International Cuisine: Polish Dishes

We thoroughly enjoy trying different cuisines. I have yet to find one that I don’t like! It keeps food interesting, creates new ideas for flavor combinations, and expands the palates of my three sons. Last week, we spent time studying the country of Poland and whenever we focus on a country, we try to make at least one dish native to that area. This time we made two and both were delicious!

POTATOES BAKED with EGGS & CREAM (adapted slightly from this site)
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2 Tb. butter, melted
3 c. potatoes, diced & cooked
salt & pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sour cream (I subbed some yogurt)
2 Tb. chives or spring onions, chopped (I was out of both so I used a little dried parsley)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour butter into the bottom of an oven proof casserole. Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Mix together the eggs and sour cream and pour over potatoes. Top with chives or onions, cover and bake for 1 hour.

SAVOURY SAUSAGE & SAUERKRAUT (adapted slightly from this site)
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2 Tb. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
¼ c. green peppers, chopped
1 lg. apple, peeled, cored, & chopped
2 Tb. brown sugar
½ tsp. caraway or fennel seeds
3 red potatoes, cleaned & diced
1 ½ c. sauerkraut, drained, rinsed, & packed
1-2 lb. smoke sausage (kielbasa), cut in 3-inch pieces

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and green pepper. Cook until tender. Add apple, brown sugar, caraway seeds, potatoes, and sauerkraut. Mix well. Place sausage on top of sauerkraut mixture. Cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

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Market Fresh: Roasted Root Vegetables

We are entering the season of root vegetables – potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips and more. Roasting vegetables is one of my very favorite ways to enjoy the full flavor and get the benefits of the nutrients in the root varieties. As a side dish with a recent beef roast, I combined white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and turnips. I drizzled a olive oil and a little butter (the flavor of the two together is wonderful!) and finished it with fresh ground salt & pepper. It roasted in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until the vegetables were tender.


Such a perfect and easy side dish with little effort. You can combine all kinds of different vegetables and use this same method. You can switch it up with fresh or dried herbs, using only butter or only olive oil. Just remember to keep the size of your vegetables fairly consistent.

Off the Shelf: Nigel Slater Appetite

Appetite by Nigel Slater is one of my favorite inspirational cookbooks. I love reading cookbooks by people who are not only passionate about cooking but also eating. And, another thing I like about Nigel is his flexibility. Many of his recipes give guidelines, not precise ingredients, and he also adds lots of suggestions on ways to tweek the recipe he gives.

The first fourth of this book contains all kinds of helpful information such as: the new cook’s survival guide, learning to trust your own taste, how to make something taste better, measurements and why you don’t always need them, kitchen kit, basic kitchen skills, ingredients — how to buy, store, and use them, herbs, vegetables and fruit, fish, meat, and dairy, as well as seasonal cooking.

Nigel then launches into the recipes which include all kinds of things: a simple loaf of bread, a great tomato sauce, variations of soup, easy pasta dinners, different ways with rice, thirty-minute fish supper, classic roast chicken, a thin, crisp, fruit tart, a warm and crumbly fruit tart, and a rib-sticking pudding for a cold day.

We have used Nigel’s Creamy, Unctuous Potato Dish over and over at family dinners and holidays. Yes, it is rich, but it pairs so nicely with holiday meats, and it is so easy to prepare, that it is fine with me to enjoy this treat once or twice a year.  (Note potatoes to the top left in picture below.)

A CREAMY, UNCTUOUS POTATO DISH
(Appetite, by Nigel Slater)

potatoes — waxy-fleshed if possible, about 2 pounds
garlic — 2 large, juicy cloves
butter — just enough to butter the baking dish thickly
heavy cream — enough to cover the potatoes (about 2 1/2 cups)

You will need a moderate to low oven, so set the heat at 325F. Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly. This, by the way, is one of those dishes where you really must peel: strings of brown, “healthy” skin are totally at odds with the gratin’s hedonistic overtones. The slices should be no thicker than 1/8 inch. If the garlic is really juicy, cut the cloves in half and rub them around an earthenware or enameled cast-iron dish, pressing down hard to release the juices. Otherwise it might be better to slice it thinly and tuck the slices between the potatoes.

Smear the dish generously with butter. Please don’t be stingy — you are only cheating yourself. Lay the potato slices in the dish, orderly or positively hugger-mugger, it matters not, seasoning with salt and black pepper as you go along. Pour the cream over the potatoes — it should just come to the top of the slices. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until the potatoes are virtually melting into the cream.

Enough for 6 as a side dish.

I recently made Nigel’s custard recipe and then threw it into our ice-cream maker to create this incredible frozen custard. Topped with raspberry coulis, it was a delicious, well-rounded dessert.

Cast Your Vote & Simple Supper

Here are our top favorite suggestions! Now it’s your turn…you vote for your favorite! The poll will be open for one week and the winner will win the awesome Salad Cookbook as well as the privilege of having their suggested name be the new feature name for at least the next 3 months! The random winner of the other cookbook will also be announced at the same time.

And I’m sharing the simple meal we enjoyed last night. Veggie Egg Scramble, Roasted Potatoes, and Toast w/Homemade Peach Jam.

I had vegetables left over from a veggie tray this weekend so I chopped up the red, orange, and yellow peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, and broccoli. I sauteed the vegetables in a little butter and then added beaten eggs (seasoned with salt and pepper with a little half & half), scrambled together, and topped with cheese.. The potatoes were diced and then tossed in a little olive oil, salt, & pepper and baked at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes. The toast just had butter and peach freezer jam I made last summer – the perfect sweet, fruity compliment for the meal.

It was nutritious, delicious, and satisfying! Who says dinner can’t be simple and quick and a little break-fasty?!

Off The Shelf: Potato Salad

Potato Salad by Debbie Moose is a wonderful cookbook to have on your summer cooking shelf. The book contains 65 different recipes which all have me drooling and wanting to try each and every one!

Check out the names of some of these salads:

Farmer’s Market Salad
Grilled Potato Salad
Sweet Potato Waldorf Salad
Double Tater Salad
Ultimate Olive Salad
Lemony Dill Salad
Sweet Potato Salad
Quick Italian Salad
German Warm Potato Salad
Triple Cheese Potatoes
Sassy Salsa Salad
Smoky Bacon Salad
Sweet Potato Ambrosia Salad
Tart Lemon Pepper Salad
Curry Potato Salad
Tuscan Taters
Hungarian Potatoes
Greek Potato Salad
Blue Moon (using blue cheese and blue potatoes!!!)
Caesar Potato Salad
I tried the Herbs and Garlic Salad which was so good that it will become my go-to recipe for potato salad.

HERBS AND GARLIC SALAD
(Potato Salad)

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped chives
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used green onion)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme

Place the potatoes in a large pot, add enough water to cover them, cover the pot with a lid, and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are pierced easily with the tip of a sharp knife, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and let cool until you can handle them but they are still warm. Peel and cut into approximately 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, stir together the garlic, parsley, chives, onion, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, celery, salt, and black pepper. Crush the thyme lightly with your fingers and stir it in. Add the potatoes and toss until coated. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to overnight.

Serves 6.

I also tried the Pesto Potatoes which is meant to be served at room temperature. It was a nice twist to an old classic, but the cold leftovers were kind of nasty (in my opinion — others disagreed).

However, this Potato and Beet Salad was amazing! I’m a big fan of beets and thought this salad not only tasted great, but looked beautiful too.

And this Sweet Potato Waldorf Salad was an interesting twist on an old classic. I added blue cheese and those of us who like new and daring flavors enjoyed it.

As you can see, trying new potato salads has become addicting.

Weekend Fare: Burgers & Potato Salad

I love cookouts! They are often informal and the food is nearly always delicious! We enjoy hosting them a lot in the summer. We grill hotdogs or hamburgers or chicken or steaks and eat on the deck – drinking in the beautiful weather, enjoying the food, and sharing conversation and laughter. Since we are headed into the summer season and have a holiday weekend before us, it’s the perfect time to share a burger and a potato salad recipe. There are so many variations of these American classics and I usually keep mine pretty basic.

CLASSIC BURGER
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1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. onion, grated 
4-6 slices cheese

Combine all ingredients. Shape into 4-6 patties. I make mine fairly thin and push down in the center to help prevent the burger from shrinking too much. Grill to desired doneness. Melt cheese on each patty and serve on a bun with toppings.

 (We like bacon, avacado, tomato, lettuce, onions, and sauteeed mushrooms.) Enjoy!

POTATO SALAD
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10 c. red potatoes, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1/2 c. red onion, chopped
1 Tb. dried dill (or 1/4 c. fresh)
1 c. mayo
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. milk
 1 Tb. yellow mustard
1  Tb. dijon mustard 
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place the diced potates in a pot with cold water. Boil until just tender. Drain and allow to cool. Add celery and red onion, salt & pepper to potatoes. In a separate bowl, mix mayo, yogurt, dill, milk and mustards. Pour dressing over potatoes and carefully stir to combine. Refrigerate until serving – at least an hour to allow flavors to develop. This serves a lot.

Off The Shelf: The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Have you seen The Pioneer Woman Cooks yet? Written by Ree Drummond, this cookbook is the first published by the widely popular author of The Pioneer Woman blog. My order for this book at the library sat in line for quite some time as everyone was eager to see what was inside.

And now that I’ve had a chance to thoroughly look through the book, I’m trying to figure out just what I think. Here’s my verdict: this is a great cookbook, full of mouth-watering pictures and solid recipes that will most likely work for the masses, as well as being the perfect souvenir for those who follow the Pioneer Woman’s blog, but it’s not for everyone.

If you love Southern, down-home comfort food, made from scratch this is a great book to peruse. If you are all about tons of fresh vegetables, lots of wholegrains and little refined sugar, you won’t find much inspiration here.

Ree begins her book by introducing her family, their ranch and how she got started as the Pioneer Woman blogger. For anyone interested in country life, the book is fun just to flip through and enjoy the pictures and commentary of what they do on the ranch.

I did find the overall layout of the book to be just a bit too “scrap-bookey” for my taste. Color is everywhere, and of course there are gobs of pictures for each recipe, which may come in handy for those needing step-by-step instructions. The front cover of the book gives a good idea of the kind of layout inside the pages.

There are five chapters spread over 250 pages:

Starters: with recipes like BBQ Jalapeno Poppers, Guacamole, PW’s Potato skins, and Hot Artichoke Dip

In the Morning: think Cinnamon rolls, Egg-in-the-Hole, PW’s Breakfast Burritos, and French Breakfast Puffs

Dinner (Lunch): some samples are Simple, Perfect Chili, Onion Strings, Pulled Pork, Macaroni and Cheese, Cowboy Calzone, and Chicken Potpie

Supper (Dinner): with recipes such as Chicken-Fried Steak, Meatloaf, Fried Chicken, Homemade Ranch with Iceberg Lettuce, and Comfort Meatballs

Sweets: who isn’t tempted by Patsy’s Blackberry Cobbler, Flat Apple Pie, Chocolate Sheet Cake, Oatmeal Crispies, or Red Velvet Cake

It was hard for me to choose a recipe to try, as many of the recipes are not things I prefer to put on my table (as much as my mouth waters at their mention). I finally settled on Basic Breakfast Potatoes. The recipe was easy to follow and came out just fine.

BASIC BREAKFAST POTATOES
(The Pioneer Woman Cooks)
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4 to 5 red or other potatoes
1 large onion, cut into large, rough dice
vegetable oil for frying
bacon fat (optional)
salt
black pepper

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in a 375F oven for 45 minutes, or until fork-tender.

Place the hot potatoes on a cutting board and dice them into 1-inch-ish pieces.

Heat a skillet over medium-low to medium heat. Next, put a little vegetable oil in the pan. A tablespoon is good. Scrape the pan you used to make bacon earlier this morning. You all made bacon this morning…right?

Then, because I usually straddle the fence between ridiculousness and utter foolishness, I add a tablespoon of bacon fat to the skillet. ‘Cause it tastes goooooood, that’s why.

Go ahead and make peace with yourself, then add the onion. Saute until it starts to turn brown.

Next, throw in the cooked, diced potatoes. Now, sometimes I’ll remove the onions first and wait to add them back in when the potatoes are brown. But I happen to like the onions to get all dark and burny, so I’m going to leave them.

Salt and pepper the potatoes, then stir them around, then slightly press/pack them in the skillet. Cook without stirring for several minutes. You want to make sure the pan is hot enough to crisp the potatoes, but not hot enough to char the poor dears.

NOTE: Sometimes, to make an interesting crust, I’ll sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of flour over the top of the potatoes while the underside is cooking. That way, when you flip them they’ll get a little crispy. In addition, a nice coating of paprika can give the potatoes a great depth of color.

After several minutes, use a spatula to flip the potatoes over to the other side. Be sure to thoroughly salt and pepper the potatoes. Because no matter how you slice it, potatoes must have seasoning. Lots and lots of seasoning.

Enjoy them! Spoon them into your breakfast burritos or place a fried egg on top…or serve them alongside eggs Benedict if you’re feeling especially saucy.

Makes 8 servings.

Now it’s your turn to check out The Pioneer Woman Cooks and let me know what you think!

Weekend Fare: Reuben & Oven Fries

I know, I know, I just gave you a whole post on grilled sandwiches but since we just celebrated St. Patrick’s day and corned beef was a pretty good deal, I couldn’t help but share this recipe. We grew up enjoying reubens – my mom made her rye bread from scratch and we couldn’t get enough of the sauerkraut, swiss, and corned beef combo. It has even been a birthday favorite! I made  my rye bread from scratch for these but we won’t talk about that since I was not very happy with it. And perhaps it should be noted that I am mostly German – I was born liking sauerkraut.

REUBENS
Rye bread, sliced
Butter
Saurkraut, drained
Corned beef, cooked & sliced*
Thousand Island dressing (you can make your own – 1 c. mayo, 1/4 c. ketchup, 1/4 c. sweet relish combined)
Swiss Cheese slices

Butter the outside of the bread and layer meat, saurkraut, dressing, and cheese. Grill over medium high heat until golden and cheese is melted.

*I cooked the corned beef on high for 4-5 hours in my crockpot (until tender) with the seasoning packet and half a can of Guinness. Delicious!  

We also regularly enjoyed oven fries growing up. They are quick and easy and so much healthier than the fried version. You can also make them with sweet potatoes which I LOVE! 

OVEN FRIES
1 1/2-2 potatoes/person
1 tsp. olive oil/person
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cut potatoes into desired size and shape (I cut mine into long skinny fries). Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until tender.

Weekend Fare: Irish Feast

These Irish recipes are simple, traditional, and great for weekend cooking or for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration!


CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE*
(Recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)
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2- to 2-1/2-lb. corned beef brisket
1  tsp. whole black pepper*
2  bay leaves*
4  med. potatoes, peeled & quartered
5 med. carrots, peeled & quartered
2 med.- lg. onion, cut into 6 wedges
1 sm. cabbage, cut into 6 wedges
Salt and black pepper (optional)

Trim fat from meat. Place in a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven; add juices and spices from package of corned beef. (*Add pepper and bay leaves if your brisket doesn’t come with an additional packet of spices.) Add enough water to cover meat. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 2 hours or until almost tender.

Add potatoes, carrots, and onion to meat. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 min. Add cabbage. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 min. more or until tender. Discard bay leaves. Thinly slice meat across the grain. Transfer meat and vegetables to a serving platter. If desired, season to taste with salt and black pepper and serve with horseradish or mustard. Makes about 6 servings.

*You can use a larger piece of meat and more vegetables, just add the seasonings listed in addition to the packet included in the meat.

This homemade horseradish sauce made the meal! So delicious and so easy!

HORSERADISH SAUCE
(Recipe from Food Network Kitchens)
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3/4 c. mayonnaise
3/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. plus 2 Tb. jarred grated horseradish (with liquid)
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, zest, and 2 teaspoons salt. Season generously with pepper to taste. Refrigerate the horseradish sauce for at least 30 min. before serving.

Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

This bread is amazing! So moist and flavorful. It does not have a strong beer flavor – simply wonderful. We especially liked it warm with a little butter.
GUINNESS BREAD
(Recipe adapted slightly from allrecipes.com)
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1 c. regular rolled oats, plus 1-2 Tb. additional
2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. melted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk
1 (12 oz.) can or bottle Guinness® beer

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.

Mix together the oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, stir together the butter, vanilla, buttermilk, and Guinness® beer. Pour the flour mixture into the beer mixture, and gently stir until well blended. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan, and sprinkle with additional oats.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 min., then turn the temperature down to 400 degrees F and bake for an additional 10-15 min. until knife inserted comes out clean and top is a dark golden brown. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

This cake calls for 2 lbs. of raisins and makes a HUGE cake. I didn’t have whisky on hand, so went without – really, it would be better with! It would make it so moist and wonderful! I also think a lemon sauce or creme fraiche or even freshed whipped cream would have been so delicious with it.

IRISH RAISIN CAKE
(Recipe from Food Network – Ann Rafferty)
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2 1/2 c. of buttermilk
2 c. of sugar
5 c. of flour
2 sticks of butter
5 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. baking soda
Dash of salt
1 (16-oz box) of brown raisins
1 (16-oz) box of golden raisins
1/2 c. whiskey, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a Dutch Oven. Cream sugar and butter in large bowl. Add in eggs one at a time. Add seasonings. Mix baking soda into the buttermilk. Alternate adding flour, buttermilk and raisins into mix. Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hrs. in covered Dutch Oven (I baked mine in a greased, covered family size skillet – not cast iron – and it took about 1 1/2 hrs. Cake is finished when knife inserted into middle comes out clean.

Optional- pour 1/2 cup of whiskey over cake immediately after removing from oven. Cake is best when cut after a few days.

Market Fresh: Irish Colcannon

Today kicks off Irish week – in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. For this market fresh, we will focus on potatoes with a little cabbage and kale thrown in – it’s Irish Colcannon to be exact. I’m offering two recipes for this traditional Irish potato dish – both are vegetarian and both are gluten free. One would work great for a main dish and the other is better as a side dish.

IRISH COLCANNON – Side Dish Version
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4 lg. potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 c. chopped cabbage
1 med. onion, chopped
1/4 c. milk
2 Tb. butter or stick margarine, divided
salt & pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until potatoes are almost tender. Add cabbage and onion. Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Drain well. Mash with1 Tb. butter, milk, salt and pepper. Place 1 Tb. of butter on top for serving. Serves about 5.

My friend, Jenna, gave me this recipe. I’ve modified it slightly to our taste. We really love the way that the egg yolk breaks into the potatoes. Delicious!

BAKED IRISH COLCANNON – Main Dish Version
(Thanks, Jenna!)
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4-6 med. potatoes, cut into even pieces
1/2 bunch curly kale, shredded (I remove the ribs and chop the leafy part)
1 med. onion, chopped
2 Tb. butter or margarine, to taste
1/4 c. milk
fresh nutmeg, grated
salt and pepper to taste
4 large eggs
1/4-1/3 c. fresh grated paremsan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Boil the potatoes until almost tender, add the kale and onion and cook until kale is just tender. Drain and mash well with butter, milk, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into a shallow ovenproof dish and make four hollows in the mixture. Crack an egg into each and season well. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the eggs are just set, then serve sprinkled with the parmesan cheese.