I hope you’ve enjoyed time with family and friends over Christmas and want to take a moment to wish you and yours health and happiness in 2018. There has always been something about this time of year that makes me eager to return to structure and routine after holiday festivities. Our youngest daughter, her boyfriend, and her dog left for California this morning, the last of our house guests. On Christmas, there were twelve people and five dogs in and out over the course of the day. Now, Ed is at work, and our pups, Ellie and Rigby are snoozing beside me as I write this. Since, we’re just finishing up leftovers, I thought I’d talk about one of my favorite subjects, Polish cookbooks.
There are eight Polish cookbooks in our kitchen, nine if you count an e-book on sausage making. Two are in Polish; the rest are in English. Fortunately, most of my Polish vocabulary, other than the basic niceties, is centered around food. If there are ingredients I don’t know, google translate can usually fill in the gaps. There are a few tricky things I can clue you in on:
- If something translates as protein, they mean egg white
- Carnation, that means whole clove
- English Spice, we know it as Allspice (usually used whole, not ground)
One of my prize cookbooks isn’t pictured. Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans is out on loan to a colleague. If you’re reading this Stella, I wonder if you’re holding it for ransom until I return your tablecloth?
I thought I’d share a brief review of my books with you and when possible give you a link to purchase (by clicking on the photo of the books below) in case you’d like to add one of these to your bookshelf. The links that are from Amazon are affiliate links, which means simply that if you buy something after clicking on the link, Amazon will pay me a small percentage of your puchase. It doesn’t change your price, and helps to offset the cost of maintaining this website, and I thank you.
My first Polish cookbook was Polish Cookery by Marja Ochorowicz-Monatowa, translated and adapted by Jean Karsavina. The original was published around 1900. It is an American adaptation of a famous standard cookbook in Poland. The measurements are converted for American kitchens. With 53 soup recipes and 18 more recipes for soup garnishes, you know there is a good understanding of Polish cuisine. I’ve made a few recipes from this book and enjoyed reading many more. My one complaint would be that there are no photographs, and the photos are my favorite part of any cookbook.
My second Polish cookbook is one written in Polish that a bought at the train station in Poznan. While I have to translate everyting. I’m happy to say that it has color photos on every page! Regionalna Kuchnia Polaska, as the name suggests, presents recipes from seven different regions of Poland. I used the Rogale Swietomarcinskie from the Kuchina Wielkopolska section along with a baking session with the head of the Baker’s Guild to create my recipe for Poznan’s famous pastry.
My next Polish cookbook was Nela’s Cookbook by Nela Rubenstein, the wife of pianist Arthur Rubinstein. I love this book and reading it makes me love Nela. There are wonderful head notes with every recipe, giving the reader a true feel for this woman and the joy she took in preparing food for those she cared about. New copies are getting pricey, so I suggest selecting a used copy of this book which I highly recommend. The recipes are Polish, Lithiuanian, and American.
Polish Cooking is a small book recommended to by my friend Klaudia and gifted to me by my friend Elzbieta. It is written by Izabella Byszewska and photographed by Christian Parma. Besides recipes, it talks about typical foods for morning, afternoon, and evening. Recipes are identified by region. The color photos are lovely. My one complaint is that in this very small book, it’s probably 6 inches x 6 inches, and half an inch thick, the text is VERY small.
The next Polish recipe book I added to my collection was Wielka Ksiega Nalewek, the Big Book of Tinctures; it is written in Polish. My copy is from 2011, but there are multiple versions out there. This book was recommended to us by our friend Slawek. He mentioned it when we sampled his homemade raspberry liqueur, Maliniak. This book has convinced me that Poles have made an art form of steeping anything and everything in vodka. I’ve made several of the liqueurs. It’s a classic and must have if you enjoy sipping something yummy after dinner that is, of course, good for the digestion.
My next Polish cookbook, From a Polish County House Kitchen by Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden, I was lucky enough to win in a weekly competition hosted by a now defunct English language news website. I’ve cooked from this book more than any other, and enjoy reading the author’s head notes and the many color photos. Anne Applebaum you may know is a journalist who has written extensively about Communism and post-communist society in Central and Eastern Europe. She is married to Radosław Sikorski, a Polish politician and journalist, and they have a Polish country home. It gives me some perverse pleasure that the authors have had some complain about things that are not authentic or traditional, just as I have. Everybody’s grandmother puts her own spin on traditional dishes, and the authors have put their own modern, lighter versions in their cookbook.
I bought Rose Petal Jam because it is similar to something I would like to write one day, part memoir, part cookbook. I have enjoyed reading it but I haven’t cooked from it yet. Perhaps getting off the shelf today, will be what I need to make that happen. Author Beata Zatorska and her husband, photographer Simon Target have done a lovely job with this book. Whether you cook from it or not, you’ll find it a great read. The photos are more than just the food, it’s the countryside, the ingredients, family photos, an armchair peek into Polish life.
If you know an American cook who makes Polish food, chances are they have Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans. It seems to be one of the most popular Polish cookbooks and has been around for generations. I’ve made a few of the recipes, and have found them to be excellent. As I recall (remember this book is loaned out at the moment), this was put together by a group of Polish-American women and the proceeds were originally used to help with relief efforts in post-war Poland.
Polish Sausage, Authentic Recipes and Instructions is my most recent purchase, and one I have only perused so far. It includes a history of sausage making in Poland, a chapter on food safety, and more info on Polish sausages than I would have imagined possible, hot, cold, smoked, fresh, liver, blood, head cheese, you get the idea.
So that’s my lineup. What Polish cookbooks are on your bookshelf?