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...