Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Wouldn't Be Christmas Without Chex Party Mix

The Christmas holidays would not be the same unless there was Chex Party Mix around. The recipe on today’s Chex boxes is called “original”, but it includes bagel chips. There was no such thing as bagel chips in the 1950’s when this recipe first appeared! This is my version, better than the original. It is spicier and has more nuts!
A staple at every Christmas at our house in Willis, Michigan.
Adam’s “Original” Chex Party Mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
3 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups rice Chex cereal
1 1/2 cups cheese tidbits
1 large can deluxe mixed nuts (I use the one without peanuts)
1 cup pecans
1 1/2 cups pretzel twists1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Melt butter in saucepan. Add Worcestershire sauce and spices. In large roasting pan, add about half of the dry ingredients. Drizzle with half of the butter. Add remaining dry ingredients and drizzle with remaining butter. Gently mix until coated. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Allow to sit until completely cool. Store in airtight container.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Traditional Polish Christmas Eve (Wigilia) Dinner Recipes

Christmas Cookies--a tradition in Polish American homes
Christmas Cookies---tradition in Polish American homes.

I have collected many of the traditional (and maybe some modern versions) recipes and customs associated with a Polish American Christmas Eve in Detroit, Michigan in the 1950s and 60s. Over the years we have maintained some and let some go. Older generations talked about keeping the carp that would be served at dinner alive---swimming in the family bathtub. I remember that my Aunt Kay served fried perch until her family grew and she substituted frozen fried shrimp. She is also responsible for the apple and rice casserole recipe that is included here. I don't make it, but it has become traditional for my sister, Barbara's family. 
opłatek, Polish Christmas Eve
Christmas Wafer (Opłatek)
From oldest to youngest gathered around the table we shared bits of opłatek (wafer) wishing each other health, wealth, and happiness and a special wish for the New Year. The wafer sat on a dish on a bed of straw in the center of the table. There was always an empty chair at the table to remind that that should a stranger enter "there would always be a place for Him". 

Twelve Fruit Compote

6-10 cups water
1 pound mixed dried fruit: pears, figs, apricots, and peaches
1 pound dried pitted prunes
1/2 cup dried raisins
Additional fresh fruit to total 12 different fruits: Sliced lemon, sliced orange, sliced apple, 1/2 cup cherries, 4 pitted plums. 10-12 grapes, (or any other fruit available)

Combine water, mixed dry fruits, prunes, and raisins in a pot large enough to hold all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover and then simmer for about 30-45 minutes (or until the fruit is plump and tender). Add fresh fruit. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add water as needed. Our family would add enough water to serve 20 plus guests.

Optional: Stir in 1/2 -3/4 cup fruit brandy. Let stand 15 minutes. Strain juice. (Reserve fruit*) Serve warm in juice glasses at the beginning of the meal.

*My parents always enjoyed the stewed fruits during the holidays (serve warm or cold).

Pickled Herring

1 jar pickled herring with onion

Serve a couple of pieces to each guest.

I sometimes make this into a salad, putting a couple of pieces of the herring on a bed of lettuce with a couple of pieces of fresh orange, some red onion, sliced thin, and some toasted pine nuts on top. Serve with your favorite oil and vinegar salad dressing.

Barbara’s Mushroom Soup (Zupa Ze Swiezych Grzybow)

2 4 ounce packages dried Polish mushrooms, such as boletes (borowiki) or honey mushrooms (opienki), also known locally as "stumpers.
1/2 cup to 1 cup regular sour cream
1 egg
Salt and pepper
5-8 Tablespoons white vinegar
Boiled, diced potatoes

Cook mushrooms until tender in 2 cups water (about one hour). Remove mushrooms from pot, let cool, and then finely chop. You may need to discard tough stems. Take broth and pour through cheesecloth to remove silt. Return to large pot and add 8-10 cups water. Return chopped mushrooms to broth.

In a bowl, fork-blend 1/2 to1 cup sour cream with 3 tablespoons flour and one egg. Add 1cup broth stirring until lump-free, and add to pot. Simmer several minutes, salt and pepper, and add vinegar 1 tablespoon at a time to taste (should be slightly tart) and serve over diced, cooked potatoes. Polish mushrooms are getting harder to find, but dark Chinese mushrooms work the same!

This is an alternative version that I prefer as I can't always find dried Polish mushrooms. I've also thought about the fact that our ancestors couldn't find fresh mushrooms in the dead of winter. Since fresh mushrooms are readily available today, I have decided to use them.

Adam's Mushroom Soup

2 cups dried Chinese mushrooms (found in any Asian market)
1 medium onion (coarsely chopped)
1 medium carrot (coarsely chopped)
1 stalk celery (coarsely chopped)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 package Baby Bella fresh mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup
Boiled potatoes

In large soup pot 2/3 filled with water, combine mushrooms, onion, carrot, and celery. Bring to boil and simmer for about 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours until mushrooms are very soft. Strain broth through cheesecloth. Discard vegetables and add vinegar. Allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.

Sauté Baby Bella mushrooms in butter until cooked through. Bring broth to boil. Reduce heat. Add 2 cans cream of mushroom soup. Whisk until smooth. Add cooked mushrooms. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Be careful not to let this soup boil over. Serve over boiled potatoes.

Aunt Mary’s Sauerkraut and Split Peas (Groch z Kapusta)

1 cup yellow peas
1 quart sauerkraut
1 small onion chopped fine
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms*
Salt and pepper

Soak peas overnight. Cook in same water until tender, about one hour. Rinse sauerkraut. Chop into smaller pieces. Mix sauerkraut, onion, mushrooms and peas. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about 1 hour on low heat. Serve with boiled potatoes.

*Mushrooms are pre-cooked Polish, or dark, mushrooms in water for about 1 hour. Drain and reserve liquid for a great gravy.

Pierogi (Stuffed Dumplings)
Plum, Potato and Cheese, and Sauerkraut and Mushroom
Pierogi, Polish Christmas Eve recipes
We liked both potato and farmer's cheese as well as sauerkraut and mushroom pierogies.

Pierogi, Polish Christmas Eve recipes
It would take all day to make dozens and dozens of Polish pierogies by hand.
Pierogi, Polish Christmas Eve recipes
Home-made Polish pierogies.


2 eggs
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mound flour on kneading board or large mixing bowl and make hole in center. Drop eggs into hole and cut into flour with knife. Add salt and water and knead until firm. You may need to incorporate additional flour. Let rest for 10 minutes covered with a warm cloth. Divide dough in halves.

If making by hand:

Roll thin. Cut circles with large biscuit cutter. Place a generous Tbsp. of filling a little to one side on each round of dough. Moisten edge with water, fold over, and press edges together firmly.

If making by pasta machine:

Divide dough into thirds. Shape dough in thin rectangle. Flour generously. Gently feed through pasta maker at largest opening. Re-flour dough, set pasta maker at next largest. Repeat steps until at third smallest opening. Cut dough into squares. Put one Tbsp. of filling into center of square. Moisten edge with water, fold over, and press edges together firmly. Use pizza cutter to trim into semi-circle shape. Extra dough may be re-used.

Be sure the pierogi are well sealed to prevent the filling from running out. Drop pierogi into salted boiling water. Cook gently for 3 to 5 minutes. Lift out of water carefully with slotted spoon.

Never crowd or pile pierogi. The uncooked will stick and the cooked will lose shape and lightness. I have found that it helps to coat lightly the pierogi with cooking spray.

To serve, lightly fry in butter until tops and bottoms are lightly browned and the pierogis are thoroughly warmed through. Serve with sour cream.

Adam’s Potato Cheese Pierogi Filling

2 large potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 cups small-curd cottage cheese
1/2 large onion, minced
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

Sauté onion until tender and golden.

Combine potatoes, cottage cheese, and onion, including butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool before using.

Adam’s Sauerkraut and Mushroom Pierogi Filling

1 medium sized can sauerkraut, well rinsed
1/2 large onion, minced
3 tablespoons butter
12 medium Baby Bella or Shitaki mushrooms, chopped into about 1/4 pieces
Salt and pepper

Sauté onion until tender and golden. Add mushrooms and continue sautéing until mushrooms are cooked. Add sauerkraut and sauté uncovered about 30 minutes or until sauerkraut turns a golden color. Stir frequently as this can burn easily. Add additional butter if too dry. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool before using.

Barbara’s Pierogi Recipe

2 cups flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour

Mound flour in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Drop 2 eggs into well. Add salt and sour cream. Fold together with your hands until dough is smooth. Handle as little as possible or the dough will be tough. Roll out onto lightly floured counter. Cut into circles (a glass works well). Place filling into centers. Fold in half, pinch edges completely. Cook in a pot of boiling water about 5-7 minutes or until they float to the top. Drain. To prevent sticking during storage butter each pierogi before placing in a container. To serve; fry in butter until golden brown on both sides.

Serve with sour cream.


Plums: Drain 1 large can of plums, remove pits, and use one plum per pierogi. Great Aunt Kay would dip them in melted butter, then into fine breadcrumbs and fry them in butter. Yumm, they will be extra crispy!

Sauerkraut: One large can/jar of sauerkraut drained; reserving liquid. Rinse kraut. Chop. Add ½ cup finely chopped pre-cooked Polish Mushrooms and one medium onion, finely chopped. Fry 15 minutes or until onion is golden. If kraut is not sour enough to your liking add a little of the reserved liquid. Cool. Use about 2 tablespoons per pierogi.

Potato and Cheese: Cook and smash (not super smooth) 5 pounds of potatoes. Cool. Add 2 and 1/2 pounds dry farmer’s cheese (or well drained cottage cheese). Fry one large onion with 2 tablespoons butter until golden brown. Add to potato mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use about 2 tablespoons per pierogi.

If Farmer’s cheese is not available, you can drain cottage cheese over night using cheesecloth. You should be able to remove all the liquids if you place a weight on top of the cheese. It will be dry the next morning.

Aunt Kay's Rice Casserole

1 and 1/2 cups rice
5-6 Macintosh apples
1/4 cup milk, scalded
1/4 teaspoon, cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cups white sugar

Parboil rice about 6-7 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water.

Peel apples and cut into slices.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray casserole dish with cooking spray. Start a first layer of apples, sprinkle with white sugar, and then a layer of rice. Drizzle 1 tablespoon melted butter over rice. Continue until you have 2 layers of rice and 3 layers of apples. Pour milk over layers. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 45 to 60 minutes. Continue baking at 375 degrees for one hour.

Aunt Sophie's Kasha (Kasza)

1 cup buckwheat groats
2 cups chicken broth (Vegetable broth or water may be substituted on Christmas Eve)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pitted dried prunes

Mix in pot. Bring to boil. Cook tightly over low heat, about 20 minutes. Add more water if necessary. The grits must be dry when done, not wet.

Barbara's Christmas Nut Roll

1 package Active Dry Yeast 2 tablespoon lukewarm water
1/2 cup scalded milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons flour

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Dissolve yeast in water. Scald the milk and put in mixing bowl. Add butter, sugar, and salt. Cool. To the milk mixture, add beaten egg, and yeast. Stir in sifted flour. Grease top, cover and let rise for 30 minutes. While flour is rising, make the filling. Combine the filling ingredients in a small pot. Cook slowly until mixture boils. Stir constantly for one minute. Let cool. Now, knead dough on floured board 1 minute. Roll into 12” square. Spread with nut filling and roll. Place on greased baking sheet seam side down. Tuck ends under to prevent filling from seeping, then brush with milk. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until soft to touch. Bake 30 minutes.

Makes one loaf.

*The bread machine works great! Use the Dough only cycle. Into the bread machine, add your ingredients in this order 1) flour 2) water 3) beaten egg 4) sugar 5) milk 6) butter 7) salt 8) yeast. Once the dough cycle is complete roll into 12” square and follow the instructions as above.

Aunt Hattie made the best angel wings (Chrusciki). They were light as a feather. We always watched to see if she was carrying a large rectangular cardboard box when she arrived as that signaled that she was bringing Angel Wings. We could not resist sneaking a sample, even before dinner.

Aunt Hattie's Chruscki

3 egg yolks
A pinch of salt
A pinch of brandy
A pinch of nutmeg
1 and 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
1 and 1/2 cups flour

Mix all ingredients, adding 1 and 1/2 cups flour. Add a little flour at a time until kind of gooey. Put on floured board. Add a little flour while kneading. Keep adding flour until it pulls easily—something like pie crust. Fry in Crisco shortening. Check a few while frying so the Crisco won’t be too hot. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle both sides with powdered sugar.

Poppy Seed Coffee Cake (Strucla z Makiem)

1 package yeast
1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 cup scalded milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Cream butter with sugar. Add salt to egg yolks and beat until thick. Scald milk and cool to lukewarm. Add beaten yolks to butter and sugar mixture. Add yeast dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water. Add flavoring and mix thoroughly. Add flour alternately with the milk and knead with hand until fingers are free of dough. Let rise for about 2 hours or until double in bulk. Punch down and let rise again for one hour. Place dough on floured board and roll to one-half inch thickness into rectangular shape. Spread with poppy seed or nut raisin mixture and roll like jelly roll, sealing all edges. Place on cookie sheet and let rise until double in bulk. Bake for 45 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Poppy Seed Filling:

1 cup ground poppy seed
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar or 1/3 cup honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring milk to boiling point and add poppy seed. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring carefully, until milk is absorbed. Add sugar or honey. Beat egg thoroughly. Mix 1 tablespoon of hot poppy seed with egg and pour into cooked poppy seed. Stir until thick. Add vanilla. Must be thoroughly cooled before using.

Uncle Adam’s Walnut Raisin Filling:

1 cup ground walnuts
1/2 cup white raisins
Substitute walnuts for poppy seeds and proceed as in poppy seed filling recipe above. When cool add 1/2 cup white raisins.

Barbara's Christmas Nut Roll

1 package Active Dry Yeast
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
1/2 cup scalded milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons flour

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Dissolve yeast in water. Scald the milk and put in mixing bowl. Add butter, sugar, and salt. Cool. To the milk mixture, add beaten egg, and yeast. Stir in sifted flour. Grease top, cover and let rise for 30 minutes. While flour is rising, make the filling. Combine the filling ingredients in a small pot. Cook slowly until mixture boils. Stir constantly for one minute. Let cool. Now, knead dough on floured board 1 minute. Roll into 12” square. Spread with nut filling and roll. Place on greased baking sheet seam side down. Tuck ends under to prevent filling from seeping, then brush with milk. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until soft to touch. Bake 30 minutes.

Makes one loaf.

*The bread machine works great! Use the Dough only cycle. Into the bread machine, add your ingredients in this order 1) flour 2) water 3) beaten egg 4) sugar 5) milk 6) butter 7) salt 8) yeast. Once the dough cycle is complete roll into 12” square and follow the instructions as above.

Polish Kolaczki (Filled Cookie)
Polish Kolaczki (Filled Cookie)
Before dusting with confectioners' sugar.
Polish Kolaczki (Filled Cookie)
1 (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
12 ounces (3 sticks) butter, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 (14-ounce) cans fillings of choice (I use Solo brand apricot, raspberry and almond)
Confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add flour 1 cup at a time and mix well. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at a couple of hours.least 1 hour.

Roll out dough 1/4-inch on a surface that has been dusted with sifted confectioners' sugar (not flour). Cut into 2-inch squares. Place 1/2 to 1 teaspoon filling on center of each square. Overlap opposite corners of dough to the center over filling. You have to work fast or the dough will stick.

Bake for 15 minutes or when corners start to brown. When completely cool dust with sifted confectioners' sugar.

Assortment of Christmas After Dinner Delights
Christmas cookies
From Noon clockwise: Magic Cookie Bars, Lemon Squares, Creamy Chocolate Fudge, Kolaczki (Fruit Filled Pastry), Apple Raisin Walnut Cookies and Mexican Wedding Cookies (center).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Traditional Polish Christmas Eve (Wigilia) Dinner Menu

Traditional Polish Christmas Eve (Wigilia) Dinner Menu

Christmas Wafer (Oplatek)
Twelve Fruit Compote
Mushroom Soup with Boiled Potatoes
Felicia's (or Aunt Mary's) Kapusta with Boiled Potatoes
Pickled Herring
Pierogi: Plum, Potato and Cheese, and Sauerkraut
Aunt Kay's Rice Casserole
Adam's Poppyseed Roll, Barbara"s Nut Roll, Aunt Hattie's Chruscki, and your favorite Christmas Cookies


December 23 make pierogi and Poppyseed/Nut Rolls

Make Kapusta and Kasha.

December 24th, Christmas Eve Dinner

2 p.m. Start the compote

3 p.m. Set table with crisp, white table cloth, small plate with oplatek (add straw if available). Place only white candles on the table. (These were a must forAunt Sophie, I was scolded once for using a green tablecloth, I have used white ever since!)

Set out nuts and candies to nibble on

4 p.m. Peel potatoes for Mushroom Soup and Kapusta

Make Rice and apple casserole and set out Christmas Cookie Tray

5 p.m. Boil Potatoes, warm Kapusta, warm Kasha, Place Herring into serving dish.

Start frying pierogi. Make coffee. Set out sour cream. Greet guests.

About 5:30-5:45 p.m., watch for the first star.

Gather family at table, share Oplatek, breaking off three pieces, wishing each guest Health, Wealth, and Happiness in the New Year. Serve dinner.

A Polish Christmas on Florida Street in Detroit

Listen to Polish Christmas Carols (Polskie Kolędy) here.
Every Christmas we went to our grandmother's house on Florida Street in Detroit on Christmas Eve. It was an annual tradition. We would all be bundled up in heavy coats with scarves and mittens. There always seemed to be snow. One of the babies was always sick--that too, seemed to be part of the tradition.

As we walked in, carrying bundles of gifts, my first memory was of seeing the Christmas tree. Uncle Ed and Aunt Sophie had the greatest tree. It seemed to have hundreds of lights (the big, brightly colored ones, not the little Italian ones of today). There were unusual ornaments--angels with feathers, birds with brilliant tails, and lights filled with colored fluid that would bubble, as they got warm. Underneath the tree was a beautiful Manger scene with intricate figurines.

The heat inside the house was intense. It was like opening an oven door, but, ah, the wonderful smells. The smell of the Christmas tree mixed with those of sauerkraut, mushrooms, stewed fruit, and frying butter. Babci (our grandmother), Aunt Sophie, and other aunts were in the tiny kitchen cooking. Mother would join them in the kitchen as the older kids hung by hoping for a sample. Uncle Ed would let us go down into the basement to get a soda--you had to duck your head going down, even when you were little. Cream soda was the best--we never had it at home.

It seemed like the aunts and uncles and cousins would arrive in waves: Uncle John and Aunt Hattie and Cousin Marie. Uncle Mike and Aunt Louise with cousins Buddy, Frank, Fred, and John, and Uncle Vince with Aunt Mary and Cousin Tom. Each wave with their own bundles, shaking off snow, and taking off coats and hats and gloves. Presents were whisked away. It would be hours before we saw them.

Then it was time for dinner. I always thought there was supposed to be an odd number of courses, but others have told me that is should have been even. Mushroom soup with boiled potatoes. Pierogies with potatoes and cheese or sauerkraut and mushrooms. Kasha. Pickled herring. Stewed fruit. Everything was delicious. There was also always an empty place setting at the table in case an unexpected guest should arrive recalling the biblical tale of Joseph and Mary, when they found no room at the inn. In the center of the table was the oplatek, a rectangular piece of wafer imprinted with a religious scene. Everyone at the table shared the wafer. We wished each other health, wealth, and happiness and often a special wish.

My favorite memory of Christmas was when my cousin John suddenly appeared during dinner on Christmas Eve. He was in Vietnam during the war and was not expected home. Of course, there was a place for him at the table! All of the aunts and even some of the uncles, cried.

After dinner, we would sing Christmas carols. Our father was a great singer of Polish Christmas carols. He and Uncle John usually led the singing. Dad had a small, thick, green book with all of the Polish kolendy (Christmas carols) in them. Dad knew the lyrics and the melodies by heart. I always wondered where he learned them. Babcia, with her high voice, would sing with the uncles. Her voice was such a contrast with the low voices of dad and Uncle John. If dad and the uncles had enough Christmas "spirit”, they would go outside and serenade the neighbors with carols.

While we were singing, a couple of the uncles would disappear and rustling sounds could be heard above us. All of a sudden, a ringing bell could be heard outside. The little kids all knew what that meant--Santa Claus was here! Those rustling sounds must have been reindeer on the roof!

Santa always had bags and bags of presents. One of the kids was chosen to help Santa distribute gifts. More bags of gifts appeared from the back of the kitchen. There were toys galore. I think each aunt and uncle would try to outdo each other giving gifts. You knew childhood was over when, instead of toys or games, you received clothes as your Christmas gift! Babci always gave us three silver dollars--our mother saved them for us for over forty years.

After the gifts were opened it was time for treats. I do not know why, but Aunt Sophie served us spumoni ice cream, but was always a part of Christmas. It was a rich Italian ice cream with almond flavoring and pistachio nuts and candied fruit. We ate it along with poppy seed and nut filled coffeecake. Aunt Hattie would make pastries called chrusciki. We called them angel wings. They were as light as a feather!

We almost never made it to Midnight Mass. I do not know how we ever made it home. We must have been re-bundled up, the presents loaded, treats for Christmas Day wrapped up, and all of us finally on our way home in one of Dad's Desoto’s.

Mom and Dad took care of everything--it a very big chore for them with five children, as they still had to play "Santa" for us at our house on Christmas morning! It was only the start of a hectic season of visiting family and friends and, in turn, having friends and family at our house.

These are my memories. There are other memories of Christmas, but this is what I leave to my brother and sisters, nieces and nephews, their children, and my friends. It is a memory of a simpler time, when grievances were forgotten, and wishes were exchanged--for a better year, a better life. It was an acknowledgment that, after all, we were family--and family was important!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Turkeys for Kids

I found these turkeys on the Internet. They were easy to put together. I used canned frosting as the "glue" and frosting in tubes from the supermarket to decorate. You don't need any special tools. All you need is a butter knife to spread the frosting. I gave some to two families with young children and they found them delightful. I think it would be great fun to keep kids busy as well. Here's a link to directions. They only suggestion I would have is to trim a bit off the Reece's Peanut Butter Cup so that it sits flat. It will keep everything stable.

Oreo and candy "turkeys" for your Thanksgiving table--kids will love them, adults, too!

The Pie Guy's Thanksgiving Day Pies

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie with Caramel Ganache
in a Pecan Gingersnap Shell.
Topped with real whipped cream,
drizzled with caramel and accented
with maple glazed pecans.

Apple Dutch CrumbPie

Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010

I haven't always been as thankful as I should be for what I have been given. This year I really have a feeling of appreciation for all of the blessings I have received. I wish I could give everyone I know the feeling of peace and serenity I have, but I know that that job is below my pay grade. I guess I will just say thank you to everyone who is reading this message and I hope you have great joy throughout the coming year---Adam, "The Pie Guy."

Alice Yucht, a librarian acquaintance I met on the Internet, kindly gave me permission to use this recipe for cooking a 15-20 lb. turkey in just 2 and a half hours several years ago, and every turkey I have made has turned out great!

Alice’s Roasted Turkey

1 15-20 pound unstuffed, completely thawed turkey (Be sure to remove innards!)
2 cups chicken broth
Optional: 1 raw onion or 1 raw apple
Assorted herbs and spices

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Put UNSTUFFED, COMPLETELY THAWED turkey into deep roasting pan.

Note: If turkey is 20-25 pounds, just add 15 minutes to last hour. If turkey is 10-15 pounds, subtract 15 minutes from last hour.

Pour broth into bottom of pan.

Cover turkey with aluminum foil (tented, not sealed).

Put turkey into hot oven, set timer for 90 minutes and walk away. (Do NOT keep opening oven to look; that bird is not going anywhere).

When timer rings after 90 minutes, take foil tent off turkey. Lower heat to 4000, set timer for one hour, and walk away. Do NOT open the oven!

When timer rings, take turkey out of oven and remove from pan to rest on platter for 15-20 minutes before carving.


This is an outstanding stuffing recipe to go with the turkey given to me by a former aide, Shirley Gatis. I add the finely minced turkey liver, because Mom always did, and I like the added flavor. You could make a half recipe to go with any roast chicken.

When I lived  in Germany, we were worried that we would have to forego a traditional Thanksgiving dinner because we could not find a turkey, not even on base. A German restaurant offered to make us a turkey dinner. We were delighted, but when dinner was served, the turkey had been smoked instead of baked, and “pommes frites” (French fries!) were served. Not exactly traditional, but we appreciated the effort! This recipe was adapted from my aide in at Naples High.

Adam’s Sausage Stuffing

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 pound mild pork sausage
4 Tbsps. butter
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
1 turkey liver, finely minced
4 cups chicken broth
Sage, salt, pepper to taste
1 loaf dry white bread, cubed

Sauté sausage in butter until brown. Add celery and onions, cook until soft. Add minced turkey liver and sauté until no longer pink. Pour in chicken broth and spices to taste. Bring to boil. Add bread. Stir until combined.

Spray casserole pan with non-stick spray. Put in pan, bake until top is brown and crispy, about 30-40 minutes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Adam’s Polish Hunter’s Stew (Bigos)

Polish Hunter's Stew: Bigos
I learned later that Polish people call this Hunter's Stew "Bigos" but we called it kapusta when I was growing up.

1/2 pork tenderloin, cut into 1” pieces
3 links of fresh Polish or sweet Italian sausage
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound baked ham chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large can of sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium cabbage
1 or 2 tablespoons of butter
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
1/2 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
Salt and pepper

In a large frying pan brown sausage in olive oil. Remove and transfer to large soup pan .Do the same with the pork pieces.

Sauté onions and garlic until golden in the frying pan. Add mushrooms, sauté for 10 minutes, add cabbage, sauté for 10 minutes. Add butter as necessary to keep vegetables from sticking. Transfer to soup pan.

Add the ham pieces to the soup pan.

Drain and rinse sauerkraut. Add to soup pan.

Add 2 cups chicken stock to soup pan. If you want more soupy stew, add an additional 1 cup of stock.

Bring to boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in mushroom soup. Turn off heat. Stew can be served now but it is better if you refrigerate it overnight to allow flavors to meld together. Reheat the next day and serve over boiled potatoes.

Seeded deli rye bread goes well with this dish.

We called this dish "Kapusta" which is the Polish word for sauerkraut, but the official name is "Bigos" or Hunter's Stew. It was originally made with whatever combination of meat Polish hunters were able to find.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Adam's Prize Winning Peanut Butter Mousse Pie


20 Oreo cookies
¼ cup butter melted


1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (about 8 ounces)
2/3 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup smooth peanut butter
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¾ whipping cream, divided


1/4 cup reservered chocolate ganache
1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
½ cup honey roasted peanuts
6 mini Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, halved

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place Oreos in food processor or blender and process until finely crumbled. Empty crumbs into a mixing bowl and stir in melted butter until well combined. Pat wet crumbs all over and up sides of  a 10" pie pan, making an even surface. Bake crust for 8-10 minutes or until hardened. Cool before filling.

In the top of a double boiler combine chocolate chips, 2/3 cup whipping cream, corn syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whisk until melted and smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup of the ganache for decorating. Spread chocolate mixture over bottom of crust and refrigerate until cool.

Dissolve gelatin in cold water. Let sit for about 5 minutes. In a small saucepan heat milk to almost boiling. Remove from heat. Add gelating and whisk until gelatin is completely dissolved. Allow to come to room temperature. In a large bowl combine peanut butter, ½ cup powdered sugar and ¾ cup cream. Whisk until smooth. In a medium bowl beat remaining 1 cup cream until soft peaks form. While still beating, pour in milk and gelatin mixture. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold into peanut butter mixture in 3 additions. Spread mousse over chocolate layer. Chill at least 1 hour.

Drizzle reserved ganache (You may need to whisk in a little whipping cream to make it spreadable) over peanut butter mousse layer in a crisscross pattern.

Whip 1 cup whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and continue whipping until peaks are stiff. Do not overbeat. Pipe whipping cream around edge. Garnish with honey roasted peanuts (chopped if desired). Tuck peanut butter halves into the whipping cream around the edge of the pie. Chill at least 3 hours before serving.

Prize Winning Pies

I was surprised that they didn't post any of the recipes for my prize-winning pies in the newspaper article. I'll try to get a few of them up. If you haven't read the article about me, "The Pie Guy," in the Naples Daily News, here is the link.
And here is a picture of the pie after the reporter and the photographer had pieces of it!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Polish Easter Soup (Adam's version)

Polish Easter Soup
We had a tradition of everyone getting their own Easter egg. We would then partner with someone and try to crack the other person's egg. We would continue until there was only one person left with an uncracked egg. That person would have good luck for the rest of the year.
Polish Easter Soup
I like to make my own red horseradish as shown in the picture above. I cook one small beet, puree it, then add it to white orseradish. It has a much better flavor than buying a jar of red horseradish.
Polish Easter Soup
Polish Easter Soup
The pictures above are from my Easter table. The soup is more traditionally served on the Monday after Easter in Poland. Following that tradition I had it for lunch today (Monday) and it was absolutely delicious.

I always had trouble with the original version curdling on me. As I got older I also found it too vinegary for my taste. After a little experimentation I found that Cream of Mushroom Soup will work as a thickener and it doesn't curdle! Here's my version.

Polish Easter Soup (Adam's Version)

2 links smoked Polish sausage (Polska Kielbasa)
1 baked ham
1 3" piece of salt pork (optional--but I always include it)
1 dozen hard-boiled eggs (dyed)
1 loaf seeded rye bread
1 jar horseradish red or white (see note below)
1 3" piece of feta cheese (see note below)
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 cans of mushroom soup
In a large soup pot, place sausage and add water to cover, about one quart. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour. Every few minutes puncture sausage skin to allow juice to flow.
Remove sausage, allow broth to cool, add vinegar, and refrigerate overnight.
Bake ham. Do not add an cloves or other spices or sweet glazes and refrigerate overnight.
Cook salt pork in water until tender, about one hour and refrigerate overnight.
Cover feta cheese with milk and refrigerate overnight.
The next day skim the fat off the broth. Add mushroom soup. Whisk together until well blended. If desired, strain to remove mushrooms (I don't even worry about them any more). Bring soup just to boil, reduce temperature to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Whisk from time to time. Taste it and if too salty or vinegary you may add a can of whole milk.

Cut about 2 cups each of sausage, ham, rye bread and eggs into 1/2 inch cubes.

Rince, dry, and cut feta cheese into 1/2 inch cubes.

Cut salt pork into 1/4 inch cubes.

Arrange meats on one platter, bread, cheese and eggs on another.

In soup bowls, allow guests to combine meats, bread, cheese and eggs as desired. Add hot soup. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons horseradish as desired.

Note: I like to make my own red horseradish. I cook one small beet until soft, peel it, coarsely chop it, then put it in a blender and blend until fairly smooth. I mix the beet with a fresh jar of white horseradish. It gives the soup a pretty pink color and the beet cuts the intensity of the horseradish.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Polish Easter Basket Blessing

On Saturday morning I took my Easter Basket to St. Leo's for a blessing traditional especially for folks of Polish ancestry. One person had a dish with nothing but seven Easter butter lambs. Another had a can of Bud Lite in her basket along with the food. Many had beatiful decorated eggs. Hope you enjoy the pictures of my basket. Last year Publix, the local supermarket, carried butter lambs, but not this year so at the last minute I carved my own!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Traditional Polish Easter Soup

People from Poland probably would not consider this as the basis of an Easter meal, but rather as a meal for Easter Monday--a time to use up the leftovers from Easter Sunday! It is, however, our family tradition because our Polish ancestors in Michigan had to go to work on Monday. It was not a holiday as it is in Poland.

This recipe comes from my sister, Barbara

Traditional Easter Soup - White Borscht (Monday Soup)

2 links smoked Polish sausage (Kielbasa)
1/2 smoked baked ham
1 quart water
3/4 cup sour cream
1 raw egg
2-3 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper
5-8 tablespoons white vinegar
10 hardboiled eggs, diced
1 loaf light rye bread, cubed
Farmer's white cheese, cubed
White or red horseradish

In large pot, cook kielbasa with enought water to cover. Cook about one hour piercing skin to release juices. Remove sausage. Reserve stock. This borscht is made from the water in which the smoked kielbasa was cooked. In a bowl, fork-blend 3/4 cup sour cream and raw egg with 2-3 tablespoons flour. Season to tast with salt and pepper. Blend 1 cup of warm broth and cream. Blend that into pot of stock. Cook until a gentle simmer. Do not boil (this will cause the cream to curdle). Add vinegar to taste. This soup should definitely be on the tart side so be sure to use enough vinegar. The white barszcz should be served over a bowl of diced ham, the kielbasa from which the stock was made, hard-boild egg slices, diced farmer's cheese, cubed stale rye bread, and a little freshly grated or prepared horseradish to taste.