Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year! Nowy Rok!

Tonight, we all are going to say a happy, and maybe a slurred (oops...) HELLO to New Year 2012!!!
So, I am going to keep it short by wishing everyone and myself an inner happiness throughout 2012!
And what else?
If you wouldn't mind some prosperity in the New Year,
 (or SPEEDOS, if you like)
NO OLD underwear and NO HOLES in it please!
The holes equal poor life, maybe even no money at all....
So, wear some RED UNDERWEAR for good luck in 2012! ;o)
- Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!

Paszteciki / pierogi drożdżowe

Pierogi with sauerkraut and mushrooms.
Own source.
Making some mess equals FUN!
Own source.

Who doesn't like pastries?
They make a great grab'n'go snack and they are wonderful sweet or spicy!

Recently, I made some pastries with sauerkraut and mushrooms. I needed typical Polish dish for Christmas Eve and that was it! In Poland, pastries with different spicy fillings are called "paszteciki". They can be filled with sauerkraut/mushrooms, meat, lentils, spinach & feta cheese... whatever sounds good for you.
I shaped my pastries like "pierogi", but they can be also rectangular, square or triangular in shape. The choice is yours.
Please note:
* rectangular, square, triangular pastries are called "paszteciki"
* round, folded in half are called "pierogi"
* made of yeast dough are called "drożdżowe"
* full name: "paszteciki drożdżowe" and "pierogi drożdżowe"

Recipe for paszteciki:
4 cups (250 mL) flour,
7 g instant yeast,
pinch of salt,
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil,
1 cup warm water.

  • Mix dry ingredients first, add oil and warm water, stir in quickly and knead a dough.
  • Form a ball, set aside and let rise approximately for an hour.
  • Sprinkle the surface with some flour. Roll the dough using a rolling pin until 3 mm thick.
  • Cut circles using a cookie cutter or a glass. Put one 1 Tbsp of your favorite filling (or more if you can) in the middle of each circle and fold pierogi into halves connecting the edges.
  • Brush pierogi with an egg wash - mix a yolk with 1 Tbsp water.
  • Bake at 375° F for 20 min. 

You can find out how to prepare different fillings for "paszteciki/pierogi" here.
I cooked sauerkraut (1 lb) with 1 cup water, added chopped fried onion, mushrooms, 2-3 Tbsp butter, 3 bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and some Polish "seasoning for sauerkraut" (don't worry if you don't have the seasoning).
I cooked everything for approximately 2 hours, adding water and allowing it to evaporate. Sauerkraut should be chopped before or after cooking.

*** If you don't have time to make yeast dough, frozen puff pastry can be a great substitute. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Wishes - Życzenia świąteczne

Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia
- Merry Christmas
to all visitors of my blog Sweet Home Polska!!!

Wigilia - Christmas Eve

Christmas would not feel the same without traditional Christmas Eve Dinner.
The most beautiful day of the year - Wigilia...
"Wigilia" means "awaiting time". It is a very special day for many of us. The closest one to my heart.
Traditionally, all of us gather together with the closest family and relatives.
There is a crisp white tablecloth on the table with some hay underneath. The hay reminds us of Jesus born in the stable in Bethlehem.
There is one extra plate for a poor stranger, late or unexpected guest - anyone who might knock to our door this evening... No one should feel lonely or forgotten...
While the kids are looking for the first star to appear in the sky, the moms are busy preparing dinner. One of the sweetest traditions that I cherish in my memories. First star symbolizes the Bethlehem star leading The Three Wise Men to the stable where Jesus was born.

With the first star in the sky, it's time to sit at the table... Everybody shares the Christmas wafer (white, thin bread) called "opłatek" - a symbol of forgiveness and reconciliation. Sharing the Christmas wafer is accompanied by exchanging a blessing between one another.
Then, it's time to enjoy traditional, meatless dinner, consisting of twelve dishes that symbolize 12 Apostles and 12 months in the year. With our busy lifestyles, it seems challenging to prepare 12 dishes, but many people try to keep up with this tradition.
What's on the table?
There is always a soup: red borscht - "czerwony barszcz" (made of beets) with mini mushroom dumplings called "uszka" or mushroom soup - "zupa grzybowa". There is a big choice of fish - carp, cod fish, herrings prepared in various ways... And of course at least one dish consisting of sauerkraut and mushrooms, compote from dried fruit and a large selection of sweets.
Talking about sweets! The number one Christmas cake is, with no doubt, a poppy seed cake, known as "makowiec".
The dinner menu can be much larger than this, and will vary from home to home and region to region.
After an enjoyable meal, families sing Christmas carols and open presents.
Some people open gifts on Christmas Day, however at my home, we would open them on Christmas Eve. This beautiful night ends by attending "Pasterka" - a joyful midnight mass.
Wigilia is undoubtedly the most beautiful and magical FAMILY day in the whole year...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Piernik - great for Christmas!

More festive version.
Piernik covered with chocolate, walnuts
and maraschino cherries.
 Own source.
Again, my mom made sure that I got my spices and baking goodies before Christmas!! :o)
Every year she sends me a gingerbread spice mix - "Przyprawa do piernika".
I love the aroma of gingerbread filling the house...
Polish name "piernik" comes from peppery spices that create this incredible, full of aromas cake.
The mix consists of: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, colander, black pepper, cardamon and nutmeg.
I am going to share the recipe for piernik that comes from the packet with the spice mix and that I use every year. I am aware that you might not have the spice mix, but it can be replaced easily with:
2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/2 tsp ground cloves.
Many traditional Polish recipes for piernik call for honey. If desired, add 2 Tbsp of honey to the recipe below (optional).

(source: "Przyprawa do piernika" by Gellwe)
1 cup=250 ml
3 cups flour,
120 g butter (a little more than a stick),
1 1/4 cup sugar,
2 eggs,
4 Tbsp plum/black currant jam,
3 tsp cocoa,
gingerbread spice mix ("Przyprawa do piernika") or your own mix (see above),
1 cup milk,
1 tsp baking soda,
1/2 cup chopped walnuts coated in flour (I mixed in approx. 2 tsp of flour)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat baking pan with a cooking spray and a little bit of flour.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan and let it cool.
  3. Mix eggs and sugar. Add milk, cocoa, flour, baking soda and gingerbread spice mix. Stir in jam.
  4. Add melted butter and stir well.
  5. Coat walnuts in flour, add to prepared batter and stir.
  6. Pour batter into a baking pan and bake for 60 minutes.
  7. Decorate with melted chocolate and nuts, if desired.
Piernik - gingerbread can be layered with black currant or plum jam.
Piernik in a loaf pan. Traditional shape. Own source.
piernik - gingerbread
pierniczki- gingerbread cookies

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas grocery shopping

Big Christmas grocery shopping behind me.
It can be hectic, especially when looking for the products that are needed for Christmas Eve dinner in Polish style. 

Here are some must-have products, that I am always looking for:
Carp is the king of the Polish Christmas Eve table!!! Apparently, it's not popular here...
It's considered to be a dirty fish that often comes from dirty rivers.
I could have it ordered in one of the local stores, but no...
After hearing all the stories and seeing many surprised faces, I am going to wait and I will have it in Poland. Better to be safe than sorry.
I grabbed a frozen chunk of salmon instead... Will make a lemon pepper salmon with butter. My husband is in charge of salmon and I trust him completely, he is a great cook!

- Herrings
I have never been a big fan of them, but there must be some herrings on the Christmas Eve table... Got herrings in a can. Product of Germany. Close enough :o)

The label says: "Polish style". Did a trick, plus I had no other choice...

- Dried mushrooms
They are essential for Christmas cooking!! For red borscht, sauerkraut, pierogi filling... The only item that I missed and have to buy.

- Poppy seed cake filling (or poppy seed)
I ordered it online in "Polish Store in USA". It was a good call. Definitely recommend the store, however shipping is spendy. If you live in a bigger city, many stores have poppy seed, but staff will give you some weird looks, when asking for another jar of poppy seed ;o) The jars are small, period.

- Red borscht - beets soup
I am satisfied with an instant version, sent each year by my wonderful mom. My husband loves it too! And who said, that everything has to be made from scratch? :))

Anyways, I am ready to head to my kitchen and make my traditions last. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mikołajki - St. Nicholas Day!

Santa from my neighbor from Poland.
I love Mikołajki!!!
I am a big kid and I always will be... 
Mikołajki is a common custom celebrated in Poland on December 6th.
Święty Mikołaj - Santa Claus is visiting everyone and leaves the gifts, such as sweets or small toys. He leaves them often on a pillow - at least my Santa used to do this...
It is a great custom popular among kids and adults! Kids are trading small gifts at school, adults do the same at work. Mikołajki tell us all that Christmas is around the corner!!!
And all you got to do is... yes, just BE GOOD! :))

Happy St. Nicholas Day Everyone!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Amber - Part 2 (video)

This is a very informative video, that I found on You Tube.
Check it out, if you would like to learn more about amber
and see some great amber jewelry collections.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Amber - Gold of the Baltic Sea

Amber (in Polish: "bursztyn") is a popular souvenir from Poland and makes the best gift ever!
Polish amber is unique and known all over the world. It comes in different colors: orange, brown, green and white. Bursztyn can be found all over the south coast of the Baltic Sea.
Fall and spring storms are the best time for amber collectors who take walks on the beach after the storm, looking for a "gold of the Baltic Sea". One of the popular methods is searching the beach at night by using flashlights. The light helps to spot amber that shines under the water and can be seen from a long distance.

Polish name bursztyn comes from German "bernstein" which means "burning stone". Burning amber produces an intensive aroma, and even Egyptian queen Cleopatra used it as an incense :)

The Baltic amber is a harden resin which originated 40 million years ago. The resin was produced most likely by pine trees which were located in the region where the Baltic Sea is today. This explains why there is lots of amber with insects in it. The resin became hard under cold water temperatures.

Polish legend
Our great grandfathers believed that there was a gold, amber palace on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, that belonged to the beautiful princess Jurata. She felt very lonely in her palace, and one day took a trip to the coast where she met a poor and handsome fisherman. Jurata fell in love with him. When the king of the Baltic Sea found out about it, he got very upset, threw lightning on the fisherman's boat and killed him. Seeing princess Jurata crying, the king threw another lightning on the amber palace and killed her. The amber palace broke into a million pieces. The storms would throw gold amber onto the beach to remind us of the tragic love and the anger of the king.

Natural medicine and amber
Amber has been also used in the natural medicine. It creates "friendly" negative ions and brings balance into our stressful life. Amber liquor is known for being a remedy for almost anything - flu, fever, migraines, stomachaches, heartaches, rheumatic pains, asthma, bronchitis and more... (yes, more!)
My favorite bracelet with amber
Amber jewelry makes a great gift and I am a huge fan of it myself. Besides jewelry, there many other souvenirs made of amber that are sold in the galleries, jewelry shops and gift shops across the country.
Some items might be pricey, but once you fall for amber your love will never end!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Charlotte Dessert - little experiment

Today was supposed to be quick and easy.  I already introduced a recipe for Polish apple pie called "Szarlotka". Cold and super windy days like the one today make apples with cinnamon sound really good. Here is a simple alternative for "Szarlotka": Charlotte Dessert.

I read about it while making "Szarlotka" a few weeks ago. Charlotte used to be a very popular dessert in Old-Polish, Austrian and French cuisine. It is nothing else, even the name sounds so sophisticated, but a warm, apple dessert baked in a casserole dish or in ramekins.
(Santa, please send some ramekins my way! I have been good and have been learning how to cook! :))))

The baking dish should be lined with bread crumbs, cake pieces or sponge fingers. I used vanilla wafers, but I didn't crush them (Mistake # 1). Also, in my speedy mood, I didn't cook apples long enough (Mistake # 2), so my Charlotte Dessert didn't turn out to be a complete success. But hey, it was still delicious! Apples are apples and you can't go wrong with them:)) I must have forgotten that I owe the lids! A lid over a pan will do the job:)) Many recipes for Charlotte call for addition of apricot jelly. I believe, that perfect consistency of this dessert would be soft and jelly-like.
I did it MY WAY again and it was worth it anyways!

4 peeled tart apples,
2 Tbsp sugar,
1 Tbsp butter,
2 Tbsp craisins (my own addition),
2 Tbsp raisins,
crushed vanilla wafers or whole size sponge fingers.
**** Additional ingredients that I didn't have:
4-5 Tbsp apricot jelly,
some rum.
  1. Wash and peel apples. Cut them into small chunks and cook covered with sugar, cinnamon and butter until soft. Stir once in a while and make sure that they do not turn into a marmalade:)
  2. Add raisins and craisins if desired. * If you have apricot jelly mix it in, too. Don't cook.
  3. Crush wafers and mix them with melted butter (2 Tbsp) or, if using sponge fingers, soak them in some rum. Line bottom and sides of baking pan (6 x 8.5 in) with crumbs/sponge fingers.
  4. Spread apple mixture over the cookies and bake at 350 ºF for 30 min.

Serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream or vanilla sauce.

Ps. With Holiday Season around the corner, this was my last recipe with apples. I promise:)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nov. 11th - National Independence Day

National Independence Day - "Narodowe Święto Niepodległości" falls on November 11th and is a public holiday in Poland. Main celebration of this anniversary takes place in Józef Piłsudski Square in Warsaw.
Looking at very rich history of Poland, it is certain that strong patriotism of its people was essential to keep this country alive. Poland disappeared from a map for 123 years (!!!) and was torn apart between Russia, Prussia and Austria. After three partitions and long lasting occupation, Poland regained its independence in 1918.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Imieniny - Namedays

What a perfect month to write about Namedays (in Polish: Imieniny)!  My nameday falls in November! :)) A nameday is the day of the year associated with one's given name. The tradition of celebrating namedays is popular in European and Latin American countries.

In Poland, namedays are almost as important as birthdays. People gather and socialize with family and friends, receive wishes, flowers and gifts. Small bouquet of flowers or box of chocolates is always a very nice gesture and is welcomed.

There a few ways to remember about someone's nameday:
  • First of all, almost every calendar has a list of the names which are celebrated on a particular day. Sometimes one's given name might be listed in the calendar even couple times a year! What do we do then? :) The most common rule is to celebrate your nameday on the nearest occasion after your birthday. 
  • Many web sites list the names on the top of their home page daily.
  • Buses :)) Yes, you can read who celebrates a nameday while riding the bus to work or school :))
  • Radio stations. Names are usually announced in the morning after the news and weather forecasts.
So, no excuses! A nameday is another day to celebrate and socialize.
I honestly miss this tradition here in the US. Close family and friends send wishes to me and it means the world to me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween vs All Saints' Day

All Saints' Day
In Poland November 1st is known as All Saints' Day (Dzień Wszystkich Świętych). Overall, it is a sad and full of reflection day honoring those who passed away... Many people travel across the country to visit cemeteries where their family members are buried. They light the candles on the graves and pray for the souls that are being missed.
Halloween (All Hallows' Eve/All Saints' Eve) came to Poland in late 90's and is mainly celebrated in night clubs, bars and at home parties. Many people dress up for fun. It is not popular to go trick-or-treat'ing though.
At my home, the idea of Halloween party would be considered as "a little too much fun" just a night before All Saints' Day, however my parents didn't stop me, if I wanted to attend one of the Halloween dances... Personally, I think that both events can be celebrated separately.
Own source: My first carved pumpkin - the one on the left

Things that I like about Halloween:
- carving pumpkins,
- kids and adults wearing nice (read: friendly) costumes,
- trick or treat'ing (excuse to have some candy! why not?).

Things that I don't like about Halloween:
- gross costumes and decorations,
- creepy music,
- food such as eye balls, fingers, teeth, etc.
- haunted houses.
Mercy! Anything gross does not speak to me!  :))

Sunday, October 30, 2011

SZARLOTKA - Polish apple pie

"Szarlotka" is a name for Polish apple pie - shortcrust pastry with apples. It is a very popular dessert in Poland and one of my favorites!
My husband says that it reminds him of a cobbler, because of the crumbs on the top of it. I love crumbs... I used to pick them out every time my mom would bake szarlotka, leaving empty gaps all over the cake... It would always upset her and she would ask "Have you seen any mice around picking on my cake??!" :) If you prefer shortcrust on the top, just double the ingredients, but I recommend crumbs from the bottom of my heart!!

For a shortcrust layer (only one):
1/2 lb flour,
5 oz cold butter,
2.5 oz powdered sugar,
2 egg yolks,
pinch of salt.

Mix all ingredients and quickly form a ball (or two, if you used double amount). Wrap the dough in a plastic foil and refrigerate for 30-60 min.
In the meantime, prepare the crumbs and apple filling.

For crumbs:
5 oz flour,
2.5 oz sugar,
2.5 oz cold butter,
pinch of salt.

Mix the ingredients with a wooden or plastic spoon. Set aside.

For apple filling:
2 lb (or more) green tart apples,
5 oz sugar,
1 tbsp vanilla sugar,
1 tbsp cinnamon.

Wash, peel and cut apples into small chunks. Combine with sugar, vanilla sugar and cinnamon. Fry covered until apples get soft. Set one half aside and fry second half until you receive marmalade.

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Roll the dough and place it evenly in a baking pan (13x9 in or smaller). Poke it with a fork and bake for 10-15 min. Take it out and lower the temperature to 350 °F. Spread marmalade over the crust, then spread the rest of apples. Sprinkle with crumb topping. If you decide to use a second layer of crust, make sure to poke it with a fork before baking. Bake for 45 min. Let it cool and sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar. Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
TIP: It is easier to cut szarlotka into pieces when it cools off completely.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Palace of Culture and Science - PKiN

The Palace of Culture and Science - in Polish: Pałac Kultury i Nauki, abr. PKiN is the tallest building in Poland and the most visible landmark in Warsaw. Its image is present on many greeting cards, tourist brochures and souvenirs from Warsaw. If you ever get lost in Warsaw, just look around and find this building, and it will bring you back to the city center.

The construction of the Palace of Culture and Science started in 1952 and ended in 1955. The building was a gift from the Soviet Union to the people of Poland and originally was called the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science. Many people were against the concept of the building and its name, and considered it as a symbol of Soviet domination. Some of these negative feelings are still alive today. The name was changed after Stalin's death.

Today, the building serves as an exhibition center and office complex.
A well-known tourist attraction is the terrace located on the 30th floor of the building, offering a panoramic view of Warsaw. The building contains museums, theaters, the University Collegium Civitas, large conference space and bookshops.
Many concerts and important venues take place in the Congress Hall - Sala Kongresowa, which can accommodate 2880 people.

I can't tell exactly how many times I've been there.... Many!!! Numerous EXPO events, museums, exhibits, movie theater, terrace, even a dancing class for our wedding :). So, if you are in Warsaw, and you have seen everything that the city has to offer, then you might want to stop by and enjoy the panoramic view from the 30th floor...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall and its best

Source:, website for this image:
I try to do my best not to borrow pictures from anyone,
unless I can provide information about the author or the source.
I could not resist this picture... I liked it the most!
Complements to the author.
This is a precious memory from my childhood that I want to share today.
Each fall, I used to pick chestnuts and acorns, and make little creatures out of them using matches.
When I was very little, my dad would drill the holes in chestnuts to help me out. We would make people, horses, birds, giraffes, hedgehogs, you name it! And my little creatures would wear hats like the ones in the picture above. They would have shoes too! :D
The tradition of making chestnut and acorn creatures was passed from my parents generation, and it used to be a very popular art project at school.

I used to love picking chestnuts and loved how cold they were. My dad would put a few of them in his pocket each year. They are suppose to help for rheumatism pains... And he knows something about it...

Another fall activity that I remember is making beads from rowan berries :) I was impatiently waiting for them to dry, so I could wear them. The most beautiful thing about fall in Poland are the colors: all shades of yellow, orange, red, brown and purple... I would bring loads of fall leaves for my mom and give her colorful bouquets. She would keep them in a vase and dry them before tossing them away :) Just to make me happy... Great memories...
fall - jesień
chestnuts - kasztany
acorns - żołędzie
chestnut creatures - kasztanowe ludziki
rowan - jarzębina
rowan beads - korale z jarzębiny
leaf bouquet - bukiet z liści

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chocolate crepes - why not?

Today, I was in mood for naleśniki (crepes) again :)). This time, I decided to change things a little, and I added 2 Tbsp of "Nesquik" to my traditional recipe: 
Crepes turned out great! I served them with peaches and frozen whipped cream :) Different than usual and still very yummy.
P.S. Cocoa or melted chocolate chips will work too.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Greetings and introducing yourself in Polish

Here is another Polish lesson ("lekcja języka polskiego") :) This time, I am going to focus on basic greetings and introducing yourself. For pronunciation, I recommend using online resources. I listed two of them on the bottom of this page.
Some of the words, including simple "hi" ("cześć") might be challenging, but also fun to learn. Few people told me that Polish "hi" sounds like Chinese... Well, I don't know about that, I don't know Chinese :))) So, here it comes!

Hi!/Hello! - Cześć!
Hey! - Hej! (pronounced the same in English and Polish, YAY!)
Good morning/afternoon - Dzień dobry!
Good evening - Dobry wieczór!
How are you? - Jak się masz? or Co u Ciebie?

Differences btw Polish and English
It is always nice to ask others how they are doing. However, in Polish language it is not as common as in English language, unless we really know the person. So, if you greet someone and smile, but don't know a person, it is okay... you can skip "How are you?" part :) It took me a while before I got used to asking people this question. It felt so awkward in the beginning... :) I also need to admit, that replying to this question, short and always in a positive manner, felt weird too... Great, good, ok, fantastic are of course very polite, but what if I was in a bad mood and nothing was great? What if I wanted to say more than one word? (so typical of me :D )

Great! - świetnie
Good - dobrze
Ok - ok
Fantastic - fantastycznie
Bad - źle
So, so - jako tako, tak sobie

What is your name? - Jak masz na imię?
My name is ... - Mam na imię...
You can also shake hands and say names only, e.i.:
and add at the end:
Nice to meet you - Miło Cię poznać (informal) or Miło Pana (masculine) / Panią (femine) poznać (formal)
Mr. - Pan
Mrs./Ms. - Pani

Przejście na "Ty" - The transition to "you"
When two adults meet, work together, and pick up the kids from school, etc. they use a title Mr./Mrs. (Pan/Pani) before each other's names. That tile can be used before both, last name and first name. Example: "Mrs. Sylwia, Mr. Jan, Mrs. Anna, Mr. Daniel". We don't see this in English language, where the tile goes in front of the last name.
When Poles decide to be more informal, have closer relationship with each other (even potential friendship), then there is time to offer przejście na "Ty" - the transition to "you".
Who should start first?
Usually older person offers it to a younger person, female to male, boss to employee, etc.
It might be considered rude to use someone's name without permission to do it. It is good to wait for these words: "Please call me ________."

These links might be helpful with pronunciation of some of the Polish words:

Good luck! Powodzenia!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Celebrities about Poland

Poland?-Yes! Polska?-Tak!
I just wanted to share this link with all of you. It is really interesting to hear what celebrities have to say about Poland. What really matters to me is how positive their experiences and opinions are. Personally, I hope that this video will help to promote Poland :)). I have to admit that some celebrities impressed me with their knowledge of the history and culture of Poland.

Talking about Polish sense of humor...
My favorite line from this video (very true and flattering) is "Can you buy it? Can you put it in a  bottle? Can you buy Polish spirit?". What do Polish people answer? They are joking already and saying: "Of course, you can buy Polish spirit!", referring to the rectified spirit  (in Polish: "spirytus") containing up to 95% *** alcohol by volume. No need to explain where the best vodka is made! ;o)

*** source: wikipedia

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The National Stadium in Warsaw

The National Stadium ("Stadion Narodowy") in Warsaw is almost ready! The final maintenance will end by November, however people in Warsaw already participated in an event highlighting some of the possibilities that the stadium has to offer. Warsaw held a Big Light Show - an illumination of the stadium accompanied by a music concert and fireworks display on August 27th. See the videos from YouTube.

Poland and Ukraine will co-host UEFA EURO 2012 between June 8th and July 1st next year. Warsaw's National Stadium is one of the venues - three group meetings, an opening game with the official ceremony, one quarterfinal and one semifinal will take place in Warsaw. Other Polish cities that will host EURO 2012 are Gdańsk, Poznań and Wrocław.

The National Stadium is located in the South Praga district ("Praga Południe") in Warsaw and can accommodate 58,000 soccer fans.
For more information, photos and virtual tours visit the National Stadium's web site (in Polish and English).
Here is the link:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Racuchy / racuszki - Polish pancakes with apples

Oh boy... Racuchy are soooo yummy! You can't stop having just one! They will disappear from your plate within seconds... Perfect with milk, perfect next day, perfect even cold... Polish "racuchy" or "racuszki" look similar to American pancakes, however, you need to try them to taste a difference. So, what is the secret? Yeast and tart apples. I use Granny Smith apples, and I am in heaven every time I make them :)
You can make racuchy without apples and serve them with different toppings. You can also substitute apples with strawberries, but to me real racuchy are made with apples! And I stick to it! :)

Recipe: (plenty for 2-3 people)
250 g (less than 2 cups) flour,
14 g instant yeast (2 packets),
1 egg,
3/4 cup lukewarm milk,
2 tbsp sugar,
pinch of salt,
2 big tart apples,
confectioners sugar,
oil for frying (vegetable, canola, sunflower)
*Double ingredients, if needed (but use only one egg)

  1. Wash and peel the apples. Cut them into small pieces.
  2. Mix flour, yeast, sugar, salt, egg and milk. Add apples and mix again. Leave for 60-90 minutes. The dough will raise.
  3. Heat oil (make sure that it is not too hot, racuchy tend to burn fast) and fry racuchy on medium heat until gold on both sides. Racuchy should be small to medium in size - this will allow them to cook inside without burning outside.
  4. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
Serve warm with a cup of milk or enjoy cold.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Birthday wishes in Polish

It is always nice to receive wishes or greetings in our native language, especially from people who do not speak it. My sister-in-law surprised me this year sending to me birthday wishes in Polish. How sweet is that!! I had the biggest smile on my face seeing the message from her, and knowing that she took an effort to search for the wishes in my native language. Thank you Gina :))

Here is a little Polish class / Lekcja języka polskiego

You can write birthday wishes as simple as following:
"Serdeczne życzenia z okazji urodzin!"
"Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin!"
"Sto lat!" 

Let's break it down:
serdeczne - "from one's heart"
wszystkiego najlepszego - all the best
życzenia  - wishes
z okazji - on the occasion of
urodzin - birthday
sto - hundred
lat - years

*Please note that the basic form for "birthday" is "urodziny", but in the sentence above, it changes to "urodzin". For example: "my birthday" - "moje urodziny", but "on the occasion of your birthday" - "z okazji Twoich urodzin".

*Wishing someone "Sto lat" is very popular in Poland, so is the song "Sto lat" - Polish version of "Happy Birthday". It means that we are wishing a long life to a person, who has birthday (sto lat means 100 years). :o)

*What are we wishing? Here are the most common wishes:
spełnienia marzeń - dreams to come true,
zdrowia - health,
szczęścia - happiness,
pomyślności - the best of luck,
radości - joy,
sukcesów - success.
And one more useful word: dużo - a lot! :)

Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin!
Spełnienia marzeń,
dużo zdrowia, szczęścia
i pomyślności.
Sto lat!
You can break it into a simple sentence or say it all :)
Good luck!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rice with Apples - easy summer dish

Rice with apples - ryż z jabłkami

I wouldn't say that rice with apples is a typical Polish dish, however it brings memories from my childhood. I have always loved aroma of cinnamon and taste of vanilla...  I remember lots of summer afternoons, when this dish was a simple and great treat for everyone.
Rice with apples is a perfect dish (main meal or dessert), if you want to fix something quick and light.
I had some apples left, so I decided to use them and make this easy, summer dish. It put smile on my hubby's face ;o).

1 bag of rice (white or whole grain),
4-5 medium apples (your favorite),
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tbsp vanilla sugar,
*1-2 tbsp sugar
(I used brown sugar, but it is optional - depends on how sweet are the apples),
cinnamon (decide how much you like; I eyeballed it),
whipped cream

  1. Cook rice according to the instructions on the box. It doesn't have to be "boil in a bag" rice.
  2. Wash and peel apples. Grate them and mix with sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
  3. Cook apples in a skillet for about 8-10 minutes frequently stirring.
  4. Spread rice in a baking dish and top it with fried apples.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Let it cool for few minutes. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve warm or cold.
*Instead of whipped cream, you can use sour cream mixed with vanilla sugar.
See "Naleśniki-Crepes" recipe.*

TIP: For some extra flavor mix rice with a little bit of milk or coconut milk before baking.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Jagodzianki Recipe

What are "jagodzianki"? Delicious buns with blueberry filling! In Polish "jagoda" (read: yagoda) means blueberry. Blueberries are great for cakes, tarts, buns, pierogi filling and dessert toppings.

I have heard many stories about how making the yeast cake can turn bad. I finally tried it, and you can see results of my work. Buns could be a little bit softer, but like for my first time, they turned out really nice... My husband and I, were enjoying jagodzianki for two days only! This means that they are disappearing quickly... :)

The common mistake while cooking and baking is eyeballing the ingredients :)) It might work with sugar or spices that we are familiar with, but certain proportions should be saved. I used my coffee cup to measure milk and this was my mistake. It is larger than a traditional 250 mL glass. My dough turned out really loose, so I kept adding more flour to it. Luckily, my jagodzianki did not turn out as hard as rock!:) It is very  important to stick to the recipe, especially while making a yeast cake.

I looked up many recipes and modified them a little, so I could use instant yeast instead of fresh yeast. I have one more recipe to try and I will keep you posted. But first, I need to do some jumping jacks, before I decide to bake a second set of these delicious buns :)

Recipe (yield: 10)
1 pint (250-300g) blueberries
2-3 Tbsp sugar (granulated or confectioners sugar)
*vanilla sugar (optional)

Wash blueberries, mix with sugar (blueberries tend to get sour during cooking) and set aside.

Crumbs (optional):
50 g flour
25 g sugar
25 g cold butter

Mix with wooden spoon, set aside.

You can make more crumbs. The proportions are: whatever amount of flour, then half on this amount would be sugar and another half would be butter (as above 50, 25 and 25).
I decided to make them, because I love them! Instead, you can brush your buns with watered egg (whisk one egg with one teaspoon of water) and sprinkle them with some sugar before baking, or use confectioners sugar after baking. Both options are great.

1 cup (250 mL) milk
16 g vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract
40 g butter
1 lb (450 g) flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
7 g instant yeast
1 egg
  1. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  2. Combine milk, vanilla sugar and butter in a small pot and cook over medium heat until butter dissolves in milk. Let it cool.
  3. In a big bowl mix flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add cooled butter and milk, egg, and knead the dough. The dough will be loose and sticky, no need to add flour. 
  4. Form a ball and cover it with a clear foil or clean, linen towel. Set aside in a warm place. Let it raise for one hour.
  5. Divide the dough into 10 parts. TIP: Spray your hands with oil or cooking spray (I used PAM spray). Flatten each part of the dough in your hands, put blueberries in the center and stick the sides together. Shape round balls. Place them on a cookie sheet, cover and leave for 30 minutes. They will double their size :).
  6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  7. Sprinkle crumbs on the top of jagodzianki or brush them with egg. You can also leave them as they are.
  8. Bake for 18-20 min or until they start "catching" brown color.
  9. Cool and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
Smacznego! Enjoy!

Jagodzianki are great for breakfast! Enjoy with a cup of milk or coffee!