14 January 2009

A Culinary Tour Around the World - Poland

Nalesniki (polish Crepes)

Before I head out on my journey to find the best pierogies and Golabki in Krakow I need to meet up with Joan of Foodalogue. I had promised to meet her in Portugal...but plans change and I met the handsome and debonair Casimir on the train in Norway. So, here I am continuing on my virtual tour in Poland to meet up with the group. Joan is helping to promote hunger awareness through her event A Culinary Tour Around the World. Joan will be travelling virtually wherever her imagination takes us for the next little while through food, sights, and cultural diversity. Why not join Joan and reach outside your comfort zone? How about meeting her in any one of her itinerary stops and presenting your interpretation of the cuisine from that destination to your readers? Who wouldn't enjoy taking a journey around the world even if it is from the comfort of your favourite armchair??

This week join Joan in Poland!!!!!

Of course I dumped Casimir in Krakow (he was too fond of his bottle of Polish vodka) and decided to spend a week with Malgorzata Rose ("Sarna" to her friends) the founder of Poland Culinary Vacations. Poland Culinary Vacations grew out of her love and passion for travel and everything Polish, including fine Polish cuisine, eventually blossoming into a first-class culinary travel company. She shares her philosophy,

"Travel helps us to better understand and appreciate other people, ultimately leading to a more peaceful world. Nothing is more intimate, or more effective at breaking down cultural barriers, than cooking and sharing meals together."

For these 7 days I will be cooking traditional recipes in Polish homes with local women with hands on cooking lessons as well as demonstration type cooking classes, visiting neighborhood markets and Polish food festivals . This way I will have the opportunity to sample rare delicacies from local artisan producers and family farms such as breads, cheeses, preserves, sausages, wild game dishes, beer, honey wines, and world-renowned vodkas. Of course I will also be able to visit many of Poland's famous cultural sites and learn all I can about the history, traditions and identity of the Polish people. During my virtual vacation I will be staying in elegant and comfortable accommodations in the beautiful 16th-century Zamek na Skale castle in the Polish countryside and at Tumski hotel in the city of Wroclaw in Poland's Lower Silesia region. We will see if my itinerary permits me to have an extended stay in Wroclaw to further explore this lovely city, dubbed "the Venice of Poland".

With Poland Culinary Vacations, I'll travel in the company of a small group of English-speaking, food-loving people from all over the world. And, thanks to their slow-vacation approach, I'll have time to truly get to know my companions and feed my soul as well as my stomach. As always I think immersing yourself in a culture and making immediate friends on a cooking vacation is the best way to go if you have no family or friend connections in a specific country. The people of Poland enjoy a relaxed lifestyle, focused on the pleasures of family, friends, and fantastic meals, especially in small towns and villages. They take time to socialize with newcomers and are especially welcoming to travelers who truly want to learn about the land and people they are visiting.

A word of warning!!!! If you want to try traditional Polish cuisine, stop counting your calories!!!! Typical meals are very hearty and often contain a lot of meat. Just sampling them is enough to discover that they are really delicious and worth putting on a few ounces. The most recommended dishes I have tried on my virtual journey are bigos, kotlet schabowy, pierogies, halushki and golabki.

One dish that I tried on my virtual journey was Nalesniki or Polish crepes. These are a favourite during Lent. They are a thin pancake rolled or folded around a sweet or savory filling which can be lightly browned or baked. As with most dishes there are probably as many variations of this dish as there are cooks in Poland. This recipe comes from About.com. They have provided both a sweet and a savoury version.
Joan has linked her virtual journey with our Social Network BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famineto help promote world hunger and raise awareness for the World Food Programme .

I hope you have enjoyed my virtual tour with Joan to Poland. In honour of the trip I served my savoury version of this dish with some fruit on the side.

I will be hanging out in Poland for a little while with my new found friends. Joan...meet up with you in Portugal in February. I hope you enjoy your stays in Germany and France!!!!!

**Nalesniki (Polish Crepes)**

Savoury Nalesniki Crepes:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 large eggs
2 T butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt

Sweet Nalesniki Crepes:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water`
2 large eggs
2 Y butter, melted
1 1/2 T sugar`
Pinch salt

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients until smooth. Transfer to a pitcher, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes so the liquid can be absorbed by the flour.

Using a 2-ounce ladle, portion out batter into a nonstick pan that has been coated with butter. Rotate pan and swirl batter until it covers the entire bottom of pan. Cook until lightly brown or spotted brown on the underside.

Remove to waxed paper or parchment paper and repeat with remaining batter and butter separating nalesniki with waxed paper or parchment. (Can be frozen up to 1 month).

Savory White Cheese Filling:

1 lb. (about two cups) dry cottage cheese (Farmer's cheese) or ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk (optional)
1 egg (lightly beaten)
½ cup chives or finely minced new onions
salt – to taste
white pepper – to taste.

Sweet White Cheese Filling:

Same as for Savory White Cheese Filling except omit chives, salt and pepper and substitute:

5 T sugar
1 tsp melted butter or margarine and
1 T vanilla
one extra egg yolk for added richness.

Break-up cheese in a hand grinder, large-pore sieve, or food processor. Do not puree! In a medium bowl combine sieved cheese, eggs with chives, salt and white pepper; or sugar, melted butter or margarine and vanilla.

***A small amount of cleaned and fresh fruit like berries, tropical fruit, or apples can be added to the cheese mixture and sugar adjusted to taste. One variation is to make a small amount of sauce from the fruit and spoon it over the browned or baked cheese-filled Nalesniki.


Filling and Folding Nalesniki

Place Nalesniki seam down in frying or baking pan as you fill and fold them.

Here are the four traditional ways of filling and folding Nalesniki:

Long Roll: Evenly spread about 1 tablespoon of filling over one-half of pancake leaving bare about one–half inch from the edge; roll from the filled side until you have a long tube.

Short Roll: Evenly spread about 1 tablespoon of filling, leaving the outer one inch bare, over the entire pancake. Fold over two unspread edges from opposite sides of the pancake; roll one of the remaining two unspread edges toward the center; then roll up tightly from the unfolded end until you have a small fat tube.

Handkerchief Fold: Evenly spread about 1 tablespoon of filling over one-half of pancake, leaving bare about one-half inch from the edge; fold empty half over filled half; then fold once again bringing the two points together. Not particularly well suited for jams or runny fillings.

Envelope or Book Fold (Ksiazeczka): Evenly spread about 1 tablespoon of filling over the center of pancake leaving bare about one–half inch from the edge; fold about one-third of pancake over filling; then fold over the opposite one-third; fold ends in, forming a small packet.

**Cooking Nalesniki**

Method 1

Melt a small amount of unsalted butter or margarine in a frying pan. Sauté Nalesniki, seam-side down, over medium heat about 3 minutes on each side. Place on a warm plate or serving platter. Garnish with fresh diced and sweetened fruit, or a warm cooked fruit sauce. Serve with sour cream.

Method 2

Preheat oven 350° to 375°. Place Nalesniki, seam side down, in well buttered baking dish, in layers if necessary; drench with melted unsalted butter or dot with cold unsalted butter. Bake for about 30 minutes or until heated through with top layer attractively browned. Serve with sweetened diced berries or fruit or warm fruit sauce; sour cream on the side.

Makes about 12

(Happy Travels and Bon Appetit!!!)

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. Delicious! These cottage cheese filled crepes look very tempting!



  2. Luv it! You've got quite the imagination -- I think I really would like to take a trip with you! I've been looking for a quote that blended a sentiment of food and travel...and you found it! Great job. Hope to see you in Germany.

  3. Val, first of all let me say sorry for not commenting in such a long time. Things have been mad and blogging, as well as reading blogs had to go on the backburner a bit. I'm glad to not have missed this one though, the crepes look fab! Happy New Year! x

  4. What a fun post Val. Before you know it, you'll have a whole group for the tour - maybe there's a calling in there for you. The nalesniki look to die for. They're almost the same as blintzes save for the onion.

  5. Did you mention calories, Valli?! I have been on a diet...I'd somehow allowed myself to gain 6 pounds over the past few months! Good grief, whatever happened to the good ol' days of eating anything you wanted and not gaining an ounce? The good news is, just 2 more pounds to go! After that, I can indulge a bit more. :-) These sound so good though. At least I can sneak the apple slices off the plate, right?

  6. I will probably meet up with you in Portugal Joan as I have been to Germany virtually already this year:D This has been a fun trip!!

  7. They look so soft and lovely Val, they're perfect!

  8. I'm not very familiar with Polish food, but this makes me want to get familiar!!

  9. I just discovered this event today and am really enjoying reading the posts. I love how you are interweaving a whole virtual trip with the food :)

  10. I love Polish/Czech food SO MUCH. It is not for the faint of artery.

    When I look deep into those crepes' eyes, I hear them whispering "sour cherries".

  11. We are having such fun traveling all together. I can't resist eating only one nalesniki. Sweet or savory, they both sound delicious.

  12. I am woefully ignorant of Polish food, which is sad, given that my maternal grandfather emigrated from Poland! I think the closest we've come is pierogies- and these look far tastier!

  13. You blow my mind with all your traveling cooking energy! Very excellent Val!

  14. I'm enjoying these posts from around the world :)

  15. i had no idea that poland was responsible for such deliciousness! what a perfect plate, val. :)

  16. Delicious x10, Val. I heart cheese so much! I don't really know much about Polish food to be honest, but I like what I've had!

  17. Being 100% Polish you know I love this. I don't eat the food often enough because of the calories but I love it.

    I loved reading all about it too! Thanks Val for taking me home.

  18. Mmmm...I could go for some of those. I have a great berry compote that would be amazing with the blintzes.

  19. Sadly I know little about Polish food. But these look awfully good!!!

  20. What a great job you did Val! Thanks for sharing with us :D. Crepes are something I still have to try in my own kitchen. YOur instructions seem so easy to follow... Why not try your Polish crepes?

  21. virtual travel experiences are as much as i can get these days, so this sounds like fun - enjoy it while you can!

  22. Deliciously filled Val! Like Heather, I'd love to see some sour cherries in here!

  23. You are certainly travelling far afield - sounds like a fun trip (AND tasty food)!

  24. Love crepes, this looks delicious.

  25. Delicious! I am late arriving in Poland but will be joining you in sampling some of this tasty, if filling, cooking this week. That Casimir is cute, but you were right to leave him.

  26. Ah yes, I can see the perogie lovers digging this dish.

    Have you ever gone to a Polish deli? The smells from the smoked meats & sausages is to die for!

  27. I am now quite intrigued by Polish creations! Lovely dish, especially filled with cheese.

  28. I love those Culinary Tours. You made a nice crêpe.

  29. Great recipe for nalesniki - I'm originally from Ukraine and there we make nalesniki too, sweet and savory and with all kinds of fillings including meat.

  30. Great blog! I will certainly make some of the dishes you have recommended:) Greetings from Poland Ania


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