Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Poppy-seed Cake (Makowiec)

The poppy seed cake is a traditional Polish pastry served in a form of rolled yeast bread stuffed with dense poppy seed filling. Although by many Poles it is considered to be a national dessert, it is also popular in parts of Central and Eastern Europe and in Israel.

Poppy-seed roll in Poland is called makowiec. 
in Hungary - mákos bejgli
in Russia bulochki s makom (булочки с маком)
in Serbia маковњача
in Bosnia makovnjača
in Czech makový závin
in Slovak  makovník
in Lithuanian aguonų vyniotinis
in Croatia makovnjača
in Romania rulada cu mac or rulada cu nuci
in Austria Mohnkuchen or Mohnstriezel 



1/2 pound of poppy seed
3/4 cup of white sugar 
1 tablespoon of melted butter           
1 teaspoon of  lemon juice 
1/2 cup of hot milk
1 (.25 ounce) package of  active dry yeast 
1/2 cup of warm water
2 tablespoons of  white sugar 
2 cups of  all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of  salt 
1/4 cup of butter 
1 egg, separated - white reserved

  1. Place poppy seeds into a food processor and process about 1 minute ( seeds should be ready when the white liquid appears).
  2. Mix grounded poppy seeds with 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, lemon juice, and hot milk in a bowl (stir until all ingredients combine)
  3. Cover poppy seed filling and put it to the fridge while making the dough (filling will set up and thicken as it chills).
  4. Mix dry yeast with water and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl. Put it aside until the yeast forms a creamy layer.
  5. Mix flour with salt in a bowl and slowly add your butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  6. Pour yeast mixture and egg yolk into flour mixture and stir to make a soft dough.
  7. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and slightly springy, about 5 minutes. If dough is too sticky, knead in more flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time.
  8. Cut dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a 12x16-inch rectangle.
  9. Spread half the poppy seed filling over each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the 1-inch border back over the filling on all sides and press down.
  10. Pick up the shorter side of a dough rectangle and roll it like a jelly roll; repeat with second rectangle. Pinch ends together or tuck ends under to prevent filling from leaking out.
  11. Bake your roll in the oven ( in 200 C) until the top gets brownish. 
  12. Enjoy your pastry :)

Friday, 4 January 2013

Pierogi- Polish dumplings
In my previous post I have presented the traditional Polish dishes prepared for Christmas Eve dinner. There is no Pole who could imagine this day without, pierogi. It would be like Christmas without the Christmas tree or Santa Claus without presents. Pierogi, in contrast with most dishes prepared for the Christmas Eve supper, are not cooked just for this particular occasion. Poles could not cope without them in every day life. You can get them in almost any Polish restaurant and shop. However, the best pierogi are those homemade and  prepared according to recipes of our grandmothers. They are made of unleavened dough, which is simply a mix of flour and warm water. When the dough is ready, it is rolled flat and cut into circles using a drinking glass. The filling is placed in the middle and the dough folded over to form a half circle ( as presented in the following picture). 

There are many kinds of pierogi since you can stuff them with almost anything you put your mind to. The most popular fillings are: mashed potatoes with pot cheese and sauteed diced onion, sauerkraut with grind mashrooms, grind meat, cottage cheese with cream, and spinach. My favourite, however barely known, are those stuffed with mashed beetroots or mashed carrots with fried bacon. Pierogi are cooked in the water and served with fried onion or sour cream. Dessert versions of dumplings can be stuffed with a fresh fruit filling, such as cherries, strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. Those are served with icing sugar or sweet cream on top. 


Pierogi with grind meat

Pierogi with mashed potatoes, pot cheese and sauteed diced onion

Pierogi with sauerkraut and grind mushrooms

Pierogi with mashed carrot and bacon

Pierogi with mashed beetroot and bacon

Pierogi with spinach

Pierogi with strawberries

Although pierogi are believed to be a typically Polish dish, they are known all around the world under different names and in various forms.

In Italy - ravioli, culurgiones, tortelli, tortelloni, and tortellini
In Germany - maultashen and bierock.
In Turkey - transcaucausus
In central Asia - manti, khinkali or chuchyara
In China - wonton or jiaozi
In Korea - mandu or songpyeon
In Japan - gyoza

In Mongolia - buzz
In Nepal/Tibet - momo
In Afghanistan - mantu
In India - ghooghra

Monday, 24 December 2012

WIGILIA  (Christmas Eve Dinner)

Because today is Christmas Eve my opening post will concern the traditional Polish dishes prepared for dinner. And since they are prepared only once a year, they are unique. Each year many people, including me, wait impatiently for the supper which according to tradition should start just after the first star appears in the sky. Because the vast majority of Poles are Christians, the dishes that are prepared for the supper have deep religious spirit. Even the way we set the table is special. Because Jesus Christ was born in a stable, straws of hay are placed under a white linen tablecloth, which is to symbolize Babe’s swaddling cloth. A lighted candle is placed in the middle of  the table to welcome the Christ Child. The most important element that must appear on each table is the blessed Communion in the form of wafers which are shared between the family at the very beginning of the meal. While sharing the wafers, relatives make Christmas Wishes. 

Moreover, an extra place is set for any weary stranger who may unexpectedly pass by, just like Joseph wandered from home to home searching for a place for Mary to give birth, and in order to commemorate all those who are departed.

Wigilia is a meatless meal because Roman Catholics used to fast for the four weeks of Advent, including Christmas Eve. There are twelve main dishes representing the number of Apostles and four corners of the earth. That is why there must be mushrooms from the forest, grain from the fields, fruit from the orchards, and fish from the lakes and sea. Meals may vary from region to region and from family to family but in most Polish homes we can find: 

borscht with mushroom dumplings (barszcz z uszkami)

 cabbage soup with mushrooms (kapusta z grzymabi) 

  dumplings with sauerkraut and mushrooms (pierogi z kapustą i grzybami)

carp in aspic (karp w galarecie)

fried carp (karp smażony )

 herring (śledź)

breaded white fish ( panierowana ryba)

noddle with poppy seed (kluski z makiem)

gruel with cracked wheat, poppy seed and honey (kutia)

poppy seed cake (makowiec)

honey-spice cake (piernik)

dried-fruit compote (kompot z suszu)