Somebody entered “she likes kielbassa better than fish” into a search engine and came up with this blog. You asked for it buddy, you got it. It’s polka time on 27th St.
Here are Buffalo’s own Scrubby and Trojak
But while we’re on a Polish foodfest post, let’s not stop there. Here are Stanky and his Pennsylvania Coal Miners Polka Band performing Who Likes Pierogi
How about the Original Ampol Aires performing Polska Kielbasa. I love the dancing in this video…
OK OK, here’s Papa Crow performing Walt Solek’s masterpiece, Who Stole the Kishka
And finally, an old Czech commercial celebrating the virtues of kapusta.
The food at Merlefest is provided by the various local service and community clubs, from Kiwanas to the Boy Scouts. Overall I’d it was quite good for this kind of event at prices that were fairly reasonable. I really appreciated the fact that the community was involved.
Since late fall, most Saturdays have been Soup Saturdays around here. I’ve been making all kinds of different hearty and delicious soups. Today’s soup was green pea. Here’s how I made it.
I had a piece of bbq bacon from Starsky’s so I sliced it up and fried it up until it started to crisp, then chopped it into little pieces and set it aside.
I chopped up some leeks (normally I would use an onion for this but I had some nice leeks so I thought I’d use them), some bok choy that I found in the fridge (I thought I ought to use it before it became a science project), a big carrot and a red shepherd’s pepper and started them cooking with a little vegetable oil in a Dutch oven. I added in a little salt and just a little dried cumin as the veggies sauteed. Meanwhile, I soaked some dried mushrooms in a bowl of water (use whatever dried mushrooms you have for this, whatever you like).
After 10 minutes or so, I added some stock and a splash of beer (I was drinking a Steam Whistle at the time). I chopped up the mushrooms and tossed them into the pot. Then I rinsed about a cup and a half of dried green split peas (the yellow ones work just as well….choose your colour) and tossed them in. Oh, and I also added in a couple bay leaves. These can be removed later.
I brought the soup up to a simmer, put the lid on, left the heat on low and went to practice the oil can banjo for an hour. At that point I added in the bacon and as well, I chopped up a piece of kielbassa and tossed that in too. Ten more minutes and the soup was ready. The only thing to do was to adjust the seasoning and add in some fresh ground pepper.
Some people like to puree their pea soup or partially puree it (separate out a portion of the soup, puree it and add it back in to the rest), but I thought the texture was just right and I was enjoying the bits of orange from the carrots and red from the pepper so I kept it as is.
We served the pea soup with fresh bread (also great with skillet corn bread – next time). Delicious.
I baked bread today. Actually I started my dough yesterday. Using James Lahey’s slow fermentation approach, I made a simple dough yesterday and let it do its thing overnight. This afternoon, I gave it a second rise for a couple hours and again using Lahey’s method, I preheated a Dutch oven to close to 500F then dropped the dough in, covered it, and let it bake for half an hour before finishing the process with the lid off.
The bread was seriously fantastic, with a really well-developed crust, and a nice open crumb with plenty of chew and character.
All this was to accompany dinner, which was a fish soup, made with potatoes, carrots, zucchini, celery, haddock, loads of fresh dill and parsley, a splash of Mad Tom’s IPA and fresh lemon juice squeezed in at the end.
You know it…I’m talking turkey pot pie, and Tuffy P made some tonight. Fantastic!
I didn’t teach this morning, so I headed over to Starky’s to pick up a few things, primarily some of their delicious Goralska sausage. For those wondering, Starsky’s is unrelated to the bad television series Starsky anbd Hutch. Most people will tell you that Starsky’s is a European grocery store, but in fact it’s a portal to some kind of parallel universe. Preparation for entry into the portal begins in the parking lot, which is full at any given time. Sometimes there are two or three cars cruising about like strange metal vultures watching for a spot to open up. I lucked into a pretty good parking spot remarkably easily this morning and headed inside through the rain.
The only way to shop at Starsky’s, at least if you want to buy some sausage, is to immediately go up to the deli counter to get your number, and then leisurely do the rest of your shopping while you wait for your number to come up. Today it was like Christmas or Easter in there. The sign read: NOW SERVING 12. I grabbed my number: 76. This was almost too much to bear. The folks at Starsky’s keep the wolves at bay by putting out samples of various sausages for customers to sample while they wait. This creates a feeding frenzy, customers elbowing through, in some cases grabbing enough samples to constitute lunch. Before entering the Starsky’s parking lot, these are regular humans, just like you and me. The parking lot starts the desensitizing process and by the time they get to the deli counter they’re transformed into alien creatures in search of sausage. While I was waiting, one lady ran over my foot with her shopping cart on her way to grab some samples. She apparently didn’t even notice.
The good news is that I demonstrated the requisite incredible patience and got my sausage. The universe is now safe.
Roasted Squash Soup. Perfect for a cool fall day.
Start by putting on some tunes. I selected an old fave CD called South Texas Polka Party, but you can feel free to select whatever music makes you happy.
Cut up and add to a roasting pan:
- loads of butternut squash
- a big red onion
- several ripe tomatoes
Add several whole cloves of garlic and a sprig of rosemary. Drizzle some olive oil over the whole business
Roast it for an hour in the oven.
Meanwhile…..dig up that two day old bread you’ve been meaning to toss out. Cut it into little squares. Splash some good olive oil into a cast iron pan (you can use any pan but I like making these in a cast iron pan) and heat the pan to medium. Add the bread along with some spices. Don’t tell anybody but I use my standard bbq rub spice mix for this. Be generous with the spices. Cook the croutons for 3 or 4 minutes, then set them aside in a bowl.
Take the roasted squash et al out of the oven and add it to a soup pot. Pull the rosemary leaves off the stem and discard the stem. Add some dried thyme and some stock. I didn’t measure any of this but today I used about 1 and a half good sized squash to about about 2 litres of stock. Cook it all together for a few minutes and using an immersion blender, blend until you achieve a nice smooth consistency.
When you serve the soup, set out a bowl of your super-tasty home-made croutons, a bowl of coarsely grated Gruyère cheese, and a bowl of Arno’s ground habaneros (or, since I have Arno’s habanero powder and you don’t, any hot chiles will do) so your guests can fire up the soup as much or as little as they like it.
Most of the habaneros were dry after about 30 hours in the dehydrator. At that point there remained a couple handfuls that were still not ready so I removed the dry ones and left the others on overnight, removing them next morning. During the drying period, the house was filled with an omnipresent odour which I would describe as unusual and wonderful if only it were for a few minutes. A day and a half of the smell of drying haberneros is intense.
habanero after drying
These chiles took on a beautiful deep amber colour once dried. In contrast, the last batch I dried were scotch bonnets that looked about the same prior to drying but which dried a brighter orange. I use an inexpensive electric coffee grinder to grind up the dried chiles. After I did this once, I realized that I would never be able to clean all the hotness from the grinder so I have dedicated it for this purpose alone.
I try to grind to a uniform grit but this is very challenging with the technology I’m using. Some of the habaneros turn to a fine powder, which flies everywhere no matter how carefully I open the grinder. As a result, I do quite a bit of sneezing and coughing. I suppose I should really use a fine particle mask for this operation to avoid the effects of the powder. Next time.
Today I donned a pair of rubber gloves, sliced up Arno’s habaneros, and set them up in my handy dehydrator (I took the photo before placing the lid on the device). They should be dry by tomorrow evening. Although I didn’t eat one, I believe these to be very powerful habanernos. I believe this because by the time I had them all sliced up, my nose was getting runny and my eyes were seriously watering.