high school and college. I know it inside and out. It may not be the pretties or the most desirable city in Poland but I love it. It’s mine. I never thought or could imagine living outside Szczecin, but life had a different plan. In 2001 I moved to the US, by accident. Came for a visit and stayed for love. I left behind my family, friends, career and everything I knew and loved, to give love a chance. I never regretted it, nor would I change a thing. I’m a happily married woman with a perfect young daughter. Since my husband is in the service, we moved often. We’ve lived on the East coast, in Germany, in the mid-West and even in Hawaii. We visited the country East to West and North to South. We made many friends and have been rich in adventures. Army life was stressful at times but we make a great team, so we just kept on.

We are now at a fork in the road. After 23 years of giving his all, my husband is hanging up his uniform and retiring. We thought about where to move after we are done going where the Army told us to go. Just think, the world is our oyster. Where to now? Szczecin, it was always my first choice. A few years ago, we decided, that was going to be our new home. We’ve been thinking about it for four, five years… and that time is finally here. We’re finally moving… and it’s happening fast. I quit my job. We are packing our bags this week and we’ll be moving our household next week. I’ll be home again.

I’m looking forward to spending the holidays with my family, sharing meals with them on regular basis and spending time with my life long friends. I’m also looking forward to sharing my experiences of Polish kitchen with you going forward, as I hope for this blog to become my new full time job. I want to travel and explore more secrets of regional Polish dishes, learn, taste, grow and share. I would also like to work on publishing a cookbook in a couple of years. Promoting the Polish kitchen and bringing it to the main stream of culinary world is the goal. It is so much more than pierogi and gołąbki, don’t you agree?

I hope you will accompany me on my new adventures, and if you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods, please do let me know. I’ll take you out for a nice plate of authentic Polish food.

Happy cooking and smacznego my hungry friends.

With love,

Anna

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This hearty and full flavored soup originated with our neighbor to the South-East, Ukraine. Although similar to the original, Polish version of the soup varies a bit. It is a beef based broth, that besides roasted beets also features beans and potatoes. Poles love for this earthy vegetable made barszcz ukraiński [barshch oo-krah-yee-nsky] a national favorite, and since we’ve put our stamp on it, I can easily consider it a Polish dish.

Barszcz is best when prepared one day before serving to let the beet flavor infiltrate the beef broth. If you’re short on time however, make sure to let it sit for at least 2 hours before serving. Baking beets ahead of time can also help expedite the process.

Poles eat soups year-round, taking advantage of whatever vegetables happen to be in season at the time. Since some veggies (like beets) may not be available during the winter months, beet soup will often be served in the summer and fall. This favorite red root bulb will often be jarred and preserved to be enjoyed when not available.

Check out the SOUPS section of my recipe index on top of the page to browse many varieties of this favorite flavor in soup form, one is even cold, called chłodnik (recipe here), very popular during the summer.

Ukrainian Style Polish Beet Soup {Barszcz Ukraiński}
  • Yields: 10 + servings
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 1.5 hours
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs / 1 kg / 6-7 small/medium beets
  • 12-14 oz / 350 - 380 g beef soup bone or beef rib
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 5-6 allspice seeds and peppercorns (whole)
  • 3 bay leaves (dried or fresh)
  • 1/4 onion
  • 2 cups / 8 oz / 240 g of fresh green beans
  • 3 cups / 10 oz / 300 g / about 1/2 of small head of fresh green cabbage
  • 15.5 oz / 439 g can of light kidney beans
  • 15.5 oz / 439 g can of navy beans
  • 3-4 medium/small potatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/2 cups of cream or half & half
  • 2 tbs of flour
  • Dill for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. Cut stems off the beets (at the stem not the bulb) and scrub them well under running water. Place in a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1.5 hours. Take out, cool, peel and grate on the largest vegetable grater - you may want to use gloves and protect your garments for this part.

  2. While beets are baking, place beef bone in a large stock pot, add water, salt, peeled carrots, onion, allspice and peppercorns, bayleaves. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove carrots and set aside. Continue simmering for another 30 minutes.

  3. In the meantime, wash fresh green beans, cut stem ends off and cut into about 1 inch / 3 cm pieces. Drain and rinse canned beans, set aside. Peel and cube potatoes (keep in cold water until ready to add to soup), set aside. Chop fresh cabbage, set aside.

  4. After total of 1.5 hours of boiling beef broth, take out beef bone and add 2 cups of water. Next add potatoes and green beans. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Next add canned beans, cabbage, sliced carrots . Bring to boil and simmer for another 5 minutes.

  5. At this time turn heat off, add vinegar and shredded beets and crushed garlic clove. I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Give it a stir and set aside (preferably overnight) for at least two hours.

  6. Next day, heat through. Mix cream (or half & half) with flour and add to hot soup. Heat until almost boiling. Taste and add a bit more salt, if needed.

  7. Sprinkle with fresh dill and serve hot.

Notes

Red barszcz looses it's color when boiled, this is why I recommend to let the soup sit overnight for flavors to combine. Limit boiling when reheating also. Vinegar will help with preserving the color.

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Let me know what you think!

Happy cooking!

Anna

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Polish macaroni and cheese with strawberries is a dish that comes alive every year during strawberry season. Farmer’s market stalls fill up with this ripe, plump and juicy red fruit and people go nuts for them. Strawberry season will only last a couple of moths (if we’re lucky) and we won’t see them again until next year in Poland. To make sure we get the most out of strawberry season we’ll make sure to eat them by the pound. We’ll put them into cheese-cake, make it into strawberry soup, coffee cake or boil them with sugar and drink as juice. 

Makaron z serem i z truskawkami [mah-kah-rohn z seh-rehm ee z troo-skah-vkah-mee] is a dish of hot spiral-shaped pasta garnished with tangy and cold farmer’s cheese and covered with fresh and juicy strawberries. A bit of sugar and sour cream brings a bit of sweet and creamy balance for a complete and filling dinner… I imagine this is not what you expected when you saw the dish name This is macaroni and cheese, Polish style.

Polish Macaroni and cheese with strawberries {Makaron z serem i z truskawkami}
  • Yields: 4-5 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 5 min
Ingredients
  • 1 box (12 oz / 350g) of spiral-shaped or bowtie pasta
  • 8 oz / 230 g of polish farmer's cheese*
  • 16-20 oz of fresh strawberries
  • About 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 4-5 tsp of sugar
Instructions
  1. Boil pasta in salted water according to the instructions on the box.

  2. In the meantime wash strawberries and remove stems and leaves. Quarter each fruit and set aside. Prepare farmer's cheese by crumbling it into a bowl, also set aside.

  3. When pasta is ready, drain and while still hot distribute onto plates. Top with a few tablespoons of farmer's cheese, as many strawberries as you wish and a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with sugar and serve.

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Enjoy for dinner on a hot summer day.

Happy cooking and smacznego!

Anna

* recipe for home-made farmer’s cheese here. You may also substitute with a large curd cottage cheese.

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Cebulaki [tseh-boo-lah-kee] are soft yeast rolls, covered in sautéed onions mixed with spices and poppy-seeds, baked until golden brown. They are further proof of Polish creativity in using simple ingredients to make something exceptional.  Frugal doesn’t have to mean boring, as a matter of fact, quite the opposite. A few ingredients that you most likely already have in your pantry can be turned into a delicious new meal.

I first saw these savory rolls being made when I was visiting my grandmother’s side of the family in the central region of Poland. Grandma came from a small farming village outside the city of Łódź, where the main agricultural products were potatoes, cabbage, beets and onions. We spent most of our summers there as kids, helping with some of the farm chores, but mainly just playing in the orchard, picking cherries of and scaring the chickens. This multi-generational household knew how to make sure their crops are utilized to last through the year, until the next season’s harvest. All ingredients for this dish were plentiful, but were always prized, respected, and treated as if the future of a full pantry was never guaranteed… which was true for many Polish households that depended on an unpredictable harvest. Cebulaki was a great, portable food that could be grabbed in between chores without stopping. Prepared ahead of time, they would wait under a cover of a kitchen towel, to disappear in minutes when hunger struck.

I could eat at least 3 straight out of the oven, if there was no one to share with.

Polish Onion Rolls {Cebulaki}
  • Yields: 8 rolls
  • Prep Time: 3 hrs
  • Cook Time: 30-35 min
Ingredients
  • 3 cups / 450 g of all purpose flour
  • 1 tbs of dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup / 225 mil warm milk
  • 1 stick / 8 tbs / 100 g of butter, melted
  • 4 eggs yolks (1 eggs white)
  • Topping:
  • 2 1/2 cups of sliced onion
  • 2 tbs of butter
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbs of poppy-seeds
Instructions
  1. Place flour in a mixing bowl, add yeast, salt, sugar. Warm milk and melt the butter, add to flour mixture and with a hook attachment start mixing. Add egg yolks and continue mixing until combined. If not using a mixer, work with your hands on a floured surface until combined. I used additional 3 tbs of flour to get it to the right consistency.

  2. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and let rest and rise for 2 hours (or until doubles in size).

  3. Line a 9 inch x 11 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

  4. Remove dough from bowl and place on floured surface. Fold 3-4 times and create an even log. Cut log in half and divide each half into 4 relatively even pieces. Form balls and place on parchment paper. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.

  5. In the mean time, cut the onion in half and into slices. In a medium pan, heat butter, add onion, salt, pepper and sauté until golden brown. Once cooked, turn off, add poppy-seeds and stir to combine.

  6. Preheat oven to 395°F/200°C.

  7. After rolls have been resting for about 30 minutes, flatten them lightly with your fingers. Whisk 1 egg white and brush over rolls, cover with sautéed onion evenly.

  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before moving onto a cooking rack.

Notes

Serve warm or cold.

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Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or a snack.

Happy cooking and smacznego!

Anna

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This is yet another fresh and delicious Polish salad. Surówka z czerwonej kapusty [soo-roov-kah z cher-vo-ney cap-oos-tyh] is often served next to a traditional meat dinner, like bitki wołowe or zrazy zawijane,  or as one of the salads in a salad trio, next to carrot salad and daikon salad. A simple combination of cabbage, onion and apple and a vinegar based dressing also makes it a popular addition to grilled meats during a summer cook-out.

Save this one for your next family bbq.

Polish Red Cabbage Salad {Surówka z Czerwonej Kapusty}
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
Ingredients
  • 1/2 of head of red cabbage (about 5 cups shredded)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 apple
  • 1/4 of a small onion (about 3 tbs)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs of vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Take your time and thinly shred the cabbage. Sprinkle with salt and massage for a couple of minutes to release juices.

  2. Shred the apple and mince onion. Add to cabbage. Add lemon juice, sugar and oil. Mix until combined.

Notes

Chill until serving. Serve as a dinner veggy side.

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Happy cooking!

Anna

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Babka ziemniaczana [bahb-kah ziyem-nya-chah-nah], also knows as kartoflak [car-tof-lack] is a savory baked dish made of grated potatoes, spiked with golden pieces of smoked bacon and sautéed onion. With the addition of a few spices and herbs this side dish is a perfect (and affordable) way to bring a delicious variety to the usual meat-and-potato kind of dinner.

I have to say, Poles are very smart with their ingredients. Potato is a star of many dishes and often acts as the main ingredient. Pierogi ruskie, kopytka, kluski śląskie are just a few examples. This cheap root vegetable is grown and harvested all of the country and remains as one the preferred starches in our diet, winning the popularity contest against rice or pasta.

Serve it with a favorite protein, like karkówka or zrazy zawijane, or try it with a simple mushroom sauce, or a creamy fried cabbage. It also does well sautéed in butter or grilled. Just place thick slices on a well greased pan or a grill and brown lightly on each side.

Polish Potato Babka {Babka Ziemniaczana}
  • Yields: 1 bread pan - about 6-8 servings
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 70-90 min
Ingredients
  • 2.5 lbs / 1 kg / 6 cups of raw potatoes
  • 1.5 cups chopped raw onion
  • 6 oz / 200 g of lean smoked bacon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1-2 tsp of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary or parsley)
Instructions
  1. Peel and dice potatoes. Keep submerged in cold water until ready to blend.

  2. Dice onion and bacon. Sauté bacon on medium heat for about 5 min, until some of the fat melts. Add onion and sauté together until golden brown. Set aside. In the mean time chop the herbs.

  3. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. Grease a 9 inch x 5 inch (23 cm x 13 cm) loaf pan with butter or line with parchment paper.

  4. Place potatoes, eggs, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth (you can also use a hand grater to grate potatoes; use the smallest side; add eggs and spices to mixture once grated). When blended place in a large mixing bowl add herbs and flour and hand mix until combined. Pour mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for about 90 min, until the outside is golden brown and the middle is dry and set.

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To me, this could be a meal on its own. I like it with a tall glass of ice cold buttermilk on a hot summer day. Perfection.

Smacznego!

Anna

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Pasztet [pash-tet] is a very popular sandwich topping in Poland. There are many varieties, pork, chicken and turkey being the most widely prepared. Here are recipes for chicken paté and chicken pate with mushrooms that I shared a bit ago.  Turkey pasztet is made a bit differently as meat is ground twice making it a lot more fine and spreadable. Its very mild and aromatic, and unlike some of the pork patés, the liver flavor is subtle. Garlic and spices also add a nice balance to the dish.

Patés are always prepared for Easter and Christmas in Poland. In the spring it will be served along side of deviled eggs, veggie salad, sour rye soup with fresh sausage, and next to pierogi, fish in gelatin and red beet soup with mushroom dumplings in the winter. During both holidays, Poles prepare a wide variety of dishes, instead of just one main dish (like ham or turkey in the US). 10-12 different dishes will be served for all meals on Easter or Christmas, and since some of them are only served once a year, we’ll enjoy them multiple times in one day. 

I make pasztet about once or twice a year and freeze it. When craving strikes, I take a portion out and enjoy on bread, garnished with pickle slices and/or raw onions.

Polish Turkey Paté {Pasztet z Indyka}
  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 60 - 75 min
Ingredients
  • 1 raw turkey breast + 2 legs (mine weighed about 7lbs / 3.2 kg) or about 10 cups of cooked turkey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-8 each peppercorns and allspice whole
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1/4 of a burnt onion (roast right on the gas burner, or on a dry frying pan until burnt)
  • 2 tbs of salt
  • 10 cups of water (enough to cover the meat)
  • 36 oz / 1 kg of chicken livers
  • 2 tbs of oil
  • 1.5 lbs / 70g of uncured bacon
  • 1 cups of chopped onion
  • 9 - 10 garlic cloves
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbs of dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp of ground pepper
  • 2 cups of chicken stock (if using cooked turkey)
Instructions
  1. Place turkey in a stock pot with carrots, parsnips, bayleaves, peppercorns, allspice, onion, water and salt and simmer on low until meat is soft (about 2 - 3 hours). Remove from stock and cool. Reserve 2 cups of stock. Taste the turkey and make note if its salty enough. *If not, add some to the meat mixture at the end.

  2. In the meantime, rinse chicken livers and sauté in oil until cooked (about 15-20 min). They will be watery at first. Cook all water off and brown a bit. Towards the end of cooking the livers add chopped onion. Set aside to cool. Chop the bacon into smaller pieces (small enough to fit into the meat grinder).

  3. When ready grind all meat, veggies from cooking turkey, bacon, livers and garlic - TWICE.

  4. Once ground, to meat mixture add eggs, nutmeg, marjoram and pepper. *If turkey was not salty enough, add a bit of salt. Also add 2 cups of stock from cooking turkey. Mix well until combined.

  5. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. Plase meat mixture into baking containers (bread loafs work well). Bake for 1 hour then turn broiler on and broil the top until golden brown.

  6. Remove and cool. Chill before serving.

Notes

This makes quite a bit of pasztet. I made 6 mini loafs and 2 regular size loafs out of this recipe. It does very well in the freezer though, just wrap tight in plastic wrap and freeze. Enjoy slices on bread with pickles and/or onions.

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Happy cooking and smacznego!

Anna

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KitchenAid with sausage attachment for grinding: http://amzn.to/2oQHWuE

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Meet Annella, the artist behind the beautiful “pisanki“, Polish traditional Easter eggs. I first met Annella when I was placed with her family to spend a school year as an exchange student. Annella was 4 years old. It was fun watching her grow up and embrace Polish heritage, always present within her family. She is a talented artist and a beautiful human being. We spent a little bit of time talking about her connection to Poland, why it is important to keep Polish traditions alive and she’ll tell us all about the complicated process of making these pieces of art.
*****************************************
What are your connections to Polish heritage?

Where can I start except the beginning? I was named after my great-grandmother, Aniela Pientka (née Spietzka), who was affectionately called Anielka. Even at a young age I was always fond of the fact that my name carried that connection to my heritage. My five siblings and I were raised to respect Polish history, culture, and traditions, so the importance of Polish heritage has always been very prevalent in my family. Thanks to my parents I grew up with feelings of pride for my Polish roots and still feel that deep sense of pride to this day. Polish creativity is a defining element of my family. My father, Boleslaw Kochanowski, is an accomplished artist blacksmith and he forges exquisite custom wrought-iron (http://www.boleslawkochanowski.com). This craft has been passed down to my brothers, and goes back through the generations; My grandfather, after whom my father was named, learned his craft in Poland until he received his journeyman status. He was following in the tradition of his father’s brother (my great-uncle) who had a blacksmith shop in Kotlice, Poland before the Second World War. Hospitality and good food are well-known in Polish culture, and at my parents’ home these are also evident. My mother, Anna Kochanowski, is a phenomenal cook and always has something delicious prepared (usually in abundance) when you walk into her kitchen. Not only will she cater Polish feasts for our big family gatherings, which we have regularly, but her cooking is equally wonderful for the average weekday meal, too. Some of the dishes I most enjoy include her savory soups with barley, sorrel, or mushrooms, her gorgeous gołąbki roasted with a generous splash of pickle juice instead of tomatoes (an alteration my mother adapted from my Grandmother Jadwiga’s recipe), and the bountiful amounts of bigos she makes with kapusta and kiełbasa. Many of the Polish recipes she learned were passed down through our family and have continued in my kitchen as well. Another aspect that enhances my Polish identity is the fact that a big part of the community in Central Wisconsin, where I grew up, descended from Polish immigrants who came to the area in the mid-1800’s. With the variety of Polish heritage organizations and churches that have since been established, the Polish community and its traditions are enthusiastically celebrated with various festivals and annual events. My parents were both involved in a number of these groups so, naturally, I eventually became involved as well. At one time, I was even the vice-president of the Polish club during my undergrad at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point before I studied a semester abroad in Kraków. 

How did you get involved in making pisanki? Who taught you this difficult art?
My mother, always having been an artistic and crafty person, became interested in pisanki when she saw a demonstration at a local arts fair when she was young. It stuck with her and years later she explored the Polish craft more after she had children. I remember making pisanki with my siblings every year during the Easter season when I was a little girl. It was also a special treat when my mom would come to our elementary school and give demonstrations to the art classes there. I was thrilled when I got to be her helper for my classmates. My mother also did pisanki classes for the Polish organizations she was a part of as well as at assisted living centers in the area. It was an easy transition to start leading classes myself once I was in college.
Can you explain the process of making each egg? 
Decorating eggs is a traditional folk art for many ethnic groups, especially those in Eastern Europe. Therefore many different styles of pisanki exist. My style resembles that of the Polish-Lemko culture. To create a pisanka, first I hollow out an egg by drilling a small hole into each end with my Dremel drill. I wiggle a toothpick around inside the shell to break the yolk which makes it easer to blow the content out into a bowl (great for scrambled eggs). After rinsing and drying the eggshell, I’m ready to start my design. Typically I like to very lightly outline a grid-pattern of some sort on the shell with pencil to keep my design even and symmetrical. Then, using a candle and pin-head stylus, I apply molten wax to the egg one stroke at a time. Historically, beeswax is the preferred medium but I find certain tealights to be much more economical. After what is usually well over 200 strokes, I am ready to dye my egg. Depending how dark I want the color, or how pigmented the dye is, the egg will sit in the dye anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. At this point (once the egg has been removed from the dye) the wax can either be melted off to reveal the design which will be the color of the eggshell, or more wax can be applied to further embellish the design with multiple colors. This wax-resist method is very similar to the process of batik. 
How long does it take you to make one pisanka? What’s the most difficult part of making them? 
This is the most common question I get from people once they see my pisanki! The truth is I don’t ever just make one pisanka at a time. I’ll make them in batches one step at a time, such as blowing out the eggs, then take that batch and move on to the next step, applying the first layer of wax for instance. This process easily takes many hours, even days to finish a dozen or half a dozen at a time. But to give you an answer, it might take between 1-2 hours to finish just one, not counting the time it takes to varnish the pisanka and string it up with ribbon and beads. The most difficult part of the process for me isn’t all that difficult, it’s just tedious – mixing up the dyes. It’s messy, and I tend to be a somewhat tidy person. To avoid rainbow-dyed countertops I usually take this step of the process outside.
How many eggs have you made (this was a question from Hanna, age 12)?
It’s really hard to say since I’ve been making pisanki for over 25 years. I’m sure it’s close to 1,000 though! My biggest project however was when I made 300 pisanki in different shades of blue as party favors for my wedding in 2016. It took me about 10 months and all my free time.
What’s your inspiration? How do you decide on colors and designs?
I am definitely inspired by nature, especially flowers and vines, and the concept of calligraphy, but also by geometric patterns I find in everyday objects. I’ve been known to take seemingly random pictures of things, such as the intricate fabric of a person’s shirt or maybe even a rather pleasing box of tissues, as a means to collect design ideas. My style developed a lot by trial and error – when you make a mistake applying the wax, resulting in a nice big glob in the middle of your design, there’s no erasing. You just have to work around it and make it look intentional. New designs have more than once emerged this way for me. Studying the pisanki of other artists also gives me ideas. Learning through imitation absolutely has its merits but I try to always be unique in what I create. The techniques I use are essentially traditional, yet I wouldn’t call my designs exclusively as such since I’m almost purely acting on a whim with each stroke building off the next. The designs create themselves in a sense. That’s part of the fun of it for me. In my mind the colors work the same way. I’m never entirely sure how an egg will take the dye, or how the already dyed egg will react with the next dye, and so on. There’s an element of surprise at work, too.
Why is it important for you to showcase Polish folk art in America?
Generally speaking, the vast multitude of the world’s folk art is widely unknown to people in America unless it is part of their own cultural heritage or assimilated into their regional environment. In my own experience I’ve noticed I appreciate the folk arts of other cultures more because I immersed myself in this one type. I understand the commitment it takes to bring an idea to fruition therefore I can recognize the effort and love that goes into any other type of art, folk or otherwise. The great Spanish cellist, Pablo Casals said it best, “The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?” By sharing this art-form I hope to enrich those who happen upon it with one of the many beauties of the Polish culture. 
How do you get involved in the Polish community around you? 
Connecting with others who value their Polish heritage has been my good fortune as a pisanki artist in the Twin-Cities area of Minnesota. But I really must thank my sister, Julida Alter, for initiating my pisanki-debut to the public when I moved here a few years ago. As a teacher within the Minneapolis Public Schools, she invited me to teach a couple art classes with her school’s after-school program which then..
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Making cabbage rolls is not hard, it just takes a bit of time. For a successful cabbage rolls day, plan ahead, prep your ingredients, then just add family and friends and have fun with it. Invite the kids, make some memories to keep for years. Break it up with some music and drinks and you got yourself a party.

Boil and prep the cabbage ahead of time. Here I’m trimming off the stems to allow for the leaf to fold easier.

Once the filling is done, you are ready to roll.

Traditional cabbage rolls are made with a mixture of beef and pork and rice [my recipe here] but today I’m making a different, vegetarian version made with buckwheat and mushroom filling. Gołąbki z kaszą i z grzybami [goh-wow-bkee z kah-show ee z gshyh-gah-mee] are just as delicious as the meat ones and can be served on their own (with a piece of bread) or for a full meal with boiled potatoes. Best, if served with a mushroom or a tomato sauce. In my home growing up, mom would make the tomato sauce most of the time, unless wild mushrooms were in season. Tomato sauce, with its acidity will provide a bit of variety to the overall dish, mushroom will take the earthiness and deep flavor of buckwheat further. Both worth trying. 

Polish Buckwheat and Mushroom Cabbage Rolls {Gołąbki z Kaszą Gryczaną i z Grzybami}
  • Yields: 14-15 rolls
  • Prep Time: 60-90 min
  • Cook Time: 45 min
Ingredients
  • 1 large savoy cabbage*
  • Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups / 250 g of uncooked buckwheat
  • 1 1/2 cup of diced onion (1/2 of a large onion)
  • 10 oz / 280 g of button mushrooms
  • 2 tbs of butter
  • 2 tsp of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tbs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp of granulated onion
  • 1 clove of garlic or 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • Ingredients for sauce of your choice; links under recipe.
Instructions
  1. To make the filling cook buckwheat following instructions on the package with a teaspoon of salt. Once cooked drain and place in a mixing bowl.

  2. Dice onion, wash and slice mushrooms. In a medium sauté pan heat butter, add onion and mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Sauté until golden brown around the edges. Add to buckwheat. Season with pepper, thyme, salt, granulated onion and garlic. Add a whole egg. Mix well.

  3. Taste, add a bit more salt to taste.

  4. To prepare cabbage, remove cabbage core by inserting a small knife into the cabbage around the core. Some leaves may be loose.

  5. Place the head in a large pot, with water to cover about 75% of the heat, core down. Heat covered until water starts boiling. Carefully observe outer leaves and with tongs remove one by one when they become softened and pliable to the point that they don't break when lightly folded. You want a bit of crunch left in the leaf.

  6. Keep unfolding cabbage leaves and removing when soft all the way to the core. Set aside to cool enough to handle.

  7. With a sharp knife remove / shave off tough stems (see picture above).

  8. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. I'm using an oblong 12 inch x 8 inch / 30 cm x 23 cm baking dish, but a square 9 inch x 9 inch / 22 cm x 22 cm will work also.

  9. To make rolls, place as much of the filling as you think you can fit onto a cabbage leaf (it will depend on the size of one; for a larger one it will be about 1/2 cup) and fold up from the stem end of the leaf up. Fold the sides in and keep rolling until you cover all of the filling. Place in a baking dish seam down.

  10. Once your dish is filled with rolls, cover them with the remaining leaves too small to make rolls. You want the whole surface of the cabbage rolls covered. If you don't have enough leaves to cover all rolls, use tin foil when baking.

  11. Bake for 45 minutes. While rolls are cooking, make sauce - links to tomato and/or mushroom sauces below.

Notes

* I'm using savoy cabbage because I like the way it looks, its pliable and soft when lightly blanched. If you prefer, a regular white cabbage will also work well.

Print Recipe

Again, serve with a sauce of your choice: a home-made tomato sauce or a mushroom sauce. I like them both, just depending on what I’m in a mood for.

Enjoy and smacznego!

Anna

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