Nothing brings me more pleasure than preparing a dish for my family that celebrates our Polish heritage. Yes, I’m proud to say I’m 50% Polish! My paternal grandparents, John and Hattie Galeski, came to America from Poland in the early 1900’s, and while they both have gone on to be with the Lord, they left our family with some precious memories and wonderful traditions . . . many of which involve cooking!
Over the years, I’ve had the honor of preparing many of my “babcia’s” recipes, and sometimes when I close my eyes and breathe in the aromas, I could swear I’m once again standing in Grandma’s little kitchen on Gerhardt Street. Some of my favorite dishes are kielbasa and cabbage, pierogi, gawumpki (cabbage rolls), zrazy (stuffed slices of beef), butter garlic cabbage and kluski noodles, mizeria (cucumber salad), and chrusciki (fried bow tie pastries covered in powdered sugar)! None of these would probably fit under the category of “health food” (except maybe the cucumber salad . . . if you ignore the fact the cucumber slices are swimming in sour cream), but sometimes you just have to eat and enjoy! So, as the Polish would say, “Jedzcie, pijcie i popuszczajcie pasa”… “Eat, drink and loosen your belt”!
I hope to share several of these recipes with you in the coming months, but since I’m battling a bit of a sweet tooth today, what do you say? Let’s make some chrusciki!
You will need the following ingredients:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 egg yolks (room temperature)
- 3 tablespoons dairy sour cream (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon vodka, whiskey or vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- Vegetable shortening or oil for deep frying
- Enough confectioners/powdered sugar to thoroughly dust the cookies
Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg yolks and rub them in with your fingers until combined. Add all the other ingredients except the powdered sugar, and blend well. On a lightly floured work surface, knead the mixture for a good long while into a smooth dough. You need to trap as much air in the dough as you can during this process. Just keep repeating a pattern of folding the dough, flattening it, folding again, flattening it, for at least 30 minutes. If using a mixer with a dough hook, knead for at least fifteen minutes. You should be able to see at least some little air bubbles in the dough. Wrap it in plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour (or you can leave it in the fridge overnight if you like.)
When you’re ready to make the cookies, roll the dough out very thin – about 1/16th inch thick and then slice into 1-1/2 inch wide strips. Cut the strips diagonally into 5-inch lengths. In each strip, cut a one-inch slit the long way, in the middle of the strip. Pull one end of the strip through the slit so it kind of looks like a bowtie. Heat the oil in an electric skillet to 375F. Deep fry the strips in small batches until they turn light golden, turning once. Drain on paper towels and let cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar . . . and then try not to eat them all!
I am so thankful for the recipes my grandmother passed down to me and my siblings, and am happy to see the tradition continue as we begin to share them with our own children. From generation to generation, grandma’s delicious meals will continue to be celebrated in our family.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Today I’ve had the pleasure of sharing one of my grandmother’s “sweet” recipes with you, but there is one other that is even sweeter . . . and quite simple: “Albowiem tak Bóg umiłował świat, że Syna swego jednorodzonego dał, aby każdy kto weń wierzy nie umarł, ale miał życie wieczne.” It is the “recipe for eternity” that my grandparents and my parents have passed on to their children: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Psalm 145:4 says “One generation shall praise Your works to another.” May we always be diligent in doing so with our own children, so that someday they will also do the same!
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children (and grandchildren and great grandchildren) are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). Amen!
— Cheri Henderson