Cook the Book: 'From A Polish Country House Kitchen'


Eastern European cuisine often gets a bad rap. Even authors Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden admitted to receiving funny looks and giggles from friends when discussing their work on their new cookbook From A Polish Country House Kitchen. After all, how many recipes for potatoes and cabbage can you write?

As it turns out, Polish food, in particular, can be as vibrant and fresh as any other regional cuisine. With recipes ranging from the classic barszcz and pierogi to elegant tartares and tarts, there are plenty of Polish dishes about which to get excited. Applebaum and Crittenden espouse on the foraged nature of Polish cooking; game meats, wild vegetables, and weed-like herbs all make appearances throughout the book. Each recipe is lovingly introduced with generous instructions, making it easy to translate recipes developed in a European kitchen to the American table.

Applebaum and Crittenden are both veteran writers and reporters, and their experience shines through in the multitude of information available in the book. Readers with an interest in Polish culture before, during, and after Communist rule will be thrilled to peruse the embedded essays, and those of us with more of an eye to photography will likewise enjoy the food and landscape shots.

From a Polish Country House Kitchen is not only a thorough and useful investigation into the details of Polish food, but it also is a great resource for winter cooking. Most of the dishes are simple yet thoughtful, comforting, and well-tested. We'll try our hand at several Polish classics this week. Besides the requisite Barszcz and Pierogi, we'll tackle Twice-Cooked Mushrooms, Red Cabbage with Cranberries, and a rib-sticking Hunter's Stew.

Win 'From a Polish Country House Kitchen'

Thanks to the good folks at Chronicle Books, we have five (5) copies of From A Polish Country House Kitchen to give away this week. To win, all you need to do is tell us about your favorite way to eat cabbage and potatoes.