Authentic Polish Cooking: 120 Mouthwatering Recipes, from Old-Country Staples to Exquisite Modern Cuisine, written by Marianna Dworak, features the traditional, homestyle cooking of Poland. Those already acquainted with Polish cuisine will find popular favorites such as a variety of Pierogi (Meat, Potato, Fruit, Farmer Cheese), Mazurek Cake, Angel Wings, Polish Doughnuts, and Goulash along with many that may not be as well-known outside of Eastern Europe like Apple-stuffed Duck, Baked Carp, Bacon-wrapped Plums, and Turkey Garden Salad. There is even a special section highlighting cooking for the holidays (Easter, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve).
Marianna Dworak was born in Warsaw, Poland and now lives in the United States as a writer, editor, and cook. She developed her passion for cooking from her mother and grandmothers.
Chapters are divided based on course: Soups; Sides, Salads, and Sandwiches; Meat Dishes; Fish Dishes; Vegetarian Dishes; Cakes and Desserts; and Holidays.
Growing up, Marianna developed her love of cooking by being included in the entire process of putting together a meal from grocery shopping to the prep work and setting the table. She was inspired to create the cookbook from her mother’s binders and notebooks of handwritten recipes. She even dedicated the book to her mother “who taught me to never take shortcuts, whether cooking, baking, or going through life.”
During the introduction, Marianna also gives a concise explanation of Polish cuisine and culture over the years, including the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and regional differences. The name of each dish is listed in English and Polish. Many of the recipes are accompanied by quarter to full page photo, usually of the finished product. Headnotes are provided for some of the recipes with tips, serving ideas, and pairing guides. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric.
This is a no frills cookbook with traditional Polish recipes as the main focus. Other than the introduction, there aren’t too many extra stories or background information for the recipes. Dishes range across skill levels, from basic broths and stocks to the more intricate layered cakes. Lots of offerings are available for vegetarians along with meat and fish enthusiasts. There is also plenty for those who love baking, though some recipes may be better suited for the more experienced baker. No step-by-step photos are included and at times the instructions don’t specify rising time for yeast doughs or pan sizes for cakes. You will also find a variety of soups, salads, and spreads, but no beverages. Most of the ingredients needed are readily available in the average American supermarket. Farmer cheese may be one of the only ones that is difficult to locate, but Marianna even includes a recipe to easily make your own at home (she also recommends spreading it on a slice of bread with tomato and sprouts for a delicious snack).
I am featuring Marianna’s recipe for the light and refreshing Polish Strawberry Soup (Zupa Truskawkowa/Truskawkowy). It can be served hot or even chilled for those particularly scorching summer days. The soup is great on its own as a starter or with pasta (I used fusilli), sour cream, and mint for a light meal.
It is also incredibly easy to make and only takes about 30 minutes. Strawberries, fresh or thawed frozen, are chopped and simmered in water with a bit of sugar. Most of them are pureed until smooth, but a few pieces are reserved to add a little texture. I used an immersion blender so I could puree the soup right in the pot. If using a stand blender, you may need to do a couple of batches.
I also made Cucumber Salad (Mizeria), Beef Stroganoff (Befstroganof) with Dumplings (Kluski Kładzione), and Jam-filled Crescent Rolls (Rogaliki z Róża).
Mizeria is a Polish Cucumber Salad and may just be the easiest recipe in the book. Cucumbers are simply sliced and tossed with sour cream or yogurt and a little salt. I sprinkled some dill over the top for a little color. It is light, refreshing and the perfect way to use up any extra summer cucumbers. Marianna recommends pairing it with a meat dish like Befstroganof.
The Befstroganof (Beef Stroganoff) was a wonderful comfort food. This one was also Chad’s favorite. Cubes of beef tenderloin are lightly marinated, then cooked with mushrooms, diced pickles, and onions in a paprika sour cream sauce. I paired the meal with the Mizeria (Cucumber Salad) and Kluski Kładzione (Dumplings). My Kluski Kładzione weren’t nearly as perfect as the photo, but they were quite delicious and perfect with the Befstroganof. A slightly runny flour and egg dough is dropped by the spoonful into boiling water to form little mounds of dumplings. Dumpling lovers will also enjoy the Potato Dumplings (Kopytka), łazanki dumplings, and White Cheese Dumplings (Kluski Leniwe).
Rogaliki z Róża are homemade crescent rolls filled with jam. We had them for breakfast, but they would also be great paired with tea for an afternoon snack. It was a fun baking activity with Evan. He loved helping me roll up each of the crescents. I had some extra strawberry jam in the refrigerator so I used that as a filling, but Marianna also provides a recipe for Rose Petal Jam using fresh rose petals, sugar, and lemon.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own.
Zupa Truskawkowa (Polish Strawberry Soup)
Adapted from Authentic Polish Cooking
2 pounds (900 grams) fresh or frozen, thawed, strawberries, divided
2 quarts (2 liters) water
1/3 cup (75 grams) granulated sugar
Hull the strawberries and cut them into small cubes.
In a large pot, combine the water and sugar over high heat. Bring to a boil and dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add 3/4 of the strawberries. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. If using a stand blender. Allow to cool slightly and carefully transfer to blender, in batches if needed. Puree until smooth. Place back into the pot and bring to a low simmer. Stir in the remaining 1/4 strawberries. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Serve hot or refrigerate for a couple of hours and serve chilled. If desired, mix in some sour cream, noodles, or mint.