Ok, so it might be morning, but that’s no reason not to think about donuts!
Yes much like the english shrove Tuesday, Poland’s fat Thursday (today!) is all about making those delicious donuts and tucking into them.
Or if you don’t know how to make them (mmm my gran makes delicious fresh ones) then It’s the perfect chance to find the nearest bakery/piekarnia (or Polish shop if you’re in the UK) and infulge indulge indulge….. Yum!!
A lot of the ones you can buy in Poland have a delicious rose jam filling, or you can get many other jams. You can also get ones with custard now too… But that’s not a real donut right 😉
Polish donuts differ from English quite a lot, doughy yellow interior, jam that’s quite natural in taste, and exterior is all baked and hardened, darker brown colour. You can get them topped with a thin icing layer, or with cubes lemon and orange zest on top… Choose what you prefer!!
So let’s celebrate the deliciousness of donuts, whatever country you’re in….. Today you have an excuse! 😉
It’s getting colder in the evenings and the best thing about it means comfort-food cravings 🙂 And what better comfort food than hearty Polish fare!?
Let these yummy Polish food photos whet your appetite…. might make you suss out your nearest Polish restaurant to experience the beauty of staple foods such as ‘schabowy’ – pork escalope with dill potatoes and beetroot, ‘pierogi’ – dumplings, and the mega delicious ‘placki ziemniaczane’ – potato pancakes (try them with hearty goulash) … yuuuuum!
Today isWigilia in Poland (Christmas eve), and this means Christmas celebrations are about to begin tonight! (yep, and it also means Santa is coming!)
Many poles, like us, have been frantically preparing the food for tonight’s meal, and It’s normally quite a feast!
We’ve also been decorating the tree all morning, something that’s a tad different to other countries where you get the Christmas tree weeks earlier … it is spreading to Poland too now thought. But the traditional way is to go to the snowy market and get the tree and decorate it in the morning of Wigilia!
The Wigilia meal is made up of an odd number of dishes (and supposedly even number of guests at the table), normally we have around 13 (we are naughty and we count butter, bread etc as dishes :)) and it’s a full on feast consisting of:
Barszcz (beetroot soup) with uszka (means ears, but they’re mini versions of dumplings/pierogi with similar filling and made into ring shapes)
Sledz (pickled herring) with onions, bread (yum) and butter
Lovely vegetable salad that takes ages to prep as its a humongous amount of chopping! It includes pickled gherkins, apples, onions, cooked carrots, parsnip and peas with either yoghurt or mayo
Fried carp, which is a rich and heavenly fish but the bones are seriously deadly!
Pierogi/dumplings (obviously!) , made with cabbage and mushroom filling (yep, ours are handmade this year, if only a bit coming apart)
Juice made from dried fruit – plums, pears (smoked) and dried apples, boiled the day before in a massive cauldron of water – great for digestion!
… and then of course we move onto the cakes – sernik (cheesecake), makowiec (poppy seed strudel cake) and piernik ( honey cake)
There are many variations, you could also have dough pasta with poppyseeds, other fish if you like, kutia (poppyseed, seeds, almonds and raisin dessert), barszcz could be with mushrooms and you could have filo pastry ‘faworki’ biscuits…. a lot depends on the area of Poland as to what the traditional food is on Wigilia.
The Wigilia meal normally begins around 6pm when the first star comes up in the sky, like many Christmas traditions this one is also most fun as a child 🙂 I remember sitting by the window for ages as a kid waiting for the star, which would mean food and ultimately checking out the presents that Santa might have left under the tree (but only after the dinner!) :).
You can’t also have Wigilia without ‘oplatek’ which is ‘Jesus’ body’ which you break and share around the family table – normally it’s the head of the family who walks around and offers the oplatek round and breaks 3 pieces with everyone while exchanging wishes for the coming year. A very lovely tradition an probably the most poignant for me of the whole evening.
The other traditions are to set an extra plate and setting for the unexpected guest who might turn up on Wigilia and also to put some hay under the tablecloth to make sure you have good luck in the coming year.
I’ve also just heard on the radio other superstitions such as – the first person through the door on Wigilia should be a male, otherwise it’s bad luck, and unmarried ladies need to throw in the air the kutia dessert, if it sticks to the ceiling – well that means the lucky lady will marry that year!
Midnight mass is also a tradition practiced in Poland, being a mostly catholic country…. who knows we might stay up long enough tonight to go. Polish carols are beautifully melodic (and remind me of my childhood) so worth going just for that, not to mention all the nativity scenes to visit in every church, each one different, modern or traditional or with live animals!
Wigilia is by far the most magical time in the Polish calendar and well worth experiencing for yourself, one thing is you will definitely not go hungry!
More photos to come tomorrow from this evening’s festivities 🙂
Wintertime means making my favourite (and easiest) polish soup – zupa jarzynowa (vegetable soup).
It’s a seriously easy, warming and very healthy soup (ok, it does smell a bit as it cooks 🙂 )…. and make sure you make a cauldron of it to have enough for the whole week (my boyfriend calls it vegetarian’s paradise, so veggies, you’ll love it! 🙂 ) .
So here’s what you need:
saucepan with 1.5 of water (leave room for all the veg!)
vegetable/meat stock or bullion
1 onion chopped up
frozen bussels sprouts
chopped or frozen carrots
couple potatoes chopped into small quarters (optional)
few spoons of red lentils to thicken
some herbs and parsley
So first you fill the saucepan with cold water and put it on the hob. As the water heats up, chop the onions and add them in there (while water is still cold so it all takes on the flavour) along with the chopped garlic and the bullion.
Then add in the potatoes and the rest of the vegetables and let it get to boiling point. Once it does, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 – 30mins and add in the red lentils 10-15mins in so that they turn soft and thicken the soup.
To make it less healthy, you could add in some cream, which will also thicken the soup. 🙂 You can also do a variation with the onion and char grill half of it and add it to the soup to add more flavour. Last variation, to spice the soup up a bit, you could add some chilli powder and some curry leaves….
And voila…. it takes 5mins to prepare, 30mins to boil and you have a soup for a whole week (and it tastes even better the next day!). Serve with some yummy polish rye bread.