Fresh from Poland, a cookbook review

I don’t know much about Polish food.  That’s the thought that drove my interest for “Fresh from Poland: New Vegetarian Cooking from the Old Country” by Michal Korkosz.  I also didn’t know much about Korkosz to begin with, and had no idea he won the 2017 Saveur Blog Award for best food photography (both Editors’ and Readers’ Choice) at the ripe age of… 19!  

So it stands to reason that the photos in this book are lovely.  There’s a lot of natural lighting, cozy backgrounds, and the overall feeling of finding pleasure in home cooking.

The main chapters are:

  • My Polish kitchen
  • My Polish pantry
  • Breakfast
  • Breads and Baked Goods
  • Soups
  • Main Dishes
  • Side Dishes
  • Perogi and Dumplings
  • Desserts
  • Preserves, Jams, and Pickles

 

Things I’d like to try… when I’m not following Stay-At-Home/Self-Quarantine orders because of a pandemic:

  • Parsley root and walnut spread
  • Rye crumble with honey fruit
  • Creamy oatmeal with kajmak, apple and walnuts
  • Whole wheat challah with almond streusel
  • Sweet blueberry buns with streusel
  • Almond soup with floating clouds
  • Lentil, butternut squash, and zucchini stew
  • Buckwheat stir-fry with kale, beans, and goat cheese
  • Pierogi with buckwheat, bryndza, and mint
  • Pierogi with lentils and dried tomatoes
  • Blueberry pierogi with honeyed sour cream
  • Yeast rogaliki with rose petal preserves
  • Yeast-buttermilk cake with berries and streusel

 

But I am doing my best to stay indoors because of covid-19 which means that I was very limited in what I could make.  

The first recipe I made was for oatmeal buns.  The main ingredients are quick cooking oats, butter, all purpose flour, instant yeast, old fashioned oats, and honey.  These were all things that I already had in my pantry. Having said that, the all purpose flour I was using was of mysterious background.  Some months ago, I transferred it from its original bag to a Cambro bin, and put it in the freezer. I didn’t label the bin with the brand of flour. Not long after, I wasn’t baking much and forgot about the flour in the freezer.

Like… really forgot about it.  When I started making sourdough bread again back in January, I bought some King Arthur Flour all-purpose and had been using that for all my cooking/baking.

Anyway, long story short, I had some trouble working with this recipe most likely because of my flour.  But I managed to bake something closely resembling the photo. (Except that my oatmeals buns lack color.  I forgot the egg wash.  *sigh*) And I liked them! I gave some to my mom to share with my grandmother, and they both approved.

The second recipe I tried was the tomato apple soup with poured noodles.  The main soup ingredients are butter, garlic, dried marjoram, a sweet apple, vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and sour cream.  The poured noodles are made from egg, sour cream, and all purpose flour. I enjoyed this too, and it was quick to put together. It’s less decadent than the creamy tomato soup recipe that I like from Jill Winger (which makes it a better “everyday” recipe), and the use of marjoram was new to me.  I’ve only used basil in the past for tomato soup. I’m not sure the apple did much for the recipe but maybe it’s because New England is not in apple season.  (Translation, my Gala apple did not taste like much to begin with.)

As for the “poured noodles, I like the idea but my execution was lacking.  And by lacking, I mean I only made about 5 or so solid pieces of “noodles” (they’re more like dumplings) and the rest just disintegrated into something looking like soft scrambled eggs.  I’m not sure if I perhaps mis-measured something or if maybe I just needed extra flour. But I’m willing to give it a go one more time as I really like the idea of putting dumplings in tomato soup.  (Ooh, maybe I should do a recipe mashup next time. This tomato soup with Gena Hamshaw’s chickpea dumplings. It should work.)

I think what surprised me most about this book was that I forgot it was technically a vegetarian cookbook.  The variety and appeal of the recipes don’t leave you wanting for meat recipes.

Overall, yes, I recommend this book, and I can’t wait for stay-at-home orders to end so that I can explore this book better.  

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from The Experiment Publishing for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  

With COVID-19 self-quarantine in effect, my scope of recipe testing was limited.  Some modifications may have been made.

 

 

Reference Links:

https://rozkoszny.pl/en

https://theexperimentpublishing.com/ 

https://www.workman.com/products/fresh-from-poland

The Prairie Homestead Cookbook, a cookbook review

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I received a review copy of The Prairie Homestead Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Heritage Cooking in Any Kitchen by Jill Winger.  By name alone, I was expecting a lot of comfort food recipes just because that’s what I tend to think of when I think of stereotypical American cooking. And while there are comfort food recipe in the book, I feel like the soul of this book is more about cooking building blocks, and taking the DIY route in the kitchen.

The book is divided into these chapters:

  • Country Breakfasts
  • Hearty Mains
  • Farm-Style Sides
  • Home Bakery
  • Old-Fashioned Sweets
  • Homestead Sips
  • Prairie Pantry Staples
  • Herbs and Veggies
  • Eggs, Milk, and Meat
  • Stocking the Larder

 

Here are some recipes that you can look forward to:

  • Baked Eggs with Cream and Chives
  • Homemade Bacon
  • Homemade Chorizo
  • Old-Fashioned Sausage Gravy
  • Wyoming Burger
  • Cheddar and Herb Meatloaf
  • Saucy Spiced Beef and Onions
  • Old Homestead Pie
  • Chicken Poblano Chowder
  • Parmesan Roasted Cabbage Steaks
  • Herbed Crescent Rolls
  • Sourdough Crackers
  • Old-Fashioned Gingerbread with Caramel Sauce

 

The Herbs and Veggies, and the Eggs, Milk, and Meat chapters of the cookbook are the homesteading chapters, chapters which I wasn’t expecting at all.  Herbs and Veggies are pretty much what you might expect. It’s an introduction to gardening outdoors, more with a focus on raised beds. I basically live in a city with very little land space so I don’t have much use for information that isn’t about container gardening.  The chapter finishes up with a vegetable growing guide, covering the most conventional vegetables that you’d find consumed in North America.

The only information in the Herbs and Veggies chapter that I personally found worthwhile is the homemade organic garden spray recipe.  It makes me willing to try growing kale again (which is pretty easy… until it’s infested with bugs which also happens pretty easily).

The Eggs, Milk, and Meat chapter is about raising chickens, cows, and goats.  While I could technically raise chickens where I live, I’m really not about to.  (Let’s be honest. I don’t even own house pets because I’m cheap and lazy that way.)  Nevermind cows and goats for a city girl like me. Since I have zero experience with raising livestock, I will be fair and refrain from making any comments or critiques. I don’t know how useful the provided information is, and I probably never will.

It was the homesteading chapters that I saw first when I first flipped through this book.  I doubted how much this book would be useful to me. But the recipes? Now that I’ve had time to ruminate over the rest of the book, I think the recipes themselves are useful to have.

I made the creamy tomato garlic soup recipe as my inaugural recipe.  As the warm weather eases into New England, I am suddenly hankering for soups and all things slow cooked.  I want to enjoy all of it as much as I can before it gets too hot to cook much of anything.

I was really happy with my results.  It’s a very rich tomato soup. The ingredients are: butter, onion, garlic, all purpose flour, a bit of sugar, dried basil, sea salt, black pepper, chicken stock, fresh/home-canned/commercial canned tomatoes, heavy cream, and cheese for garnish.  Swap the heavy cream with evaporated milk, and you have a very pantry friendly recipe. It’s almost too rich for me, so I’m thinking about swapping some of the butter for olive oil too. But the flavor and texture is good and comforting.

I thought I’d put the book down once I was done with my recipe test and move onto my ever-growing backlog of “to try” recipes.  But there’s something to be said about a cookbook with a lot of basic recipes, because I write this review, I have her simple roast chicken (using the slow cooker option) cooking now.

While everything in the book sounds reasonably tasty, it’s Winger’s more basic recipe that I’m more drawn to.  In addition to the roast chicken I’ve got going, I want to try the roast beef, the slow cooker pulled pork (which I almost made but ultimately decided to carry home a whole chicken than a pork shoulder), the cast iron skillet bread, and the cream of wheat (key ingredient?  Actual whole wheat berries).

All in all, I’m happy to recommend this cookbook.  It might not be for everyone, but it’s handy to have.

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Flatiron Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.