Several weeks ago we featured the lovely Justyna Baraniecki as part of our professional profile on our blog and are thrilled to say that she has agreed to write a bi-weekly blog for us. For those who aren’t familiar with Justyna, in addition to being a gifted stylist, part-time model and contributing style writer at the Ottawa Citizen, her passion for fashion has turned her into a vintage clothing collector. As if all this wasn’t enough to keep her busy, Justyna recently launched the stunning online vintage boutique chicshop.ca and keeps busy with her own blog.
This is my first blog post for YouNxt I was asked to write about something connecting me to the Polish community.
First things first: introductions.
My name is Justyna and I’m a first generation immigrant from Poland. I was born there and while I was young when I moved to the West, memories connecting me to the mothership have always been smell and taste related. I moved here when I was quite young (9), but I still get a feeling for culture shock. Especially when it comes to food.
My Polish heritage, watching my parents entertain and be entertained, always revolved around proper etiquette of food: you feed your guests! You give them drink! But beyond that, you make the food with love.
I remember overhearing an older co-worker of mine talking about a dinner party she was to host. The lady was my mothers age. I asked her (in a very excited tone) about what she was going to make! In the Polish community, dinner parties are a big deal, right? She replied “Oh I don’t know, I’ll just get some Chinese take out.” It’s something I’ve never been able to get used to here. Food and cooking are often seen as a chore. That’s just so foreign to me! Had my mother been there, I think she’d have fainted! Another co-worker, (also European) was nearby and heard and let out a shocked GASP! “How can you do that!?” she exclaimed! Annie (lets call her that) said “Oh no one cares! I hate cooking anyway!”
Rule #1: If you invite people over, you must cook for them, and you must feed them until they can’t eat any more. What’s the point of inviting people over, if you’re just going to starve them with take out?
My first love is fashion. I own an online boutique but you could say that my TRUE love is food. If I had a million dollars, I’d lock myself in the kitchen and cook and watch people eat (and obviously eat tons myself too!). So for my first post, I’d like to share with you a recipe. Nothing sums up Polish cuisine like Borstch and Pierogi.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
– A pot of chicken broth
– 2 onions, diced
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 2 celery stalks, trimmed, thinly sliced
– 1 carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
– 1 leek, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
-2 beets, peeled, grated
-1/4 cup dill, minced
-2 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or as needed
-1/2 cup sour cream OR mashed potatoes
-A nice squeeze of lemon
Bortsch is quite simple. Basically, you take the broth and vegetables listed above and simmer. Slowly add the herbs, simmer some more and after about 45 minutes, squeeze in a bit of lemon juice. When pouring the soup into the bowls, discard all the veggies and just pour the broth OR puree all the veggies with the broth in a mixer/food processor for a thicker soup.
My mother and grandmother served bortsch in one of three ways: 1. when plating add a dollop of sour cream into the bowl. 2. Toss in some potato filled mini pierogi (ushka) 3. Put some garlic mashed potatoes on the side, dip a spoon full of potato into the soup and enjoy.
The easiest soup to make, but oh so comforting in the winter!
The pierogi, well, if you’re going to attempt the recipe, (it’s quite easy) its time consuming. You’ll need 3 or 4 hours. But the results are so tasty and worth it! Make it a family tradition, and pass it on to the next generation. Every Pole should know their way around a pierogi dish, at least I think so!
PIEROGI – Wild Mushroom and Beef
-A hill of flour
-1/2 cup of warm milk
-A bit of water (warm)
-A splash of Oil
-Beef (for best results, use left over roast beef or you can substitute ground beef)
-Mushrooms (any type, for best results, use wild and forest mushrooms)
-2 cloves of garlic
-Your favorite herbs (I recommend a sprig of parsley or two)
Instructions to make dough:
Slowly, pour warm (not hot, you don’t want your egg to scramble) milk into the hill and start mixing. Add warm (not hot) water and keep mixing until you reach the doughy consistency you want.
Cover with saran wrap and let it chill in the fridge for 2 hours (it will be easier to roll out).
For the filling:
-Saute the onions, garlic, mushrooms and beef. Set aside.
-Boil the sauerkraut (you can get a jar of it at the supermarket, use about 1/2 a large jar) for 45 minutes and drain
-Add the kraut to the beef mixture
-In a food processor, blend the mixture until it turns into (almost) a paste
-Chill. The filling must be completely cold before you try and stuff your pierogi. You can do this one day ahead.
Putting it together:
Roll out the dough and with a cookie cutter cut out circles. Use about a teaspoon and a half in each circle. Fold in half and seal the edges with a fork. Repeat until you’ve used up all your dough & filling. Or until you’ve had enough.
Once all your pierogi are assembled, you’ll need a large pot of boiling salted water. Gently drop your pierogi in the salted water. Once they float to the top (about 5 minutes) they’re ready! If you have any leftover onion and garlic, you can saute that with bacon and pour it over your pierogi. Enjoy with sour cream on the side!
Lots of love and yummy Karma! Justyna (or Tysia, as my mama calls me!)