Showing posts with label Lent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lent. Show all posts

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dad's Potato Soup

Today is Palm Sunday. We received these palm crosses after the service. When I was a kid my Polish aunts would create intricate weavings from the palms. I couldn't find few examples on the web. This site has some fairly simple, but interesting, palm weavings with directions on how to make them.

I don’t know why I started thinking about my dad. Maybe it was that I was going to make his potato soup because it was Lent. And then I got to thinking about how I could never spot the fresh aspargus shoots as we drove slowly along the fence rows in Willis. “There. Over there. Can’t you see it?” He said. No, I couldn’t. I only just now realized that as an adult I found that I had a little touch of color blindness. It wasn’t severe, only a few degrees off kilter. Maybe it was enough to make the difference between the green stems of asparagus and the brown weeds of winter.
Potatoes are a staple in so many Polish recipes. I especially love homemade potato soup.
I hadn’t made Dad’s Potato Soup in awhile. When I looked at the recipe I had it just didn’t seem right. The recipe called for browning the butter, but I remembered Dad browning the flour not the butter. So I called my sister, Barbara, and she said that I was right, Dad browned the flour not the butter. She had changed the recipe because it was easier. It may be easier, but if you don’t brown the flour it will still be potato soup, it just wouldn't be Dad’s Potato Soup. And he would know.

Dad’s Potato Soup

6 medium potatoes, sliced and cubed
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 quart of water or chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups hot milk or half and half
1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

Cover vegetables with water or broth (if using broth, reduce the salt) and cook until well done. Drain, reserving liquid. Cool slightly.

Put about half of the cooked vegetables in a blender and puree, adding some of the reserved liquid to the blender.

In a small frying pan, lightly brown the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Set aside.

In a large pot melt butter, stir in the flour, and let the mixture cook until it bubbles and is well blended. Gradually add the hot milk or half and half to the flour mixture and let simmer just below the boiling point until the mixture is smooth and thick.

Add the reserved liquid and vegetables, stir, and let simmer until smooth and thickened.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with pumpernickel bread. Some of the bread can be cubed like croutons and sprinkled on top of the soup.

You can also serve this soup with sardine sandwiches that were one of Dad’s favorites.

Dad's Sardine Sandwich

Sliced pumpernickel bread
Canned sardines
Sweet onion
Salt and pepper

Liberally spread mayonnaise on two slices of pumpernickel bread. Slice onion into quarter inch slices.

Cover one slice of bread with onion. Liberally salt and pepper the onion. Add 4 to 5 sardines on top.

Cover with other slice of bread.

Don’t plan on kissing anyone after you eat this sandwich unless they have had one too.

Morel mushrooms were a spring mushroom. At Mom and Dad’s house in Howell, Michigan, my dad found a lot of these in the woods just off the garden. They are a delicacy, hard to find these days. I have never seen a fresh one since those days in Howell.

Find them. Eat them! Enjoy! I wish I could!

Morel Mushrooms

One dozen fresh morel mushrooms

Rinse and pat dry. Cut off bottom of stems.

Sauté in butter and sprinkle with a little salt.

Wild asparagus is found along roadsides in southwestern Michigan. My dad and my sister, Felicia, were experts at finding them. I never could. Simply delicious!—Adam.

Fresh Wild Asparagus

Several stalks of fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon butter

Rinse, pat dry and cut into 2 inch pieces. Saute in butter. Sprinkle with salt.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fat Tuesday! Polish Paczki Day!

Fat Tuesday, Polish, Paczki, Detroit
My Aunt Sophie and my grandmother "Babci" would make these at Easter, but they take a lot of work to make. I am happy to find them here in Florida at my local Publix supermarkets.

It is the weekend before the beginning of Lent, a forty day period of fasting, sacrifice, and penance for those who are devout Catholics. My remembrance of Lent was of dry fish sticks, only marginally better than cardboard, with a little ketchup on them if we were lucky. We did have, on occasion, beet soup and potato pancakes, recipes I will post in the next few weeks.

A treat I did remember was Paczki, Polish jelly-filled doughnuts that were traditionally made on Fat Tuesday, except that in Detroit in the 1950s everyone had to work during the week, so my Grandmother and Aunt made them on the Saturday before Lent began.

Along the stairwell leading to the partially finished attic in the house on Florida Street, was a cutout pantry where many of the kitchen utensils were stored. I was especially amazed at the wealth and the large sizes of the mixing bowls, every color, size, and shape imaginable. The big bowls were brought out to make the Paczki.

They were nothing like typical jelly doughnuts found in a supermarket deli or even a doughnut shop. These were big, hearty, orbs of dense, rich, eggy pastry, often filled with jelly, usually raspberry, or sometimes only with a handful of white raisins in the dough.

Paczki are very labor and time intensive. The recipe I provide below is from our family, but I have never made them. In fact, I don’t remember having seen Paczki being made. I only saw and savored the end result! I called my sister before posting and even she, the great cook that she is, doesn’t make them by hand, but orders them from a bakery in Detroit.

I have no such nearby bakery, but this year our local supermarket, had something they called Paczki. They weren’t as brown or as dense or as rich as those of my childhood, but they will have to do. If you do make my recipe I would love to hear your comments. on how they turned out.

Polish Doughnuts (Paczki)

1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 whole egg and 3 yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
1/2 cup raspberry jam
Optional: 1/4 cup white raisins

Dissolve yeast in water. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, gradually beat in egg and egg yolks. Add yeast mixture, vanilla, orange rind and salt. Gradually add flour, blend ingredients well, and knead until dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Set aside in warm place until doubled. On floured board roll out until 1/2 inch thick. Cut into circles with glass or biscuit-cutter.

Place a spoonful of raspberry jam at center of each circle, fold in half, pinch and roll into balls snowball fashion.

Fry in hot oil or shortening until dark brown. Transfer to paper towels. When cool dust with powdered sugar.

Note: For a lighter texture, the formed and filled paczki can be set in a warm place to rise once again before frying.
Paczki come in several flavors, but I like the raspberry filling best.