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.