Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nick Cooks

Today, breakfast explored the concept that "they eat cereal in Poland, too."  I'm not sure Cocoa Pebbles is the cereal they eat, but it's the one the kids ate.  Today was Angel's workday, and that meant that today was my turn to cook Polish dinner.  Tonight's menu was easy, though:  Kielbasa and Sauerkraut, and Sorrel Soup with Sour Cream.  It's a good thing, too -- almost as soon as I picked up the kids from daycare and got home they achieved critical mass and it was a nonstop festival of "I bumped my foot," "Ellie hit me," "I hafta to go potty," "OW, Evie you crappin' crap!" "WAAaaaaAAAAH!'  I was ready for some Polish vodka while cooking dinner.

I'll have to say it again -- since a bunch of my heritage is Polish, this week is bringing up some memories.  I'd totally forgotten, but we used to have Polish sausage and sauerkraut semi-regularly when I was growing up.  What's weird is that things which seem so familiar are suddenly completely different when you have to cook them.  We had no recipe for our entree, and Angel thought I'd just dump the two ingredients in a pot and cook 'em.  I thought I'd better look for a recipe, just to make sure I didn't pass over some critical yet overlooked ingredient or something.  I Googled "Recipe: Kielbasa and Sauerkraut" and used a recipe that didn't add apples or something weird to the mix.

So, as is now becoming usual, we started with the soup and it was an overall winner, though Evie didn't like it (or anything) tonight.  The nearest description I can give is that it's like a cream of spinach soup, served over quartered boiled eggs and toast strips.  It's getting kind of monotonous describing everything as "delicate" and "subtle," and I'm getting the impression that that's way food of in Poland -- delicate tasting, but expands to the size of a dirigible after eating.  Good soup, though.  The greens meshed brilliantly with the chicken stock, and the only seasonings I used were salt, is butter a seasoning?


I was approaching the entree' with some trepidation.  Not for myself, but for Angel.  Angel generally won't stay in the room if someone opens a jar of pickles and/or sauerkraut and I was worried that having a whole pot of the stuff on the table would drive her to distraction.  Completely surprising me, Angel said that cooking the sauerkraut makes it much, MUCH better, and that she actually liked the sauerkraut.  Again, everybody except Evie liked it, which surprised me because she usually snorks down as much sauerkraut as she can, and when I was preparing dinner she begged for some like a cocker spaniel.  But, she pronounced that she much preferred her sauerkraut uncooked.  I feel like this recipe was a bit less traditional than the other recipes we're trying -- Koegel's dogs and a jar of kraut?  It just doesn't seem right, but, sausage and kraut or cabbage seems like a staple dish, if the sheer number of recipes means anything.


Kielbasa and Sauerkraut:
2each 13 oz. packages of Koegel's Polish sausage
One 1lb jar of sauerkraut (with caraway seeds, if possible)

Cut the sausage into disks.  Drain the sauerkraut, rinse and press out water.  Mix sausage and kraut together in a casserole dish, and bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes covered, then another 45 minutes without a lid on.

 Sorrel Soup With Sour Cream (Zupa Szczawiowa)

1lb. sorrel leaves, cleaned, washed and dried (1pkg. frozen spinach may be substituted, with additions of few drops of lemon juice.)
1tbs. butter
6 cups Light soup stock.
2/3 cup sour cream
6 cups light soup stock
1tbs flour
1tbs flour
Salt and pepper to taste
4-6 hard-cooked eggs (optional)

Chop sorrel raw; add salt to taste, and saute in butter until done -- about 20 minutes.  Combine with strained soup stock.  Beat flour into the sour cream and combine with soup; stir thoroughly and let simmer 5 to 10minutes.  Serve with quartered hard-cooked or deviled eggs on strips of toast.  Serves 6 to 7. (May be served with croutons alone.)
-- From "Polish Cookery," Marja Ochorowicz-Monatowa

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